May 2002 -- Increasing the productivity and incomes of
resource-poor agricultural workers who feed Asia and
the Pacific, yet are hungry themselves, is a central
goal of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
in the region, a top FAO official told a gathering of
Asian civil society groups.
Achieving this objective is vital for
eliminating hunger from Asia and the Pacific, which has
two-thirds of the world's about 800 million undernourished
people, R.B. Singh, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional
Representative for Asia and the Pacific told the meeting. To
ensure this, FAO is working closely with civil society groups,
About 100 representatives of some
80 non-governmental and civil society organizations (NGOs/CSOs)
from 13 Asian countries working in the field of food security
and rural poverty, met in Kathmandu on 11 and 12 May to
formulate regional civil society's stand on food security
issues for the 10- 13 June 2002 World Food Summit:five years
later (WFS:fyl) at FAO headquarters in Rome.
Equitable access to resources - material,
institutional and social - is vital for unleashing the
tremendous productive potential of the rural poor and is a main
objective of FAO's endeavours in the region in the coming
years, Dr. Singh said in his closing remarks to the NGO/CSO
Regional Consultation. The NGO/CSO meeting was held in
conjunction with the 26th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and
the Pacific, which opened on 13 May in Kathmandu to take stock
of regional progress toward the 1996 World Food Summit goal of
reducing by half by the year 2015, the number of hungry people.
In their statement, which is the Asian
civil society declaration to WFS:fyl, the NGOs/CS0s demanded
recognition of "food sovereignty as the basis and
principle for food production and consumption including food and
agricultural policies." They urged countries to adopt
an "International Convention on Food
Sovereignty"and an "international code of
conduct on the right to food and resources".
Taking note of the concerns expressed by the civil
society groups, Dr. Singh asserted that the world food and
agriculture agency is striving to ensure that liberalization of
agricultural trade under the new world trade rules does not hurt
the interests of developing Asian countries and particularly
those of resource-poor cultivators. In this context, he called
for globalization with a human face.
also emphasized the importance of peace as a vital condition for
food security, pointing out that armed conflicts in this mainly
rural region usually take place in the countryside with
disastrous effects for agriculture and food security.
Dr. Singh explained that small and marginal farmers
make up the bulk of agricultural households in Asia and the
Pacific, which is home to 75 percent of the world's farm
families. Three-fourths of the region's undernourished
people live in villages and depend on agriculture, fisheries and
related rural industries for their livelihood.