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Address by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

Photo credits: Kesara Aotarayakul.

It is a great pleasure for me to join you once again on this year's World Food Day at the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. Let me congratulate the organization on its Sixtieth Anniversary. We certainly look forward to many more years of service and support.

The beginnings of agriculture happened when our ancestors moved from merely hunting or picking food in nature towards the management of plants, animals, fishes and forests. Through experimentation and adaptation, people produced foods and household products to meet their demands and needs, for consumption and also for trade. New micro-organisms were sought out and adapted to local circumstances and the needs of the people, largely through travel, exploration and other forms of intercultural exchanges.

In today's world, because of the immense progress in communication, the frequency of intercultural dialogue is fast growing. The effects of the information flows are also becoming more evident and pronounced. What in the recent past was available in a country has now become more universally available and affordable. As a result, the biodiversity of the available genetic resources has been exploited and utilized for the benefit of mankind. However, we must manage our precious resources carefully to create food security and sustainable agriculture.

Thus, the theme of this year's World Food Day is of special significance for us in the Asia and Pacific region from several perspectives.

In reference to Thailand, and also in many other countries of the region, agriculture is important economically and culturally. Thailand has thus managed to utilize plant and animal species and cultivars, both indigenous and imported, to meet its needs and for export. A case in point is that of rice which was first grown in the region. Thailand is now the number one exporter in the world. Other examples include the development of tropical fruits and orchids, and the booming livestock and seafood industries.

Thailand is, therefore, one country that has benefited tremendously from its agricultural pursuits and development up to the present. It is also one of the few countries to have transformed itself from an agrarian country to a relatively industrialized one, yet still maintains the importance of agriculture.

We should also be aware that agriculture is not just about exploitation and adaptation via technological improvements. It also has cultural dimensions. In our country, the diversity of peoples, cultures, and cultural mixes reflects the diversity and even the uniqueness of the food and food products.

I personally consider this year's theme a valued acknowledgement as well as a demanding reminder that we depend on each other and that everyone has something useful to contribute for the betterment of agriculture. This message should be kept closely in mind by all the people who are involved in the long food chain from the private sector up to governments.

In our region, poverty and hunger still affect a large number of people. Our concerted efforts should concentrate on the application of relevant and appropriate technologies, improved organization and support services to help eliminate poverty and hunger. These efforts also require intercultural dialogue to create flexibility, understanding and the willingness to assist one another.

I join you all in congratulating FAO on this auspicious day for its achievements and offer Thailand's good and full-hearted support to the World Food Day theme.

Thank you.

Photo credits: KPT.

Photo credits: Trakul Na Chiangmai.

Photo credits: FAO/Xie Mingde.

Photo credits: FAO/Johnson.

Photo credits: FAO/C. Boonjarus.

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