Japan, 16 May 2002 -- Kathmandu – Japan has made a proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) for building an international food stock reserve for emergency assistance to poor nations, a top Japanese government official told a meeting of Asia-Pacific countries on food security organized here by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Several nations, including developing countries have shown interest in the proposal, Hiromi Iwanaga, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries told the 26th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific, which is being held for the first time in Nepal.
“The proposed scheme would ensure the (setting up of) international food stockholdings of basic foodstuffs and contribute to the more effective implementation of food aid,” said the Japanese official who is heading the 15-member Japanese delegation to the FAO conference.
Delegates from Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga and the United States of America are attending the 13 to 17 May 2002 FAO conference.
Thirteen ministers and vice-ministers and the Prime Minister of Tonga, HRH Prince Ulukalala Lavaka Ata are among those attending the two-day plenary session of the 26th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific, which opened on 16 May. Observers from the Holy See, Netherlands, representatives of UN specialized agencies and several intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are also present.
Japan is also working with Southeast Asian nations, particularly Thailand, on a study on the East Asian Rice Reserve System. The outcome of the study will be discussed during the forthcoming meeting of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) agriculture and forestry ministers with the agriculture ministers of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea in October 2002, Mr Iwanaga added.
“...we hope that the participating countries will be able to reach a consensus on the new management system of rice stockholding in East Asia in the meeting,” he said.
Japan believes that food security should be based on “sustainable improvement in food productivity in each country rather than increasing their food dependency on food exporting countries”, the official said.
While being the largest provider of bilateral development assistance to the Asia-Pacific region, Japan “continues to work toward the objective of duty-free and quota-free market access for all LDCs’ (least developed countries) products, he said.
The Kathmandu meeting is one of a series of FAO regional conferences in preparation for a gathering of world leaders at the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS: fyl) to be held at FAO headquarters in Rome in June 2002. WFS: fyl has been convened to mobilize political will and resources to accelerate global hunger reduction in keeping with the 1996 World Food Summit pledge by 185 nations to halve the level of hunger by the year 2015. Held once every two years, the FAO regional conference provides a forum for discussing agriculture, rural development and food security priorities in Asia and the Pacific. The FAO conference in Nepal is taking stock of progress in hunger reduction and will make recommendations to speed up progress in the fight against hunger and poverty. It has added significance because the year 2002 has been designated as the International Year of the Mountains (IYM) by the UN General Assembly. FAO is the lead UN agency coordinating IYM activities.
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