His Excellency Abdul Rasheed Hussain (Minister for Fisheries, Agriculture and Marine Resources of the Republic of Maldives)
Mr Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is a great honour and privilege for me and my delegation to be here in this beautiful and historic city of Rome which is associated with one of the finest civilizations of the ancient world. Let me join the previous speakers in expressing our appreciation to the Government of Italy for the warm hospitality extended to us. I would also like to congratulate FAO for the excellent manner in which this important event has been organized.
Mr Chairman, because of the significant steps taken by the Government of Maldives in ensuring sustainable food security for all Maldivians, severe hunger does not exist in the Maldives today. Nevertheless, nutritional problems continue to exist and accessibility to food continues to be a problem.
The geographic nature of the country puts limitations on efficient distribution of food to the population.
Mr Chairman, like other small island developing countries, Maldives also, shares common constraints that impede our efforts to achieve food security while preserving our environment. Extremely fragile ecosystems, vulnerability to national hazards, high costs of providing infrastructure, severe dis-economies of scale and dependence on external economy factors, are a few of these constraints.
In spite of the remarkable achievements in economy growth in the last two decades, Maldives is still heavily dependent on fisheries and tourism for its economic growth. The heavy dependence on these two sectors renders the economy of Maldives extremely vulnerable to the vagaries of the external environment over which we have no control. The very narrow economic base of the country necessitates a relatively high import content, creating a heavy dependence on foreign exchange earnings and rendering the economy extremely reliant on exports. Our efforts to develop the fisheries and agriculture sector are impeded by unavailability of inadequate finance.
Mr Chairman, as we review the achievements of the Rome Declaration on World Food Security, let us not forget its historic nature and global dimensions. Perhaps there is a need to reflect the wide disparity that exists between nations and its implications in achieving food security in the world. It is important to approach the issue of disparity at global, regional, national and community levels if food security is to be achieved. It is clear, however, that some progress has been made in our efforts to reach food security, though not to our satisfaction. At the same time, it is also clear that strong bond of partnership needs to be developed between civil society organization and the government in addressing the challenges which lie ahead. It is further imperative that we fully utilize this important Summit to create greater understanding and international cooperation in achieving our common objectives to fulfil our hopes.
Mr Chairman, the Government of Maldives has taken significant steps towards ensuring sustainable food security for all Maldivians. However, it is clear that much more remains to be done. International understanding and assistance are not only appropriate but crucial to the success of the efforts in this direction. We are grateful for the continued assistance rendered by FAO to develop the agriculture and fishery sector of Maldives. Let me also express my heartfelt appreciation to FAO for the phenomenal role it is playing towards achieving food security in the world.
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