The Organization is marking World AIDS Day on 1 December with a symposium at its Rome headquarters on recent trends in the spread of the disease and the implications for agriculture and food security. One devastating trend being discussed is the impact of AIDS on ministries of agriculture, the bodies that plan and oversee development efforts in the sector. In Kenya's Ministry of Agriculture, for example, 58 percent of all staff deaths are due to AIDS, while at least 16 percent of the staff in Malawi's Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation are living with the disease.
AIDS is undermining the sustainability of overall development as well. People are dying before they can pass on knowledge and expertise to the next generation. In the first ten months of 1998, Zambia lost 1 300 teachers to AIDS -- the eqivalent of around two thirds of all new teachers trained annually. The sale of productive resources to care for the sick and pay for funerals also diverts funds away from long-term development.
30 November 2000
Progress in fulfilling the commitments made at the 1996 World Food Summit will be assessed in November 2001 at the "World Food Summit: five years later".
The decision by the FAO Council, the Organization's governing body, followed a call by FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf for an international conference to review the progress in the fight against hunger. He proposed that Heads of State or Government meet to review the steps taken to achieve the Summit goal: to cut by half the number of hungry people in the world by 2015. He underlined that the present state of global food insecurity "requires action beyond business as usual".
The Council unanimously supported "a reaffirmation of commitment to the objectives of the 1996 World Food Summit, and of the need to intensify efforts to reach the Summit's target by 2015." It recognized that the Director-General's intention was to mobilize political will to fulfil the undertakings made in Rome in 1996.
29 November 2000
Spanish television show for TeleFood
In 1999, a similar programme of entertainment, information and fund-raising reached a quarter of Spain's television audience, generating enormous support for TeleFood and the fight against hunger. More than 20 000 people phoned in contributions, raising approximately US$1 million.
This year's three-hour show can be followed through the Internet on 28 November at http://www.pilarsocorro.com. It will also be broadcast by satellite throughout Europe on 7 December and and throughout Latin America on 1 January.
23 November 2000
Other items on the agenda for the 119th Council include:
The Chairman of the Council is the former Minister of Agriculture of Indonesia, Mr Sjarifudin Baharsjah.
17 November 2000
Due to severe drought, typhoons, poor infrastructure and economic problems, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is facing its seventh consecutive year of food shortages.
A joint mission by the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme reports "a sizeable reduction" in rice and maize production in the year 2000. The mission, which visited the country from 14 to 21 October, also notes growing disparities in access to food between different sectors of North Korean society. It concludes that food aid will continue to play a major role in guaranteeing food security in the short term.
16 November 2000
Small ponds make a big difference
To raise awareness of its vast potential in various farming systems, aquaculture and farming specialists at FAO teamed up to create a booklet on pond aquaculture in smallholder farming systems in developing countries.
"Small ponds make a big difference" illustrates how integrating fish ponds with crop and livestock farming has multiple benefits: improved food security, increased income, enhanced production, decreased risks by diversifying of both income and food sources.
Aquaculture includes a wide range of aquatic organisms such as fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants found in marine, brackish and freshwater environments. Ponds are the most commonly used systems, ranging from small, rudimentary facilities to large, sophisticated constructions.
Designed for agricultural policy-makers, "Small ponds make a big difference" contains many examples of successful projects integrating fish ponds into agriculture, from Panama to Vietnam to Zambia.
The booklet also points out various challenges and highlights considerations that must be addressed in developing aquaculture as part of farming systems development. These include appropriate technology and plans for promoting it, the need for capital investment and labour, and the availability of quality fish seed.
The booklet is available in Chinese, English, French and Spanish with Arabic soon to follow.
"Small ponds make a big difference" -- the
publication in pdf (1.7 mb)
10 November 2000
Teaming up against hunger in the Horn of Africa
To help break out of the region's cycles of hunger, which afflict around 70 million people, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in April established an inter-agency task force with a mandate to develop a strategy for responding to the region's long-term food security problems. Since then the task force has consulted extensively with governments, civil society and non-governmental organizations, donors and UN agencies to develop a series of recommendations, incorporated into a final report.
At the ACC meeting, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf, chairman of the task force, will present the final report.
The report offers a concrete strategy for action. It recommends development of a Country Food Security Programme by mid 2001 by each of the seven countries in the Horn of Africa. Plans for substantially increased investments will be central, but supporting policy and institutional reforms should also be included. In addition, the task force calls for preparation of a Regional Food Security Programme to address broader issues such as conflict resolution and trade.
When these programmes are formulated, the task force recommends that a high-level regional conference should take place at which governments can commit themselves to the elimination of famine and food insecurity, and UN agencies, donors and non-governmental organizations can pledge their support. Implementation of the programmes would extend over a period of about ten years.
25 October 2000