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Addressing food security concerns in Asia and Pacific region

ADB/FAO/IFAD join forces to tackle hunger

23 September 2010, New York - The Asian Development Bank (ADB), FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have joined forces to tackle widespread hunger and build food security throughout the Asia and Pacific region.

Signed by the heads of the three organizations on the occasion of the United Nations Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the three-year Asia Pacific Regional Food Security Partnership Framework underscores concern that despite Asia and the Pacific's impressive gains in achieving several of the MDGs, the region is falling behind in the crucial areas of hunger and food security.

The MDGs are a set of measurable targets for reducing hunger, poverty, disease, child and maternal mortality, environmental degradation and gender inequality by the year 2015.

"The Asia and Pacific region is still home to some 578 million hungry people, some two-thirds of the world's hungry, so it is high time to move out of our comfort zones and forge new partnerships, collaborative arrangements, and networks with the single objective of achieving food for all," said ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda.

Bold approaches

FAO's Director-General Jacques Diouf said that ensuring food security will require collective action involving bold business approaches.

"Asia needs to wake up to the enormous challenge of feeding its population of five billion people by 2050. Gross annual investments of $120 billion are required in the region for primary agriculture and downstream services - in a responsible manner and focused on rural areas through pro-poor programmes and livelihoods activities for poor and small farmers," Diouf said.

"Several countries in the region have made significant progress towards reducing hunger. We should build on these successful experiences," Diouf noted.

IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze said: "The food price crisis certainly forced the world to put agriculture back where it belongs, at the top of national, regional and global agendas. Our task now is to work together to make sure that it stays there and that the result is concerted, effective action that makes a real difference to the lives of the poor and hungry in Asia and the Pacific.''

"To boost agricultural productivity, strengthen food security and create dynamic rural economies across the region, ramping up investment in agriculture is crucial,'' the IFAD President concluded.

Innovative financing

The fact that hunger remains widespread in Asia and the Pacific and that billions are still vulnerable to dramatic spikes in food prices - such as those that occurred two years ago - indicates that there are deep structural problems in the region's food supply chain.

The new ADB, FAO, and IFAD partnership will promote innovative financing mechanisms to attract private sector investment in agriculture as well as develop inclusive business models that bring benefits for investors and local small farmers.

The Partnership Framework establishes four pillars for collective and collaborative efforts: the harmonization of cross-border and regional investments; promotion of stronger collaboration in the prioritized agricultural research; support to enhance intra- and inter-regional food trade; and facilitation of sharing of lessons and good practices in policy and institutional response to improve household food security.

Photo: ©FAO/Ishara Kodikara
Some two-thirds of the world's hungry live in the Asia and Pacific region.