Global Community Falling Short on Eradicating Hunger by 2030, Speakers Warn, as Second Committee Debates Agriculture Development, Food Security

GA/EF/3481
16 October 2017
Seventy-second Session, 16th & 17th Meetings (AM & PM)

Global Community Falling Short on Eradicating Hunger by 2030, Speakers Warn, as Second Committee Debates Agriculture Development, Food Security

The world was not on track to eradicate hunger and malnutrition by the international community’s goal of 2030, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) heard today from many speakers as it took up agriculture development, food security and nutrition.

While today marked World Food Day there was “little cause for celebration”, said the representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).  Two years since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the number of chronically undernourished people had increased from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016.

Pointing out that most of those lived in conflict‑affected countries, she said that food insecurity, degradation of natural resources, political instability, conflict and economic stagnation in rural areas were forcing many people to leave their homes.  “Migration should be a choice and not a last resort,” she stated.

Malawi’s representative said some 1.3 billion people would be affected by water scarcity and 200 to 600 million would suffer from hunger by 2080 if the world did not accelerate implementation of the key parameters driving sustainable development.

To address such concerns, farms were now growing more with less by going vertical and indoors, said Singapore’s representative, adding that her country was using smart technologies to reduce reliance on manpower and vulnerability to environmental risks.  Already some high‑tech farms were using 70 per cent less water, 50 per cent less labour and producing about six times the amount of vegetables and fish.

Indonesia had developed a planting calendar policy which guided farmers on the best time and place to farm to reduce risk of crop failures, said that country’s representative.  The Government also promoted farmers’ education programmes and mentoring, improved water management systems, and research and development efforts focused on high yielding crop varieties.

The Philippines had designed a climate change resilient agriculture programme which monitored risk and hazards for farmers and fishermen through a colour‑coded map, said that country’s delegate.  Efforts were also underway to develop food depots and storage facilities that could withstand typhoons.

Shantanu Mukherjee, Chief of the Policy Analysis Branch in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary General’s report on agriculture development, food security and nutrition (document A/72/303).  He said nutrition challenges had become increasingly complex and, alarmingly, rates of childhood obesity were increasing.

New food consumption patterns had meant a shift in consumer preferences towards nutritionally poor diets and increased the prevalence of obesity and nutrition‑related chronic non‑communicable diseases, said Jamaica’s representative.  “It is not only paradoxical, but unacceptable that whereas 2.1 billion people are overweight and obese, 842 million people are chronically food insecure,” he stated.

Also speaking were representatives of Ecuador (speaking for the Group of 77 “developing countries” and China), Myanmar (speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Bangladesh (speaking for the Group of Least Developed Countries), Maldives (speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States), Guyana (speaking for Caribbean Community), El Salvador (speaking for Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), India, China, Israel, Russian Federation, Namibia, Tonga, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Costa Rica, Tajikistan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Thailand, Ukraine, Gabon, Myanmar, Mali, Brazil, Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan, Lesotho, Algeria, Sri Lanka, Morocco and Mongolia.  Representatives from the Holy See and the International Chamber of Commerce also spoke.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 17 October, to discuss groups of countries.

Introduction of Report

SHANTANU MUKHERJEE, Chief of the Policy and Analysis Branch, Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on Agriculture development, food security and nutrition (document A/72/303).  The report highlighted initiatives and approaches at all levels which addressed the eradication of hunger, malnutrition, sustainable food production and access to knowledge and technologies.  He noted that the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently released its annual report on food security.  Stating that global hunger had increased in 2016 and affected approximately 800 million people, he said that increase was caused by conflict, natural hazards and environmental phenomenon, and associated factors such as famine.  Noting the important work of the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition and the FAO Global Information and Early Warning System, he underscored the need for multisectoral approaches to food security and nutrition interventions.  Nutrition challenges had become increasingly complex, and most alarmingly, he said rates of childhood obesity were increasing.  In response, greater attention should be given to nutrition education and ways to increase demand for diversified, nutrient dense foods.

The United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition, launched in 2016, was a step towards mutual accountability, but solutions for progressive development and productive agriculture must be implemented, he stressed.  Similarly important were research and innovation, global mechanisms including the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries, and strategic investments in knowledge sharing and innovative technologies.  As current agricultural policies had not yet differentiated between the types of farmers, he urged for greater attention and capacity‑building efforts that recognized small‑scale farming.  He also called for enhanced land governance, the inclusion of gender dimensions in policies, and attention to fisheries and ocean resources.  “We have to work across sectors and mobilize partnerships to eradicate hunger, malnutrition and sustainably to feed a growing population by 2030,” he said.

