Very good morning to all!
It is with immense pleasure that I welcome you all in this august and high level gathering. Thank you all for giving priority to attend this consultation in spite of your busy schedules. Our special gratitude goes to the Honourable Ministers for allotting time to attend this consultation which clearly demonstrates the government’s concern and commitment to promote this crop for increasing livelihood securities of millions of people of Asia and the Pacific regions. Participation at the highest levels, both at policy and technical levels, indicates the importance of this expert consultation and from our end we have put all of our efforts to make this event a grand success. I convey our special gratitude to the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, the Royal Government of Thailand, for his kind attendance to inaugurate this expert consultation. I would also like to thank Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC) for providing technical support to this expert consultation and their all other supports for successful arrangement of it.
At the onset, I would like to inform you that this is a part of the implementation of one of the recommendations of last APRC meeting held on 12-16th March 2012 in Viet Nam. Implementation process initiated late 2012. FAO fielded the first mission to the major coconut growing countries of the Pacific countries to identify current statuses, gaps and the way forward in order to put renewed focus to this crop in the current context of global agricultural development and economic growth. Apart from the Pacific countries, FAO conducted a study in the major coconut growing countries of Asia with similar objectives. As we all know, the Philippines, Indonesia and India are the major coconut growing countries in the world. Now time has come that the pacific countries interact with the previously mentioned countries in order to further develop their coconut sectors in a comprehensive manner. We are living in an era where connectivity and dialogue will shape the future development of any sector. In view of that, this is an appropriate forum where our Pacific and Asian coconut producing countries will have the scope to interact with the participating countries in order to promote value chain approach in coconut sector development to enhance livelihoods and food securities of our people. We do hope that we will be able to use the next three days very effectively and efficiently to achieve the objectives and outcomes of the consultation.
His Excellency and Dear Participants,
The main purpose of this expert consultation is to assess the current status of coconut development in Asia and the Pacific region, to identify gaps and constraints and to recommend approaches and concrete actions geared toward enhancing the contribution of coconuts to livelihoods securities, environmental protection and economic growth and development of the region.
The specific objectives of the expert consultation are:
- To take stock of the current status of the coconut sector development (global and regional)
- To identify constraints and gaps to coconut sector development in the region
- To review the policy, governance and associated programmes for coconut sector development in the region
- To develop strategy of coconut sector development for submission to the consultation and adoption
- To define key recommendations for policy makers for follow up actions
Our expectation is that this forum will achieve the following outcomes:
- Current status of the coconut sector development in the region is reviewed
- Gaps and opportunities for development of the region’s coconut sector in line with global trends and demands, and food security environmental protection and livelihoods development concerns, are identified and prioritized
- Current policies, governance structures and associate programmes are reviewed
- Strategy of coconut sector development is presented and adopted in the meeting
- Follow up actions to the consultation are prioritized
- A report on the outcomes of the expert consultation is published
I am pleased to inform you that we have already prepared two study documents: one on the Pacific countries and the other one on Asian countries. These documents are under finalization and awaiting technical clearance from FAO. After getting technical clearance, we will share these with all of you for their further uses whenever appropriate. However, to understand the whole coconut sector development issue in totality, we have also invited six expert members to express their views in their respective fields on the problems identified in our two study papers.
Our preliminary study findings show that the coconut crop is beset with a lot of problems a few of which are the use of old coconut varieties and poor replacement rate, and hence declining trends in productivity and production, poor value addition and mainly the use as primary products. These are common problems that have been identified across the two regions. Different countries have been trying to solve these problems within their own capacity and necessity. However, progress is not at the level of expectation. However, collective efforts at regional level may help in achieving our common goals-increasing production and productivity in accelerated ways. Working in isolation may be one of the causes not only for poor productivity but also for the low development in increasing livelihood security of the people of the major coconut growing countries. In addition to these problems, I would like to bring to your notice the effect of climate change in coconut production and its uses in bio fuel production. These two are emerging issues and need immediate attention from all of us. It is heartening to know that both policy and technical persons from all invited countries are here and also the six experts are present. We have tried our best to create a healthy environment where all issues related to development of coconut sector could be discussed in details. I do hope that these two issues in addition to others will be discussed in details during these three days.
Our expectation from this consultation is very high as recommendations to be derived from it will be placed in the next APRC meeting to be held on 12-16th March 2014 in Mongolia. I do hope findings of two studies, country papers, opinions of our six experts and lively discussions of consultations will help us develop concrete recommendations/suggestions for considerations in the next APRC for further follow up as appropriate.
From FAO part, I can ensure that recommendations of this consultation will receive top priority from us and will be ready and available to assist the government of these regions to implement these recommendations both at national and regional levels.
Finally, I do hope that this consultation meeting will end with concrete proposals so that we can together, in future, work more closely.
Thank you all once again for accepting our invitation to attend this event and wish you a pleasant stay in beautiful Bangkok.