Thursday, February 23, 2017

Debate on Agriculture Development and Food Security

Statement  of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
Delivered by
Mr. Enayet Madani

Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations

on Agenda Item (25)

Debate on Agriculture Development and Food Security:

Mr. Chairman,

To begin, let me thank you for convening this extremely pertinent and important debate. With the ongoing famine in the horn of Africa, and a looming food crisis in my own country, the issue of agriculture development and food security should be high on our agendas.

Afghanistan aligns itself with the statements delivered by the distinguished representatives of Argentina on behalf of G77 and China and Nepal on behalf of LDCs. My delegation also expresses its appreciation to the Secretary-General for his Report on Agriculture Development and Food Security, which will guide our deliberations?

Mr. Chairman,

As we discuss agriculture and food security, we must recognise the inextricable interconnections between agricultural development and poverty. The world’s poorest countries depend heavily on their rural and agricultural economies. Agriculture development is therefore a crucial means of combating both hunger and poverty.

In Afghanistan, 80% of our population is dependent on agriculture and related sectors for their livelihoods. Afghanistan is known for producing some of the finest fruits, especially pomegranates, apricots, grapes, melons, and mulberries. Several provinces in the north of the country are also known for pistachio cultivation. However, proper marketing and processing services are lacking, and agricultural production is also constrained by an almost total dependence on erratic winter snows and spring rains for water. We have therefore made agriculture development the number one priority in our current Afghanistan National Development Strategy.

Mr. Chairman,

As result of more than three decades of conflict, infrastructure in Afghanistan, including in the agricultural sector, has been severely damaged. In response, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock of Afghanistan, with the support of international partners and the UN system, has launched a number of innovative programmes aimed at supporting the agriculture sector. For instance, one such initiative is the establishment of an Agriculture Development Fund with a US$ 100 million grant provided by the United States Agency for International Development to the Government of Afghanistan. The ADF supplies agricultural credit, providing much-needed access to credit to small commercial farmers, agribusinesses, producers of high-value crops, and processors and exporters of agricultural products. Other policies as part of the ANDS include establishing land tenure security, improving rural transportation and irrigation infrastructure, and providing access to drought-resistant crop varieties.

We call on the international community to provide greater support for such agriculture development efforts, particularly in the poorest countries, by increasing investment in agriculture and the transfer of agricultural technology and expertise, and also by addressing unjust economic policies such as subsidies which disadvantage poor, small-scale farmers.

Mr. Chairman,

Turning now to the more pressing issue of food security, one major underlying driver of the problem, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, is climate change. Climate change can alter weather patterns, leading to increased desertification, destructive flooding and devastating drought, like the one we are currently experiencing. These changes adversely affect food production and the entire rural economy. Furthermore, increasing temperatures from climate change and decreasing water availability can directly reduce crop yields, further reducing food production.

To address this challenge, we call on all states to take effective and immediate action to mitigate climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based realistically on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

Mr. Chairman,

Food insecurity is not just a matter of food production. The distribution and economic availability of food are also crucial factors that we must address. As our Minister of Agriculture recently commented, “Global food supplies are sufficient, but 24 percent more costly than last year”. Last month, the FAO Food Price Index stood at 225, slightly lower than its February all-time high but still above even the levels of the 2008 food crisis. With our national production greatly reduced this year due to the current drought, domestic prices are significantly higher

Besides natural hazards, food prices are being artificially distorted by high energy prices, the diversion of food crops for biofuels, and in particular irresponsible financial practices such as import dumping and reckless commodity speculation. We call for an immediate end to all such practices which could undermine food security. The right to sufficient food for an adequate standard of living is a fundamental human right, and must be protected as such. We cannot alleviate poverty and improve the situation of developing countries until basic food security can be guaranteed.

We further stress that agriculture development and food security must be integrated with the broader goal of sustainable development. In this connection, we sincerely hope that food and agriculture will be given due attention at next year’s Rio + 20 Conference. Sustainable agriculture is a cornerstone of any ‘green economy’, and explicitly addressing agriculture development and food security will give the conference’s green economy theme a heightened relevance for poorer developing countries.

