Key Points:

New Zealand is putting its money where its mouth is, contributing $9.5 million towards battling the international food crisis.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters made the announcement today as the United Nations global food crisis meeting draws up an emergency plan to mobilise aid, reduce trade barriers and invest in farming in poor countries to stop the spread of hunger threatening nearly one billion people.

Mr Peters said the money was the largest humanitarian contribution New Zealand had made since the Asian Tsunami.

The funding would be delivered via NZAid with $7m going to the UN World Food Programme which focuses on feeding people in life or death situations. The remainder would go to the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research for a longer term response.

"The impact of rising food prices on the world's poorest people cannot be underestimated, and it is important New Zealand does what it can to assist," Mr Peters said.

"The statistics speak for themselves. One child dies every five seconds from hunger related causes, and an estimated 850 million people go hungry every day. Rising food prices threaten to add millions more to those numbers."

Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton is to outline New Zealand's contribution at the UN Food Agriculture Organisation's food security meeting in Rome today.

The meeting was called amid soaring commodity prices that threaten to add as many as 100 million more people to the 850 million already going hungry and destabilise governments.

The cost of major food commodities has doubled over the last couple of years, with rice, corn and wheat at record highs. The OECD sees prices retreating from their current peaks but still up to 50 per cent higher in the coming decade.

- NZPA