Thirty-first session

Rome, 23-26 May 2005


Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Mr Director-General of FAO,
Distinguished Ministers,
Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Honourable Representatives of International Institutions,
Honourable Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I should like to express my gratitude to my brother Jacques Diouf, Director-General of FAO, for the honour he has bestowed on my country and on Africa as a whole by inviting me to this Thirty-first Session of the Committee on World Food Security.

I take this opportunity to pay well-deserved tribute to his commitment against hunger and to his determined action to enhance the state of agriculture in the world.

My appreciation also goes to the Government and people of Italy who host the headquarters of our institution and who have always helped FAO to reach out to the world.

Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This Thirty-first Session of the Committee on World Food Security is taking place at a time when the world is engaged in a process of economic and political change.

Significant progress has been made in some regions as a result of globalization and liberalization, while the economies of most sub-Saharan countries have been affected by distortions that are jeopardizing their potential for rural development.

At the same time, it is now clear that the stability of nations cannot be solely ascribed to the existence of democratic institutions. It is also premised on the creation of the conditions needed to satisfy peoples' basic needs.

At the Maputo Summit of July 2003, the African countries pledged to allocate 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture. This historic decision merits support as it will foster growth in this sector and will lead to greater social advance for rural populations.

Ladies, Gentlemen, Honourable Delegates,

The food situation in Africa calls for resolute action from the International Community and a three-pronged approach to help remove hunger:

  1. carry out – with the African countries – sweeping reforms in the agricultural sector, with particular regard to land tenure, water control and the empowerment of small farmers and rural women;
  2. promote better access to international financing and markets, while keeping the level of debt of these countries within tolerable proportions;
  3. maintain and implement international commitments on education and health.

Ladies, Gentlemen, Honourable Delegates,

Burkina Faso's agricultural sector accounts for almost 40 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product, in a context of chronically inadequate rainfall. The Burkina Faso Government has initiated far-reaching institutional and economic reform to support, diversify and increase agricultural production.

By way of example, its small-scale irrigation programme, which has strong FAO support and uses low-cost water abstraction technology, has been well received by farmers. Its widespread application in village-level schemes represents a major asset for food security and poverty reduction.

The Government has also put in place a programme of cloud seeding technology to induce rainfall which increases the annual water supply by 10 percent.

Agricultural performance reduced rural poverty by 9.5 percent during the period 1998-2003.

As for food supply, the needs of Burkina Faso's population were covered by domestic production in nine of the ten years from 1994 to 2004.

The Government has recently adopted a new rural development strategy towards 2015 to consolidate achievements and create the conditions for sustainable development.

This strategy has four major objectives:

  1. to build a modern, productive and competitive agricultural sector;
  2. to stimulate rapid growth of income of rural producers;
  3. to facilitate the access of each citizen to clean and healthy water;
  4. to ensure that each member of Burkina Faso's population has food and nutritional security.

Ladies, Gentlemen, Honourable Delegates,

The many obstacles to accessing developed-country markets are discouraging the efforts of Burkina Faso's farmers.

Non-tariff barriers and export subsidies are the principal traps that are preventing the economies of the South from taking off and are compromising achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Ladies, Gentlemen, Honourable Delegates,

The developing countries turn to FAO for guidance on the future direction of their agriculture.

The rural populations of African countries, especially the women, have very limited access to land, credit and basic services.

Globalization calls for responses that reflect the fundamental concerns of the Twenty-first Century.

The countries of the South require increased production and diversification, but also rural entrepreneurship associating the private sector with financial institutions.

In the short term, it is imperative to create the conditions for accelerated investment and broader credit in the agricultural sector.

It is my hope that FAO's interventions will carefully address these issues so that we finally break out of subsistence farming and into modern agriculture and thus contribute effectively to reducing poverty and hunger.

It is also reassuring to note that FAO's experts are encouraging the use of biotechnology in agriculture as a way of increasing productivity.

These are just some of the areas of FAO's work in its daily mission to help member countries in their ongoing quest to free the world from hunger.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I should like to commend the determination of FAO's staff and the technical and financial partners who are working to build capacity for collective action against the locust threat in Africa and particularly in the Sahel.

I take pleasure in recalling Burkina Faso's profound attachment to FAO's ideals. It is my hope that our Organization will continue to mobilize the International Community around two basic principles:

  1. to have human security included in the priority objectives of governments in all countries;
    2. to use food security as a key indicator of poverty reduction.

FAO has inspired the world to greater solidarity and progress through the building of innovative partnerships. May that inspiration also open up new perspectives for global development with a human dimension.

Thank you.