Chavez urges $1billion poverty fund

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, has called on European and Latin American nations to set up a $1bn fund to help provide food and medicine for the poor.

Chavez said on Thursday that he was willing to commit $365m of the country's oil income to the fund, as global food and energy prices continue to rise. "[The fund] will allow us to produce, buy and distribute food and medicines to the homes of the poorest families," he said at a news conference in Caracas.

Leaders from four Latin American countries have already set up a $100m food security fund for staples such as rice, beans and corn in a bid to offset rising food prices that have sparked global protests. The presidents of Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela as well as Cuba's vice-president also promised joint agricultural programmes.

In Asia rice prices have almost tripled this year alone. Price rises have led producing nations to enforce export restrictions, further putting the squeeze on supply, especially in countries relying on imports.

[Aljazeera Net]

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