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In Qatar, FAO says agricultural reform must consider plight of developing nations

In Qatar, FAO says agricultural reform must consider plight of developing nations

Describing chronic undernourishment as "an extreme manifestation of poverty," the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has called on the international community to incorporate productivity enhancing measures in the proposed agricultural reform process in the developing countries.

The appeal came in a prepared statement for delivery by FAO Assistant Director-General Hartwig de Haen at the 4th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), being held in Doha, Qatar, from 9 to 13 November. The statement says small and resource-poor farmers and farm laborers need provisions to protect them from the adverse consequences of temporary import surges. Measures are also required to provide improved access for agricultural exports from developing countries.

FAO's primary goal is to achieve “food security for all,” Mr. De Haen said. While there has been some progress in reducing the absolute number of hungry people in the world, he noted that it had not happened quickly enough to achieve the 1996 World Food Summit target of cutting in half the number of hungry people by 2015.

According to FAO's latest estimates, the rate of reduction of hungry people in the developing world has slowed to approximately 6 million people a year, against a needed rate of reduction of some 20 million people a year to reach the target. At the current rate, it would take more than 60 years to reach the target, Mr. de Haen said.

The agency sees agricultural development as the key to poverty reduction and food security in developing countries because is the source of livelihood for 60 to 70 per cent of the population in the developing world.

Mr. de Haen said the opportunity offered at the WTO meeting in Doha to embark upon further reform of the regulatory framework governing international agricultural trade must take account of the imperatives posed by the millions of hungry people worldwide. Policy directions that are supportive of poverty alleviation and food security for all must be pursued, he said.