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Bamako, Mali, 2 February 2006

Mr. President,
Mr. Prime Minister,
Mr. Director General of FAO,
Honorable Ministers,
Distinguished Ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure and indeed an honor to express on my behalf and on behalf of all Member States of FAO, our most sincere thanks and gratitude to you Mr. President and through you to your Government and to Great People of Mali for the outstanding hospitality and generosity provided to all participants in the 24th FAO Regional Conference for Africa.

It is impossible to name all who deserve appreciation and thanks, but I am duty bound to wholeheartedly thank the honorable Minister of Agriculture and His Excellency Ambassador DAGA for their dedication to sacred goals and objectives of FAO and for their tireless efforts in making such excellent arrangements for this conference.

The unique sense of history and civilization which is embodied in the name of Mali, Bamako and Timbuktu, creates an atmosphere of confidence, trust, hope and optimism which is prerequisite to successes in all such gatherings.

Mr. Chairman, we are living in a world endowed with such a global prosperity and material wealth which no one could realistically have predicted even half a century ago. The world GDP is exceeding 40,000 billions dollars.

Some countries enjoy per capita income of more than 40.000$ per year. But in the very same world each day 25,000 children die because of hunger and malnutrition, and 3 billion people live with an income of less than 2 dollars per day. In simple words, during the five that that we are struggling here in Bamako, to find better ways for achieving food security, more than 125,000 children will never wake up from their sleep.

On the other hand, the world is rapidly shrinking to a so called global Village, what happens in one part of this village will have its impacts and repercussions felt in other parts in matter of hours if not minutes.

Such a world cannot be anymore, led and managed by the so called invisible hands claimed by classical economists. This world needs a very visible heart to beat in all corners of the globe.

Mr. Chairman,

FAO is, or better to say, can be such a visible heart on issues related to food and nutrition, a very basic human right. If we did not have a FAO it would be high time to create it.

This organization with the logo of “FIAT PANIS”, “Food for all”, during its 60 years of existence has provided outstanding services to the poor, to the hungry and in particular of the agricultural development the world over.

Now, in the 61st year of history of FAO, we are reaching a major turning point. In line with the whole UN system, both the visionary DG of FAO, a true son of Africa, Dr. J. Diouf and the member states of FAO have proposed studies evaluations insights and visions which are aimed at reforming FAO to an organization, consistent with the new realities and needs of its member states and at the same time able of taking advantage of many opportunities which the twenty first century provides for dealing with challenges ahead of us.

Let’s hope, pray to the Almighty and take action with the best f our abilities to make these reform proposals a success story to be remembered by all and especially by the poor and hungry for years to come.

Distinguished Ministers, you are the first group of thinkers and decision makers which are lying down the foundation of the new innovative and effective changes in the structure and functioning of FAO which can better serve the goals of the World Food Summit, the WFS five years later and the MDGs, that is, among others, reduction of the number of hungry and malnourished by half by the year 2015. I wish you the best of success in your deliberations.

Dear sisters and brothers let me finalize my statement by adding a touch of history to it. In the dawn of the second millennium, that is, more than 1000 years ago, the house of a Persian SUFI (ABOLHASSAN KRARAGHANI) was open to the public as a guest house and at its entrance was written: “Who ever enter this house give him/her food, do not ask his/her faith. Because the one who is entitled to life by the almighty is definitely entitled to food by Abolhassan”. This is the kind of conviction which is needed to uproot hunger and misery from our World.

Thank you.

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