The need to have a co-ordinated approach to across the Asia Pacific region to tackle hunger and malnutrition, was the main theme that emerged from the speakers at the International Conference on Family Farming on achieving the Zero Hunger Challenge held at M S Swaminathan Foundation in Chennai today.
Speaking on the occasion, Thiru Agri S S Krishnamoorthy, Agriculture Minister, Government of Tamil Nadu shared the recent progress made by Tamil Nadu in micro-irrigation, precision farming, rice intensification and promotion of vegetable cultivation. However, the situation with regard to agriculture share in GDP had declined to 21% from 34.8%. “There is crisis with regard to eradication of hunger and poverty and urgent need to raise the level of livelihood of our farmers.”
President IFAD (International Fund for Agriculture Development), Dr Kanayo Nwanze said, “There is need for policy makers to support family farming, policy changes to make family farming more attractive and secure and to recognize that farming on any scale, is a business.”
Ms Ertharin Cousin, emphasized the hunger challenge and of how over 550 million people go to bed, hungry across the world. Giving background information to the status of the role of women in agriculture, Dr Rebecca Travers, Regional Representative Asia-Pacific UN Women, said “Hunger deficit may be the greatest challenge of this era. Empowering women, including women family farmers to access their rights could go a long way in Just closing the gender gap alone, could feed 130 million people and help us move closer towards Freedom from Hunger.”
Releasing the annual report of MSSRF for 2013 – 14, Professor Swaminathan emphasized that food and nutrition security should be non-negotiable. “Making access to food a legal right and providing family farmers with adequate scientific support would help move towards the goal.”
Dr Peter Kenmore, India Country Representative, FAO, said, “Family farmers are the largest group of farmers in Asia and yet have the most problems. However, family farmers are better placed, better experienced and more thoughtful in managing ecosystems than any other group of people in the world.”
Dr Ajay Parida, Executive Director, MSSRF spoke about the various activities undertaken by the Foundation over the years and the contribution towards linking science with sustainable development. Dr Madhura Swaminathan spoke about the importance of holding the event in India where a majority of farming activity is by family farmers