Members of the press
My colleagues from headquarters, Dr Jutzi, Dr Steinfeld and Dr Raney;
Ladies and Gentlemen!
It is my privilege and pleasure to participate in this Press Conference for regional launch of the State of Food and Agriculture Report 2009: Livestock in the Balance, in short SOFA 2009. As some of you are aware, SOFA is a major annual flagship publication of FAO. The report aims at bringing a balanced science-based assessment of important issues in the field of food and agriculture to wide audience. Each edition of the report contains a comprehensive overview of a selected topic of major relevance for rural and agricultural development and for global food security. I am pleased that this year’s report has chosen to analyze the role of the livestock sector in meeting food security objectives, developments in the sector over the last 2-3 decades and major challenges ahead.
The report draws on internal and external technical expertise on the topic and represents an example of multi-disciplinary and inter-departmental philosophy underlying FAO’s collaborative work. I am pleased that the editor of the report, Dr Terri Raney, is here with us today together with FAO’s Director of Animal Health and Production, Dr Samuel Jutzi, and the Chief of the Livestock Information and Policy Branch, Dr Henning Steinfeld. Their presence is an indication of corporate commitment of FAO to exploiting and capitalizing the potential of the livestock sector in meeting global food security objectives.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The FAO Regional office for Asia and the Pacific attaches utmost importance to the sector in view of the vigorous growth in consumption and production of livestock products in Asia over the last two decades, driven by technological changes and sector consolidation. Indeed, the region has been in the driving seat of what has come to be known as the ‘Livestock Revolution’. The rapid increase in consumption of meat in East and Southeast Asia and that of milk in South Asia have been most evident and have led to a reorganization and integration of animal source food chains throughout the region. At the same time, millions of rural people in Asia continue to keep livestock in traditional systems for food, nutritional and livelihood security.
The FAO Asia-Pacific Regional Priority Framework issued last year explicitly recognizes and emphasizes the role of livestock in poverty reduction, livelihood support, empowerment of women, improved nutrition of children and better management of natural resources. In this context, the framework notes, and I quote, “the livestock sector has emerged as one of the most dynamic sub-sectors of the Asian food economy. Consumption and production of dairy and meat products has markedly outpaced the growth in cereals and this growth is expected to continue in the foreseeable future.
“The sector has tremendous potential towards supporting the goals of poverty reduction and food and nutritional security but requires supporting policy environment to enhance the ability of small livestock producers to integrate into expanding markets. At the same time, there are serious concerns regarding environmental and public health implications of this growth and that requires strengthening the governance of the sector in a manner that the growth is environmentally sustainable and does not threaten human health. Balancing these seemingly conflicting goals is at the core of the FAO regional agenda in the livestock sub-sector.”
Fortunately, Asia has a rich diversity of experiences and models to address these challenges and over the last several years FAO has been actively engaged with all stakeholders in designing solutions for addressing these challenges and promoting investment in the sector. For example, in partnership with the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) and the Animal Production and Health Commission for Asia and the Pacific (APHCA), FAO has taken the lead in distilling lessons from Asian dairying experiences by facilitating dialogue and experience sharing among key players. Among other things, the process included undertaking rapid lessons learned studies, complete value chain studies in selected countries, and organize a multi-stakeholder workshop to discuss and evolve an action agenda for Asia’s dairy sector. This process culminated in the formulation of a dairy development strategy for Asia that identifies targeted investment activities for different countries in the region.
Through its own technical cooperation programme, FAO has invested heavily in guiding the countries in the region to develop systematic genetic improvements for cattle and buffaloes and to promote inclusive value chain models for livestock products. The Organization has also been active in guiding national governments in identifying policy gaps and finding appropriate adjustments to their planning and policy frameworks in the sector. On the animal health side, FAO has been working with OIE, ASEAN, SAARC and other national and international partners towards developing regional and national plans for the control of transboundary and emerging infectious animal diseases. The FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases for Asia-Pacific is based in Bangkok at the FAO regional office, and has been working closely with national governments, regional organizations, and major donors to channel investment in Avian Influenza control programmes in the region. I take this opportunity to acknowledge the support of all the partners in contributing towards the cause of balanced livestock sector growth in the region.
Ladies and gentlemen,
These are just a few illustrations of FAO’s past and present engagements in the sector in the region. In addition, for the next two years we have planned a series of other activities in line with the regional priority framework. However, as the SOFA report rightly points out, the challenges of livestock sector governance can not be solved by a single string of actions and by individual actors. They require integrated efforts by a wide range of stakeholders to capitalize on the strength of livestock production systems in Asia and the need to tackle those root causes with potential negative impact on further rapid livestock sector development. It is also imperative that such efforts be realistic, equitable, and conscious of region’s socio-economic and cultural dimensions. I am confident that through a continued broad-based constructive engagement, it will be possible to move towards a livestock sector that will be able to meet the multiple objectives of society. I will not go into further details of the report but rather give the floor to the editor of the report and the representatives from FAO’s Animal Production and health Division.
Rest me to take this opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of FAO’s regional, sub-regional and national offices in the region in working with member country governments and development partners in dealing with the challenges and opportunities presented by rapid growth and associated structural changes in Asia’s livestock sector.
I thank all of you for accepting our invitation and taking time to join us this morning in this important event.