Mr. Chairman,

As we speak, nearly 12 million people in my country are facing food shortages due to drought conditions earlier this year. This drought is our worst since 2001, and is even worse than that last devastating disaster; we will need to assist 61 percent of the population in some of the 14 provinces currently affected.  While we are not suffering conditions as severe as the ongoing famine in the horn of Africa, millions of Afghans are nonetheless going hungry, and facing malnutrition and under-nourishment.

We have appealed for an additional $142 million in disaster aid through the World Food Programme earlier this month, to help tide affected farmers through the coming difficult months of winter. We sincerely and humbly urge all of you to stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan in this hour of need.

Mr. Chairman,

Before closing, let me take this opportunity to thank the UN; in particular, the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization and all other partners for their continued support to the people of Afghanistan. I reiterate Afghanistan’s firm commitment to working in cooperation with all of you to advance the cause of sustainable development and food security for all.

I thank you.

Statement By H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Least Developing Countries Meeting of Foreign Ministers

Statement By H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Least Developing Countries Meeting of Foreign Ministers


Mr. Chairman,

Let me begin by conveying, on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, our sincere appreciation to our friends of the Republic of Nepal for their successful leadership of the Least Developing Countries. Your able leadership at a time when the world is confronting various challenges helps us to maintain our unity, expand and strengthen cooperation among the members of our group.

Mr. Chairman,

Not long ago, the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries was held in Istanbul, generously hosted by of our brothers the people and government of Turkey, where the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action was adopted. This strategic document will remain a roadmap for us to achieve the eradication of poverty and our internationally-agreed development goals. It is imperative that we implement the Istanbul Programme of Action, and integrate its provisions into our national development policies.

Afghanistan also welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on the Outcome of the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan is concerned over the multiple global crises of extensive poverty, climate change, financial and economic crises, and threats of terrorism, volatile energy prices and food shortages.  All of these challenges have had enormous deleterious effects on the implementation and realisation of our MDGs.

As LDCs are heavily reliant on agricultural products, improving and increasing productive capacity and competitiveness with the assistance of our development partners is of significant importance.

Conversely, the disastrous effects of climate change have become one of the greatest obstacles to the prosperity and sustainable development of LDCs.  Natural disasters such as flooding, droughts, earthquakes and mudslides are becoming more frequent in our part of the world. None of us can afford to experience the devastating effects of such calamities, on our people, our agriculture, our environment, and our infrastructure.  As members of LDCs, we must come together for a strong common position on issues related to climate change and environmental degradation.

Mr. Chairman,

In a globalized world, we cannot and should not isolate ourselves from international markets and cooperation with the rest of the world. However, it is only prudent for us to adopt policies to free ourselves from total dependence on international assistance and vulnerability to the shocks of the international market. Afghanistan fully supports the position of the LDCs, in calling upon the G-8 countries to give due consideration to the LDC agenda and take appropriate measures to ensure that the concerns of LDCs are taken fully into account in their decisions.

Afghanistan further supports the LDCs position on the need for strengthening the Global System of Trade Preferences among developing countries (GSTP), and increasing the volume of development assistance and financial flows, technology transfer, and duty-free, quota-free market access being provided by countries of the South to LDCs. We welcome such initiatives and call for other members in the South to do the same.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan has achieved great progress over the past 10 years. However, we still live in a part of the world where trans-national threats such as terrorism, extremism, poverty, organized crime and natural disasters still exist. Terrorism is among the dominant challenges in our region. In terrorism, we all share a common enemy, regardless of our cultural and religious differences. The terrorism threat we face is part of a complex and sophisticated network, responsible for attacks across our region, in defeating terrorism will not be possible without an effective global strategy. We must focus more on addressing terrorist safe-havens and sanctuaries in our region, which operate as the life-line for terrorist activity. Unless this is achieved, all our efforts will be in vain.

Widespread poverty and a lack of socio-economic opportunities are another critical challenge which we are confronted with. Afghanistan is pursing regional cooperation as the cornerstone of our overall efforts to secure peace, stability and prosperity. In that regard, we are working with the region and the international community to revive Afghanistan’s central position in promoting and developing regional trade and commerce through the New Silk Road Initiative, to the shared benefit of all involved.   In that regard, like other LDCs Afghanistan is looking forward to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held in Brazil next year. Rio+20 will focus on the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development. We call upon the international community to seize this opportunity to strengthen the coordination and coherence between the United Nations system and all other multilateral financial, trade and development institutions to support economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development in the LDCs.

