From the podium

From the podium

His Excellency Jonetani Galuinadi (Minister for Agriculture, Sugar and Land Resettlement of the Republic of the Fiji Islands)

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Heads of State and Government, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am honoured to address this distinguished Forum on a subject that touches deeply the heart of moral, social, economic and political values and the way of life in our respective societies.

Mr. Chairman. Five years ago the Government of the Republic of the Fiji Islands became a Signatory to the Rome Declaration on Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action. Our participation in this Summit demonstrates our continued commitment to the objectives of the Rome Declaration and the World Food Summit Plan of Action to eradicate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.

Mr. Chairman. Since 1996, Fiji has attempted to deliver the seven commitments made under the Rome Declaration. But, like all small Pacific Island Nations, our smallness, isolation, proneness to natural disasters, vulnerability to structural changes brought about by trade liberalization and without economies of scale, by challenges of fulfilling our commitments would be great, although not altogether insurmountable.

Mr. Chairman. We have now established an enabling political government and political environment, which is necessary to strive toward the achievement of the Rome Declaration commitments. A democratically elected government is now in place following two years of political instability. The new Government has placed priority on achieving food and income, and security, for all our citizens in the shortest time possible.

In this respect, I would like to thank the Food and Agricultural Organization for their technical assistance which has helped us to identify groups such as women, youth, and labour-migrants who are vulnerable to malnutrition and hunger; develop the Fiji plan of action on nutrition; strengthen our national capacity for emergency disaster preparedness and mitigation in agriculture; and develop food standards such as hygiene and nutritional values in line with the requirements of Codex Alimentarius.
Mr. Chairman. Achieving food security does not only mean making food available or providing the enabling environment for it. Food security also implies a satisfactory balance between food demand and food supply at affordable prices. Against this background, my Government is considering developing a policy framework that impacts the availability of land and other resources in seeking to ensure food supply to our population would not be in jeopardy in the future.

Mr. Chairman. Food security cannot be achieved by the year 2015 without strong international commitment and partnership; political will by natural assistance from the developed to the developing countries, financial resources, technology transfer and trading arrangements that are sensitive to the non-trade concerns of the small vulnerable economies.

Trade is the core of any efforts to ensure food security and poverty alleviation in a developing country like Fiji. In that context, the realization of the World Trade Organization rules governing agricultural trade in the post-Doha era of trade negotiation would go a long way towards meeting the food security needs of developing countries.

Mr. Chairman. Fiji welcomes the idea of establishing the global coalition against hunger as a worldwide response to make the battle against hunger more than just rhetoric. My Government hopes that it would lead to the development of specific benchmarks to be achieved at national and regional levels.

Mr. Chairman. My delegation welcomes the recent launching of the FAO anti-hunger programme and the call for the resources of US$24 billion to provide investment in agriculture and rural development with the objective of making food available to the most seriously undernourished. My delegation welcomes the programme's target of small farmers and the aim to create opportunities for rural people to have a decent livelihood. My delegation would add its voice to the call for an increase in Overseas Development Assistance in agriculture, emphasizing the need for equity and transparency in the use of these resources by beneficiaries.

Mr. Chairman. Food security is as essential to world peace as measures currently being adopted to combat terrorism. I call the international community in this distinguished Forum to unite in the global effort to eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.

Lastly, Mr. Chairman. I would like to sincerely thank the FAO and the Host Government of Italy and its people, for the warm hospitality and courtesies extended to me and my delegation since our arrival in this historical and beautiful city.

Thank you very much.

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