ESTEBAN CADENA (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted that the world was not on track to eradicate hunger and malnutrition by 2030.  An estimated 793 million people lacked access to adequate nutrition and 156 million children were stunted.  Recognizing the link between malnutrition and the eradication of hunger with the need to transform agriculture and food systems to empower rural people, he said the creation of more sustainable food systems must be at the centre of efforts to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity.

He emphasized that increased investments were needed to enhance capacity for agricultural productivity.  Investment in agriculture was more effective in reducing poverty than investment in non‑agricultural sectors, turning it into an essential tool for breaking the vicious cycle of extreme poverty, undernourishment and malnutrition, he said.  While progress had been made in preventing distortions in the world agricultural market it was important to advance negotiations under the Doha Development Round, including the three pillars of agricultural reforms — domestic support, market access and export competition.  Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals would require a significant increase in the quantity and quality of investment in agriculture and rural areas, especially in the most vulnerable countries.  Given that farmers were the largest investors in agriculture in developing countries, their voices must be central to any strategy for increasing investment in the sector.

HMWAY HMWAY KHYNE (Myanmar), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said eradicating hunger and malnutrition was closely linked with agriculture, food systems and the empowerment of rural people.  Agriculture employed 40 per cent of today’s global population.  As such, rapid and sustained growth in the agricultural and rural economies was essential for breaking the vicious cycle of extreme poverty, undernourishment and malnutrition.  Private and public sector investments in infrastructure, climate‑smart technologies, enabling policy and institutional environments accompanied by social protection and public services to the rural poor must be ensured towards that end.

The Association had adopted a strategic plan for cooperation in food, agriculture and forestry (2016‑2025) to contribute to food and nutrition security, he said.  Achievements had been made in harmonizing agricultural standards to facilitate ASEAN trade of agricultural products, improving quality assurance, enhancing quality of products, and minimizing hazards in food safety and environmental impacts.  In addition, the ASEAN Integrated Food Security Framework and Strategic Plan of Action on Food Security (2015‑2020) had been put in place to provide a strong regional network to forecast, plan and monitor food security and nutrition and to enhance cross‑sectoral coordination in ensuring supply of sufficient, affordable, safe and nutritious food.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77, said 20 million people were at risk of famine in the nations his bloc represented.  Conflict, high food prices and abnormal weather were fuelling food insecurity.  The majority of the population in his group of countries lived in rural areas, and agriculture was their primary source of employment.  But agricultural productivity had not significantly increased, and the least developed countries had been disproportionately affected by climate change and disasters, with desertification and land degradation undermining food production.

Providing statistical details of how nutrition affected the least developed countries, he noted that 40 per cent of children below the age of five were stunted, underscoring that nutrition needed to be prioritized more highly if the Sustainable Development Goals were to be achieved.  Investment in infrastructure, research and technological development were needed for rural goods to reach markets, he said.  The least developed countries needed robust support for capacity‑building and financing to adopt “climate‑smart” practices and technologies.  Investing in food security and agricultural development would also strengthen efforts to prevent conflict and achieve peace.

Ms. NAEEM (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating herself with the Group of 77, said that food security and nutrition issues were especially acute for his group of island nations.  She lauded the FAO‑led Global Strategic Framework, noting that it would improve nutrition levels and advance food security while building more sustainable and resilient food security in his group of countries.  The challenges small island developing States faced were intensified by climate change, declining ocean health, natural hazards, limited resources and other factors.  As those States were reliant on oceans, declining ocean health, rising sea levels and unregulated fishing were devastating for their people.  In addition, those nations were becoming more reliant on imported food and thus vulnerable to global market shifts and were experiencing an overall decline in health and nutrition of its citizens.  To identify solutions, the Alliance had implemented the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway.  Furthermore, it had established the Small Island Developing States Partnership Framework in to improve knowledge sharing, capacity‑building and technology transfer.

