Bangkok, Thailand, 16 Oct 2012 -- Marking World Food Day this year, FAO’s Assistant Director-General for Asia and the Pacific Hiroyuki Konuma said, “I am happy to announce that based on figures revised after incorporating the latest available data, the number of chronically hungry people in the world is 870 million, down from earlier estimates of 925 million.” “But,” Konuma warned, “it still means one person in every eight goes hungry.”
The proportion of chronic hunger in the total population in Asia and the Pacific has declined from 23.7 percent in 1990-92 to 13.9 percent in 2010-12.
“In Asia, the first Millennium Development Goal, which calls for the proportion of hunger to be reduced by half from its 1990 level of 23.7 percent to 11.9 percent by the year 2015, is within reach,” Konuma said.
“For Asia and the Pacific region, the total population suffering from chronic hunger remains the highest in the world at 563 million in 2010-12, which constitutes 65 percent, or two thirds of the world total,” Konuma said.
“Food is a fundamental human right. Everyone has a right to an adequate and nutritionally balanced diet. Yet, the world failed to support each other. We live in a world of inequality and injustice, which may threaten social stability and world peace,” warned Konuma. He expressed the importance of strong advocacy and social solidarity as well as a concerted effort needed to help those suffering from hunger and undernutrition.
At a World Food Day ceremony on Monday, held at FAO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presented FAO awards to four model Asian farmers from Malaysia, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The award honoured their outstanding achievements in agriculture and food production. The honourees were: Misripah Marjan from Malaysia, Bold Jigjid from Mongolia, Pathira Wijekoon Bandara from Sri Lanka and Sumalee Thonteera from Thailand.
In remarks delivered by Her Royal Highness during the ceremony, the Princess warned that feeding the world is a great challenge, saying: “Demand for food increases because of a still growing world population and changing diets for the many new middle class families who demand more meat and dairy products.”
Her Royal Highness added: “A wide range of production constraints exist such as limits to the amount of new land that can be allocated to food production; scarce supplies of water for agriculture; rising prices of inputs – particularly inputs requiring fossil fuels. Climate change is also a challenge that requires major investments to mitigate against its negative impacts.”
In a World Food Day message for 2012, FAO’s Director-General, Jose Graziano da Silva, in Rome, said: “The theme of this year’s World Food Day is Agricultural Cooperative: Key to Feeding the World. This theme was chosen to highlight the many concrete ways in which agricultural cooperatives and producer organizations help to provide food security, generate employment and lift people out of poverty.”
Cooperatives across all sectors provide more than 100 million jobs around the world, 20 percent more than multinational enterprises. These include co-op members, plus workers in businesses that provide goods and services to co-ops. Globally some 1 billion people are members of cooperatives.
The observance included a keynote address by Dr Hisao Azuma on Agriculture in a growing economy and the role of agricultural cooperatives: Focusing on Japan’s case. Azuma is the former Vice Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Japan and the former Senior Vice President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and now Senior Advisor, Japan Association for International Collaboration of Agriculture and Forestry (JAICAF).
In his keynote Azuma said, “Asian countries are struggling to integrate their agriculture sector into their rapidly growing economies and to accomplish a balanced development between urban and rural areas.”
He stressed that collaboration among villagers and the promotion of non-farm employment in rural areas could be the key to their prosperity.
This year World Food Day marked the 67th anniversary of the founding of FAO in Quebec, Canada on 16 October 1945.