Preparing for cyclones in Samoa
Helping farmers in Samoa prepare for cyclones and cope with the damage they cause is the theme of a recently released booklet. Combating the effects of cyclones on food security in Samoa was released by the UN Theme Group on Rural Development and Food Security and coordinated by the FAO Sub-regional Office for the Pacific Islands.
The booklet provides information to farmers in Samoa on how to prepare their fields before the cyclone season and how to cope with damage afterward. The main focus of the booklet, based on interviews with farmers, government authorities and other specialists in agriculture and nutrition, is to minimize food shortages and shorten the recovery period, which can last months.
To prevent damage, for example, the booklet recommends trimming the leaves and branchlets of breadfruit plants to reduce wind resistance. To protect food supplies, it suggests cultivating crops that grow underground, such as yams. And it points out that cyclones can bring benefits as well by destroying pest habitats.
Most families in Samoa grow their own food, cultivating enough to provide for their daily needs. But losses from natural disasters can greatly augment the risk of food shortages. Over the past 100 years, Samoa has been hit by six particularly devastating cyclones. The high-risk period is November through April.
All 350 copies of the booklet have been distributed in Samoa. The UN Theme Group on Rural Development and Food Security is already planning to produce a second booklet in the series, focused on fisheries.
18 October 2001
New FAO Ambassadors appointed
At the nomination ceremony, FAO's Director-General Jacques Diouf said of the four new Ambassadors: "These distinguished men and women of talent and passion, have expressed their desire to help focus global attention on the noble aims of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: a world free from hunger."
They join six other FAO Ambassadors: US singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, Chinese actress Gong Li, Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida, South African singer Miriam Makeba, Italian Nobel Prize winner Rita Levi Montalcini, and Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour.
Each has made a personal and professional commitment to speak out on the universal humanitarian issues that underpin FAO's mission: to build a food-secure world for present and future generations. Using their talents and influence, the Ambassadors are working to draw as many people as possible into FAO's campaign against world hunger.
The FAO Ambassadors Programme began in 1999 with a goal of attracting public and media attention to the plight of the 800 million people who continue to suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition in a time of unprecedented plenty.
On the FAO Ambassadors Web page (www.fao.org/wfd/ambas/ambas-e.htm) you can see, hear and read about each of FAO's Ambassadors and the Programme.
16 October 2001
Ambassadors Programme: Celebrities support the fight
The first edition of FAO's World Fisheries and Aquaculture Atlas CD-ROM is being launched at the Conference on Responsible Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem, taking place 1-4 October in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Based on the broad expertise of the FAO Fisheries Department, the Atlas presents a comprehensive and global view of capture and aquaculture fisheries. Using both published and original material, it touches on all aspects of fisheries - from technology and trade to research and resources - and addresses a broad range of policy issues such as ecosystem management, safety at sea and biotechnology.
Today, fisheries and related industries provide a livelihood for up to 400 million people worldwide. Vital to the poorest, fisheries contribute significantly to world food security and account for over US$50 billion in international trade.
The World Fisheries and Aquaculture Atlas CD-ROM contains over 300 original articles and is illustrated with hundreds of images, graphs, maps and fact sheets. In addition, 5000 links to other documents and Web sites provide a network of easily accessible, relevant and updated material. The CD-ROM will be published at least every two years for distribution at the biennial meeting of the FAO Committee on Fisheries as a companion to the FAO publication The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture. Future editions will include other language versions.
28 September 2001
FAO honours film on coping with AIDS
A documentary film about the effects of AIDS on young people in South Africa has received the first-ever FAO Special Award at the annual Prix Italia media and broadcasting awards ceremony in Bologna. FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf presented the trophy for "Together we can: South Africa's youth against AIDS" to the film's producer and co-director Jacqueline Fox.
In discussing the importance of the prize, Mr Diouf praised the media who "reach the hearts and minds of millions of people. It is there where you have a precious role to play in the global endeavour against hunger and poverty." Of the 36 million people living with AIDS worldwide, an overwhelming 95 percent live in developing countries, putting a huge strain on agriculture and household food security.
The film was inspired by the short life of South African Nkosi Johnson, who became a symbol of hope for people suffering from AIDS. The film travels to hospitals, orphanages and schools, exploring how the youth of South Africa are trying to break the taboo surrounding the disease.
The award was created out of a partnership between FAO and the national Italian television company, RAI. According to the international jury for this year's prize, films were sought that offered "insights and an ethical dimension, arousing sentiments and behaviour reflecting human solidarity, appealing to a sense and thirst for justice." The jury championed the film for showing that human touch can bring home a message of hope.
27 September 2001
FAO launches biotechnology Web site
FAO has recently launched a Web site highlighting the role of biotechnology in food and agriculture. The site presents an overview of FAOís activities in the area, including the organizationís official statement on biotechnology. It also provides an introduction to biotechnology in the agro-industry, crop, fisheries, forestry and livestock sectors and a list of news items and events. In addition, the site contains an e-mail forum on biotechnology in food and agriculture, a biotechnology glossary and links to other relevant sites.
Biotechnology is a collection of diverse tools that are increasingly being used in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and nutrition. In line with its mandate, FAO can provide its member countries with policy advice on biotechnology issues related to food and agriculture, assistance on specific technologies and legal and technical advice on regulatory issues. FAO also plays an active part in exchange and dissemination of information relating to biotechnology and its potential impacts.
The biotechnology Web site, accessible from the FAO home page, is a resource for policy makers, NGOs and others interested in the subject. It is available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Spanish.
21 September 2001