Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific


OPENING REMARKS

by

Hiroyuki Konuma
Assistant Director-General and
FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

delivered at the

Second Medium Term Cooperation Programme Regional Steering Committee Meeting

Bangkok, Thailand
18 December 2012

 

Mr Sana Jetta, IFAD Project Task Manager,
Distinguished Delegates,
Colleagues from IFAD and FAO/RAP,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure and honour to be here to address this Second Steering Committee Meeting of the Medium Term Cooperation Programme’s Regional Steering Committee. On behalf of FAO and on my own behalf I wish to extend a warm welcome to all of you and our partners in the South Asian sub-region and to the South East Asia plus China our second sub-region.  A special welcome also to the IFAD programme Task Master, Mr. Sana Jatta.

As you are aware, the first MTCP Regional Steering Committee meeting was held in Bangkok, Thailand about a year. This meeting today is especially important as it is the last meeting of the Medium Term Cooperation Programme (MTCP) since the programme officially ends on 31 December 2012.  Thus, it is an important opportunity to learn about what went right or the successes as well as about lessons learnt and especially about future possibilities.

The world as well as our Asia-Pacific region have been facing many challenges which include continued population growth, urbanization and rising food costs which are likely to continue to put pressure on our food security. Evidence shows that when strong rural organizations such as agricultural producer groups and cooperatives provide a full range of services to small producers, they are able to play a greater role in meeting a growing food demand on local, national, and international markets. However, in order to provide such services to their members, farmer organizations need to develop networks and be networking among small farm producers, between farmer organizations and with market actors as well as to be linked to and with policy makers.

On the other hand, small scale famers are facing increased threats from rapid globalizations and trade liberalization. In many cases, they can’t stand alone and continue the traditional farming,. They need to be united, equipped with bargaining power, modern technology and access to markets.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

How does our MTCP programme is measured in regards to the role it was designed for?  This is a question that IFAD, member countries and relevant interested parties are interested in! Measured against the objectives that were outlined for the MTCP. I am more interested to listen from you on the answers, rather than providing my view at this stage.

On this occasion, I wish to thank IFAD once again for its initiative of this MTCP programmed!

This one-day meeting will also be reviewing the reports of the IFAD commissioned Supervision and Implementation Support (SIS) mission.  We welcome their findings and how the current MTCP programmed has fared and is no doubt useful also in pointing directions for a possible second phase on the MTCP.  

We acknowledge the positive expressions of interest on the part of IFAD to consider a new programmed phase and am sure the guidance from this meeting will be beneficial regards the design and implementation of the future directions of a possible MTCP II.

FAO fully recognizes the important role of small farm producers around the world especially in the developing countries. Their importance has also been acknowledged through the United Nations’ Declaration of 2012 as the “International Year of Cooperatives” for which FAO gave special recognition through the global commemoration of World Food Day under the theme “Agricultural Cooperatives: key to feeding the world”.

To realize the successes of farmer organizations, one has to understand and to address the constraints faced by small farm producers and working towards overcoming the constraints they face. First is the need to enhance access to and management of natural resources in order to achieve sustainable production and food security. Second is to facilitate access to inputs and output  markets by acting collectively through farmer organizations to facilitate access to needed farm inputs such as quality seeds, fertilizers, credit, agricultural equipments, etc as well as to reduce their transaction costs and risks and by improving their bargaining power. Third is to improve access to knowledge and skills that is most suitable to their farming systems. Forth is access to markets to ensure this produces are sold,  and last but not the least, facilitate small farm producers to engage in policy making by voicing their concerns and interests.

I believe that by engaging in new forms of collaboration and partnership with government, the private sector, policy makers, civil society, and other relevant stakeholders, the capacity of farmer organizations can be further strengthened to meet the challenges. 

We at FAO wish to assure you of our continued support member governments and non-governmental organizations in helping farmer organizations including agricultural cooperatives to thrive by assisting to develop relevant policies, legal frameworks, economic incentives, agricultural technologies as well as providing forums for dialogue on these critical components.  

With these brief remarks, I now have the honor to officially declare open the Second MTCP Regional Steering Committee Meeting.

I wish all of you every success in your deliberations.

Thank you for your attention.