From the podium

From the podium

Mr Abdulrahim Gavahi (Secretary General, Economic Cooperation Organization - ECO)

Mr Chairman, Excellencies, Mr Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is an honour and great pleasure for me to address this august gathering of the World Food Summit: five years later. On behalf of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for their excellent arrangement of this significant event.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Economic Cooperation Organization is a regional organization of 10 countries, covering 7.9 million kmē with more than 350 million population, set to promote sustainable economic development of the region.

The agriculture sector plays a vital role in ECO countries. Abundance of agricultural resources in the ECO region offers a great potential for mutually beneficial cooperation in this sector.

Against this potential, currently 13 percent of ECO population is undernourished; in other words, 58 million people of ECO suffer from lack of sufficient food supplies. The overall rate of undernourishment in the ECO region is below that of developing countries as, by the year 2025, ECO region will still need 16 million tons of additional food products to meet its food requirements.

Therefore, in the ECO region there is an urgent need for development of sustainable agricultural systems in order to improve productivity and enhance food security. Although the agriculture sector has a great potential in intra-regional trade in the ECO region, it is also crucially important for ECO to effectively collaborate with the international community in this regard.

Mr Chairman, here I should acknowledge that ECO has benefited from the valuable experience, contributions and assistance of FAO in all its agricultural endeavours. But given the limited resources of ECO countries, it should also be noted that there is a need for additional financial and technical support from international bodies to achieve eradication of hunger and poverty in our region.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, ECO's quest for sustained agricultural development through regional cooperation is in its early stages. The groundwork to streamline the possible areas for cooperation has almost been completed through various fact-finding missions and exploratory meetings across the region, the outcomes of which will be discussed in the first Agricultural Ministers' Meeting to be held in July, this year in Islamabad.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, while appreciating the valuable contributions of the world community, especially UN System and donor countries and organizations to Afghanistan's relief and reconstruction process, I would like to state that ECO's involvement in these efforts will further promote this process of reconstruction, particularly in agricultural development of this most food insecure ECO member. In this connection, this august session is requested to kindly contribute to ECO activities in this regard.

In conclusion, Mr Chairman please let me congratulate His Excellency Mr Diouf, Director-General of FAO, and his staff for making excellent arrangements for this august session and wish them every success.

Thank you

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