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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
By
H.E. Mr. Lauro L. Baja, Jr.
Permanent Representative, Philippine Mission to the United Nations

on Agenda 56:
Eradication of Poverty and Other Development Issues

Second Committee, 60th UNGA
15 November 2005

 

Mr. Chairman,

The Philippines associates itself with the statement by the distinguished representative of Jamaica on behalf of Group of 77 and China. I would like to thank the Secretary General for his comprehensive reports under this agenda item on eradication of poverty and other development issues. I will, however, focus my statement on the report of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on the implementation of the International Year of Rice, 2004 contained in the letter dated 24 August 2005 from the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to the President of the General Assembly (A/C.2/60/3).

The Philippines commends the Food and Agriculture Organization, for ably handling and spearheading the implementation of the International Year of Rice, 2004 in line with resolution 57/162 of 16 December 2002.

The efforts of the Food and Agriculture Organization, as well as those of Member Countries at the national, regional and global levels, in coordination with other relevant UN agencies and international organizations, have helped achieve the goals set forth in resolution 57/162, that is primarily to raise the level of awareness of the world’s population on the vital role that rice can play in providing food security and eradicating poverty. Many of these efforts have also led to increased support for the development of sustainable rice-based production systems, which are essential ingredients for economic growth and development, for an improved quality of life, and for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Mr. Chairman,

The Philippines, together with 43 other countries initiated the proclamation of 2004 as the International Year of Rice, anchored on the belief that the battle against hunger, malnutrition, environmental damage as well as the creation of productive employment should also take into account the promotion of an important commodity such as rice. Rice is the staple food of more than half of the world’s population.

For its part and in line with the observance of the International Year of Rice, the Philippines had intensified its efforts towards promoting and providing guidance for an efficient and sustainable increase in rice-based production as a means to maintaining rice sufficiency and meeting the challenges of food security in the country. In addition, several other activities were undertaken in many parts of the Philippines including technical seminars and information dissemination on rice research and technologies, national conference on rice farming and biodiversity, exhibits featuring rice in arts, crafts and culture, festivals and concerts, among other activities. The Philippines also declared the month of November every year as National Rice Awareness month.

Mr. Chairman,

The Philippines believes, however, that the promotion of rice should not end with the conclusion of the celebration of the International Year of Rice in 2004. Since “Rice is Life” to many people around the globe, sustained efforts should be encouraged in order to address the many aspects related to its promotion, including production, productivity and as a means to generate employment, among others.

There are many areas that need to be addressed in meeting the challenges of global food security, for which rice can play a vital role.

As reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization, there are still more than 80 million people in the world suffering from hunger and malnutrition, and most of them live in areas that are dependent on rice production for food, income and employment. With a large number of people who stand to suffer from chronic hunger, there is a need to continue to raise the level of awareness on the importance of rice in terms of its production, conservation, distribution and consumption.

A focus on sustainable rice cultivation and production is becoming more important in view of an increasing population and the corresponding demand for rice. The International Rice Research Institute based in the Philippines indicated for instance, that by 2025, more than half of the world’s anticipated 10 billion people would depend on rice as their principal food. Thus, without continuing growth in productivity, it would be difficult for rice-dependent countries to meet the increasing demands of their people for affordable food.

The proper cultivation and sustainable production of rice would significantly help reduce poverty and environmental damage. Rice production, however, continues to be faced with declining production growth due to competing uses of land and water resources, declining economic return, high rate of post harvest losses, increasing labor shortages, institutional limitation and environmental pollution.

The Report of the Secretary-General on the centrality of employment to poverty eradication (A/60/314) has indicated that the bulk of the world’s labor force are in the agricultural sector and that three quarters of the working poor are in developing countries. Increased rice production would help address this concern. As FAO has reported (A/C.2/60/3), rice-based production systems in 113 countries in five continents and their associated post-harvest operations employ nearly one billion people worldwide and about four-fifths of the world’s rice is grown by small-scale farmers in low-income and developing countries.

Mr. Chairman,

Indeed, the real measure of the success of International Year of Rice in the long run, as FAO has rightly puts it, is when more rice becomes available, accessible and affordable to the poor populations in both urban and rural areas, when the income of the farmers increase in sustainable manner and when it creates additional rural employment opportunities.

The Philippines believes that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in coordination with Member States and other relevant international organizations should therefore continue its efforts to achieve this end. Further efforts should be geared towards the promotion of public awareness at all levels of the contribution of rice-based systems to food security, better nutrition, poverty alleviation and livelihood improvement, in order to achieve the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals as reaffirmed by the leaders at the 2005 World Summit.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.









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