Secretary-General Ban calls for ‘reinvigoration’ of agriculture

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the annual meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development

14 May 2008 – As the world faces a food crisis, agriculture requires “reinvigorating” to produce enough food to feed the burgeoning global population, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

“After a quarter century of relative neglect, agriculture is back on the international agenda, sadly with a vengeance,” Mr. Ban said in an address at the start of the three-day high-level segment of the annual meeting of the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD).

“The onset of the current food crisis has highlighted the fragility of our success in feeding the world’s growing population with the technologies of the first green revolution and subsequent agricultural improvements,” he added.

The Secretary-General pointed out that productivity growth has fallen, soils have become depleted and less fertile, water shortages have become commonplace and farmland has been used for other purposes or has been degraded.

Furthermore, public investments and donor support for agriculture have been declining.

To breathe new life into agriculture, Mr. Ban said that a fresh generation of technologies and farming methods will be essential to usher in a second green revolution, “one which permits sustainable yield improvements with minimal environmental damage and contributes to sustainable development goals.”

Agriculture must also be prepared to meet the challenge posed by climate change, which is already hurting productivity in many tropical areas, particularly in Africa, South Asia and small island developing states.

Noting that water stress will become more serious in the near future, the Secretary-General called for better water conservation and use along with increased investments to slow or reverse desertification.

This year’s session of the CSD – a subsidiary body of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) – is focusing on agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa.


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