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FAO Director-General and Asian Development Bank President discuss agricultural investment for food security and nutrition

FAO and the ADB explore ways to scale up existing collaboration to eradicate hunger and alleviate poverty in the region

FAO Director-General with the President of the Asian Development Bank.

1 July 2014, Rome - FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva met today with Takehiko Nakao, the President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), to discuss ways to promote agricultural investment for food security and good nutrition, as well as explore ways to step up the existing successful collaboration between the two institutions.

 “The ADB has collaborated with FAO since its establishment in 1966 at a moment of growing population in Asia, when food and agriculture issues and improving productivity were absolutely key,” the ADB President said. “Since I took over in my position in April, I have promoted that we revisit our technical cooperation in the agriculture sector.”

“Many Asian countries look at the important potential of agriculture and food production not only as a way to diversify their economies and ensure food security and food safety but also as a way to promote rural development,” Nakao noted. “This is also related to the environment and to adequately building resilience to climate change,” he added.

The ADB President explained how, despite the fact that overall poverty reduction in the Asian region is going well, “with absolute poverty below 1.25 dollars a day and absolute hunger becoming smaller," two thirds of the world’s hungry are still in Asia. “We still have many issues to face regarding food security,” he said.

The ADB, a key FAO partner to eradicate hunger and poverty in Asia and the Pacific region, is a major development institution which seeks to foster economic growth, good governance, human resource development, and the reduction of poverty for the benefit of its developing member countries.

Regarding the role of regional development banks in strengthening food security, the ADB President said: “We have two focuses: one is to promote productivity and the second is boosting connectivity to connect farmers to cities and to businesses”.

He also stressed how Asia is paying more and more attention to food safety standards and the quality of food. “Those are issues we are addressing through loans and grants. We have a very strong capacity to lend to the governments and to provide grants to the poorest countries and there are many technical areas for which we can rely on FAO".  FAO has already successfully implemented a number of projects related to agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors with funding support from ADB amounted to over 22 million US dollars.

The ADB President also expressed support for the high-level, intergovernmental Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), which FAO is co-organizing with the World Health Organization in Rome in November 2014.  “When we become richer and less hungry, we should devote more attention to good nutrition including minerals and vitamins. It’s not a good idea to complement vitamins through concentrates, it should be through food,” he said.

Recent ADB reports identified that poverty alleviation through supporting the agriculture sector is four times more effective than any other interventions, given that the majority of farmers (80 percent) in Asia are small-scale farmers and they constitute the majority of the poor in the region.

Graziano da Silva and Nakao also discussed ways to address the Zero Hunger Challenge launched by the UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon.

Nakao commended FAO’s priorities and expressed his interests in FAO’s blue economy initiatives, food safety standards, resilience building experience and agriculture investments. The discussion also touched upon ways to reduce food loss and food waste.