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06 JUNE 2008
RP SEEKS INCREASED FUNDING FOR AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH
NEW YORK—The Philippines has called on the international donors and financial institutions to increase funding support for agricultural productivity research, saying this is one way of addressing the global food crisis.
In his statement before a recent Special Meeting on the Food Crisis convened by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, Ambassador Hilario G. Davide, Jr. batted for increased funding from donor institutions and countries for the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
"The call of the hour includes the immediate positive/affirmative response from all concerned, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Internal Fund for Agricultural Development and development partners to the most basic need of the IRRI—funds for research," Ambassador Davide said.
"The research of the IRRI, the world's main repository of rice seeds as well as genetic and other information about rice—the crop that feeds nearly half of the peoples of the world—has been, unfortunately, tremendously slowed down because of cuts in funds for agricultural research," he said.
Ambassador Davide cited the case of the brown plant hopper, a tiny biting fly that has caused havoc across East Asia. "Damage to rice crops which has caused reduced production output would have been prevented if only IRRI's budget for research has not been cut or reduced," he said.
The envoy cited IRRI reports that the brown plant hopper is multiplying by the billions and chewing through rice paddies in East Asia, threatening the diets of many poor people. He said China, the world's biggest rice producer, has announced that it was struggling to control the rapid spread of these insects which could destroy as much as 20 percent of a harvest.
Ambassador Davide also said that although no fewer than 14 new types of genetic resistance varieties of rice have been discovered, the budget cuts prevent the IRRI from moving any further to breed these traits into widely used rice varieties.
"If money is available for research, IRRI can accomplish the task in four to seven years and save millions of people from hunger, from deaths," he said.
"I urge the UN to do something right now, and not later, to influence and muster a collective action to courageously and decisively meet the crisis with unparalleled political will—a collective action that is powered by the spirit and virtues of coherence, cooperation and coordination," Ambassador Davide said. ###
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