The Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Cao Duc Phat, attended the 144 th session of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Council, in Rome on June 11.

Phat delivered a report on the outcomes of the 31 st FAO Regional Conference for Asia-Pacific (APRC 31) in Hanoi on March 12-16.

APRC 31 attracted more than 300 delegates, including 19 ministers and eight deputy ministers from 39 FAO member countries, along with 34 observers.

With the theme ‘food security and poverty reduction in rural areas’, the conference discussed measures to ensure food security and help rural residents to reduce poverty levels.

According to the minister, there was a consensus on the need to raise people’s awareness of the importance of nutrition and education while carrying out short term programmes and longer term strategies to ensure that poor people and farming households with no land have a nutritious diet.

It also emphasised on the necessity of encouraging member countries to draw up agricultural and rural development policies, diversify the varieties of plants grown and animals bred, introduce new products and enhance the roles played by farmers’ associations and cooperatives.

Phat said that APRC 31 had agreed with the FAO Director-General’s initiative on the strategic thinking process which ensures the region prioritises certain issues.

The Asia-Pacific region put forward five priority issues, including strengthening food and nutrition security; stepping up agricultural production and rural development; ensuring the sustainable use and management of natural resources; capacity building to cope with agricultural and food crises; dealing with the impacts of climate change in agriculture and providing the poor with adequate nutrition.

The FAO Director-General also pointed to South-South cooperation in the region as well as around the world, saying that it is one of the most effective models of cooperation.

Phat added that the conference backed the FAO’s priorities for Asia and the Pacific, and underlined that the FAO must allow the region access to capital so it can ensure food security for almost two thirds of the hunger people around the world.

The delegates suggested that the FAO also provides support for the region to cope with the challenges emerging from the negative impacts of climate change and natural disasters.

It was also decided that the 32 nd Regional Conference for the Asia-Pacific region will be held in Mongolia in 2014.

On the sidelines of the 144 th Session of the FAO Council, Minister Phat met with FAO officials to discuss a FAO-funded project worth 500,000 USD to control the spread of disease amongst shrimps.

At his meetings, Phat said that Vietnam wants the FAO to enable Vietnamese specialists to work for the organisation after it was first suggested by the FAO Director-General at APRC 31.

In the near future, Vietnam will send specialists in rice and seafood production and rural development to work at the FAO, he added.-VNA