China, 07 May 2002 -- Kathmandu – Agriculture ministers and senior officers of 40 Asia-Pacific countries are expected to meet here from 13 to 17 May 2002 to review the state of agriculture and food security in the region.
The 26th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific marks the first time the major FAO event is held in Nepal. It 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.
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. With two-thirds of the world’s 800 million severely undernourished people, the Asia-Pacific region is the focus of the 1996 FAO World Food Summit’s goal of reducing global hunger by half by the year 2015. WFS: fyl has been convened to mobilise the political will and resources needed to speed up hunger reduction.
The FAO conference in Nepal will take stock of progress in hunger reduction and make recommendations to accelerate 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.
The two-day plenary session of the conference opens on 16 May 2002 at the Megha Malhar Conference Centre of the Soaltee Crowne Plaza in Kathmandu. From 13 to 15 May, senior government officers will meet at this venue for in-depth discussions on a range of issues central to food security and rural poverty alleviation in Asia-Pacific countries.
Asia and the Pacific is home to three-fourths of the world’s farming households. The bulk of the farmers are poor and undernourished. FAO is working with countries in the region to improve the productivity of these farmers through institutional, policy and technological support. The emphasis is on rural women who make up more than 40 percent of the agriculture labour force in the region.
Substantive agenda items for discussion are the preparation for the WFS: fyl – regional dimensions; sustainable mountain development; livestock and fisheries development for household food and nutrition security and poverty alleviation; and empowering the rural poor.
The conference will also discuss ways of making operational, the idea of an anti-hunger campaign, which was first proposed by the President of Germany, Johannes Rau in October 2001 and subsequently taken up by several national leaders. FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf has mobilized support for this idea from Heads of State and Government urging them to endorse this initiative during WFS: fyl as a global manifestation of the political will to eradicate hunger. FAO regional conferences for Africa, the Near East, and Latin America and the Caribbean have recently recommended that member nations join the new initiative called “International Alliance Against Hunger”.
The conference will also consider the outcome of a parallel consultation of Asia-Pacific civil society representatives to be held in Kathmandu on 11 and 12 May.
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