Thank you, Mr. Chairman,
Over the past few years, food security crises around the world have highlighted the urgent need for developing sustainable agricultural systems. Nearly one billion people – one out of six in the world– lack access to adequate food and proper nutrition.
By 2050, the global population is expected to surpass 9 billion people, and demand for agricultural products will double. Sustainable agriculture development and food security must remain at the top of the international agenda. Of course, proper nutrition is also crucial. Improving nutrition can result in reducing both under-nutrition, particularly stunting, as well as obesity, which often masks underlying deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.
Agriculture is a cross-cutting issue—one that has the power to create economic growth, mitigate the effects of climate change, increase food security and nutrition, empower women, and protect and renew the environment. Rural agriculture can also balance the impact of rapid urbanization. In order to meet the many challenges ahead, we must strive to produce more food with fewer resources while reinvigorating rural economies. This can be achieved through collaboration, investment and innovation among all stakeholders.
Israel has extensive expertise to contribute in this respect. Despite severe water and land limitations, agricultural production in Israel continues to grow. This is the result of the close and ongoing cooperation between researchers, extension workers, farmers and agriculture-related services and industries. The agricultural sector in Israel today is based almost entirely on science-linked technology, with government, academia and the private sector working together to meet challenges and seek new solutions.
Over the past 25 years, Israel’s agricultural output has increased sevenfold, with hardly any increase in the amount of water used. Israel has also developed extensive knowledge and expertise in developing agricultural systems in dry lands. Today, more than 40 percent of the country's vegetables and field crops are grown in the desert.
Agriculture is a main focus for Israel’s regional and international cooperation. Agricultural projects and research collaboration constitute about half of Israel's international cooperation programs. Emphasis is placed on agricultural training courses, with over 1,400 participants from over 80 countries attending specialized courses in Israel every year. Thousands more receive on-the-spot training in their own countries by Israeli agricultural experts.
Just recently, Israel approved a project to build a model agricultural village in South Sudan in the first half of 2013. The project will aim to teach local farmers about Israel’s breakthrough agricultural methods and technologies that can be used to help the fledgling nation thrive.
This project is directly in line with the themes underlined in our biannual resolution on ‘Agricultural Technology for Development’, adopted for the first time in 2007. The resolution promotes the dissemination of sustainable agricultural technologies to the developing world, and reaffirms our commitment to enact the policies necessary to support agricultural research. It highlights the importance of agricultural technology throughout the entire value chain of production – from seed to market. It also makes clear that it is not enough to assist developing nations in acquiring new technologies. We must also ensure that they develop their own capabilities for technology and innovation, through capacity building, education and skills transfer.
Finally Mr. Chairman, we must pay special attention to small-holder farmers, particularly rural women, who represent up to 90% of farmers in rural regions. It is widely acknowledged the number of hungry people could be reduced by up to 150 million if female farmers in developing countries were given the same access to land, credits, seeds and tools as their male counterparts. If we aspire to feed the entire human family at the global level, we should remember that it is the rural women who produce and provide food at the community level in most societies.
We must work hard to address the structural causes of hunger and malnutrition, which include a lack of social and economic empowerment; natural resource degradation and scarcity, and demographic pressures. Of course, climatic pressures must also be seriously addressed. As we have all witnessed just this week with Hurricane Sandy, climate-related changes, including extreme temperatures and volatile weather patterns, pose very real threats to agriculture systems.
In this regard, I wish to express Israel's support and appreciation for the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis, as well as Zero Hunger Challenge, launched by the Secretary General in Rio. By ensuring better coordination, cooperation and effectiveness, we can look forward to a world where food systems are sustainable, where women are empowered, and where adequate food and proper nutrition is ensured for every child.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.