Distinguished officials of ASEAN,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you, to this signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding between the ASEAN and FAO, in conjunction with the Special SOM-AMAF Meeting in Lao PDR.
Background of signing MoU
I am very much delighted that the MoU covering cooperation with ASEAN has been signed by all the ASEAN member countries and now, it will enter into force upon completion of the formal signing ceremony between the ASEAN Secretariat and FAO.
FAO, a specialized UN agency, has as its mandate the raising of levels of nutrition and standards of living and ensuring humanity's freedom from hunger by promoting sustainable agricultural development and alleviating poverty. The Organization offers direct development assistance and policy and planning advice to governments for improving the efficiency of the production, distribution and consumption of food and agricultural products; collects, analyses and disseminates information and acts as an international forum for debate on food, nutrition and agriculture issues.
Focusing on the distinctive relationship between agriculture, food and nutrition, FAO works actively to protect, promote and improve established food-based systems as the sustainable solution to ensure food and nutrition security, combat micronutrient deficiencies, improve diets and raise levels of nutrition, and by doing so, to achieve the nutrition-related MDGs.
We believe that agricultural growth is particularly effective in reducing hunger and malnutrition. The primary importance of the food and agriculture sector in improving household food security and alleviating and preventing malnutrition is clear. Agriculture is the major source of food, employment and income upon which the majority of mankind relies to provide for and support their livelihood. Large numbers of people, especially the poor, are involved directly or indirectly in agricultural activities and derive multiple benefits arising from its multifunctional character. When agricultural development falters or fails in countries where no other fast growing sectors exist to employ people, the chances of the poor rising above the poverty level to play a full part in the economic development of their country is diminished. Given the high level of dependency of many of the world’s poor and nutritionally vulnerable to the fruits of the earth, this sector offers the greatest potential for achieving sustained improvements in the nutritional status of the rural poor.
The FAO has been supporting ASEAN countries with policy advice and technical expertise in agriculture, economic and social development, fishery, forestry and sustainable development to help make the region food-secure for present and future generations.
Please let me elaborate some of significant milestones and future collaboration we will make.
- FAO-RAP had worked with the ASEAN secretariat on formulating an ASEAN Integrated Food Security Framework (AIFS) and the Strategic Plan of Action on Food Security in the ASEAN Region (SPA-FS). ASEAN and the UN, under FAO’s leadership, then prepared a convergence matrix matching Activities under the SPA-FS with Outcomes under the CFA of the UN HLTF on the Global Food Security Crisis. FAO-RAP also organized, in cooperation with the ASEAN secretariat, regional consultations on food security. In this connection, FAO is helping to strengthen capacity in the ASEAN Secretariat for monitoring the implementation of the SPA-FS. An international expert will be based in the secretariat.
- FAO-RAP supports capacity building for Transboundary Animal Disease control through a dedicated secretariat in Bangkok, of which one animal health expert is stationed in the ASEAN secretariat. FAO is certainly providing capacity-building support to ASEAN by establishing an ASEAN regional support unit which provides training in and implementation of a regional programme to control high impact trans-boundary animal diseases and emerging infectious diseases which threaten food security and public health.
- FAO is also providing support to the ASEAN secretariat for harmonization of food security policy and bioenergy. FAO will station an expert in the secretariat.
- FAO has assisted the ASEAN secretariat in integrating the nutritional dimension into the AIFS and SPA-FS based on the request of ASEAN secretariat and the need of member states to improve high number of malnourished people. A high level meeting on “Integrating Nutrition into the ASEAN Integrated Food Security Framework and its Strategic Plan of Action” was organized in this connection on 29-31 January 2013, in Bangkok, Thailand. FAO will be supporting in drafting the AIFS and SPA-FS (2014-2018) and the ASEAN Food Security and Nutrition position.
- FAO and the ASEAN secretariat are also discussing the possibility of conducting a comprehensive study in 2011/2012 to examine the current situation, opportunities and challenges for foreign direct investment (FDI) in agriculture in ASEAN.
With these few words, I wish to express our gratitude to the ASEAN for cooperation and collaboration for the last few years and work together with FAO as a strong partner towards attainment of our common goals.
FAO will continue supporting ASEAN efforts to: improve hunger deprivation monitoring in attaining the MDGs; create an ASEAN platform to disseminate food and agricultural policy information; create ASEAN-hosted e-learning and knowledge sharing platforms for food security; and to incorporate nutrition into the AIFS Framework.
It is the time for us to write the new chapter in our collaboration to complete our mission in our life time. The strong dedication of FAO and ASEAN in developed rural areas in the region definitely lead to improve our people lives without hunger.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to join us today during the SOM-AMAF Meeting. I hope you have found this a valuable opportunity to eradicate hunger and poverty in the region.