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'Need coordinated approach in Asia Pacific to combat hunger'

Posted on Aug 08 2014 | IANS

Chennai, Aug 7 : There should a coordinated approach across the Asia Pacific region to tackle hunger and malnutrition, experts said here Thursday.

"There is a need for policy-makers to support family farming, policy changes to make family farming more attractive and secure and to recognise that farming on any scale is a business," Kanayo Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), said at the International Conference on Family Farming held at the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) here.

According to Tamil Nadu's Agriculture Minister Agri S.S. Krishnamoorthy, the state has progressed well in micro-irrigation, precision farming, rice intensification and promotion of vegetable cultivation.

He said the share of agriculture in the gross domestic product has declined.

"There is crisis with regard to eradication of hunger and poverty and urgent need to raise the level of livelihood of our farmers," Krishnamoorthy said.

Addressing the gathering, Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), stressed on the hunger challenge and 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, Rebecca Travers, regional representative of 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," she said.

Releasing the annual report of MSSRF for 2013-14, Swaminathan emphasised 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."

According to Peter Kenmore, India country representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 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.

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