RUDOLPH MICHAEL TEN‑POW (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said that recent hurricanes in the region had served to further highlight the acute vulnerability of its member States to climate‑related disasters, now expected to increase in frequency and severity.  Damage to infrastructure sustaining agriculture had been near total in some States, he noted, calling for continued support from the international community to help develop the resilience needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in terms of food and nutrition.  He recalled that figures recently released by FAO showed that the CARICOM subregion was falling off the path to zero hunger, revealing that while rates of hunger and malnutrition might be decreasing, the absolute number of persons suffering from hunger in the Caribbean had increased.  That situation existed even in the face of rising levels of obesity, another form of malnutrition, he stated, observing that the rate of obesity among children under age 5 in the Caribbean was estimated at nearly 7 per cent.

He went on to call for assistance from international partners in modernizing the technologies used in the agriculture and food production sectors, including food processing, data collection systems and training technical personnel, to add value throughout the food production chain and strengthen food security.  CARICOM supported the call by the Inter‑Agency Task Force on Financing for Development for increased investment in support of sustainable national development goals.  It also called for a review of the criteria used for classifying countries so that vulnerability to natural hazards and other risk factors and development gaps were considered when determining a nation’s development category.  The recent upward reclassification of a number of CARICOM member States by the World Bank had precluded them from accessing the concessionary financing needed for rebuilding, he observed.

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), reaffirmed his group’s commitment to implement its Plan for Food and Nutrition Security and the Eradication of Hunger 2025 in conformity with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  He renewed requests to FAO, World Health Organization (WHO), World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) as well as relevant regional organizations for financial and technical support for that purpose.

He emphasized the need for greater investment in family farming and other kinds of agriculture to enhance food and nutritional security.  He pledged the Community’s continued commitment to address all forms of malnutrition, particularly in early childhood, to continue to promote sustainable, inclusive and efficient food production and to promote Government programmes that guaranteed distribution of the harvests of family farms.  Highlighting challenges posed by extreme weather, he recognized the value of South‑South, triangular and complementary North‑South cooperation in adaptation to climate change and other challenges to food and nutritional security.

ASHISH KUMAR SINHA (India) said farming had transformed human society by sustaining civilization itself, adding that while there was enough food in the world, millions went hungry every day.  For India’s part, it had transitioned to self‑sufficiency in food production, and agriculture was among its vital economic sectors.  His country had developed world‑class institutions for research and training in agriculture, but there were remaining challenges, including the introduction of more sustainable farming practices and improvement of food distribution systems.  India had developed a biometric identification system aimed at linking farmers with banking and phone services; an electronic trade platform improved links between farmers and markets.  To double farmers’ incomes by 2022, new business areas included seaweed farming and beekeeping.  India remained committed to sharing technical assistance with the aim of ending hunger.

ZHANG ZEPENG (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the international community must strengthen efforts around food security, particularly through agricultural modernization and investment in infrastructure.  Through various efforts, his country had helped developing States to strengthen their capacity‑building and raise food utilization levels.  Efforts focused on the application of new technologies, cost reduction, improvements to food storage and transportation and reduction of food waste.  He urged the international community to establish fair and sustainable trade through cooperative policies.  Similarly, developed countries must honour their commitments to assist developing countries.  Due to national efforts, he said the per capita disposal income of Chinese farmers had reached 12000 yuan.  His Government also actively promoted international cooperation, built agricultural and technological centres and dispatched thousands of experts around the world, particularly in least developed countries.

CHERYL GOH (Singapore), associating herself with the Group of 77, the Alliance of Small Island States and ASEAN, said technology and innovation were key enablers for agriculture transformation.  To feed the growing world population in a sustainable way, food production must leverage technology and be innovating to achieve quantum leaps in agriculture productivity.  Farms were now growing more with less by going vertical and indoors.  They were using smart technologies to reduce reliance on manpower and vulnerability to environmental risks.  Already some high-tech farms were using 70 per cent less water, 50 per cent less labour and producing about six times the amount of vegetables and fish.  Her country was committed to attracting and training a new generation of technology-savvy youth to join the agriculture sector as agrotechnologists.  Those youth would bring expertise ranging from engineering, computing, marketing and systems design to transform the agriculture sector.

TIBOR SHALEV SCHLOSSER (Israel) recalled his experience as an Ambassador to the Pacific Island States, noting he had witnessed first‑hand the environmental impact and existential challenge of climate change on isle nations.  Through training, on‑site courses and the skilful use of necessary equipment, adaptation and advancements were possible, he said.  Referencing the useful application of Israeli desalination technology, he said his country’s assistance in that region was informed by its own struggles with and ultimate mastery of sustainable agricultural infrastructure.  His country regularly shared their expertise on matters such as drip irrigation to countries around the world through training courses and knowledge sharing.

