From the podium

From the podium


His Excellency Jozo Krizanovic (Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (Original language Serbo-Croatian)

It is my pleasure and privilege to address this respected meeting on behalf of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

At the beginning I avail myself of the opportunity to express gratitude to the Food and Agriculture Organization, its Director-General, Mr Jacques Diouf, and all those who have participated in the organization of this exceptionally important Summit. I would also like to thank the host country, the Republic of Italy, for its contribution.

Although today's civilization is making fast progress in many fields, it is a devastating fact that every day almost 24 000 persons around the world die of hunger and causes related to it. Children and women are the most numerous victims of this scourge. This situation, as well as the fact that there are more than 800 million hungry people in the world today, is unacceptable. Bosnia and Herzegovina unreservedly supports the humanitarian idea of the Summit to eradicate this evil and to enable each member of our global community to have a free and dignified life. It is the fundamental right of each of us to provide nutritionally adequate and safe food for our descendants and for ourselves.

One of the priorities of today's world is to ensure sufficient food supplies for everyone. The world has its resources, it disposes of modern technologies, but there still is not enough food for everybody. I agree with the judgement that world leaders can and should make crucial efforts in order to eradicate poverty and hunger.

As the world has become united in its fight against the contemporary evil, terrorism, it also has to be united in the fight against hunger. Although poverty is its main cause, armed conflicts, terrorism, corruption, pollution, natural disasters, change of climate, which all cause widespread hunger, should not be overlooked. For that reason, urgent action is necessary in order to eliminate these causes, to ensure the political, economic and social basis of sustainable development. Such an environment is the only one that can give priority to the development of democracy and the realization of fundamental human rights.

The quantity of food produced today is sufficient to feed the world, but there is still the simultaneous persistence of widespread extreme food deprivation and plentiful food supplies in the world. The activity of the international community must be directed towards giving the undeveloped and the developing countries a chance to have easier access to production and financial resources. In particular, this activity should be directed towards ensuring the free trade of agricultural products, making them available for everybody and under favourable conditions. It should also be directed towards the transfer of technologies, experiences and information that will increase productivity in agriculture. We must not ignore the fact that many need help. We must not allow ourselves to become accomplices in suffering of the innocent by ignoring it.

The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina has recently drawn the attention of the whole world. Besides the enormous material damage, the war has also caused suffering of people. During the four years of war - - years without water, food and electricity -- the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, managed to survive, mostly thanks to the support of the international community. The United Nations and its organizations played the key role in providing support for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Today Bosnia and Herzegovina is oriented towards future, the development of democracy, the respect of human rights and the transition to market-oriented economy. Faced with the problem of a large number of refugees and displaced persons that gradually decreases, as well as with the problem of unemployment, it sees in agriculture an exceptional opportunity to solve these problems.

The revitalization of rural areas and their resources (land, material and, in particular, human resources) is one of the frameworks of future economic development. Current tasks in the field of agriculture regard further recovery with regard to the development of rural areas attaining a sustainable growth and the development of production, processing and distribution of goods, as well as the competitiveness of agricultural production and food processing.

In the pre-war period, Bosnia and Herzegovina provided the largest part of agricultural products by its own production, with its production capacities and resources of raw material. Around 50 percent of the population lived in the rural areas where agriculture is the main activity. Agriculture suffered enormous losses during the war and the estimated direct and indirect damage amounts to US$10 billion. Sufferings of populations, especially in the rural areas, were enormous. The number of inhabitants in those areas is decreasing. Livestock has been decimated, agricultural infrastructure, buildings, machines, fields, forests, vineyards and orchards have been ruined.

The fact that from 10 to 15 percent of land has been contaminated by mines (there are still more than one million mines left) represents a serious problem for Bosnia and Herzegovina. The population increases and cultivated land decreases due to the effects of natural and human factors. The process of the post-war reconstruction in this field is slow. Only three percent of the amount of estimated damage has been invested so far.

Currently, all available resources are under-utilized. Productivity in agriculture is two times lower than that reached in European countries. Annual production of food satisfies domestic needs only partially and that is why Bosnia and Herzegovina has begun to import seeds and food.

Well aware of the importance of its agricultural resources, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been trying to make better use of those resources, respecting the principles of the protection of the environment. Although the progress is being realized slowly, it really is evident. In accordance with its development plans, Bosnia and Herzegovina will continue to encourage the development of agriculture, taking into account its importance for the whole economic development. This regards the creation of the conditions for the development of rural areas, the organized return of population and employment in agriculture, adequate nutrition based on domestic products, investments in infrastructure in rural areas and the creation of favourable conditions of life, as well as the protection of the environment as a precondition for healthy life of today's and future generations.

I am sure that, with the support of FAO, international financial institutions, and through bilateral arrangements, Bosnia and Herzegovina can use its domestic resources and join successfully international efforts to solve the food problem in the world. Our commoncommitment and determination can remove the barriers to the trade of agricultural products and food in undeveloped and developing countries. All people should have access to food.

The Rome Declaration and the 1996 Action Plan are realistic road signs for further action. I expect that this Summit will be fruitful and that our work will result in the creation of a document that will speed up the process that started six years ago. I wish all the participants of the Summit success in their work, which I am sure will be done in an atmosphere of goodwill and mutual understanding.

Let us face more decisively than ever, the enemy of modern mankind. Let us promise each other that we shall persevere in our fight against poverty and hunger, that we shall reach our goal together and enable each human being of this unique planet, the Earth, to have food and life.

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