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

FAO/Government of Japan Annual Review Meeting

Bangkok, Thailand
7 March 2013

 

Mr Yuichi Sato, Director for International Agricultural Organizations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to open 2013 FAO/Government of Japan Annual Review Meeting. I would like to welcome all the delegation from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), representative from the Embassy of Japan in Thailand, as well as my colleagues from FAO HQ and RAP office who share their stories and knowledge as part of today’s meeting for further development. Thank you for taking the time to join us today followed by your field visit yesterday. I hope you have found this a valuable opportunity to listen, see and learn, hear some new ideas, ask questions and share your own experiences. 

Historical hunger trend

Let me begin by noting that, while FAO is a global organization, since FAO’s establishment in the region seventy years ago, it has over six decades’ evidenced particular interest in the Asia-Pacific region as nearly two-thirds of the world's farmers reside in this region.

We believe that agricultural growth is particularly effective in reducing hunger and malnutrition. Most of the extreme poor depend on agriculture and related activities for a significant part of their livelihoods. Agricultural growth involving smallholders, especially women, will be most effective in reducing extreme poverty and hunger when it increases returns to labor and generates employment and income for the poor.

FAO in collaboration with the governments, civil society and the private sector has continuously evolved with a changing world by raising agricultural productivity and alleviating poverty while protecting the region’s natural resources base.

Global statistics

About 870 million people are estimated to have been undernourished in the period 2010–12. Undernourishment in the world is unacceptably high. Among the continents, Asia is home to two-thirds of the world’s poor and more than three-fifths of the world’s underfed.

Past Collaboration with Japan

In this context, I would like to express FAO’s deep appreciation to MAFF for the dedicated contribution towards poor people in Asia and the Pacific Region. Our collaboration is built on mutual understanding in support of food security, rural poverty alleviation, and institutional and human capacity building mainly through the implementation of a large number of field projects at regional and national levels. The trend of annual delivery of Japan funded FAO projects in this region has increased from 8.9 million US dollars (2006), 24.6 million US dollars (2011) to 16.9 million US dollars during these six years. Japan never have failed to  their contributions which have been steadily increased in several decades and even one in 2011 was remarkable in spite of  huge  national sacrifice in 2011.

Ongoing Collaboration with Japan

Today, I am very pleased that FAO will report on the progress of Japanese funded projects together with the presence of concerned technical staff. I look forward to discussing with the delegation about possible approaches to achieve more constructive results. The current projects are aiming at preventing trans-boundary animal diseases (GCP/RAS/279/JPN), supporting  capacity building and implementation of International Food Safety Standards in ASEAN countries (GCP/RAS/280/JPN), enhancing understanding and implementation of ITPGRFA in Asia (GCP/RAS/284/JPN), supporting in statistical way to the Global Strategy within the context of AMIS (GCP/RAS/285/JPN) and strengthening agricultural market information in Thailand and Philippines (MTF/RAS/359/JPN).

Emerging Trend

Nevertheless, our continued efforts to improve food security and nutrition, we acknowledge that still enormous efforts are required to fulfill our mission to raise agricultural productivity and alleviate poverty in the region. Agricultural production would still need to be increased by 70 percent (nearly 100 percent in developing countries) by 2050 to cope with a 40 percent increase in world population and to raise average food consumption to 3130 kcal per person per day by 2050. This translates into an additional billion tonnes of cereals and 200 million tonnes of meat to be produced annually by 2050 as compared with production in 2005/07.

Future

In light with this increasing role, we would like to make a short presentation on project proposals for possible future collaboration. These projects are conceptualized in support of the global/regional agenda highlighted in G20, G8, APEC etc, where the Japanese government is in a good position to make contribution and enhancing the joint initiatives/cooperation between the public and private sectors at regional level.

The focus of the proposals are Strengthening Regional forest monitoring and capacities, Advancing approaches for forest restoration, Integrated Food Security Phase Classification,  Reducing post-harvest losses through improved packaging practices, and Capacity strengthening to implement the ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF) and to aquaculture(EAA).

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At FAO we often talk about dreaming of a world free of hunger, the mission inscribed in the entrance of this building and my office. Well, it is time to move from dreaming of a world free of hunger and poverty to achieving it. Therefore, I would like to reiterate that Japan’s continuous contributions are extremely valuable. It is the time for us to write the next chapter in our collaboration to complete our mission in our life time. The strong dedication of our two parties functioning in a developed rural areas in the region has led to improve our people lives without hunger. That is the future!

We signal by our presence and our meeting that we believe in our cause, in our determination and in an outcome that will be a foundation for eradication hunger and improving food security and nutrition in our region. This is my wish that we are thrilled in our mission to changing world and taking the our collaboration forward.

I hope that today we will have a constructive exchange of views between MAFF and FAO, and that this exchange will deepen in future.

Thank you very much for your attention. I would like to wish you a successful meeting.