SERGEY B. KONONUCHENKO (Russian Federation) said the Secretary‑General’s report did not focus sufficiently on food safety and balanced diets.  Ensuring quality food protection was a constant priority for the Russian Federation, as demonstrated in his country’s hosting of numerous conferences and events on food safety, development assistance and antimicrobial resistance in food.  His Government planned to host research centres to help identify antibiotic residue in food, along with other efforts on climate change and agricultural development.  The Russian Federation also placed great emphasis on sustainable forestry management, as it had 70 per cent of the world’s forests which were the source of hundreds of types of food resources and medicinal plants.  The Russian Federation elaborated on a federal, scientific and technological programme for 2017 to 2025 and made significant progress in industrial development.  As a result, it had increase poultry production threefold in 10 years and increase food production and exports.  The Russian Federation also contributed more than $30 million per year in food assistance worldwide.

MARIA ANGELA PONCE (Philippines), associating herself with ASEAN, said her country designed a climate change resilient agriculture programme which closely monitored risk and hazards for farmers and fishermen through a national colour coded agriculture map.  Food depots and storage facilities that could withstand typhoons were also being developed.  Her country had also developed interventions to address climate change such as universal crop insurance coverage, solar‑powered irrigation technology, tree crop farming to prevent the loss of water sources, easy access financing and repopulation of lakes, rivers and creeks with indigenous fish and non‑invasive fish basins.  The Philippine Development Plan 2017‑2022 also had a chapter on expanding economic opportunities in agriculture, forestry and fisheries as those sectors provided employment for a third of the country’s labour force.

NOVI DWI RATNASARI (Indonesia), associating herself with the Group of 77and ASEAN, said her country was increasing efforts to promote and facilitate investment in rural agribusiness to revitalize the rural economy and increase farmers’ income and welfare.  Investment procedures had been streamlined and the procurement system for farming inputs was restructured to revitalize suboptimal agricultural lands.  Agricultural research and development were intensified to improve productivity, business efficiency and competitiveness of products.  For example, to mitigate the impact of climate change, her country developed a planting calendar policy which guided farmers on the best time and place to farm to reduce risk of crop failures.  Farmers’ education programmes and mentoring, improved water management systems and research and development efforts focused on finding high‑yielding crop varieties were stepped up with the aim of modernizing the agricultural sector.  The country also strengthened coordinated efforts with the goal of ensuring coherence of polices on social protection, poverty alleviation and food security.

NEVILLE GERTZE (Namibia) said worldwide hunger and malnutrition were driven by mounting pressures like recurrent droughts and floods, conflict and displacement from competition over natural resources, including water.  Namibia faced a severe drought over three consecutive years from 2012 to 2015.  Addressing that crisis, all stakeholders were consulted, resulting in what was termed a “Zero Hunger Strategic Review”, which sought to develop as a strategy for food security in the country.  In ensuring the health of mothers and infants, the Ministry of Health and Social Services ran a programme to promote exclusive breastfeeding and young child nutrition needs.  Apart from the very young, the Government ensured that children, especially those from vulnerable homes, received an education and good nutrition at school through the school feeding programme.

MAHE’ULI’ULI SANDHURST TUPOUNIUA (Tonga) associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said food security was an important priority in his country.  As a net food importing country, Tonga was economically vulnerable to the availability and excessive price volatility of food imports.  His country was also environmentally vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.  He called for coordinated efforts to meet the immediate needs of people affected by major food crises through targeted emergency responses, and medium and long‑term support to recovery and resilience.  His Government had established a national agricultural sector plan for 2016 to 2020 which promoted climate resilience and smart‑farming systems.  Tonga also had expanded its “Agro‑Met” climate adaption project and domestic agro‑climate service to enhance good security.  He also recognized the importance of the Global Action Programme on Food Security and Nutrition launched this year, which aimed to address food security, nutrition and the impacts of climate change facing small island developing States.

COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, CARICOM and CELAC, reported that the agriculture sector contributed to his country’s gross domestic product (GDP) was 7.3 per cent in 2016, compared to 6.6 per cent in 2015.  That increase had been attributed to the sector’s improved performance through intensified farmer support programmes, he said, noting that the National Food and Nutrition Security Policy adopted in 2013 and the accompanying 2016 Action Plan were aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 2.  Jamaica was unable to produce sufficient quantities of food to support the growing demands of its population due to several factors compounded by the fact that agriculture was concentrated in rural areas and was the main source of income for people living there.  His delegation fully concurred with the Secretary-General’s report that hunger and poverty must be simultaneously addressed by raising incomes and productivity, alongside other actions.  He also noted that new food consumption patterns had meant a shift in consumer preferences towards nutritionally poor diets, leading to the increasing prevalence of obesity and nutrition‑related chronic non‑communicable diseases.  “It is not only paradoxical, but unacceptable that whereas 2.1 billion people are overweight and obese, 842 million people are chronically food insecure,” he stressed.

