Bangkok, Thailand, 22 Feb 2013 -- The Bangkok Recommendations were today unanimously adopted at a regional workshop to promote greater employment opportunities for disabled people in the agribusiness sector. The 11 recommendations will serve as pathway to greater employment opportunities in the agribusiness sector for people with disabilities. Disabled people and their families account for about 40 percent of Asia’s total population.
Though disability-inclusive initiatives are a growing trend, greater efforts are needed to increase job opportunities for the disabled in agribusiness. People with disabilities are some of the world’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged people and often they are excluded from productive resources and many job opportunities.
Delegates unanimously adopted The Bangkok Recommendations following two days of deliberations and debate. The Recommendations call on governments, the private sector, civil society and in particular agribusiness to:
1. Expand enabling policies at all levels, and establish/strengthen networks that support persons with disabilities, and the public and private sectors engaged in disability-inclusive agribusiness development;
2. Develop and implement disability-inclusive policies and strategies that improve access to productive resources and assets, including credit within the agribusiness sector;
3. Promote employment and job opportunities, and create disability-friendly business environments and customer services in the agribusiness sector;
4. Support research and development, and invest in accessible technologies and infrastructure that will enable persons with disabilities to draw on their unique knowledge and abilities for effective engagement in agribusiness;
5. Improve access of persons with disabilities to affordable credit by providing reasonable provisions such as acceptable credit/interest terms, from the finance sector;
6. Create a certification/accreditation system which could add value to disability-inclusive agribusiness products and services;
7. Further promote evidence-based research on disability-inclusive agribusiness across Asia and the Pacific to identify, promote and share good practice models for future replication;
8. Enhance skill development opportunities and on-the-job training for persons with disabilities to include them in agribusiness;
9. Raise awareness of the importance of disability-inclusive agribusiness development, share accessible information and advocate for concerted actions among sectors and partners;
10. Consider the potential of disability-inclusive agribusiness in the discussion of the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and
11. Form a network to strengthen coordination and to follow up the Recommendations at the national and regional level for actual implementation, and to meet together in the next 2 years to review and discuss the progress of disability-inclusive agribusiness.
In closing remarks Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, said, “Disability-inclusive agribusiness has three fundamental dimensions: The farmers themselves, consumers and marketing, and labour. The important issue is to find out how people with disabilities can actively contribute to these three dimensions and how we can create an enabling environment for them to expand their skills, markets and job opportunities so they can participate in income generating activities in agribusiness and become self-reliant.”
Konuma added: “Twelve years ago I managed a mushroom cultivation programme for FAO. I learned a lot from this project. One farmer said that because of their skill at growing mushrooms they could be financially self-reliant. People in village came to learn mushroom farming skills from this farmer and so the farmer became a trainer. She said she was happy to earn the respect of the community because of her skills.”
Akiie Ninomiya, Executive Director, APCD, said that when we talk about disability issues, we talk from the social welfare perspective. People with disabilities are taxpayers and they can contribute to the society because they have unique strengths and are really talented. He added that APCD will publish the workshop report and said that APCD is committed to following up on the Workshop outcome together with FAO and the Nippon Foundation.
In his remarks, Shuichi Ohno, Executive Director, International Cooperation Department, the Nippon Foundation appreciated the outcome of the workshop and advised participants that the Nippon Foundation will continue its assistance to help promote disability-inclusive agribusiness. He said there are more “hidden heroes who have struggled and found innovative solutions to overcome their challenges and such wisdom needs to be spread to other people with disabilities. One needs skills, training and access to productive resources. That is same for the people with disabilities. The uniqueness of people with disabilities in agribusiness is that they successfully overcome their physical challenges.”
The Regional Workshop on Disability-Inclusive Agribusiness Development was attended by more than 120 delegates, the Workshop was organized by the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and The Nippon Foundation. It was the first event following the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) Decade of Persons with Disabilities 2011-2020 and the new Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities 2013–2022, which is led by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in an effort to develop future strategies, showcase great initiatives, facilitate the involvement of the business sector, disability-inclusive agribusiness practitioners, governments, civil society, United Nations and international organizations.