From the podium

From the podium


His Excellency Khair Mohammad Junejo (Minister for Food, Agriculture and Livestock of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan)

It gives me immense pleasure to have the opportunity to address this august gathering on behalf of the Government of Pakistan. In our view, this stock taking could not have been at a more opportune time as it is abundantly clear that with "business as usual" we would not be able to attain the Summit Goal of halving the hungry not later than 2015. It is apt that we assess the situation and devise fresh strategies now to avert failure later; a failure that humanity cannot afford.

Madam Chairperson, the World Food Summit placed the responsibility for attaining the Summit Goals primarily on national governments. We in Pakistan have attempted to discharge this responsibility in the context of our President, General Pervez Musharraf's vision of a modern, dynamic and economically vibrant Pakistan. We have embarked on a poverty reduction programme based on pro-poor reforms at institutional, policy and programme levels. Our devolution plan seeks empowerment of people with special emphasis on women, at the local level. We are also moving towards a full democratic dispensation, with 30 percent representation for women in the legislature. Good governance is a cornerstone of our policy framework. A major campaign has been launched to arrest the scourge of corruption. In the Agriculture Sector, de-regulation and liberalization has been undertaken in conjunction with special support packages to increase agriculture productivity and profitability with a small farmer and pro-poor focus. FAO has been a worthy partner through its Special Programme for Food Security. Its highly successful pilot project, which increased crop yields manifold, is now being replicated in 109 rural communities through our own resources.

Madam Chairperson, the steps that I have mentioned are only the beginning of a journey, which is long and arduous. A lot more needs to be done. National policies for hunger reduction have to be more firmly anchored in the broader poverty reduction strategies. Institutions have to be streamlined to become more responsive, efficient and effective. New technologies need to be adopted, keeping in mind the local conditions. And, last but not least, the private sector and civil society organizations have to be encouraged to play their important role.

Madam Chairperson, as you are well aware, food security implies both physical and economic access to adequate food. There continue to exist challenges to such access. However, in an increasingly globalizing interdependent world economy, solutions do not solely rest with the nations themselves. We perforce have to look beyond national responsibility to seek optimal outcomes.

National ability to devote resources for combating hunger and poverty is severely constrained by the heavy debt burden. Comprehensive debt-relief, therefore, has to be an integral part of the solution. While we welcome the significant progress achieved so far in implementing the enhanced HIPC initiative, it is equally essential to evolve an effective mechanism for managing the debt burden of the heavily indebted non-HIPC Countries which are making efforts to reform their economies. Without a comprehensive debt relief involving innovative mechanisms, it would not be possible for these countries to finance their credible poverty reduction strategies. In this regard, we must acknowledge the leadership assumed by several developed countries, including the host Italy, to promote debt for development swap arrangements and outright debt cancellations to promote a virtuous cycle of debt and poverty reduction.

Madam Chairperson, secondly and perhaps more importantly, the issue of market access, export subsidies and domestic support in the developed world continue to limit the economic access to food and contribute to food insecurity in the developing countries. The developed world continues to spend over a billion dollars a day in subsidies, denying the farmers of the developing countries a level playing field. Providing this level playing field is now a universal demand of the developing would. The Doha Declaration holds some promise. While we move on to the negotiation stage, it is incumbent upon us to respect the spirit of this Declaration. Moreover, we must make the Doha Round a truly "Developmental Round" which could substantially and meaningfully contribute to meeting the Millennium Development Goals, not least the Goal of the World Food Summit.

Madam Chairperson, Official Development Assistance remains an essential supplement to domestic resource mobilization for low-income countries. World Bank studies have clearly demonstrated that this supplement makes a difference. While we welcome the recent encouraging announcement by the European Union and the United States to progressively increase their ODA, we note that the annual ODA would still remain a small proportion of the annual domestic subsidies of the developed countries. A further cause for concern remains the dwindling share of agriculture and rural development in bilateral and multilateral programmes. We understand that there is increased realization among the donors that agriculture and rural development must be brought back to the centre stage in combating poverty. We insist that this thinking be actualized by earmarking appropriate shares for these sectors in the total ODA.

Madam Chairperson, in the context of the Rome-based Organizations, the donors could translate this thinking into action by contributing to FAO's Trust Fund for Food Security by successfully and generously completing the Sixth Replenishment Consultation of IFAD in the current year, and by supporting not only the emergency but also the development portfolio of the World Food Programme.

Madam Chairperson, to recapitulate then, the challenges to achieving the Summit Goal persist not only at the national level but also at the international level, and all these must be handled simultaneously and meaningfully. We are convinced that it would take more than just a national effort, it would also take more than just partnership; it would indeed require a genuine alliance to deal a meaningful blow to hunger and poverty. We are very encouraged that a call for this alliance is being made from this forum.

Finally, Madam Chairperson, allow me to extend my Government's congratulations to this meeting for adopting a declaration which not only reaffirms and strengthens our resolve but also shows a way forward in this struggle.

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