Agriculture and intercultural dialogue
World Food Day 2005 theme
5 August 2005, Rome - 'Agriculture and intercultural dialogue' is the theme of this year's World Food Day, FAO said today.
World Food Day is celebrated every year to mark the day on which FAO was founded in 1945. This year's observance will be held on Sunday, 16 October, at FAO Headquarters in Rome. It will be also observed in more than 150 countries.
The theme recalls the contribution of different cultures to world agriculture and argues that sincere intercultural dialogue is a precondition for progress against hunger and environmental degradation.
Throughout history, the intercultural movement of crops and livestock breeds has revolutionized diets and reduced poverty. For example, the potato, which can be grown quickly and economically, was introduced to northern Europe from South America in the 16th century helping free the masses from longstanding hunger.
Maize, which is originally from the Americas, now feeds much of Africa. Europe and Africa contributed their plants to the Americas, including coffee, grapes and wheat. The introduction of the camel to Africa from Arabia allowed people to live and travel in more extreme environments and added protein from meat and milk to diets.
With agriculture, intercultural dialogue takes place at meetings and trade negotiations and every time an expert from one culture shows another something new in the laboratory or field.
Sharing expertise and technology
"Intercultural dialogue between developing countries facing similar food and agriculture problems is an important way of sharing expertise and technologies," FAO said.
South-south cooperation in the form of sharing expertise and technologies has resulted in the transfer of many solutions suited to local conditions.
"Poor farmers cannot compete in an international marketplace if their goods are shut out of richer countries, while subsidized farm products from industrialized countries are sold at or even below production cost in poor countries," the UN agency said.
Many developing countries want to produce for export purposes, but will not reach their full potential until further dialogue among nations leads to a fairer trading system.
FAO estimates that 852 million people around the world remain hungry. At the World Food Summit held in Rome in 1996 and again at the World Food Summit: five years later in 2002, leaders vowed to reduce that number by half by 2015. Moreover, the UN Millennium Development Goals commit world leaders to reducing by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger, while ensuring environmental sustainability.
World Food Day provides an opportunity at local, national and international levels to further dialogue and enhance solidarity on these issues.
Information Officer, FAO
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