Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia , 12 Mar 2014 -- The mission for an end to hunger in the world’s most populous region received a boost today, with FAO member countries responding positively to a call by the Organization’s Director-General for a “massive effort” to end hunger in Asia and the Pacific.
Speaking during a side event at the Thirty-Second FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, pointed out the “remarkable results” achieved in some countries of the region in reducing hunger.
“Thailand and Viet Nam have reduced the number of hungry people in their countries over 80 percent,” the Director-General said. China has also achieved the Millennium Development Goal’s target of reducing hunger by half by 2015, he added. “For Asia as a whole, the proportion of hunger has fallen from 24.1 percent in 1990-92, to 13.5 percent in 2011-13.”
While the region is on track to achieve the MDG hunger goal, more must be done, the FAO chief told participants. Even at 12 percent (achieving the MDG goal), Asia and the Pacific would still have well over 500 million hungry people, more than all other regions combined.
“We must not tolerate a situation in which a single man, woman or child is still condemned to suffer hunger in this prosperous region where there is enough food for all and the means exist to put an end to hunger.”
Therefore FAO is calling on member countries in the Asia-Pacific region, indeed worldwide, to step forward with national campaigns to join it in further promoting the UN’s Zero Hunger Challenge.
The Director-General invited all countries in the Asia-Pacific region “to take on board the Zero Hunger Challenge, engaging all their people in a massive effort” to bring about a lasting end to hunger by 2025.
The event heard from a Vice Minister of Timor-Leste (Agriculture and Fisheries), whose country earlier this year launched the region’s first National Zero Hunger Challenge. “The launching of the National Zero Hunger Challenge in January of this year marks the beginning of our mission to have a food-secure and nourished country,” Marcos da Cruz, told participants, adding that Timor-Leste remains the country with the highest proportion of child stunting, under-nutrition and infant and child mortality.
The Zero Hunger Challenge sets a target year of 2025. It calls for zero stunted children less than two years of age, 100 percent access to adequate food year-round, where all food systems are sustainable, a 100 percent increase in smalholder productivity and income, and a zero loss or waste of food.