ROME, 16 October 2002 -- Some 150
countries around the world observed World Food Day today with
seminars, conferences, contests and media campaigns dedicated to
the theme of "Water: source of food
security." World Food Day, which marks the
anniversary of the founding of the UN Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) on 16th October 1945, served this year to
sensitize public opinion on the essential role of water in
achieving sustainable food production to meet the demands of a
During an official
ceremony at FAO headquarters in Rome, FAO Director-General
Jacques Diouf and President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, who was
this year's World Food Day keynote speaker, stressed the
essential role of water in food security.
Dr. Diouf said that "careful water management
will be crucial to grow the food we all need to lead productive
and healthy lives" while the world population is
expected to rise to 8 billion in 30 years'time.
"The combined vicious impact of poverty,
rising demand for food and insufficient availability of water
poses a serious challenge for world food security and universal
access to clean water," Dr. Diouf also said.
The FAO Director-General urged all concerned to ensure
water availability and food security, while safeguarding the
environment. "We need to produce more while using less
water, to spare the part needed for use in homes and
Stressing the need to
avoid poor irrigation practices, Dr. Diouf said:
"Irrigated farming is at least twice as productive as
rainfed farming, and during the next 30 years some 70 percent of
additional food production in developing countries should come
from irrigated land."
In his keynote
address, President Chávez condemned what he called
"wild capitalism and immorality" and said that
"the root of poverty, hunger, water pollution is the
economic model imposed on the world". He deplored
"the absence of an ethical approach" and the
fact that "rich countries are imposing standards and
norms on poor countries" while maintaining subsidies to
farmers in industrialized countries. "There is no
other path than justice," President Chávez added.
Commenting on the outcomes of the
Johannesburg Summit on sustainable development and other major
world gatherings, the Venezuelan President said: "We
are miles away from the goals we set to ourselves. If we simply
make speeches and produce documents we are not acknowledging
President Chávez also
mentioned his proposal to establish an international
humanitarian fund to relieve the debt burden of developing
countries and devote significant funding to urgent food and
water development programmes.
speakers at FAO headquarters' ceremony included Italian
Minister of Agricultural and Forestry Policies Gianni Alemanno,
and Monsignor Renato Volante, Permanent Observer of the Holy See
to FAO, who read a message from Pope John Paul II.
Italian Minister Alemanno called for national and
international strategies for a better use of water in
agriculture. He stressed that the world needs "ethical
values" to solve the global problem of hunger, poverty
and water scarcity. He added that at a time when the winds of
war return to blow, only a deep dialogue between North and South
can help to achieve progress.
in his message, urged "greater cooperation in
protecting water supplies from contamination and improper use,
and from that exploitation which aims only at profit and
At the same ceremony
at FAO headquarters, FAO Director-General introduced the
newly-appointed FAO Ambassadors: Olympic track and field
champion Debbie Ferguson (Bahamas), renowned American singer
Dionne Warwick, Italian artist Massimo Ranieri, the Italian
charity football team "Associazione Nazionale Italiana
Cantanti", represented by Mr. Enzo Ghinazzi, and famous
football player Roberto Baggio (Italy).
Prominent personalities from the worlds of cinema and
theatre, music andscience, sport and politics, academia and the
arts, have been appointed FAO Ambassadors in recent years. They
include Nobel Prize winner Rita Levi Montalcini, actresses Gina
Lollobrigida and Gong Li, and singers Magida Al Roumi, Dee Dee
Bridgewater, Al Bano Carrisi, Gilberto Gil, Mory Kanté, Miriam
Makeba and Youssou N'Dour.
FAO Ambassadors contribute to FAO's mission by helping to
put the spotlight on the problem of hunger.