India looks to join the Zero Hunger Challenge

IndiaIndia has agreed to take on the Zero Hunger Challenge, according to FAO assistant director general for Asia-Pacific Hiroyuki Konuma.

“We got an official confirmation from the Union ministry of agriculture. Now, the next step would be to formulate a country-specific action plan to eradicate hunger in our life time,” he told the Times of India on Sunday.

The announcement came at the end of a four-day conference in Chennai, hosted by the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, where regional leaders gathered to discuss the role of family-farming in achieving Zero Hunger in the Asia-Pacific region.

Read: Times of India: 4-day conference to take a harder look at hunger issues

Konuma told the conference that Myanmar, Nepal, and Viet Nam have also expressed strong interest in launching their own national Zero Hunger Challenges. Timor-Leste, which became the first country in Asia & the Pacific to join the Zero Hunger Challenge in January 2014, launched its national action plan and campaign in July, including a ZHC national committee to direct and oversee activities and the commitment of 10% of the national budget to implementation.

Forty-one countries in the Asia-Pacific region agreed to adopt a roadmap toward zero hunger during the last FAO Regional Conference in March 2014. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s hungry live in Asia & the Pacific, and this weekend’s conference in Chennai urged greater support for family and smallholder farmers to encourage renewed efforts to eradicate hunger and undernutrition.

Professor Swaminathan presented to the delegation – some 350 participants, including seven government ministers and deputy ministers, representatives of civil society and academic institutions – a Chennai Declaration, which was generally endorsed with some comments. The declaration recognized “the important role” played by family and smallholder farmers and “their need for better support, protection and empowerment” for food security.

Read: FAO: Asia-Pacific countries reach consensus for greater support for millions of small-holder family farms