Mr. Nobuhiko Kaho and other distinguished members of the Japanese delegation
Mr. Tesfai Tecle, ADG/TC, and colleague from headquarters and LOJA
Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
A pleasant good morning to all of you.
First of all, on behalf of all staff of FAO Regional Office, I would like to welcome Mr. Kaho, Director of International Agricultural Organization in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan and his delegation and the officials from the Embassy of Japan in Thailand to this Annual Review Meeting on FAO/Government of Japan Cooperative Programme. I have the pleasure to recall that on 15 January 2004, I had an opportunity of visiting your ministry during which you and I discussed the possibility of holding an annual review meeting here in Bangkok. I am pleased to see this being materialized and that RAP is honored to host this meeting here today.
Your presence here, in spite of pressing engagements at home, is a testimony to your commitment to strengthening FAO-Japan collaboration in promoting agricultural and rural development in the region. While one sees in Asia some of the most dominating milestones in the agriculture sector, this region has the largest number of the undernourished people in the world. Two-thirds of the world’s hungry live in Asia. Therefore, there is a great deal that Japan and FAO can do together to help the countries in the region in achieving their Millennium Development Goals of eradicating poverty and hunger. Apart from technical and investment support to address country-specific issues, there is ample need for interventions at the regional level that brings together several countries of the region to address common and trans-boundary issues.
In this regard, I would like to take this opportunity to express the Regional Office’s sincere appreciation for the trust the Government of Japan has reposed in our technical capability by entrusting a large number of technical assistance trust fund projects to FAO in the Asia and Pacific region. The support provided by your Government covers country specific projects, particularly in the area of the Special Programme for Food Security, as well as several regional projects in various disciplines. In particular I would like to mention the support provided to strengthen our emergency programmes, such as the Avian Influenza and Tsunami rehabilitation programmes. This support has been very critical to the concerned countries and FAO’s ability to deliver the needed assistance in a timely manner. The continuous generosity of your Government is highly appreciated and we hope that we can count on the continuation of your cooperation to enable FAO to serve its constituents and carry out its mandate effectively. FAO Regional Office remains ready and committed to support regional efforts and programmes in this direction.
I am sure that this meeting will permit further exchange of ideas and views between FAO and the Government of Japan, and will arrive at a consensus on priority areas of collaboration and commit itself to pursue those priorities. In this context, I would also like to bring to your attention that this Regional Office has taken stock of the main challenges confronting the agriculture and rural sector in the region and has come up with six thematic priority areas — namely (i) agricultural restructuring under changing market and trade conditions, (ii) decentralizing governance in support of sustainable development, (iii) reducing vulnerability to disasters, (iv) promoting effective and equitable management, conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, (v) strengthening biosecurity for food security and agricultural trade and (vi) alleviating poverty in rice-based livelihood systems. Some of these priorities are already reflected in the on-going collaboration between Japan and FAO and others may be taken up under the follow up programme of cooperation. I am pleased to confirm the full cooperation of the Regional Office in this endeavour.
I take it as my proud privilege to welcome and thank you for your participation. I am confident that the sharp perspectives you will share with us today will guide us in strengthening our technical services and programmes, in better serving our Member Countries in Asia and the Pacific towards sustainable agricultural development and poverty alleviation, and in assisting them in carrying out the plan of action agreed on at the World Food Summit in Rome during 1996.
I thank you for your kind attention and wish you successful deliberations and an enjoyable stay in Bangkok.