PR 96/40 - WORLD FOOD DAY OBSERVANCES


PR 96/40

WORLD FOOD DAY OBSERVANCES DEDICATED TO "FIGHTING HUNGER AND MALNUTRITION" WILL PAVE THE WAY FOR WORLD FOOD SUMMIT

Rome, October 11 -- Nations around the globe will celebrate World Food Day on Wednesday with a series of events paving the way for next month's meeting of Heads of State and Government at an historic World Food Summit.

World Food Day comes just four weeks before the Summit convenes at FAO headquarters. Heads of State and Government will meet November 13-17 to approve a Rome Declaration and Plan of Action aimed at achieving the Summit goal of "Food for All."

Observed annually on October 16, World Food Day marks the founding 51 years ago of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the first and largest of the specialized agencies of the United Nations. This year's theme is "Fighting Hunger and Malnutrition."

Events planned for this year range from cooking demonstrations in Benin to a German Internet presentation, an International Teleconference from Washington and a marathon concert to be televised worldwide by satellite from Rome's ancient Colosseum.

Scores of countries have organized essay and poster contests for students, tree-plantings, exhibits, lectures, seminars and awards ceremonies honoring excellence in the fields of agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Radio, television and newspapers throughout the world will carry a World Food Day message from FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.

President Henri Konan Bédié of Cotê d'Ivoire will deliver the keynote speech in a ceremony Wednesday at FAO headquarters in Rome, and a message from Pope John Paul II will be read.

Speakers at the World Food Day observance at the United Nations on 25 October will include Dr. Diouf, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and the Presidents of the General Assembly, Razali Ismail of Malaysia, and Economic and Social Council, Jean-Marie Kacou Gervais of Cotê d'Ivoire. Ivan L. Head, professor of South-North Relations, University of British Columbia, and former president of Canada's International Development Research Centre, will be the keynote speaker.

The Italian government, the regional and city administrations, Rome schools, the Cinecittà film studios and Peter Gabriel's World of Music, Arts and Dance (WOMAD) are collaborating with FAO on six days of free celebrations, opening October 22 and culminating with the concert on October. 27.

Workshops on music, dance and the graphic arts, encounters with international track and field stars and a debate on food security issues will be held in a "Global Village (Koinè)" of 20 tents and on four giant interconnected platforms at the Colosseum.

Those taking part will include Italian singer-songwriter Claudio Baglioni, who is serving as FAO's ambassador to the arts, Youssou N'Dour of Senegal, Khaled of Algeria and WOMAD performers coordinated by Thomas Brooman, photographer Oliviero Toscani, creator of the Benetton ads, and painter Franco Costa.

Among athletes invited to Rome are Atlanta Gold Medal winners Ghada Shouaa of Syria, Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia and V. Niyongabo of Burundi as well as Cubans Alberto Juantorena and Ana Fidelia Quirot, Italians Gelindo Bordin and Roberto Brunet, Islam Dzugum of Bosnia and Hassiba Boulmerka of Algeria.

The concert will be televised live October 27 from 1400 to 1700 GMT and from 2030 to 2120 GMT with FAO providing free satellite hookups and real time exchanges with the performers on the Internet.

Elsewhere, national groups will mark World Food Day by offering food baskets to the rural poor in Grenada, launching a campaign to "Use Grain Economically" in the provinces of China, mounting an historical exhibition on "Food and the Monastic Rule" in a Rome library, planting of 400 mango, 70 sapodilla and 30 avocado seedlings on Thoddu Island in the Maldives, inviting students to "Mini-Summits" to exchange views on food issues in Nicaragua, distributing pens, caps, t-shirts and rulers with the World Food Day logo in Qatar and holding an awards ceremony presided over by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in Bangkok.