The Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) of the 31 st United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Regional Conference for the Asia-Pacific opened in Hanoi on Mar. 12, with hundreds of delegates from over 40 member countries taking part.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said this year’s event takes the theme “Food Security” and “Poverty Reduction in Rural Areas”, which are practical and urgent issues, given that 65 percent of people living in the Asia-Pacific region are suffering from hunger.

He added the reduction by half of hungry and poor people by 2015, as set in Millennial Development Goals, is a great challenge to the world and the Asia-Pacific in particular.

Dr. Hiroyuki Konuma, Regional representative for Asia and the Pacific, stressed the need to increase global food output by 60 percent, especially in developing countries, because the global population is forecast to reach 9.2 billion by 2050.

Konuma recommended countries encourage agricultural expansion, apply scientific and technological advances, provide training, reduce the impact of climate change, and harmonise the development of bio-fuels with the goal of ensuring food security.

From Mar. 12-13, participants will discuss relevant issues and provide heads of delegations with consultancy on strategies and measures for endorsement at the plenary session, to be convened on March 15-16.

The biennial FAO conference for the Asia-Pacific is an event of great significance in the region. This year’s event will last until Mar. 16./.