From the podium

From the podium

His Excellency Fernando António Miranda Guedes Bianchi Aguiar (Secretary of State for Rural Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries, Portugal) (Original language Portuguese)

I naturally want to begin by congratulating the Director-General of FAO, Mr Jacques Diouf, for the initiative he has taken to have us gather here to discuss the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the world, one among so many other felicitous initiatives that he has undertaken.

Despite the profound fairness of the Rome Declaration and the Plan of Action that was adopted in November of 1996 at the first World Food Summit, we do recognize that the objectives that we undertook to meet at that point are far from being met today.

Madame Chairperson, my country continues to feel that hunger and malnutrition cannot be tolerated, either from a moral, a social, a political or an economic standpoint. We consider, therefore, that the proposal made by the Director-General of FAO at the World Food Summit, to increase world conscienceness about this problem has been certainly the right step to take. And we are happy with the results that have been obtained already in the debates that have been held and the Summit follow-up that is contemplated.

Such a vast project requires a full commitment both from decision-makers and common citizens and the involvement of responsible entities in civil society and people supporting this in all sectors. A way must be found to overcome the difficulties that we know exists, to meet those objectives.

Only a wide-ranging contribution, such as the one we are trying to put together, will foster production both in quantity and in quality, with a view to accomplish sustainable development in its many dimensions.

Production, of course, is just one side of the problem. Food produced on equitable terms is yet another. We understand that the contributions and funds in scientific research, in training and increased productivity are all elements that have to be borne in mind. We cannot ignore the need for a balanced development that would generate the necessary returns to provide populations with the access to food that is produced, that is available and that should be made available.

It is this balanced developmental approach that, I think, offers the hope for increased food security. That is at the heart of the resolution adopted at the Fifty-fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the so-called Millennium Declaration, as well as at the hearts of declarations and statements that have been put forward at the World Summits that have been held in different parts of the world, most recently in Monterrey, Doha, Barcelona and Johannesburg. All of these efforts are clear evidence of the seriousness that we know we are facing in trying to find a way to mobalize the resources necessary to tackle hunger and to reduce poverty in a sustainable manner.

Madame Chairman, my country believes that hunger and malnutrition can be solved but for it, we need to commit not only our resources but our political will. This is an action that has to be taken jointly at the local and international level. It is a sine qua non.

An adequate national strategy is clearly crucial and at that level, the gradual and sustainable levels of food safety must be garnered and directed towards the most vulnerable groups of our populations.

Our support, by means of technical assistance, research and investment, has been steady. We know that our 0.27 percent of GDP, earmarked for the purposes, is a good start but we would like to do more.

We shall also endeavour to provide our contribution to the most recent European Union commitments which imply 0.33 percent of GDP being marshalled and aiming for 0.39 percent in the medium term.

Madame Chairperson, you may be sure, in that regard, that Portugal will continue to support the programmes and projects that are considered necessary for priority frameworks to be defined by each of the countries in turn; and that we will make available all of our experience and our best will and efforts, particularly towards the Portuguese speaking countries.

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