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19.09.2005 General News

Experts agree agric development blueprint

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Accra, Sept. 19, GNA - World experts have agreed for the first time on a blueprint on sustainable agricultural development to reduce hunger and poverty and improve environmental protection in developing countries.

Top experts in agriculture, the environment and economics have called on governments to "give priority to public expenditures on public goods for rural areas such as roads, information technology and other rural infrastructure as well as research, extension training and education," according to a consensus published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation on Monday.

A statement issued in Accra said the Beijing Consensus on the future of global agriculture and rural areas was a blueprint from which to build sustainable rural communities and strong agriculture sectors that would reduce hunger and poverty and improve environmental protection in the developing countries.

"The Beijing consensus on the future of global agriculture and rural areas calls on governments to recognize the vital role of agriculture and rural communities in overall economic growth and sustainable development."

With the majority of the poor and hungry living in rural areas, the statement called for investment in agriculture and rural development calling it "absolutely crucial to improve their lives and livelihoods". The consensus warned that globalisation and the emergence of supermarkets could lead to de-linking food consumption from local production, creating a risk of that would exclude small farmers from contributing to the food supply in urban areas.

It said "urbanization leads to a rapid shift in food consumption, in terms of quantity, quality and product diversity" and called for public and private efforts to "lower obstacles preventing small farmers from integrating into modern supply chains" effectively locking them out of economic growth opportunities.

The consensus said there was an urgent need to give higher priority to agricultural research.

It called for an "ever-green revolution, which combines cost reduction with resource conservation and enhanced production". On the environment, the consensus called for rural societies to be the primary custodians of local eco-systems. "Conservation and sustainable management of eco-systems is the best insurance for the continued supply of eco-system services, such as biodiversity, carbon sequestration, pollination and water purification."

The consensus said a plan should be developed that would allow the poor to benefit from "selling" environmental services.

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