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Secretary General of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza, has called for the countries of the Americas to pay keen attention to food security, and encourage investments in the region’s agricultural sector.
“Today, after years of increases in food prices and now with the global economy still struggling to emerge from recession and the countries of the Americas feeling the negative effects of the economic downturn, the issue of food security and the need for increased attention and investments in the agricultural sector is more urgent than ever,” he said
He noted that, because of the world economic crisis, many countries in the Americas will not be able to achieve the UN Millennium Goal of reducing poverty by 50% by the year 2015.
He said that the World Food Programme (WFP) is also concerned that, in spite of declining food prices around the world, the global economic recession is making hunger a reality for millions of people, once again.
He made the remarks on Tuesday (October 27), while bringing greetings at the opening ceremony of the 5th Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Rural Life in the Americas, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Montego Bay St. James.
“We therefore cannot relax in our efforts to improve food security and reduce poverty in our region,” he told the representatives from 34 countries in the hemisphere attending the meeting.
“This is a hemisphere that is rich in resources, technologies and ideas. We have the natural and human resources to produce enough healthy food for our domestic consumption, as well as for export,” he posited.
He called for a concerted effort to exploit available resources, in the interest of the food security of the region, while admitting that there will be challenges.
The OAS Secretary General named some of the challenges as: diminishing investments in the agricultural sector; a lack of interest in agriculture as a career by some in the younger generation; the diminishing availability of fertile lands; the impact of climate change on the land and water resources; extreme weather events and the need for social safety nets, such as insurance within the farming sector.
He emphasised that all these challenges were not insurmountable, and called for critical action on the part of Governments within the region. He also pointed out that his organisation has embarked on a number of initiatives to assist countries in the region in overcoming some of these challenges.

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