Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific
delivered at the
Regional Workshop on Mobile Technologies for Food Security, Agriculture and Rural Development
Organized by FAO & NECTEC
3 – 4 April 2012
Distinguished guests and participants
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is indeed a great pleasure and an honor to be here with you this morning. I am pleased to address this important workshop on the use of mobile technologies for food security, agriculture and rural development. I welcome you all on behalf of FAO and on my own behalf, to the workshop.
I note with interest the participants from many countries in Asia. All of you are experts in your fields. I am confident that this will provide a high level of sharing and learning at the workshop. I encourage you to make the most of this opportunity to strengthen and expand linkages and networks that are critical for our development work following the workshop.
Ladies and gentleman,
As we all know, the world is currently facing many challenges. Access to the right information at the right time and in the right form helps us make informed decisions on critical issues. This is more important for resource poor farmers and poorest of the poor living in rural areas. Access to the right information is no more a luxury – it is a necessity.
Agriculture is increasingly knowledge-intensive. The sector faces many challenges posed by climate change, loss of biodiversity, drought, desertification, increase in food prices and inefficient supply chains. Farmers’ need for information will only increase as they will be required to make increasing complex decisions, which will impact the livelihoods of families and society.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The world’s population is 7 billion and growing. The number of mobile connections is 6 billion and counting. Clearly mobile phone-based information services holds great potential. However, we cannot forget that a great number of people live on less than 2 US$ per day, and the developing “mobile revolution” must not pass them over and leave them behind.
This is where favorable policies and an enabling environment have to be fostered, in order to facilitate the creation and use of mobile agricultural information systems. There are many examples of mobile-based interventions in agriculture, health, education and rural livelihoods related projects in Asia. Yet how many of these have moved from pilot phase to a fully functional sustainable initiative? We know of very, very few.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mobile technology holds great promise in rural development. We have convened this Workshop to share experiences and good practices about the use of mobile phones in agricultural development and poverty reduction in the region. Together we must extend successful innovations and good practices widely, and think of sensible solutions to address the problems of food security and agriculture.
FAO continues to welcome opportunities, such as this, to partner with your Governments, institutes of higher learning, public and private sector organizations. We are very pleased to welcome LIRNEasia, Reuters Market Light, Nokia, and Katalyst. Together we should identify opportunities to advance the livelihoods of people in agriculture and allied fields.
ICT4D and M4D – it is time to move from being just acronyms to actions. Sustainable ACTIONS!
Unfortunately, we have our staff retreat starting from tomorrow, so I will not be able to participate in the rest of this workshop. Stephen Rudgard, Chief of FAO’s Knowledge and Capacity for Development Branch will lead the deliberations on my behalf.
I wish you a successful workshop and wish you also an enjoyable stay in Thailand.