Your Serene Highness Prince Bhisadej Rajani, President of the Royal Project Foundation
Distinguished guests, participants from various countries in the world and resource persons,
Very good morning to all of you!
It is a great pleasure for me to have an opportunity to be a part of this extremely important global symposium “the 9th International Symposium on Temperate Zone Fruits in the Tropics and Subtropics” jointly organized by the Department of Agriculture DOA of the Government of Thailand and concerned development partners, including FAO. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the organizing committee for inviting me to say few words in this inaugural session on behalf of FAO. I also wish to express our deepest respect and special gratitude to Your Serene Highness Prince Bhisadej Rajani for his presence here today which adds a special value to the meeting and reaffirms the importance of this global gathering.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have gathered here to shed light and exchange opinion on a topic which has a significant bearing on our food and nutrition security. While, we are approaching to 2015, it is becoming increasingly evident that not all countries in this region will be able to cross the finish line in their race to achieve MDG No. 1 hunger target, in spite of sincere and tireless efforts they devoted in this endeavour. As you all know, FAO has been assisting member countries to attain food and nutrition security in a comprehensive and integrated manner since 1996 when FAO organized the World Food Summit (WFS) and was since following up with the latest global food security meeting held in 2009 in FAO Hqs, Rome. This was an opportunity for FAO to remind all member countries that we would have to work harder to achieve the MDG No.1 hunger target.
The world population is expected to reach 9.2 billion by the mid-century. To meet the growing demand, according to new estimates released by FAO recently, the world food production has to be increased by 60 per cent in 2050 from the level of 2005/07 and in case of developing countries it has to be increased by 77 per cent during the same period.
Experiences gathered in last two decades of implementation of WFS declarations and MDG1 indicate that we have to follow more diverse and nuanced approaches in attaining food security which will ensure not only food security in terms of availability of only staple but also food which are nutritionally rich in order to make more balanced diets. We made considerable progress in attaining food self-sufficiency in the production of staple but less progress is made in production of more nutritious foods including fruits having more vitamins and minerals, required for healthy diet.
Fruits play a significant role in attaining not only food security but also nutrition security and income generation. In view of that it is time to give more focus on fruits to make our foods more diversified, balanced, and nutritious. Temperate-zone fruits occupy substantial space in fruits production systems of countries where tropical and sub-tropical climates dominate. Among them, in this region, China and India come first. China contributes substantially to the global production of temperate fruits. It is good to mention that production of temperate fruits in China is on rise. However, it is difficult to say whether this increase is happening due to expansion of temperate fruits in subtropical and tropical areas. In general, due to non-availability of reliable data sources, it is difficult to estimate, if not impossible, whether area under temperate fruits is increasing in the sub-tropical and tropical regions. According to me, this should be an important area of discussion at this symposium, with an aim to identify a clear future strategy and policy measures.
In addition, there is a number of technical issues that need thorough discussions in the course of next two days to pave the way for promotion of temperate fruits in sub-tropical and tropical regions. It is also important to promote value chains and discuss relevant issues in the perspectives of climate changes and the availability of germplasm resources.
Finally, we in the FAO, look forward to the deliberations and outcomes of this important symposium and will be happy to work together with our partner agencies and member countries for improving the both food and nutrition security by promoting temperate fruits in the sub-tropical and tropical areas with the ultimate goal to reduce the number of malnourished and undernourished people from our planet within the shortest possible time.
With these few words, I wish the symposium a great success.