KATHMANDU, 17 May 2002 (Food and
Agriculture Organization) -Twenty-five Asia-Pacific countries
wrapped up two days of ministerial level talks on food security
here today, agreeing on the urgent need for renewed political
commitment to reduce hunger in the region.
The talks were to formulate the region's position
for a forthcoming world summit on food security organized by the
UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to mobilize
political will and resources to speed up hunger reduction.
The 26th FAO Regional Conference for Asia
and the Pacific, which began with three days of senior
officers' discussions on 13 May, was one of the last of FAO
regional conferences prior to the June 2002 gathering of world
leaders for the World Food Summit: five years
later (WFS: fyl).
After two days of ministerial level discussions, the
Kathmandu conference agreed on the need for "more
effective policies and strategies, and increased dedication in
implementing programmes to accelerate the progress of
agricultural development and ensuring food security for
It also noted the potential
for a Global alliance against hunger to further mobilize
political will in combating hunger and looked forward to
operationalizing the concept during WFS: fyl.
The alliance was first proposed by German President Johannes Rau
in October 2001 and has since been endorsed by leaders of
The meeting reviewed a
variety of hurdles to meeting the goal of the 1996 World Food
Summit to reduce by half by the year 2015, the number of
undernourished people in the world.
Particular attention was drawn to challenges arising
from growing populations and food demand, globalization and
emerging trade arrangements, natural and man-made disasters,
civil strife, lack of rural infrastructure, shrinking farm
lands, degradation of forests and declining fish stocks.
The problems of small island developing
states were highlighted with the ministers noting that many of
these countries face food security challenges that are as
serious as those faced by people inhabiting fragile mountain
The ministers agreed on a
broad range of strategies to reduce hunger and rural poverty.
Domestic food production and stockholding, fair and equitable
trade, sustainable management of natural resources,
participatory approaches and partnerships with local
communities, empowerment of the rural poor, especially women,
effective research and development, rural credit, appropriate
mechanisms of biotechnology and indigenous knowledge were
highlighted as important for achieving food security.
The ministers also heard a statement submitted by
representatives of civil society groups from the Asia-Pacific
region who held parallel talks on regional food security.
Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia,
China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Fiji, India,
Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands,
Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of
Korea, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga and the United States
of America are attending the FAO conference in Kathmandu.
Observers from the Holy See, Netherlands, representatives of UN
specialized agencies and several intergovernmental and
non-governmental organizations are also present.