From the podium

From the podium

His Excellency Joaquim A. Chissano (President of the Republic of Mozambique)

It is with great honour that Mozambique participates in this august World Food Summit: five years later.

In the World Food Summit five years ago we, the 185 countries then present, committed ourselves to reduce the percentage of malnourished people by 50 percent by the year 2015. This was a great challenge we set for ourselves.

Although reports published thus far suggest a substantial reduction in the number of malnourished population in some regions, the target shall hardly be attained, as malnutrition remains the biggest problem many nations are faced with.

Hunger reduction is not only a question of global food production. The combat against hunger must include food access policies and healthier nutritional practices. Special attention must be given to access to land, particularly by women, and to drinking water the lack of which affects more than 1.3 billion people in the world. Ensuring access to education for more that 800 million illiterate people and basic health care for more than 2.7 million people, as well as shelter for about 1 billion people in the world, are other targets to be attained in our collective efforts to provide welfare for all mankind.

Mozambique has about 18 million inhabitants, of which about 36 percent of children aged between 0 and 3 years suffer from chronic malnutrition and 8 percent from severe malnutrition. The economic reforms introduced in our country over the last ten years coupled with political and social stability, have resulted in profound changes in our food economy. Indeed, the policies adopted by the Government encourage the participation of the private sector and the civil society in the struggle for development in general, and in the fight against poverty in particular. These reforms make it imperative to adjust Government strategies in securing food security and better nutrition in a market economy. We are challenged to play the role because of the poverty and external dependence in which we are living.

The eradication of hunger and its causes is a national, regional and world concern which is being expressed in the efforts to coordinate policies and programmes.

I wish to take this opportunity to express our special gratitude to FAO and the World Food Programme, as well as to other United Nations Agencies and the international community in general for the support they are extending to us in facing the climatic disasters which strike our country and the whole Southern African region so frequently.

Your support will still be necessary if we are to be better equipped to successfully face natural disasters in the future, in building reservoirs, dykes, dams and other related infrastructures that will enable us to control floods and save water for human and animal consumption and irrigation.

Ladies and gentlemen, Excellencies. In spite of the afore-mentioned difficulties, Mozambique has been making encouraging progress on food production. The climate of peace we are living in, the introduction of improved technologies through rural extension services, the provision of agricultural inputs by the Government in conjunction with FAO and other cooperating partners, as well as the efforts in post-flood reconstruction, are all contributing to this food production increase.

As part of the fight against hunger, we are paying particular attention to the health front. The HIV/AIDS epidemic, malaria, and tuberculosis erode the national production capacity, particularly with regard to the agricultural sector. This is why their control is one of the priorities in our Absolute Poverty Reduction Programme.

In the area of water supply we still have a long way to go, however.

Expanding and improving the quality of our educational system, with a special emphasis on child-girl education, is an important contribution in increasing agricultural production and food security, and in fighting against malnutrition.

The debt relief we are receiving under the HIPC, for which we are thankful to our partners, allows us to channel additional resources for rural development.

We should develop agro-industries as a strong incentive for peasants and small farmers to increase their agricultural production. In addition to provide reliable markets and income, new job would be created and a variety of food products could be conserved.

We ought to face the challenge of maintaining, at least over the next eight years, our average rate of 10 percent economic growth, in order to sustain and strengthen the results that we are obtaining the poverty reduction programme. It is our view that this is achievable if both, public and private investment, and cooperation, are maintained and increased.

Excellencies. As I conclude, I wish to express once again our heartfelt appreciation to all the international community in general and, in particular to the FAO and its Director-General, Mr. Jacques Diouf, for their commitment in helping humanity to fight hunger, thus contributing to poverty eradication in the world.

This is my summary. My speech will be distributed to you all.

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