Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

STATEMENT

by

Hiroyuki Konuma
Assistant Director-General and
FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

delivered at the

Signing Ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
between the Nippon Foundation and FAO

Bangkok, Thailand
3 September 2012

 

Mr Shuichi Ohno, Executive Director of the Nippon Foundation, 
Mr Toshiro Mado, Senior Manager, International Programme Department of the Nippon Foundation,
Media Representatives,
FAO Colleagues,
ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to welcome you all to this historic signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Nippon foundation and FAO.  I expressed my feeling as a historic, because this is the first time we are signing something in writing and formally committing each other for our solid and strong collaboration and cooperation, after many years of ad hoc and informal collaboration as respected partners each other. I recall that our partnership started in mid 1980th, nearly three decades ago, when I was in FAO Regional Office in Africa  based in Ghana, and we assisted jointly the December 31st Movement led by the first lady ,the wife of Ghana President Chairman  Rawlings. Time flies first. At that time, all of us were young.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Through this MOU, FAO and Nippon Foundation will be collaborating to improve food security and reduce hunger and malnourishment in the Asia and the Pacific region. In particular, both organizations will be working closely on disability-inclusive agriculture development.
These will include identifying good practices and lessons learned from the past and ongoing activities that contributed by the people in disability in the society, such as agricultural production, agro-processing and marketing, as well as the activities supported by the public including  those assisted by the communities, CSOs and private companies under the cooperate social responsibility (CSR), with an aim to expand such good practices to other societies and countries,  and find a way to further strengthen social and public support to the disadvantaged groups. One of the suggestions put forward for consideration is the establishment of a Certification System, similar to GAP (Good Agricultural Practices),  to the products produced by the people in disability with the assignment of a special logo or mark  on the products, with an aim to promote social recognition and support to the products produced by the people in disability for value addition and facilitate social responsibility contribution by consumers.  We have already planned to organize jointly a regional conference on Disability-inclusive agribusiness development in Asia and the Pacific, that is expected to be held in January 2013 at which above mentioned matters would be discussed.

The people in disability are one of the most food insecure and malnourished groups in the society due to the constant poverty resulted from lack of knowledge, skills, resources  and employment opportunity. The most of these people do engaged in certain extend in agriculture and live in rural areas. The good practices will be widely disseminated and shared with various partners to support further disability-inclusive agriculture development for food security and better nutrition.

The both organizations will also be collaborating in the organization of joint workshops, training programmes, meetings and consultation in the field of rural development, sustainable agriculture, food security and nutrition.  I trust that our initial collaboration in Asia region would be expanded to other regions including Africa in near future based on our fruitful cooperation ahead of us.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In this opportunity, We wish to congratulate the appointment of  Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, the President of the Nippon Foundation ,  as the Special Japanese Ambassador for the promotion of social protection of  Myanmar’s minor hill tribes,  and the Nippon Foundation’s active initiatives to support Myanmar’s disadvantaged groups.  We hope that our collaboration would be extended in Myanmar in coming future in the spirit of this MOU to support poor farmers and disadvantaged groups in Myanmar.

With these few words, I wish to express once again our gratitude to the Nippon Foundation for its agreement to work together with FAO as a strong partner towards attainment of our common goals.  We will look forward to working together.

Thank you.