MAYTHONG THAMMAVONGSA (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), aligning himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and ASEAN, said his State was working on the regional level to implement an integrated food security framework and strategic plan of action on food security.  His Government prioritized agricultural and rural development to ensure food security and better nutrition and established the national committee for nutrition in 2009.  The national nutrition strategy 2025 and the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between ASEAN and the United Nations (2016‑2020) were also adopted.  Those strategies covered issues such as human resource development, improvement of information on nutrition, promotion of investment in nutrition and interventions to enhance food security in rural and remote areas.  He added that the Government was working closely with the United Nations to localize the Sustainable Development Goals and had been improving mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation for the Goals.  It had also gathered information from ministries, development partners and stakeholders to address food security and nutrition problems.

ROLANDO CASTRO CORDOBA (Costa Rica), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said food security had been pending since introduction of the Millenium Development Goals and that it remained a major problem for the international community.  The United Nations had reported that 745 million people were without sufficient food in 2014 and today that number stood at 815 million.  There was an urgent need for the global community to lower that figure.  He stressed the importance of small producers and families who were seeking sustainable solutions to food security.  Family farmers were key actors in guaranteeing food security and promoting sustainable practises.

JONIBEK HIKMATOV (Tajikistan) associating himself with the Group of 77, said that one in eight suffered from hunger, and nearly 780 million hungry people lived in developing countries.  Although there had been some development progress, many people remained unable to purchase nutritious food due to lack of access to it as well as insufficient income and price volatility.  As a lower‑middle income country, Tajikistan faced obstacles related to food deficit, natural disasters and soil erosion.  As 97 per cent of agricultural land had been affected by erosion and drought, food security and access to nutrition food had been made a priority in national strategies and programmes.  Tajikistan had launched a multi‑sectoral nutrition strategy for 2015 to 2024 and it had joined international strategies.  Thanks to those efforts, national sustainable agricultural sectors now contributed to 20 per cent of GDP.  Due to high population growth, the share of agricultural land per capita had steadily fallen from 0.17 hectares in 1970 to only 0.08 hectares in 2017.  As such, he encouraged a radical review of the use of land for agricultural development.  Similarly, he called for greater public and private investment, including through international cooperation and increased official development assistance (ODA) to strengthen food productivity and capacity.

BINTA BAYEDIKISSA KARGOUGOU (Burkina Faso), associating herself with Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said 800 million people worldwide suffered from hunger.  Noting commodity price instability, unemployment and the adverse impacts of climate change as root causes, she said political instability and conflict aggravated the effects of disasters and led to humanitarian crises.  Her country had acceded to numerous international frameworks and strategies to achieve nutritional and food security objectives, but continued to face significant obstacles relating to climate change and external threats.  Almost half of the country suffered from soil degradation, which directly impacted economic growth.  To address those concerns, Burkina Faso had adopted a national policy on food and nutritional security for 2025, and undertaken efforts to intensify agricultural production, effective land use and water irrigation among others.

LEULESEGED TADESE ABEBE (Ethiopia) noted that the number of people with insufficient food had risen to 815 million in 2016, mainly due to conflict, climate change and environmental degradation in many parts of the world.  The international community must take a more comprehensive approach in addressing the problem of sufficient food for all.  Agriculture must be made more sustainable.  Noting that agriculture played a major role in Ethiopian society, he said the Government had allocated more than 10 per cent of its national budget to improve it.  It was also paying particular attention to education, health and infrastructure in the agricultural sector, with a focus on small holding farmers.

EANG CHHENG TE (Cambodia), aligning himself with the Group of 77, ASEAN and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that despite making significant progress towards food and nutritional security under Government strategies and in the context of high economic growth, his nation still needed to address several issues.  That included low agricultural productivity, lack of diversification and inadequate safety nets and disaster preparedness, in addition to the impact of extreme weather and a wide range of other challenges.  The long‑term vision therefore included more value‑added, productive and competitive activities to ensure that farm incomes continued to grow on a sustainable basis in coordination with ASEAN plans.  Dedicated investment in the sector, including public‑private partnerships, was therefore necessary.  He reaffirmed his country’s strong commitment to achieving the hunger goals of 2030 Agenda.

