Cairo, 5 February 2002. - With
HIV/AIDS threatening the lives and livelihood of millions of
rural people and jeopardizing rural development across Africa,
the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today stressed
the need to strengthen the fight against the debilitating
disease at its 22nd Regional Conference for Africa, meeting in
Cairo 4-8 February.
The epidemic has taken a heavy toll on the
agricultural labour force. Some 7 million agricultural workers
have already died from the disease in sub-Saharan Africa and
another 20 million could die before 2020.
In addition to decimating the agricultural labour
force, AIDS also undermines agricultural productivity, as
families are often forced to sell productive assets to pay for
medical care and funerals, compromising long-term development.
As a result, AIDS is a threat both to food security and rural
Representatives from 52
African member countries of FAO will also discuss issues related
to land and water resources, food security, fisheries, gender,
sustainable rural development, and questions of common interest
related to agricultural development.
particular, African experts are examining the decisions taken
earlier this year in Lome, Togo by African agriculture ministers
on preparations for a common agricultural market for Africa,
which they expect would create new opportunities for
intra-African trade in agricultural crops, livestock and
discussed the development of fisheries and aquaculture, which
contribute significantly to food security in many African
regions, has been hindered in recent years by ineffective
policies, inadequate public and private sector investments and
inefficient research and extension programs. The Cairo meeting
will review ways and means to address these vital concerns,
while encouraging private investment.