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UN FAO presents awards to “Model Farmers” from five countries of Asia-Pacific – Our actions to improve food systems in response to rising hunger will determine our future

Awards presented on FAO’s behalf by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand

19/10/2018 Bangkok, Thailand

As countries around the world wrap up a week of observances in relation to World Food Day, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in the Asia-Pacific region has convened a special ceremony to mark the achievements of farmers, fishers and pastoralists and their innovative work to feed an increasingly hungry world.

On behalf of FAO, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, presented FAO Model Farmer Awards to five agriculturalists from the Asia-Pacific region. The Princess is a UN FAO Special Ambassador for Zero Hunger.  

The five recipients – three women and two men – traveled to Bangkok from Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Maldives, Thailand and Vanuatu. The Model Farmer Awards are an annual fixture of FAO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. FAO member countries in the region are approached on a rotational basis to participate in the event and their governments propose the individual candidates to receive the awards.   

World Food Day 2018 – A growing sense of urgency to combat hunger and malnutrition

This year’s World Food Day has taken on a more somber tone as FAO and four sister UN agencies recently reported that, globally, hunger is on the rise after decades of improvements.

In an address to the audience at the Bangkok awards ceremony, Her Royal Highness underscored the concerns, particularly as the Asia-Pacific region accounts for nearly half-a-billion hungry people – 62 percent of the world’s 821 million undernourished.

“Recent news is troubling. It is warning us that, worldwide, the fight against hunger and malnutrition is losing its strength. Now, more than ever, our prospects for a sustainable future for all the people in this region depend on our ability to produce enough nutritious foods that will reach everyone and especially the most vulnerable,” Her Royal Highness remarked.

“There is a growing realization that achieving an end to hunger and malnutrition will require greater nutritional fortification of food. Safe water and improvements to sanitation are also critical, as are good health care systems. All of these approaches are needed to improve food security and nutrition in the region,” Her Royal Highness added.

Our actions are our future

The theme of this year’s World Food Day was Our actions are our future. A #ZeroHunger world by 2030 is possible.

“The message to us all is clear. We must redouble our efforts to get back on the right track to defeat hunger. Yet we have only 12 years or so to finish the job we started – to achieve zero hunger,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific.

In his keynote presentation, Jomo Kwame Sundaram, an eminent Malaysian economist, pointed out that with three fifths of the world’s population, the Asia-Pacific region faces a variety of food and nutrition challenges.

“While hundreds of millions lack sufficient income and access to basic nourishment or dietary energy from macronutrients, even more suffer micronutrient deficiencies of minerals, vitamins and trace elements, due to inadequate dietary diversity. Meanwhile, well over a billion people are overweight, if not obese (in Asia-Pacific), with similarly high numbers suffering from diet-related non-communicable diseases due to poor nutrition,” said Sundaram. “Only appropriate nutrition policies addressing food systems can ensure adequate and healthy nutrition for all."

A #ZeroHunger world by 2030 is possible

“We cannot be beaten. We can still meet this goal,” said Kadiresan. “But it will take action, energy, collaboration and cooperation – involving governments and their policy makers, academia, the private sector, young people – and each of us – small changes in lifestyle can make a difference. By that I mean improvements to our food systems, conservation of natural resources, better hygiene, better sanitation, improvements to health care systems – and by stopping the huge waste of and loss of food that happens each day.”

*More information of the Model Farmer Awards and their backgrounds, can be found here. 

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