With three quarters of the world’s 852 million men and women who suffer from hunger depending on farming for survival, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has invited Latin American leaders to a conference next week aimed at forging strategies to help lift millions out of their grinding poverty.
The five-day International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD) will be held in Porto Alegre, Brazil from 6-10 March, the FAO said, stressing that new development opportunities in rural areas would offer an escape from hunger by providing more equitable access to basic land and water resources.
"We have just 10 years to reach 2015, the target date set by the international community to reduce by half the number of hungry people in the world. Since the very poorest are landless farmers everywhere it will not be possible to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) unless we find sustainable solutions to the challenge existing in the world’s rural areas," said Parviz Koohafkan, Executive Secretary of ICARRD.
The MDGs are a set of eight targets that were established at a 2000 UN Summit aimed at reducing major global ills such as poverty, illiteracy and hunger by 2015.
The FAO said that the Conference should foster alliances between governments, small farmers’ organizations, international institutions, donors and civil society as a means of assisting the world’s poorest people to gain better access to basic productive resources.
FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf will attend the gathering, to which heads of state of all Latin American countries have been invited. Mr. Diouf has urged FAO’s Member States to take an active part in ICARRD in order to identify options and opportunities for reducing poverty and hunger in rural areas.
FAO said that the Conference, which will receive financial and logistical support from the Brazilian Government, will involve meetings and debates revolving around five main themes, which will then be the subject of case studies and papers.
These themes will include policies and experiences that have improved resource access for the poorest; how to improve local natural resource planning and management capabilities; identifying new development opportunities; combining such concepts as agrarian reform, social justice and sustainable development, and the primary role of food sovereignty.
FAO said that the Conference, which will be opened by the Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, would conclude with a final declaration and plan of action.
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