NOËL DIARRA (Mali), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said his country had made significant progress toward food security and reducing malnutrition and hunger.  Mali’s development remained dependent on climate and other elements, including water management and access to credit and financing.  He noted that 80 per cent of the population was involved in agricultural activities, which accounted for 30 per cent of the country’s GDP.  His Government had introduced several technological advancements to strengthen food production, and the mechanization and promotion of agricultural processing.  Cereal production was growing 8 per cent annually, turning Mali into one of the main cereal producers in Africa.  His Government was also promoting a law on agricultural orientation and a national agricultural development policy aligned with international commitments.  For the fourth year, 15 per cent of the national budget had been allocated to the agriculture sector.  His Government also provided agricultural subsidies and allocated 1,000 tractors to farmers as well as had strengthened its national food security and nutrition programme.

SASIYADA NAOWANONDHA (Thailand) said several global challenges, such as climate change and droughts, were threatening agriculture, food security and nutrition.  Access to food and global agricultural markets for both consumers and producers was also undermined by distortions in the multilateral trading system.  In addressing those challenges, it was necessary to promote the use of technology to ensure sustainable agriculture and aquaculture.  The use of science, technology and innovation had improved the productive and adaptive capacities of farmers in Thailand.  Sustainable food supply was also supported in her country by sustainable and eco‑friendly fishing practices as well as sustainable use of resources, especially water and soil.  In efforts to promote good nutrition and access to food, attention should be given to vulnerable groups, including the elderly, women, young children, persons with disabilities and low‑income earners.

VITALII BILAN (Ukraine) said more than 850 million people in the world were starving and another one billion did not receive sufficient nutrients in their diets.   Noting that his country’s territory held almost a quarter of the world’s “black” earth, he proposed to hold a multilateral event within the framework of the General Assembly’s seventy‑second session to actively involve leading grain exporters to address the issue of food security.  Ukraine had harvested 60 million tonnes of grain this year, of which 27 million tonnes was needed for domestic consumption.  The remaining 35 million tonnes would be available for export.  To that end, he said his Government was actively working to harmonize national legislation with the requirements of the European Union, particularly in technical regulation, food product quality and safety standards.  Ukraine was working to reform core branches of agriculture through domestic agrarian policy and foreign economic activities.  As one of the top 10 global exporters of grain, he reiterated his country’s commitment to work with the international community to eradicate global hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.

ONIANE NGUEMA (Gabon), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the number of malnourished people worldwide had considerably increased, especially in conflict areas.  Sustained political commitment was needed throughout the world to eliminate food insecurity, which must be prioritized in national public policies.  Gabon was combating hunger by placing agricultural development among its strategic priorities.  To boost agricultural development, it had implemented a strategic programme in 2014, using international partnerships and national resources.  Gabon had also set up an agricultural programme named “Grain”, which supported small agricultural companies in an effort to ensure food security and bring development support to rural areas.

SU NANDAR HLAING (Myanmar) associated herself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and ASEAN.  She expressed concern that while 815 million people suffered from hunger in 2016, more people were becoming obese in both developed and developing countries.  The promotion of sustainable food production, resilient agricultural practices and rural development were critical in achieving food security and nutrition.  Agriculture contributed to one-third of Myanmar’s GDP, and 70 per cent of her country’s total population depended on farmland and forests for their livelihoods.  Thus, the Government had embarked on comprehensive reforms, including through its national agricultural development strategy, a domestic development strategy, a rural development strategic framework, a national strategy for rural roads and a rural water supply strategy.  Noting that Myanmar had 3,000 kilometres of coastline and inland water areas covering 3.3 million hectares, she said the Government promoted the management and protection of fisheries and water resources.  The Government also had launched a national electrification plan and an initiative on nutrition.  Expressing concern about climate change, she urged the international community to provide greater financing, technology and capacity-building to least developed countries.

LOT DZONZI (Malawi), associating himself with the Group of 77 and Group of Least Developed Countries, said climate change, lack of financing, unequal resource access and unequal technological advancement had all played a part in bringing the world to its current precarious situation in terms of agriculture development, food security and nutrition.  That situation called for immediate and steadfast action to ensure that climate change and other economic shocks did not derail development plans of developing and vulnerable countries.  He noted that some 1.3 billion people would be affected by water scarcity and 200 to 600 million would suffer from hunger by 2080 if the world did not accelerate implementation of the key parameters driving sustainable development.  He called for developed countries to meet their ODA targets and for increased access to technological innovating, especially for developing countries.

