COMMITTEE ON WORLD FOOD SECURITY
Rome, 20-23 September 2004
EXTRACTS RELATED TO THE FOLLOW-UP TO THE
Follow-up to the World Food Summit and the World Food Summit: five years later – Regional Dimensions
8. The Meeting reviewed Document NERC/04/3 "Follow-up to the World Food Summit and World Food Summit: five years later - Regional Dimensions", which provided a summary of the salient follow-up actions taken in the Near East Region to implement the World Food Summit Plan of Action, highlighting the Region's particular needs, opportunities and weaknesses.
9. The Meeting recognized that the existence of hunger in a world of plenty is not just a moral outrage; it is also short-sighted from an economic viewpoint: hungry people make poor workers, they are bad learners (if they go to school at all), they are prone to sickness and they die young. Hunger is also transmitted across generations, as underfed mothers give birth to underweight children whose potential for mental and physical activity is impaired. The Meeting underlined that productivity of individuals and the growth of entire nations are severely compromised by widespread hunger. Hence, it is in the self-interest of every country to eradicate hunger.
10. The Meeting noted that rapid progress in cutting the incidence of chronic hunger in developing countries would be possible if political will was mobilized. The Meeting agreed that a twin-track approach was required, combining the promotion of quick-response agricultural growth, led by small farmers, with targeted programmes to ensure that hungry people who have neither the capacity to produce their own food nor the means to buy it could have access to adequate supplies. The Meeting stressed that such approaches were mutually reinforcing, since programmes to enhance direct and immediate access to food offer new outlets for expanded production. Countries that have followed this approach are seeing the benefits.
11. The Meeting noted with concern that progress in reducing the number of hungry people was very slow. The average annual decrease since the World Food Summit has been only 2.5 million, far below the level required to reach the WFS goal. The Meeting underlined that progress would now have to be accelerated to 24 million per year, almost 10 times the current rate of reduction, in order to reach that goal.
12. The Meeting noted that the food gap in the Region was expected to increase by around 54 percent, in 2010, compared with that of 1995, reflecting an annual increase of 2.9 percent. The Meeting recognized that the Near East Region faces special problems in ensuring food security, given the relatively scarce resources of cultivable land and water, and the resultant gap between domestic food production and consumer demand. Increasing quantities of food imports are required to meet the needs of the fast growing population.
13. The Meeting expressed concern on the deteriorating situation in the agricultural sector and food security in the Palestinian Territories and the destruction of infrastructure.
14. It was also noted that the performance of intra-regional trade, including agricultural trade, remains low and stagnant. The Meeting recognized that the salient features of the overall regional agricultural trade seem to include the following: low share of intra-regional trade, declining trends of agricultural exports, high dependency on food imports and heavy reliance on exporting primary commodities.
15. The Meeting appreciated that for many countries in the Region, future economic and food security prospects would be largely contingent upon agricultural performance and increasing yield. Adequate agricultural production growth will be needed to limit food import dependence, meet the growing food needs of urban populations and improve incomes and food security of poor rural populations, in particular.
16. The Meeting also recognized that despite resource constraints and adverse climatic conditions, untapped potential does exist. FAO projects that food output could increase by the year 2010 by over 70 percent as compared with 1988-1990 production levels. This could be achieved by an integrated approach combining production intensification, relevant research, effective extension and efficient marketing systems.
17. The Meeting noted with concern that the sustainable agricultural production throughout much of the Region is constrained by the serious degradation of the natural resources, particularly water and land resources. This is due to inefficient and unsustainable use of water resources, soil erosion, desertification, water-logging and salinity. The Meeting stressed that managing natural resources, particularly water resources, in an efficient and sustainable manner clearly constitutes the greatest challenge for food production in the Region in the coming years.
18. The Meeting called upon Member States to:
19. The Meeting requested FAO and other concerned international and regional organizations to: