His Excellency Rexhep Meidani (President of the Republic of Albania)
I have the pleasure to address this high forum that is tackling one of the most crucial issues, the one that deals with people's food and its struggle against starvation and malnutrition that mankind is facing today.
Hunger and malnutrition are the greatest challenges to humanity and the arch enemies of progress, peace, human security and global stability. That is why all members of the UN have become well aware of the need to take up a global commitment in both political views and draw up a set of real and concrete plans to effectively fight against such odd negative phenomena in the epoch we are living in.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Albanian State has always considered issues concerning the reduction of the poverty level and food supplies for the people as the top priority and according to both FAO and the World Food Programme, Albania comes under those countries whose population does not suffer from hunger.
Albania is also classified somewhere in the middle of the countries placed among those with a medium human development. The step-by-step integration process of our country into the European Union and its membership of the World Trade Organization have contributed to a new modern legislation. The measures taken towards its implementation are in full accordance with both European and World Trade Organization standards.
By the support of various donating countries, the Albanian Government has worked hard to stimulate and back up its agricultural production and food processing. It has also taken numerous measures within the legal framework and membership obligations to sustain and protect home products, based on the fact that our products, which are entirely natural, have been and still are of the highest quality biologically compared to the imported food products.
In order to protect the consumer from uncontrolled products or those beyond permissible standards, the Government has set up a wide network of laboratories in Albania which supervise both home and imported food quality and properties. In the meantime, a full and direct system of control has been set up all over the country to check all groceries that are on the retail market throughout Albanian market places.
Particular emphasis has also been laid on both the protection of the rural environment and the development of rural area infrastructure, in order to keep all agricultural products biologically pure. However, while we are accelerating the process of decentralization of local government, there are still serious shortcomings at such governmental level, due to lack of human, financial and technical resources, as well as setbacks in coordination of activities between central and local governance. Better coordination of activities of local government with the private sector is also becoming urgent. Likewise, it appears, the local government role may be important in food security at a local level.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in its programme from 2002-2010 the Albanian Government has focused upon many issues that concern the development of the rural areas, output growth, incomes from agriculture, stock farming, agro-processing, as well as the infrastructures, health services and education. Special attention has already been devoted to changes in the structure of general production to further raise the specific importance of service and tourist sectors without, of course, affecting the strategic targets of the Albanian Government. Such objectives are: the preservation of growth of both agriculture and pastoral products at the level of 4-5 per cent, as well as the fishing industry, the improvement of exports and also increasing their value through consumption in the tourist sector.
The rates of growth in agriculture have been mainly based on extensive development. In the years to come an intensive growth based on productivity rise, introduction of new varieties and hybrids, improvement of irrigation and drainage of lands, as well as introduction of modern mechanization, is to be expected. The rate of growth of agriculture will also require the revival of some special products in the key sectors through sectorial programmes. Quite important issues remain: the consolidation of free joint ventures in farming in order to avoid the extreme fragmentation of land and facilitate the introduction of new technologies; the institutionalization of the land market, the prevention of abuse and an increase in effectiveness while utilizing arable land, forests and pastures; their entire protection or, in special cases, I think, their partial provisional conservation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Albanian State has highly evaluated the results of the World Food Summit held in Rome in 1996 and also its approved documents. Albania, like other countries, has expressed its political will fulfil all its commitments within the framework of the World Food Security Plan of Action. It also highly values the cooperation of the Albanian institutions with UN and World Bank agencies with a view to carrying out its commitments that come from the implementation of such a Plan.
In cooperation with FAO, the Government took all necessary measures to successfully carry out the Special Programme for Food Security, a programme that had and still has as its key objective the improvement of food security in Albania.
Ladies and Gentlemen, before bringing my speech to a close, I would like to appeal to all developed countries and the specialized institutions to keep on rendering assistance to the countries whose people still suffer from hunger and malnutrition. I consider it to be one of the greatest services to mankind, to the right to live, to human security and global security, to our common future.
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