Distinguished guests, participants,
ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning to you all!
On behalf of the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, I am honoured to welcome you to this regional training workshop. The workshop will focus our attention on the importance of food security and nutrition statistics.
UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has stressed that: “food and nutritional security are the foundations of a decent life, a sound education and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”.
Food security and nutrition information is expanding rapidly, responding to the need for evidence-based strategies and actions for eradicating hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, which countries and the international community have established as a moral imperative.
FAO is the lead international agency for the global assessment and monitoring of progress toward meeting the Millennium Development Goal 1 (MDG1) and 1996 World Food Summit (WFS) goal of reducing the proportion and the number of hungry people in the world by half by 2015.
The latest FAO estimates, released last month in the State of Food Insecurity (SOFI) 2013, show that in 2011-2013, 12 percent of the people in the world were undernourished. More than 525 million of those hungry people are in the Asia-Pacific region.
Progress toward the MDG and WFS hunger reduction goals has been uneven at the sub regional and country levels in the Asia and the Pacific. Over all, the region has registered a 44 percent reduction in the prevalence of undernourishment in 2011-13, compared to the benchmark period of 1990-1992.
Some countries in Southeast Asia have already achieved both the MDG and World Food Summit goals, while others are well on their way to achieving the goals.
Malaysia and Thailand have made remarkable progress, achieving both hunger reduction goals well before 2015 target date. Bangladesh, Cambodia, China and Indonesia have all met the MDG1 goal of reducing the proportion of hungry people, but not the number of undernourished people. Of course, these are some of the most populous countries in the region.
Many countries in the Asia-Pacific Region may achieve the MDG hunger reduction target of 50 percent fewer hungry people by 2015 if they scale up their sustainable rural development strategies and increase public and private investment in agriculture and rural areas.
Policies, programmes and projects are all formulated based on available food security and nutrition information. Accurate statistics on food security and nutrition can provide immeasurable support in our efforts to break the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger. With better statistics our decision-making process will be able to analyze constraints, identify benchmark situations, set quantified objectives, monitor implementation and measure the impact of policies, programs and projects on food insecurity.
FAO is strengthening its statistical work in compiling, estimating, and publishing up-to date agricultural and food statistics as per its mandate. The Organization is assisting member countries’ national statistical offices to collect, analyse and disseminate quality and timely agricultural and food statistics through initiatives such as the Global Strategy of Improving Agricultural and Rural Statistics, Agricultural Marketing Information System and the International Phase Classification Project. FAO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific is committed to support member countries to improve their food security and nutrition information by boosting their statistical capacity.
This regional training workshop offers the opportunity to review and discuss different concepts and definitions of food security and nutrition statistics with the support of FAO resource persons and representatives from the Thailand National Statistics Office, which has become an active partner with FAO in providing technical assistance to countries of the region under the auspices of the South-South Cooperation Programme. FAO would like to extend our appreciation to the Director General of Thailand’s National Statistics Office and his staff for their cooperation and participation. We also welcome participations of IRRI, CGIAR and WFP, thus reinforcing our collective partnership at country levels for the sustainability of our food security and nutrition initiatives.
During this five-day workshop you will have the opportunity to get to discuss the concepts, definitions and measurements of the multidimensional issues of food security and nutrition, which will help you to improve your country’s data collection and analysis when you return. You will also have an opportunity to discuss the use of FAO’s new user-friendly food security analytical tool called: ADePT, which was developed in partnership with the World Bank deriving useful food security and nutrition indicators from your country food consumption data.
Thank you very much and I wish you a productive workshop.