From the podium

From the podium


His Excellency Khalid Al-Khalifa (Minister for Housing and Agriculture of the Kingdom of Bahrain)

It is my great pleasure to represent His Majesty Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa, the King of Bahrain, at this very important Conference and to convey to this esteemed gathering His Majesty's best wishes for its success.

The first World Food Summit was held here in 1996, and there is no doubt that this event represents a timely and appropriate opportunity for us to review critically the achievements that have been made since the first Conference. However, if we are to learn from these experiences and benefit from such a review, we must analyse both the successes and failures of those years. If we are also to achieve a single strategy with clearly defined mechanisms, based on common views, we must also review the qualitative differences that have characterized the many different approaches we have each followed as we sought to meet our previous goals.

Your Excellency the President, as we review the progress made since the first Conference, it is imperative for us to acknowledge that the goal we had set ourselves to achieve then has not yet been attained. The target set was to reduce the number of victims of hunger in the world from 800 million people by 50 percent before the year 2015. Progress so far unfortunately is at a much lower rate and insufficient for us to achieve that goal. This failure places more responsibility on the international community. Although this target might seem difficult to achieve, we can speed up the rate of progress to attain this goal within the timeframe to which we have committed ourselves if we ourselves act with new determination, sincerity and hard work.

The previous Summit Conference adopted resolutions calling for drawing up national strategies until the year 2010 for increasing investments in agriculture and fisheries. I feel that there is an urgent need for FAO to attach special importance to this and what progress has been achieved in this field. This, I believe, will further enhance national efforts towards increasing food production and strengthening international efforts ensuring faster steps towards realizing the objective of creating a world free from hunger and poverty, a world that provides all elements of livelihood for all human beings irrespective of their affiliations and ideologies.

On this occasion, I would also like to express, on behalf of the Kingdom of Bahrain, our sincere thanks and appreciation to FAO, led by HE Mr Jacques Diouf, Director-General, for their support and contribution to the drafting of Bahrain's National Strategy, a strategy that has enabled Bahrain to make tangible progress towards improving food production.

Your Excellency the President, we are living in a world where political, economic and social horizons are increasingly interactive, one where our agricultural policy is constantly affected by developments within the international community at political, economic and social levels. With the trend towards the creation of huge economic blocks, the liberalization of international trade, and rapid and accelerated rates of globalization, we should seek to utilize the positive aspects of these developments and achievements in information technology and scientific fields to serve the aims of agricultural development and to assist each country to manage its resources and conditions.

There are numerous factors that have contributed to the worsening food situation and widened the gap between production and requirements besides the population growth of the world. The current conflicts and wars taking place in the world continue to place an enormous burden and pressure on international efforts designed to free the world of starvation and poverty.

Therefore, the establishment of security and stability in the world is considered a vital prerequisite in bridging the gap between production and actual needs. A reduction in the threat of wars, consolidation of the concepts of security and stability in the world will give a stronger boost to agricultural development activities. I feel that we need an international strategy that mobilizes and redirects man's energies, resourcefulness and capabilities besides the creation of a practical mechanism for achieving our objectives.

Ladies and Gentlemen, before concluding this speech, I would like to talk about the outrageous attacks against the Palestinian territories that have continued for several months in spite of being condemned by the whole world. Such attacks have targeted unarmed citizens who demand the evacuation of the Israeli occupation forces from their territories and homeland. They are facing death and destruction every day without having any weapon to defend themselves except their absolute belief in God, the Almighty, and their legitimate rights in their national soil and state according to international charters and UN resolutions.

We should not forget that the occupation forces have deliberately destroyed the infrastructure in the towns and villages of the Palestinian territories. Their destruction has extended to causing severe damages to agricultural crops and the agricultural infrastructure with all the ensuing economic social and environmental damages. Of course, the effects of such damages result in destroying rather than threatening food security. We are all aware of the suffering by the Palestinian people of hunger and homelessness under the treacherous Israeli occupation. This will certainly result in worsening poverty that is now becoming more prevalent in the occupied territories. Acute poverty is expected to increase with time unless the international community hastens to put an end to the treacherous aggression and evacuation of the Israeli forces and their attacks against the unarmed Palestinian citizens.

I would also like to appeal to the donor nations to intervene immediately and to provide urgent support for Palestinian agriculture for replacing and rebuilding the destruction brought about by the aggression.

Your Excellency the President, in the midst of events witnessed in the early part of the third millennium, the world stands at a crossroads and we must move forward wisely and rationally in order to obtain the right path. I hope that this Summit will be able to adopt practical resolutions that will provide true guidance, resolutions that contribute to furthering our efforts, designed to achieve the noble objectives that we have set ourselves.

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