FAO in Pakistan

World Food Day was celebrated with a commitment to reduce rural poverty and granting access to food or means to buy food


16 October 2015, Islamabad: In observance of World Food Day (WFD), the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) organized an event at the National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) in Islamabad. The theme of this year’s WFD was ‘Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty’.

WFD is celebrated each year on 16 October, the day on which the Organization was founded in 1945. In 2015, FAO is celebrating its 70th Anniversary (FAO70) together with UN’s 70th Anniversary being celebrated by all 19 UN agencies in Pakistan.

Representatives from the Government Officials, Diplomats, UN agencies, Academia, NGOs, Donors and Farmers attended the event. A Video on this year’s WFD theme, produced by FAO, was also screened. Messages from the President, Prime Minister, UN Secretary General, FAO Director General, WFP Executive Director and IFAD President were also read.

In his message, the President of Pakistan, His Excellency Mr. Mamnoon Hussain said that ‘the Government of Pakistan is fully committed to a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy based on sound principles of social protection. The Government is pursuing various social safety net programmes that aims at providing access to basic necessities such as education, health, clean drinking water and proper sanitation to enable the poor to break the poverty cycle”. Mr. Hussain also mentioned that ‘celebration of WFD provides an opportunity to renew our commitment to stand beside FAO for making all possible efforts to ensure global food security’.

In his message, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, His Excellency Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif noted that the “social protection is a welfare oriented blend of policies, programmes and interventions that aim at protecting the poor and food-insecure people and to lift them out of poverty and hunger”. He also emphasized that all development partners, NGOs, Civil Society Organizations and social protection agencies should work together to bring the poorest of the poor out of the vicious cycle of poverty in an effective and sustainable way”.

Honourable Minister for National Food Security and Research, Mr. Sikandar Hayat Bosan; Federal Secretary Mr. Seerat Asghar; Chairman PARC a.i. Dr. Nadeem Amjad, Director General NARC, Mr. Muhammad Azeem Khan, FAO Representative to Pakistan Mr. Patrick T. Evans, Deputy Country Director WFP Pakistan, Mr. Stephen Gluning and IFAD Country Programme Officer Mr. Qaim Shah spoke on the occasion.

While talking on the occasion the Honourable Minister MNFS&R said that ‘the Government of Pakistan is committed to eradicate poverty and enhance food security at all levels. To achieve this goal, the Government has planned to launch a Zero Hunger and Family Farming Programmes. FAO’s technical expertise and cooperation in this regard will be crucial’.

Federal Secretary MNFS&R Seerat Asghar said that ‘historically Pakistan is able to fully benefit from its agricultural base, catering to needs of some 200 million people and is also producing surplus wheat, sugarcane, rice and maize grain. The rich natural resources and biodiversity allows us to protect large number of fruit and vegetable crops. However, there is still great potential to enhance productivity of all major crops by using modern agricultural practices”.

FAO Representative to Pakistan, Mr. Patrick T. Evans said that almost 80% of world’s poor live in rural areas and rely mainly on agriculture for their incomes and food security. Economic growth, especially in agriculture, has been essential to driving down rates of hunger and poverty. However, economic growth does not benefit everyone”. Mr. Patrick added that “only social protection is not enough. Poor and vulnerable households typically face multiple constraints and risks and rural livelihoods can be improved through joint agriculture and social protection initiatives. An agricultural programme empowering small scale family farmers, for example, can be complemented by a social protection programme that focuses on school feeding. This is why FAO chose social protection and agriculture as the theme of WFD this year”.

WFP Pakistan representative said that “in recent years, WFP Pakistan, together with the Government and partners including FAO and IFAD, has implemented a range of innovative and transformational programmes to address food and nutrition security. WFP embraces Sustainable Development Goal 2 to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.” According to him, while ending hunger by 2030 may seem a massive goal, the Millennium Development Goals have shown that setting ambitious targets helps galvanize political will and over 200 million people have already been freed from hunger as a result. “That momentum needs to be maintained and even accelerated under the SDGs in order to make sure no one is left behind,” Stephen Gluning added.

In his message, IFAD President Mr. Kanayo F Nwanze had conveyed that "if we truly wish to create a world free from poverty and hunger, then we must make it a priority to invest in the rural areas of developing countries where most of the world's poorest and hungriest people live."

IFAD Country Programme Officer, Mr. Qaim Shah said that ‘it should be obvious that agriculture and food are as vital to our collective future as they have been to our past. And that this means investing in sustainable food systems and the people who are part of them. Rural people need us, just as we need them to create a world free of hunger and poverty”.

In line with FAO70, the Farmer Awards on Innovative Approaches in Agriculture were launched; four winning farmers received the Cash Awards of Rs. 50,000 each. Special stalls were also set up to share innovative approaches in the agricultural sector in Pakistan by FAO, WFP, PARC, NARC and various other private and public sector entities.

For further information pls contact:

Mahira Afzal, Communication Officer, UNFAO Pakistan, [email protected]; +92(0)346-8544197