Address at the World Food Summit, 10
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Your Excellency, Mr Kofi Annan, Secretary General of
the United Nations,
Your Excellency, Mr Jacques Diouf, Director General
of the Food and Agricultural Organisation,
Ministers and distinguished delegates:
This important meeting in Rome is a declaration of
hope to the peoples of the world that the leadership
on our common universe is committed to "eradicate
poverty, achieve food security and promote sustainable
development as we advance to a fully inclusive and equitable
global economic system".
The experience of the past five years indicates that
there has been some progress, albeit slow, towards the
achievement of the vision contained in the Rome Declaration
on World Food Security. The current situation is that
we are reducing the number of hungry people by 6 million
against a target of 22 million per annum. The key shortfall
is the decline of investments in agriculture and rural
development, relating both to domestic and foreign sources.
Furthermore, civil strife, conflict, migration, natural
disasters, unfair trade practices and an unfavourable
economic climate, have resulted particularly in Africa
being faced with a real threat of famine. If we are
to achieve the targets set in the 1996 Plan of Action
and confirmed in the Millennium Declaration, we have
to recommit ourselves, both individually and collectively,
to the full implementation of the programmes agreed
in 1996 to eradicate hunger.
In our country level assessments, it was clear that
in cases where there was strife and other problems,
institutions for implementation could not be established.
Where peace prevailed, time was needed to adopt the
necessary policies, programmes and institutions, as
well as attend to such matters as gathering the necessary
baseline information for purposes of effective planning,
implementation and monitoring. This has given us the
necessary foundation for us to move forward faster during
the period ahead of us.
As a continent, we have established a framework through
the New Partnership for Africa's Development, NEPAD,
within which the World Food Summit Plan of Action will
be implemented. NEPAD identifies agriculture as a priority
sector. In this regard, we want to ensure that we extend
the area under sustainable land management and reliable
water control systems; improve rural agriculture and
market access; increase levels of investment in agricultural
research; and, increase food supply while reducing hunger.
Complimentary to this, we urge that all issues blocking
our access into the markets of the developed world have
to be addressed. Speedy movement on this matter would
yield early dividends with regard to the achievement
of the goal of sustainable food security.
Of great importance, we must all commit to a partnership
of mutual accountability between North and South to
effect the necessary changes, as represented, for instance,
by NEPAD. The premise of this partnership must be an
unambiguous commitment to solving problems together,
in a spirit of joint responsibility among governments
and between them and the private sector and civil society.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the
Director-General of the FAO and his colleagues for working
so well in partnership with the NEPAD institutions,
providing technical support to help elaborate the programme
of action with regard to African agriculture.
The mission that has brought us here today started
in earnest at the 1996 World Food Summit, where we stated
that: "We reaffirm the right of everyone to have
access to safe and nutritious food, with an immediate
view to reducing the number of undernourished people
to half the present level, no later than 2015."
In the Millennium Declaration in 2000, we stated that
we are "committed to making the right to development
a reality for everyone and to freeing the entire human
race from want."
We are convinced that the world has the capital, technology
and human skills to achieve the critically important
goals we set ourselves in both the Rome and Millennium
Declarations. What is called for is bold leadership,
informed by the noble principle of human solidarity.
We cannot go back on the gains of the Doha Development
Round. Rather, we should break the impasse caused by
differences about what needs to be done to attain food
security. We have to realise fair trade, new resource
mobilisation and ensure that the objective to defeat
underdevelopment and poverty permeates our intervention
What we agree here must strengthen the Johannesburg
Declaration and Plan of Action of the World Summit for
Sustainable Development. The Johannesburg Summit should
affirm the centrality of agriculture and food security
to the objective of sustainable development in a meaningful
I trust that all of us will pay the necessary attention
to this matter, in the interests of the thousands of
millions in the world who are hungry. We therefore look
forward to welcoming you in Johannesburg in August and
September this year.
I thank you.