Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

OPENING STATEMENT
by
He Changchui
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

Delivered at the

Regional workshop on rehabilitation of agriculture in tsunami affected area:
One and a half years later

29 to 30 June 2006
Bangkok, Thailand




Distinguished delegates,
Representatives from partners, donors and NGOs,
FAO colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to welcome all participants to this regional workshop on rehabilitation of agriculture in tsunami affected area: one and a half years later.

This workshop is a follow up to the regional workshop on strategies for rehabilitation and management of salt-affected soil from sea water intrusion, held from 31 March to 1 April 2005. Many of you may recall that the workshop provided an excellent opportunity for participants to share expertise and exchange information on rehabilitation efforts to support the affected farming communities. Various approaches for reclamation and management of salt-affected soils for resumption of agricultural production applicable to the specific local conditions were discussed. Based on the findings and conclusions of the workshop, a “Regional Strategic Framework for the Reclamation of Salt-affected Soils and Agriculture Recovery in Tsunami-affected Areas” was formulated and widely disseminated for use by various actors involved in the rehabilitation of the agricultural sector.

Immediately following the tsunami, FAO was actively involved in various ways in assisting the tsunami affected countries resume agricultural activities. In particular, a number of emergency assistance projects were launched to support farming communities in the affected regions who lost their production, assets and subsequently the means to support their livelihood. While such short-term emergency assistance was crucial, it is our conviction that a long-term, sustainable development approach is essential for “building back better” the affected rural communities. In this regard, one of the main challenges now is to identify suitable interventions for longer-term rehabilitation and reconstruction of the agriculture sector. Such interventions should be carried out in a sustainable manner best suited to the local agro-ecological and socio-economic conditions. And for that an integrated and participatory approach is needed to identify promising technologies that could easily be adopted or adapted by local farmers.

In this context, FAO continues to collaborate with a number of national and international organizations such as related UN agencies, CGIAR centres, donor agencies, academic institutions and NGOs to provide policy advice and technical support to national efforts for development of long-term rehabilitation plans and development strategies for the agriculture sector.

The overarching objective of this workshop is to assess the progress made so far in addressing the emergency needs for resumption of agricultural activities and ongoing rehabilitation activities so that policies and strategies can be developed to support strategizing longer-term rehabilitation efforts. The main objectives of this workshop are to:

  • collect information on all past and ongoing rehabilitation efforts and identify overall gaps in the agriculture subsectors and rehabilitation interventions;
  • review and discuss national strategies with emphasis on mid- to long-term rehabilitation of the agriculture sector;
  • explore possibilities of strengthening national programmes/activities related to the rehabilitation of the agriculture sector; and
  • develop mechanisms for coordination and exchange of information on the various initiatives being undertaken.

I am pleased to see so many participants from all the affected countries, and representatives from a large number of international and regional organizations at this workshop. This is indeed not only a reflection of your continued commitment to help the affected people move towards long-term, sustainable development, but also of the importance you have attached to partnership as we move our efforts to a new phase in rehabilitation of the agricultural sector. All of you possess practical experiences from the real world. Your active participation and inputs will be highly valuable in identifying action plans towards achieving the above objectives.

I wish you well in your endeavours and look forward to seeing the output of this workshop.

I hereby declare the workshop open.

Thank you.