Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 10 Mar 2014 -- The Asia-Pacific region is on-track to meet the Millennium Development Goal of reducing hunger by half by 2015, the FAO’s Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific has heard in its opening session today. But the FAO is warning countries across this vast region they must redouble their efforts to improve and increase food production systems along the entire value chain in order to head off a food security crisis within the next generation.
While good progress is being made to meet the Millennium Development Goal, especially in East and Southeast Asia, 13 percent of the region’s population still suffers from hunger.
“Despite this positive progress in food production, the world is still home to 842 million undernourished people. One out of every eight people is suffering from chronic hunger, one in every four children under the age of five is stunted,” said Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific.
“Over two billion people, almost 30 percent of the world population, are suffering from micronutrient deficiencies which greatly influence children’s lifetime physical and mental growth. This is simply unacceptable in a world of plenty,” Konuma added.
The conference was told that in order to feed a world population of more than nine billion people by 2050, food production would need to increase by 60 percent globally. In many developing countries, that increase rises to 77 percent. Given that most arable land is already exploited, a major overhaul of food production systems will be required.
Government representatives from 41 countries in Asia and the Pacific participated in the opening day of the Thirty-Second FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific (APRC-32). It is convened by FAO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and hosted by the Government of Mongolia’s Ministry of Industry and Agriculture.
“Mongolia highly praises the valuable efforts made by the FAO towards Mongolia fulfilling the Millennium Development Goal (number) one and increasing the productivity of agricultural production,” said Khaltmaa Battulga, Minister for Industry and Agriculture, in his opening address to the Conference.
“The tasks in front of us are so important and so challenging. FAO cannot do it alone. One country or one single organization cannot solve the problem,” Konuma advised delegates. “We need to work together and harness our knowledge, experience and wisdom, mobilize strong political commitment, double our efforts and work together as a team for concerted efforts,” he concluded.
More than 200 participants are engaged in discussions aimed at improving food security and food production systems across the Asia-Pacific region and are examining ways to redouble collective and national efforts to fight hunger and malnutrition, raise the standards of living of people in rural areas and contribute to sustainable development.
The conference is attended by senior delegates and Ministers from governments, as well as observers from other UN Specialized Agencies, international non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations, civil society and international and national media.
During these first two days of the conference, senior government officials are holding in-depth discussions focusing on regional and global policy and regulatory issues in the Asia-Pacific region. The main topics of discussion are the state of food and agriculture in the region, outcomes of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), meeting farmers’ aspirations in the context of green development and restoration of grasslands and forests for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Programme and budget matters will also be discussed, focusing on FAO priority activities in the region and the Organization’s decentralization process.
On the third day, delegates will have the opportunity to visit a herder’s camp and family farm.
The final two-days, 13-14 March, are dedicated to a high-level ministerial segment, focusing on measures to speed up progress of alleviating hunger in Asia-Pacific countries. A round table on the double burden of malnutrition will be held on the last day of the conference.
All official sessions are open to accredited media