4 February 2005


Press Release

FAO Director-General urges African countries to give high priority


to agricultural research and development

Dakar Agricole Forum to Formulate New Vision to Reduce World Agricultural Divide

(Reissued as received.)

DAKAR/ROME, 4 February (FAO) -- “The current levels of undernourishment and the alarming trends provide ample justification for giving high priority to agricultural development in Africa”, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Dr. Jacques Diouf told the Dakar Agricole Forum (4-5 February 2005), convened by President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal to formulate a new vision to reduce the world agricultural divide.

The first challenge today is to fight and eradicate hunger and poverty from the face of the earth and concurrently sustain the environment, Dr. Diouf underlined.

Urging more efforts to meet the target of the 1996 World Food Summit, reaffirmed by the 2000 Millennium Summit, of reducing by half the number of people suffering from hunger by 2015, Dr. Diouf said that, despite the continuous growth in the world economy and sufficient food availability at the global level, more than 850 million people are chronically hungry.

“If current trends continue, the World Food Summit target may not be accomplished until 2150”, FAO Director-General warned.

Role of Science, Technology

Several African heads of State and world leaders are expected at the Dakar Agricole Forum.  Talks will focus on the role of science and technology in agricultural development taking into account the various constraints in the least developed regions and on ways and means to stimulate development and promote international trade.

“In Africa, the main condition for agricultural development is the control of water and the building of rural roads, storage facilities and markets”, Dr. Diouf said.

Only 7 per cent of the arable land in Africa is irrigated against 40 per cent in Asia, and only 4 per cent of its renewable water resources are used, against 14 per cent in Asia.  The fertilizer consumption in Africa is only 9 kg/ha compared to 100 kg/ha in South East Asia and 206 kg/ha in industrialized countries, according to the FAO.

Dr. Diouf underlined the importance of science and technology in solving the global problems of hunger, poverty and environmental degradation.  He emphasized the need for political commitment to making them an integral part of development strategies and urged developing countries to increase investments in agricultural sciences, research and technology development, due to their high rates of return.

Linkages will need to be enhanced between public and private sectors, North and South and the haves and have-nots to bridge the technology divide, FAO Director-General pointed out.

FAO Paper

At the Dakar Agricole Forum, the FAO will present a paper on the long-term perspectives for world agriculture and the role of scientific research in its evolution.

The paper focuses on the main global trends and challenges for agricultural development and examines the impact of scientific research and technology.

“Not every country needs to develop, or can afford to develop, cutting-edge technologies.  But every country does need a minimal national capacity to possess, procure, assess, and use judiciously such scientific knowledge and technology as is consistent with its people’s needs and aspirations”, the FAO paper says.

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For information media. Not an official record.