ZAMBIA - ZAMBIE
His Excellency Patrick Sinyinza, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Zambia to the United Nations
It is my honour and privilege to address this important Summit as Head of the Zambian Delegation.
My President has been unable to attend the Summit and sends his sincere apologies. As you may know, Zambia will hold the Presidential and Parliamentary elections tomorrow, 18 November. As a result, it has not been possible for my President to be here in person.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Director-General of FAO, Dr. Jacques Diouf, for taking the initiative to call this important World Food Summit. I would like to thank the Government of Italy for hosting the Summit. Given the magnitude of hunger and malnutrition in the world and, in particular, in the developing countries, the Summit could not have come at a better time than now.
We all recognize the vexing problem of hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity that afflicts over a 100 million people worldwide, the majority of whom live in the developing world. The need to fight hunger, malnutrition and starvation cannot therefore be over-emphasized as these are the worst forms of human deprivation.
In the developing world, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, 70 to 90 percent of the population earns its living from subsistence agriculture. The agricultural systems are characterized by low levels of technology and low input use, are dependent on rainwater and yet we have many rivers whose waters flow into the sea. In order to move forward in agriculture and make food available to the majority of the people, we need to put in place appropriate policies and strategies that will facilitate the mobilization of sufficient resources for investment in agriculture. To this end, we have to channel a relatively large proportion of our national budgets into agriculture. Equally, we need to enhance private investment in the production of agricultural products.
Conditions for the eradication of poverty will be difficult to put in place due to the huge debt burden that developing countries are experiencing. Instead of channelling available resources into productive sectors such as agriculture, debt servicing has been a constraint to development efforts, making economic adjustment to growth extremely difficult. Therefore, if global food security is to be achieved, the debt problem needs to be addressed.
It is an accepted fact that world food security cannot be achieved without trade. Trade allows for food consumption to exceed local production, it helps to reduce production and consumption fluctuations and has a major bearing on access to food through positive effects on economic growth, income and employment. Broad trade liberalization as a result of the Uruguay Round agreement provides the basis for a better trade environment. However, this will lead to the least developed countries suffering erosion of preferential margins, in particular on agricultural products. In addition, the net-food importing LDCs are likely to face higher food import bills in the short term, resulting from the Agreement on Agriculture. The international community is, therefore, called upon to urgently remove restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets in conformity with Uruguay agreement measures concerning the possible negative effects of the reform programme on the least developed countries which are net food importing.
A disquieting trend in many developing countries is the incidence of man-made food emergencies arising from wars and related population displacements, which are some of the most important causes of food insecurity in Africa. The trend not only affects the vulnerability of individuals, households and nations, but also renders the entire economic and social infrastructure more fragile and less productive over time. To this end, I wish to join other speakers who have called for a closer collaboration in finding solutions to the conflicts and other man-made crises.
Another area that requires special attention is the issue of pests, plant and livestock diseases that obstruct the achievements of the food security objectives. In Southern Africa, the threat of locusts and other migratory pests has been experienced persistently over the period of the past six years. This year, a number of countries in the region appear likely to experience an attack of locusts. If urgent measures are not put in place to address the problem, without any doubt, efforts to ensure food security in the region will be seriously undermined.
At national level, my Government has taken steps to ensure that we attain food security for our citizens. A number of policy objectives for the agricultural sector aim at attaining food security at household, regional and national levels through the increased and efficient utilization of resources. The Government has recently put in place an Agricultural Sector Investment Programme which aims at making rational use of both donor and government resources. The agricultural sector has been liberalized to enable the private sector to play a leading role in the marketing, processing, storage and transportation of agricultural products.
One of the major problems with regard to food security is that of high malnutrition, especially among the most vulnerable segments of the population, that is children, the old and the unemployed. Drought, deforestation and the rapidly growing population have also compounded the problem of food insecurity in the country. My Government is implementing various programmes to try and address the food security situation of the poorest segments of our population living in both rural and urban areas.
The programmes involve the active participation of the Government, NGOs, women's groups, donors and target groups. This programme includes direct food relief to households, especially during periods of drought, drought rehabilitation, mitigation and input distribution to rural households located in the most disadvantaged areas which have been most affected by drought.
Zambia fully recognizes that food security issues cannot be tackled by one institution, but by the concerted efforts of all concerned, namely government itself, the private sector, NGOs, farmers and the international community. To this end, I urge the international community to assist us in implementing some of the programmes, such as the Agricultural Sector Investment Programme, which aim to develop sustainable agriculture in general, and food security, in particular.
In conclusion, my Government endorses the World Food Summit Plan of Action and the commitments. I further state that my Government will implement the Plan of Action in the context of our situation so as to record a meaningful achievement in providing Food for All.