Nepal, 12 May 2002 -- Kathmandu – Representatives of seven Pacific nations have begun arriving here to attend the 26th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific that will review the state of agriculture and food security in the region.
Australia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga are sending delegations to the 13 to 17 May 2002 conference, which is being held for the first time in the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal.
The Prime Minister of Tonga, HRH Prince Ulukalala Lavaka Ata, Minister of Resources and Development of Marshall Islands Hon. John Silk, Minister of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries and Meteorology Samoa Hon. Tuisugaletaua Aliimalemanu Sofara Aveau and Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of Solomon Islands Hon. Stephen Paeni, will head their respective country delegations.
The Kathmandu meeting is one of a series of FAO regional conferences in preparation for a gathering of world leaders during the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS: fyl) to be held at FAO headquarters in Rome, from 10 to 13 June 2002. WFS: fyl has been convened to mobilize the political will and resources to accelerate global hunger reduction in keeping with the 1996 World Food Summit pledge to halve hunger levels by the year 2015.
Pacific island nations, however, have different food security concerns. These countries are worried about ensuring consumption of healthier food to protect their people from diseases caused by eating the wrong kind of food. This was expressed in the communiqué issued by the fourth meeting of Southwest Pacific ministers held in Port Vila, Vanuatu from 23 to 24 July 2001.
The Vanuatu meeting was in preparation for WFS: fyl, originally scheduled for November 2001. The increasing popularity of processed foods in these countries is a main threat to food security – ensuring access of all people at all times to enough safe and nutritious food, the ministers noted in a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting.
Agricultural ministers from the Pacific meet biennially to review the implementation of the 1996 WFS plan of action.
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