It’s a pleasure to represent the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which has co-organized this workshop with the ASEAN Food Security Information System, or AFSIS. We call the workshop Communications and Knowledge Sharing for ASEAN Food Security Professionals.
First I would like to thank our hosts, starting with Mr Anan Lila, the Secretary-General of Thailand’s Office of Agricultural Economics and Mr Montol Jeamchareon, the AFSIS Project Manager. We truly appreciate the efforts of the OAE and AFSIS in organizing this workshop.
I would like to personally extend a warm welcome to the participants who join us here in Bangkok from many ASEAN countries. This workshop is an opportunity to improve your communication skills and make your food security work more effective, both in your own country and in throughout the ASEAN region.
It is also an excellent opportunity to strengthen the network of ASEAN plus three Food Security Information Centers and meet the people who participate in the network. I encourage all of you to make the best of this opportunity and build a solid information network with your fellow participants. You are all important players when it comes to ensuring food security in the ASEAN region.
Finally, I want to thank the European Union for the support it has provided for the workshop through the Improved Global Governance for Hunger Reduction.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me focus briefly on why we are all here. Presently, the world produces enough food to meet the nutritional requirements of everyone, yet in our region alone some 5xx million people are going hungry everyday. This fact does not bode well for the future when by 2050 the world’s population will top 9 billion. To feed so many many people, FAO estimates that food production must increase by 60 percent globally and by 77 percent in developing countries alone. More than 90 percent of production increases must come from the existing arable land we are already farming. This will call for break through agricultural research to provide the kind of yield increases that will be needed. We face huge challenges that include declining water resources, the degradation of ecosystems and stagnation of productivity growth.
Perhaps the most critical uncertainty ahead of us is the impact of climate change on agriculture production. Other known risks include food export bans by countries trying to protect their own consumers, food price volatility and food shortages, which could lead to social instability and food riots. It is up to all of us to prevent such bleak future and we have made some progress.
For example, the Asia - Pacific region has made good progress toward achieving the MDG1 hunger goal set for 2015. Some countries in the region are now on track to eradicate hunger by 2025 by implementing the Zero Hunger Challenge of the UN Secretary General. The latest FAO statistics released in September this year show that the proportion of undernourished in Asia in 2013 declined from 14.7 percent to 13.5 percent in past three years, putting the region within reach of the MDG1 target of 12 percent.
Finally, I would like to conclude my remarks by noting that this workshop is an opportunity for participants to work towards an even stronger AFSIS. FAO appreciates the efforts of ASEAN member countries to work through AFSIS towards our collective goals.
And, now I want to thank you and I wish you all a most productive and memorable workshop.