In conclusion, let me reiterate Afghanistan’s steadfast commitment to advancing the goals of the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action and repeat our assurances of our highest consideration and closest cooperation in working with all of you.

Thank you.

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Group of G 77 and China Meeting of Foreign Ministers Delivered by Mr. A. Zahir Faqiri Deputy Permanent Representative

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Group of G 77 and China

Meeting of Foreign Ministers Delivered by Mr. A. Zahir Faqiri  Deputy Permanent Representative

Mr Chairman,

At the outset, let me convey, on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, our sincere appreciation to the Republic of Argentina for its successful leadership of the Group of 77 and China.

Mr Chairman, your wise leadership at a time when the world is facing many challenges has helped us stand united, and expand and strengthen cooperation among members of our Group.

Last year, the world’s leaders reviewed the achievements and challenges of the MDGs at the 2010 MDG Summit and endorsed its outcome document. However, many developing countries still face enormous challenges on the road towards achieving the MDGs.

We believe that our strengthened collaboration, growing trade and transit, and unity in striving for a common cause is the best formula for our success and for achieving peace and prosperity for our nations and peoples. Promoting trade and investment among G77 member countries is an effective way to mitigate the negative impact of international financial crises and shocks. In that vein, we recognise both the necessity and potential of North-South collaboration, as well as cooperation between countries of the South. Furthermore, through such cooperation with each other and the rest of the world and with pro-poor socio-economic policies, we can both combat the challenge of climate change and work towards poverty alleviation.

Mr Chairman,

Afghanistan, like the rest of the Group, is deeply concerned over the multiple global crises, including widespread poverty, climate change, financial troubles, and the threat of terrorism, volatile energy prices, and food shortages. All of these challenges have had substantial negative impacts on our progress towards achieving the MDGs.

In a globalised world, we cannot and should not isolate ourselves from international financial markets and the rest of the world. However, it is only prudent for us to adopt policies to free ourselves from total dependence on and vulnerability to the shocks of the international market.

Strong and sustained growth is critical for developing countries to meet their internationally-agreed development goals, including the MDGs. My delegation fully agrees with the G77 that economic and social development is the central objective of the United Nations, which remains the only legitimate fully-global body that could address the need for sustainable and socially-equitable development.

Addressing the multiple challenges of economic crises, climate change, and food security, is ultimately and above all our own responsibility. It will require our constant efforts, careful governance, and just yet practical social and development policies. Accomplishing these vital tasks cannot and will not be possible, however, without sufficient resources.

In order to effectively respond to the ongoing challenges, Afghanistan calls on developed countries to demonstrate greater flexibility and political will to meet and scale up their Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments to developing countries, particularly LDCs and post-conflict countries.

My delegation also emphasises the importance of regional and international cooperation to address challenges like food security and agricultural development, as integral parts of the international development agenda.

Mr Chairman,

Afghanistan’s delegation actively participated in the drafting of the political declaration of the High-Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases. We fully support the stand of the G77 in favour of strengthened international cooperation in the area of public health, to promote access to comprehensive and cost-effective prevention, treatment and care for the integrated management of NCDs, including improved access to affordable, safe, effective and high-quality medicines and diagnostic and other technologies.

Mr Chairman,

We also strongly endorse the position of the G77 and China that ODA must be increased in order to achieve national development objectives, including the MDGs. It is also important that donors take into consideration the principle of ownership of recipient countries, reducing the allocation of ODA outside of government systems and instead channelling more funds through core budgets and transparent trust funds. We believe it is also important that donors’ reporting mechanisms be improved. We consider a lack of donor coordination, a lack of transparency and data sharing, and the unpredictability of aid to be among the challenges that must be addressed.

Mr Chairman,

Afghanistan supports the stand of the G77 and China on major international issues and believes that the G77 can play an important role in the framework of the United Nations, towards achieving peace and security in the world and to pave the way for sustainable economic and social development for all.

Before closing, let me take this opportunity to congratulate our brother country Algeria for being elected Chair of the G77 and China. We are confident that in pursuing a development agenda in 2012, Algeria will be steering our Group in accordance with the principles of inclusiveness and transparency, further strengthening the unity of the G77 and China.

Thank you.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan