Chennai, India, 10 Aug 2014 -- A high level meeting on family farming and small holder farmers in Asia and the Pacific has concluded with a consensus for greater support for millions of family and small-holder farmers across the region, who constitute more than 80 percent of total farmers, and renewed efforts to eradicate hunger and under-nutrition, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced.
Family and small holder farms are the backbone of agricultural outputs in Asia and the Pacific, producing the vast majority of the region’s food supply.
FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative Hiroyuki Konuma, informedthe Chennai gathering about Timor-Leste’s launch of a national Zero Hunger Challenge(ZHC). Timor-Leste has now formed a ZHC national committee to direct and oversee activities. Indeed, the country has allocated 10 percent of its national budget to implement the ZHC. India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Viet Nam have also expressed strong interest in launchingtheir own national Zero Hunger Challenges, Konuma said.
Konuma, who also chairs the UN regional thematic working group on poverty and hunger, pointed out that while gains had been made in decreasing hunger in many countries across the region, the real goal is to eradicate hunger in the remaining 12 percent of the region’svulnerable population. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s hungry and undernourished live in Asia and the Pacific.
The meeting was attended by nearly 350 participants, including seven government ministers and deputy ministers, representatives of civil society and academic institutions. A Chennai Declaration was presented to the meeting by Professor MS Swaminathan and generally endorsed by the delegations with some comments for further adjustments.
The declaration, “a new deal” for small family farms, recognizes the important role played by family farmers and small-holder farmers in ensuring food security, and their need for better support, protection and empowerment.
In his closing remarks, Konuma stressed the importance of creating national mechanisms to follow up on activities supporting the International Year of Family Farming to ensure strong,concerted, multi-stakeholder efforts are taking place to support small holder resource-poor farmers at the country level.