Cairo, 7 February 2002 -
Globalization and liberalization of trade for agricultural
products, movement of capital and transfer of technology must
enhance the living conditions of people in both the developed
and the developing countries, warned UN Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) Director-General Jacques Diouf.
Speaking to African
Agriculture Ministers gathered at the 22nd FAO Regional
Conference for Africa (4 - 8 February 2002), Dr. Diouf said:
"For agriculture in particular, it is essential that
the new negotiations under the World Trade Organization (WTO)
should provide the developing countries with greater
opportunities to participate in international trade.
Underscoring the need to hold the World Food Summit:
five years later, scheduled for 10 to 13 June 2002, in Rome, Dr.
Diouf said: "The world still has some 815 million
people suffering from chronic malnutrition including 777 million
in the developing countries, 27 million in the countries in
transition and 11 million in the industrialized countries.
"The improvement recorded in some
countries as parts of the developing world, notably in East
Asia, is thus neutralized by the worsening situation in other
regions, especially sub-Saharan Africa and Central America and
the Caribbean," Dr. Diouf added.
The FAO Director-General told the Regional Conference
for Africa that this is "the only region in the
developing world where per capita food supply has fallen for the
last four years, exposing vast sectors of the population to food
insecurity and malnutrition." He said,
"Africa has some 200 million people affected by
malnutrition. This is largely due to the limited possibilities
of food production for domestic consumption and to poor
organization of distribution networks and markets," Dr.
He warned that the HIV/AIDS
epidemic also "constitutes a real threat to
agricultural development and food security in Africa. Of the 36
million people infected worldwide, sub-Saharan Africa is the
region hardest hit with an affected population of 24.5
Dr. Diouf called for
increased investment in Africa aimed at rural infrastructure,
including small-scale irrigation and the harnessing of
rainwater, rehabilitation and conservation of soils, storage and
processing facilities, rural roads and markets. "An
estimated $37 billion are needed for water control and land
improvement infrastructure alone," he warned.
The FAO Director-General called the
participation of the African Heads of State and Government at
the upcoming World Food Summit: five years later,
"essential for its success. I am confident that they
will attend in force as the did in 1996."
FAO has established a Trust Fund for Food Security and
Food Safety, to which FAO member countries and development
partners may make voluntary contributions. "The
success to date, with 20% of the initial sum of $500 million
dollars for the Trust Fund already secured, would be even
greater if further pledges could be made before the June
Summit," he said.
Director-General also announced FAO's commitment to
continue to support the New Partnership for Africa's
Development (NEPAD) on agricultural issues. NEPAD was set up in
July 2001 at the OAU Summit in Lusaka. The initiative attaches
great importance to food security and African agriculture. FAO
provided the NEPAD Secretariat with an expert to help define the
main agricultural issues.