His Excellency Jochen Borchert, Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Forestry of the Federal Republic of Germany

The end of the millennium is approaching. Everything we do today will have an impact on our world of tomorrow. This is particularly true for our fight against hunger. There are still too many hungry people - people who have to fight for their daily bread, people whose only goal is to secure their bare existence. Therefore, we are all called upon to do even more in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. For daily bread is vital to life, it is a requirement of humanity and, at the same time, it is a precondition for worldwide peace. We will lose our fight against hunger wherever there is war, the crisis in the Great Lakes area is the most recent example of this.

Sustainable food security cannot be brought about merely by redistribution, for example through food aid, and thus with the Rome Declaration and the Plan of Action we have adopted a package of measures which is orientated to the principle of food self-reliance. The priority aims of these measures are to improve the income of the poor, to strengthen purchasing power and to promote domestic agriculture because food security and the eradication of poverty are closely inter-related, and here demands are being put on governments as well. Each government is responsible for the political and economic environment of its own country.

In the last 50 years worldwide, we have had experience that social progress, economic success and, last but not least, an ecologically sustainable and efficient agriculture can be best achieved where human rights are respected and freedom and democracy reign.

Good governance, legal security and a free economic order are the pillars of food security. Wherever people themselves are responsible for the land they farm, they will also strive to make the land produce enough to make a living and, at the same time, to farm the land responsibly.

Aside from secure land ownership conditions and long-term land-use rights, farmers also need a market and price policy which provides incentives to increase production, and here we must learn from past experience. We, therefore, lend support to projects which serve a sustainable environmentally-compatible agriculture and thus a sustainable increase in production and in income. We must make maximum use of every opportunity, sustainably to achieve our goal of Food for All. This also includes dealing rationally and responsibly with the new opportunities offered by biotechnology and genetic engineering.

Against this backdrop, the Government of my country will continue to support agricultural research towards sustainably increasing food production in developing countries, for example within the framework of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

We must also support measures which contribute to the conservation of biological diversity because that is the basis for successful site-adapted plant breeding. However, we must realize that the diversity of plant genetic resources is in danger. This makes the results of the Fourth International Technical Conference of FAO on Plant Genetic Resources, which took place last June in my country, in Leipzig, all the more important.

Here, for the first time, there was a global assessment of the world's plant genetic resources, and measures for their conservation and sustainable use were adopted. The Global Plan of Action is the basis for national measures and the improvement of international cooperation. This should also constitute a contribution to food security.

But we must not look at the food problems of the Third World solely from an agricultural perspective. We must approach them within the framework of overall political, economic and societal developments. Under-development does not reflect itself solely in inadequate food supply but also in other unsatisfied basic needs such as lack of health care, poor housing conditions, lack of educational and training opportunities, and unfavourable institutional and political environments.

The Federal Government is therefore endeavouring to ensure that the Commitments embedded in the Plan of Action of the World Food Summit will be implemented. Preconditions for success are, on the one hand, effective international coordination and monitoring and, on the other, the efforts made by the developing countries themselves; Germany will join hands with the international community in supporting this process. In implementing the recommendations, within the framework of the follow-up to the United Nations Conferences of the recent past and of this Summit, FAO - because of its mandate and its technical competence - will have an outstanding function in the implementation of our Plan of Action.

The programmes against hunger and poverty have all the more chance of success, the more favourable is the overall economic environment. This environment includes international trade as well. With the intensification of worldwide trade relations between industrialized and developing countries following the conclusion of the Uruguay Round, we will be making a long-term contribution to an improvement in the world food situation. Liberalization of trade does have its limits in the agricultural sector; agricultural production cannot be geared solely toward optimum sites and toward the lowest production costs.

This is just as true for developing countries as it is for my country where agriculture, for example, contributes to conserving ecological resources and renders landscape management services to all of society. These are services which generate higher production costs but which are certainly not reflected in any of the world market prices. Such production disadvantages must therefore also be offset.

The world food situation requires us not just to remember problems related to hunger, but also to reaffirm our willingness to eradicate hunger and malnutrition. The hungry need our solidarity now more than ever. They also need our understanding and proper assistance in establishing an agriculture geared to sustainability. We have laid the foundation for this in our Plan of Action and now the Plan must be backed up by deeds. Germany will make its contribution to that end.

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