FOX-DRUMMOND GOUGH (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said greater investment in agriculture and rural areas would be crucial in promoting enhanced agricultural productive capacity in developing countries, especially in relation to family farming.  He said massive concession of agricultural subsidies in rich countries led to distortions in international food markets, and must therefore be curbed as they directly jeopardized the development of robust agricultural sectors.  His country’s experience had shown that social protection measures, combined with broader agricultural and rural development, could contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty.  Referring to the Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016‑2025), he said his country was the first to make specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time‑bound commitments to the Decade.  Similarly, he welcomed the international conference of South‑South and triangular cooperation, which would be held in Brasília in November.

MARGARET EDISON (Nigeria), aligning herself with the Group of 77, said that her country was currently putting in place policies and programmes to advance agricultural development in a way that would guarantee food security, particularly for young children and mothers.  Challenges remained, however, including lack of funds for building capacity in the agricultural sector.  In that light, she reiterated the need to repatriate stolen assets to countries of origin so that they could be invested in development.  She commended all partners that had supported her country in repositioning agriculture to improve the national nutrition situation.  A zero‑hunger planet required global collaboration, she commented, affirming Nigeria’s commitment to the work ahead.

ARTHUR AMAYA ANDAMBI (Kenya), associating him with the Group of 77, noted that the agricultural sector contributed to 24 per cent of his country’s GDP, generating more than 60 per cent of its employment opportunities.  Kenya prioritized agriculture as an important tool for promoting national development, and the sector constituted one of the six main areas under the economic pillar of the country’s development blueprint vision 2030.  Regarding food security, the Government had put a three‑pronged policy approach in place revolving around supply, price and income.  Turning to nutrition, he noted that his country’s food and nutrition security policy stipulated that all Kenyans should enjoy safe food of sufficient quantity and quality to satisfy their nutritional needs.  He went on to stress the importance of training and capacity‑building for farmers, pointing out the need to increase per capita expenditure on research and development.  Technologies leading to increased productivity per acre were required as many Kenyan farmers continued to rely on traditional methods.

Mr. MOHAMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the world was not proceeding towards the elimination of hunger and malnutrition.  Many countries were affected by conflicts, which amounted to 80 million people in those States suffering from hunger in 2015 and 108 million in 2016.  He said the Sustainable Development Goals were being threatened by lack of implementation, while stating that the United Nations was “duty‑bound” to take all measures to ensure enactment.  He said Sudan had rich natural resources, fertile land and access to water and diversified climate which strengthened its production of crops.  His country elaborated its national strategy for agricultural development for 2017 to 2020 and efforts to close the food gap at the regional and international levels.  Noting Sudan’s participation in numerous conferences and summits, he said it hosted more than 2 million refugees.  To meet the needs of those people, he called upon the international community to provide greater support through partnerships, technology transfer, capacity‑building and research centres.

KELEBONE MAOPE (Lesotho) said his country was attempting to modernize its agricultural system.  The passing of legislation on land administration in 2010 went a long way to addressing land ownership, including the removal of impediments to women’s access to that resource.  More than half of Lesotho’s citizens lived in rural areas and the majority engaged in subsistence agriculture.  Because the urban economy had limited ability to absorb new entrants to its labour market, agriculture continued to play a major role in the country’s development strategy.  However, Lesotho faced major challenges, including climate change.  Severe drought, which devastated the whole of southern Africa during 2015 and 2016, resulted in severe food shortages.  Another challenge was malnutrition among children under the age of five.  Eradicating hunger and malnutrition globally would depend on dedicated investments in agriculture, social protection, disaster risk reduction, education and health.  It was also necessary to educate farmers, fishers, herders and forest‑dependent communities to produce food and manage the environment.

MEHDI REMAOUN (Algeria) said market forces — namely, the private sector — could not be the sole entity controlling food security.  Universities, the private sector and Government agencies should work together to set up a new vision at national, regional and global levels.  Any new vision should consider the right to safe and nutritious food, support for farmers wishing to quit the productionist model, consumer information, market regulation, support for equitable trade, agricultural land protection and promotion of the biosector.  That approach should encompass actions to support education and sustainable consumption, including in developed countries.  Production and consumption patterns should be rethought so that the international community does not throw out overproduction for profit reasons, while millions of people suffered from hunger and malnutrition.

