Nepal, 15 May 2002 -- Kathmandu – Senior government officials from 25 Asia-Pacific nations ended three days of talks on food security here on Wednesday stressing that political stability and peace are essential conditions for increasing agricultural production in the world’s hungriest region.
The consultation has submitted a set of recommendations for consideration by ministers from these countries during the plenary session of the 26th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific, which takes place on 16 and 17 May in Kathmandu.
Increasing agricultural production, equitable access to productive resources, population control, conducive public policies, and peace and order, were among the key elements identified by the consultation as vital for food security.
The senior officers expressed serious concern over the negative effect of food insecurity on pregnant and nursing women, infants and children. They agreed that successful experiences from countries in the region prove that the best way to tackle poverty and hunger is by empowering the rural poor. In this context they emphasized the relevance of the development goals agreed on by the nations of the world at the UN’s Millennium Summit in 2000.
“There was consensus that devolution of decision-making authority and development resources to community levels is crucial to the empowerment process,” noted the meeting document adopted at the end of the consultation.
Noting that the region is home to two-thirds of the about 780 million hungry people in the developing world, the meeting expressed concern over the decline in the flow of financial resources to agriculture. Encouraged by the recent International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, the representatives of Asia-Pacific governments called for “substantial increases in agriculture and rural development investments”.
They also expressed satisfaction with those positive outcomes of the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Doha, Qatar that supported fair and equitable agricultural trade regimes. They urged countries in the region to “ensure that the important principles accepted in Doha are implemented”. In this context, the meeting requested FAO to assist in improving national capacities in the region to “participate fully and effectively in the upcoming round of negotiations on agriculture to ensure fairness and equity in existing arrangements”.
Discussions were held on the following issues: sustainable mountain development; livestock and fisheries development for household food and nutrition security and poverty alleviation; empowering the rural poor; and regional preparation for WFS: fyl.
The meeting highlighted the vulnerabilities of mountain ecosystems, mountain cultures, women and children in upland areas as well as the “ill-preparedness of mountain people to compete effectively in open economies”. It called on member government to give high priority to establishing and improving transport, energy and communication links and services to mountain communities.
While preparing mountain communities to benefit from locally available comparative or competitive advantages, the meeting suggested that governments must work with non-governmental organizations to provide “targeted safety nets” and social programmes to reduce hunger, create jobs in the mountain areas.
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