By Lesley Wroughton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leaders of the world's industrial powers should commit to boost agriculture investments in poor countries and end hunger and malnutrition among the poor when they meet outside Washington in May, a group co-founded by anti-poverty campaigners and rock stars Bono and Bob Geldof said on Tuesday.
A new report by ONE Campaign said increased donor support for agricultural investment plans in 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Central America could lift about 50 million people out of extreme poverty.
Leaders from the wealthy Group of Eight - the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia - meet near Washington on May 18-19 where global food security is one of the main development issues to be discussed.
The global food price crisis in 2008, which led to increased hunger, malnutrition and social unrest, highlighted the years of under investment in agriculture in developing countries. Food prices have remained high and volatile since then, raising the food bills of the world's poor countries.
ONE said it would launch its "Thrive" campaign in France, Germany, Britain and the United States to highlight the need to tackle the causes of hunger.
Bono and Geldof were instrumental in a global campaign that led to the cancellation of debts of poorest countries in 2005.
This year's G8 summit is being held at Camp David, a rustic retreat located on a military base in the Catoctin Mountain Park, about 60 miles north of Washington.
"ONE's new analysis shows that sustained investment in small-scale farming, together with a focus on ensuring children have enough nourishing food to eat, will have a huge impact on tens of millions of people around the world living in extreme poverty," said Ben Leo, global policy director at ONE.
Leo said ONE's analysis identified 30 poor countries, home to about 26 percent of the 1.4 billion extreme poor, which have globally backed agricultural investment plans that need donor support.
Among the countries are Bangladesh, Benin, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Uganda, Tajikistan and Ethiopia.
Leo, a former U.S. Treasury official, said analysis of the countries' investment plans and existing donor-funded farming programs left a financing gap of about $27 billion through to 2015.
The money could be raised through a combination of contributions from donors, governments, the private sector and in some cases non-profit organizations, the ONE report said.
ONE called on the G8 summit to agree on a new compact on food security and nutrition. The new deal should build on a G8 agreement in L'Aquila, Italy, in 2009 to mobilize $20 billion over three years to increase agriculture investments in poor countries, ONE said.
It also called on G8 nations to ensure a new push to encourage private sector investment in agriculture and adopt measures to tackle food price volatility.
(Reporting By Lesley Wroughton; editing by Christopher Wilson)