SAVITRI PANABOKKE (Sri Lanka), associating herself with the Group of 77, said the most vulnerable victims of global hunger were children who suffered from growth deficiencies, under‑5 mortality and increased susceptibility to disease.  Sri Lanka declared 2017 as the year of alleviating poverty and launched a sustainable era initiative that ensured the Government’s policies and action plans were properly prioritized, implemented, resourced and monitored.  Her country also launched a multisector approach initiative to reduce childhood and maternal malnutrition, and declared June 2017 to be the month of nutrition.  A national nutrition surveillance system was operational throughout the country, as well as a “Thriposha” programme to provide nutritional supplements to pregnant and lactating mothers.  Similarly, Sri Lanka promoted sustainable agriculture, as 80 per cent of the country’s food was sourced locally.

Ms. HAMDOUNI (Morocco), associating herself with the Group of 77, called for a heavy mobilization of resources and strong political will in meeting the challenges of global food security.  Noting that food security was one of the priorities of Morocco’s national economic policy, she said her country was striving to attain it through sustainable agriculture and open policies.  It had adopted the Green Morocco Plan in 2008, which focused on food security and increasing agricultural income through sustainable agriculture, agricultural solidarity and an improved status for rural women.  Morocco had also set up a national strategy for nutrition, emphasizing healthy and safe foods, strengthened regulations and improved access to finance.

OCHIR ENKHTSETSEG (Mongolia) associating herself with the Group of 77, said that agriculture development and food security remained high on her country’s agenda.  Sustainable agricultural development was pursued through improved veterinary services, the introduction of environmentally‑friendly technologies, crop diversification strategies, the promotion of sustainable land management and science‑based national food standards, as well as other measures.  The percentage of undernourished Mongolians had decreased from 31 per cent to 19.6 per cent over the last 10 years.  However, challenges persisted, such as insufficient financial resources and technical know‑how, the unsustainable use of natural resources, extreme weather fluctuations and prolonged droughts and expanding land degradation.  Mongolia was committed to ensuring food safety and security by boosting agricultural production to meet the relevant development Goals, in collaboration with development partners.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, stressed the importance of solidarity among nations and people, especially for least developed countries.  He noted Pope Francis’s address today to FAO, where the pontiff called for solidarity to be enhanced to the level of love.  Diplomacy and multilateral institutions, the Pope further said, must nurture and organize the capacity to love.  When a State was incapable of responding adequately to its pressing development needs — whether due to its low level of development, poverty or insecurity — the international community had an obligation to support those countries in meeting their population’s basic needs.  Hunger and malnutrition were not only natural or structural phenomena in determined geographical areas.  They were also the result of a complex condition of underdevelopment caused by indifference of many and the selfishness of some.  While there would always be a need for the world’s best technical expertise to increase agricultural productivity, it was important to find ways to summon the finest human qualities of solidarity and compassion.

HIROKO MURAKI GOTTLIEB, International Chamber of Commerce, said accelerating the economic growth of the agrifood sector was important in pursuing the Sustainable Development Goals and its targets related to hunger eradication, development, the implementation of sustainable agricultural production methods and sustainable investments.  Emphasizing that enhancing public‑private partnerships was critical to those ends, she said such partnerships had played a crucial role in boosting national economic growth and developing social infrastructure.  They had also helped foster research, technology and innovation policies, and could serve as a tool to accelerate agricultural innovation in developing countries.  For Governments, they could also present a resourceful way to bring appropriate and important tools and knowledge on sustainable agriculture to local farmers.

CARLA MUCAVI, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), also speaking on behalf of IFAD and WFP, said while today was World Food Day “there is little cause for celebration”.  Two years since the 2030 Agenda’s adoption, the number of chronically undernourished people had increased from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016.  Pointing out that most of those lived in conflict‑affected countries, she said those circumstances were often compounded by droughts or floods linked to the El Niño phenomenon.  The theme of World Food Day in 2017 — “Change the future of migration: invest in food security and rural development” — reflected the fact that food insecurity, degradation of natural resources, political instability, conflict and economic stagnation in rural areas had forced many people to leave their homes.  “Migration should be a choice and not a last resort,” she stressed, outlining policies aimed at boosting inclusive, sustainable and resilient agriculture and rural development.

For information media. Not an official record.