Twenty-sixth Session

Rome, 18-21 September 2000





Ministerial-Level Session of the Conference


21. The Conference was briefed on two parallel events, which had been organized in conjunction with the Conference, by Mr Masanori Hayashi, Chairperson of the intra-regional trade consultation, and Mr Mutsutami Harada, Chairperson of the NGO/CSO consultation. The Conference expressed its appreciation to JA Zenchu for its leadership and support in organizing the NGO/CSO consultation.



52. The Conference gave priority consideration to food insecurity and vulnerability in Asia and the Pacific and follow-up to the World Food Summit.1

53. The Conference welcomed significant improvements in food supply situation during the past two years. The region had largely rebounded from the adverse effects of the 1997/98 El Niņo phenomenon and the regional financial crisis. Regional production of staple foods had regained lost ground; aggregate carry-over grain stocks had risen; and net imports of grains had increased. Subsequently, per capita consumption of food had increased. The Conference recognized, however, that there were wide disparities among countries. In a few areas, natural and man-made disasters had caused food insecurity to worsen.

54. The Conference noted that new estimates of chronic food insecurity pointed to a decline in the percentage of undernourished people in the region, but an increase in the absolute number. Moreover, many low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs) had not made sufficient progress toward meeting the World Food Summit target of halving the undernourished by 2015. It was noted that the Asia-Pacific region had to reduce its number of undernourished by 14 million per year to achieve the World Food Summit. The Conference urged concerned LIFDCs to strengthen national plans of action for World Food Summit follow-up and assign the highest priority to increasing investments in sustainable agriculture and rural development.

55. Delegates recognized that the slow progress in alleviating undernourishment could be attributed to many factors, including-increasingly in recent years-man-made disasters. The Conference stressed the importance of identifying, estimating and locating vulnerable people in a timely manner, through the Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information Mapping System (FIVIMS). The Conference invited donors to work with FAO and the FIVIMS Interagency Working Group to establish or improve national and regional FIVIMS. It welcomed the initiative of the Government of Japan and FAO to develop the Asian FIVIMS.

56. In reviewing World Food Summit (WFS) follow-up, the Conference gave particular consideration to the "people-centered commitments" made at the Summit (i.e. enabling environments, poverty eradication, disaster mitigation and collective actions in pursuance of food security and balanced nutrition).

57. The Conference noted that the Asian economic crisis had motivated several countries to accelerate political, social and economic reforms beneficial for meeting WFS objectives. The Conference encouraged all countries in the region to expedite such reforms to enhance broad participation in governance and development.

58. The Conference agreed that increased and sustained capital flow into agriculture and rural development was a critical precursor for poverty alleviation and eradication. It noted three encouraging trends in this area: a) the return to agriculture as a priority sector for employment and income generation; b) decentralization and devolution of responsibilities in rural development; and c) increasing efficiency in distributing aid to the poor.

59. The Conference recommended that FAO continue to strengthen three of its WFS follow-up programs, which have significantly improved the investment climates in LIFDCs: the Special Programme for Food Security, Telefood and Improvement of Strategies for Agricultural Development and Food Security. In this regard, it stressed the importance of monitoring and evaluating these programs on a continuing basis. The Conference commended FAO for promoting South-South cooperation in the implementation of these programs and urged member countries to strengthen commitments to this cost-effective approach for sharing technology and knowledge.

60. Recognizing the serious negative impact of natural disasters on food security, the Conference urged countries to make disaster prevention and mitigation an integral component of sustainable agriculture and rural development. It recommended that FAO increase technical assistance in disaster management to the most affected countries.

61. he Conference recommended that FAO assist countries in strengthening policies, reinforcing infrastructure and building capacity for trade in agricultural commodities in the subregion.

62. The Conference drew attention to the possibility of small farmers having difficulty in adjusting to liberalized trade regimes. It called upon governments to undertake measures to assist small farmers to cope with the changes. It further urged governments to make the Ministerial Decision on assisting LIFDCs negatively affected by trade liberalization more operationally effective.

63. In strengthening research and development of sustainable agriculture, the Conference recommended that special attention be paid to key areas such as natural resource management, problem soils (salinization), post harvest management and loss prevention, food safety and harmonization of production policy.

64. The Conference noted the development of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) Food System as a step toward more efficient use of land, labor, and capital resources in the production, processing, regional trade and consumption of food. The APEC Food System was considered a positive example of collective action among countries of the region in addressing food security issues.

65. Consistent with the WFS Plan of Action, the Conference emphasized the importance of participatory approaches and empowerment of vulnerable people. It recommended that countries give special attention to investment and trade policies favorable to the poor.

66. The Conference noted the increasing importance of intra-country and inter-country migrants in contributing to food security and urged all countries to improve the management, education and protection of migrant workers and their families.

67. The Conference recognized that food insecurity was not restricted to developing countries. It recommended that future reviews give consideration to the issues of food insecurity in developed countries of the region.

68. The Conference stressed the importance of research and development in sustainable agriculture. It recommended that countries strengthen national agricultural research systems and reinforce their roles in the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

69. The Conference noted with appreciation that FAO had been effectively working to ensure coherence among relevant international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, and others working in food and agriculture. It encouraged FAO to continue and strengthen such collaboration and to contribute to other international fora with its knowledge and expertise.



1 APRC/00/3