admin's picture

KATHMANDU, Nepal (May 17, 2002 - PINA Nius Online)---Tongan Prime Minister Prince ‘Ulukalala Lavaka Ata has appealed for help for Pacific Islands nations in meeting the challenges of ensuring food for their people during natural disasters.

Prince ‘Ulukalala told the Asia-Pacific Regional Conference of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that island countries have to increase their preparedness for frequent natural disasters.

Island nations face food security challenges as serious as those confronting mountain communities, Pacific representatives told the meeting in the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal.

The frequent natural disasters -- such as cyclones -- are a serious threat to food security, Prince ‘Ulukalala said.

He explained: "Many of our island states live on a diet of root crops that in their natural form are not suitable for long term storage."

The prime minister requested FAO assistance in preparing emergency food reserves, which would be the "front line defence against such disasters."

Four Pacific Islands countries -- Fiji, the Marshall Islands, Samoa and Tonga -- are attending the meeting.

Crispin Conroy, Australia's ambassador in Nepal, told the conference: "As with remote mountain communities, many of these countries are vulnerable to forces outside their control due to their economic exposure, remoteness and susceptibility to natural disasters, and face particular constraints such as integration into the increasingly liberalized international trading regime."

He spoke of the assistance provided by Australia to Southwest Pacific countries to promote agricultural development as well as to address food insecurity needs.

This includes improving physical and economic access to sufficient, nutritionally adequate and safe food and ensuring that agricultural trade promotes food security for all.

The Australian delegate praised FAO assistance to Pacific Islands countries to enable them to obtain the best deal from the liberalization of agricultural trade.

The delegates at the Kathmandu meeting include 13 ministers and vice ministers, besides the Prime Minister of Tonga.

It is one of a series of FAO regional conferences in preparation for a gathering of world leaders at the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS: fyl) this year. It is scheduled to be held at FAO headquarters in Rome in June.

WFS: fyl has been convened to mobilize political will and resources to accelerate global hunger reduction in keeping with the 1996 World Food Summit pledge by 185 nations to halve the level of hunger by the year 2015.

Held once every two years, the FAO regional conference provides a forum for discussing agriculture, rural development and food security priorities in Asia and the Pacific.

The conference in Nepal is taking stock of progress in hunger reduction and will make recommendations to speed up progress in the fight against hunger and poverty.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment