Speech/statement | Date: 28/06/2011
Chairperson and colleagues,
Let me first congratulate the newly elected Director-General José Graziano da Silva. We wish you a successful term of office, and we look forward to a fruitful cooperation. Norway also wishes to underline our commitment to work for food security and the strengthening of FAO. FAO must play a central role in the international architecture on food security. We have high expectations both to the new Director General and to the organization.
The number of people suffering from hunger and malnutrition is unacceptable. High and volatile prices are likely to prevail. We must plan today for future food production under more extreme climatic conditions. For this, all countries must contribute through a sustainable use of natural resources.
Gender inequality is holding back progress in agriculture and food security. We therefore commend FAO for addressing The Vital Role of Women in Agriculture and Rural Development at this year’s Conference.
Women provide most of the food for consumption in many countries, and are most often responsible for food processing and preparation of food. In addition, we know that household food security and nutrition is closely linked to women's access to income and their role in decisions on household expenditure.
Despite their role as the backbone of food security, women`s access to critical resources such as land, water, technology, training and extension facilities, marketing services and credit is limited. A rights-based approach is vital to address this gender gap. In particular, we would like to highlight the role of security of tenure for women.
Security of tenure is often the key to having control over major decisions such as what crop to grow and what techniques to use, as well as what to consume and what to sell. Secure tenure for women is also the key to access credit and membership in agricultural associations.
As a donor country, Norway is strongly committed to mainstreaming gender issues in agricultural programmes. We will increase support to female farmers and in particular access to knowledge and training on various farming techniques like conservation agriculture, as well as other services that can lead to improved productivity and income.
The introduction of conservation farming techniques in Zambia has given women farmers access to training and extension services, along with their spouses. We know that women very often are the “change agents” in agriculture.
The SOFA Report “Women in Agriculture. Closing the Gender Gap” is a prime example of the important normative role of FAO. We would like to encourage further mainstreaming of gender issues in all of FAO`s work. However, we are disappointed that FAO’s Strategic Objective K: Gender is not sufficiently prioritized in the Programme of Work and Budget. More resources should be reallocated to Strategic Objective K without impacting the overall budget.
Implementing gender sensitive policies in the agricultural sector is a national responsibility. In Norway, a strategy for strengthening female influence and power in our own agricultural sector has been developed.
The strategy aims at increasing the number of female land owners, and to increase the number of female participants in agriculture and in related businesses.
Creating new job opportunities is also important. Rural areas must be an interesting place for women. Measures must be targeted especially at young female farmers, who are often the key entrepreneurs for rural development. Gender related research and the strengthening of female participation in farm cooperatives is also part of the strategy.
The understanding of the multiple roles of forests and the understanding of sustainable forest management are under threat. The concept is well understood by many, but from some sectors and interest groups, forests are viewed with particular interests - and often within limited scope.
Sustainable forest management has proved to be the strategy that works and that has restored the forest in Europe after unsustainable practices in the past. We appreciate the work done by FAO on sustainable forest management and REDD+, in particular through the UN-REDD programme.
To conclude, Mr. Chair,
Norway wishes to reiterate our commitment to the reform process in FAO. We appreciate the progress made in the implementation of the Immediate Plan of Action. However, some of the most complicated parts of the reform still remain, like improving FAO’s decentralized structure and making FAO “function as one”. There is still a need to improve priority setting and strengthen FAO’s delivery in areas where the Organization has a comparative advantage.
We all expect the results of this process to make FAO a more relevant, effective and efficient agent for food security and agricultural development. This must be the top priority of our newly elected Director-General.
Thank you for your attention.
Minister of Agriculture and Food of Norway, Mr. Lars Peder Brekk (Foto: Landbruks- og matdepartementet)