APEC leaders vow to improve food security to help vulnerable sector
Manila (25 November) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and 20 other leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) committed yesterday to improve food security to help the poor in the region who are most vulnerable to the impact of tight food supply and escalating food prices worldwide.
In their final declaration, the APEC leaders said the current volatility of global food prices, combined with food shortages in some developing economies, are affecting gains in reducing poverty in the region.
"The poor are especially vulnerable to increases in food prices. We support a fully coordinated response and a comprehensive strategy to tackle this issue through the Comprehensive Framework for Action developed by the United Nations (UN) Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis. We will support the application and implementation of this Framework within the region, as appropriate," the APEC leaders said.
The leaders said APEC members' individual and collective policy responses to expand food and agricultural supply in the region should strengthen market forces to encourage new investments in agricultural technology and production systems.
They also called for the early conclusion of the stalled Doha Round of Talks of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to open the way for substantial improvements in market access and reduce market-distorting measures in global agricultural trade.
"We commended the work that APEC has undertaken in the area of food and agriculture, and welcome the work plan endorsed by APEC Ministers to refine and strengthen APEC's agenda to meet current and emerging food security challenges," the leaders said.
They also vowed to increase technical cooperation and capacity building that will help foster agricultural sector growth, including efforts to increase food production, improve agricultural education, enhance natural resource management, promote the development of next-generation biofuels made from non-food materials, build well-functioning markets and regulatory institutions, and make food storage, transportation, and distribution systems more efficient.
Long before the global credit crunch, the President had directed the Department of Agriculture (DA) to implement a comprehensive agricultural program focused on higher spending on irrigation and rural infrastructure, post-harvest facilities, certified and hybrid seeds, research and development, rural credit facilitation, and establishing more markets for Philippine agricultural products.
The President also secured agricultural grants and loans, including $216.5 million from the United States last June, to help ensure food security amid the rising prices of rice, fuel and other commodities worldwide.
UN and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) officials are currently meeting in Manila on food security to determine how the UN can assist ASEAN in implementing its Strategic Plan of Action on Food Security (SPA-FS).
The meeting is preparatory to a meeting between the UN and ASEAN leaders in Chiang Mai, Thailand to next month. (PIA-MMIO) [top]