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News - December 2004

Farmers at the centre of World Food Day 2004 celebrations

Farmers, youth and UN agencies were at the forefront of this year's activities to celebrate World Food Day's theme "Biodiversity for Food Security" at FAO headquarters in Rome.

For the first time on World Food Day (WFD), farmers from different parts of the world had a chance to speak about their experience in enhancing biodiversity and increasing food production in a sustainable way. During WFD's observance at FAO headquarters, a farmers' event placed the spot light on small farmers from all over the world who shared stories and experiences.

A variety of events on the WFD theme were held at FAO in the week leading up to World Food Day. These included, inter alia, a training workshop organized by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), a Youth Forum involving students, youth, young professionals and other organized groups interested in the theme, a photo and art exhibit organized by the FAO Staff Coop. There was also the exhibit on the International Year of the Rice.

The leading partners of the International Alliance against Hunger participated in a two-week exhibit set up in the FAO Atrium. The opening of the Exhibit was held on 12 October moderated by Ms. Eva Clayton with the following speakers: Mr. David Harcharik, Deputy Director-General, FAO; Dr. Emile Frison, Director-General, IPGRI; Ms. Karen Serres, President of the Committee of Women Farmers of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP); Mr. Allan Jury, Director of External Affairs of WFP; and Mr. Phrang Roy, Assistant President for External Affairs of IFAD.

This year's key note speaker during the WFD ceremony was Hungarian President Mr. Ferenc MÓdl. Other honourable speakers included the former FAO Director-General Mr. Edouard Saouma. For the first time during an FAO WFD ceremony, a farmer representative, Mr. Mamadou Cissokho, Honorary President of the Network of Peasant Organizations and Producers of West Africa (ROPPA) and of the National Council of Senegal for Dialogue and Rural Cooperation delivered a statement on the importance of farmers' participations in the development processes and stressed the importance of knowledge and heritage over technology.

A Civil Society forum was held on 15 October on the topic, "What Policies for Biodiversity and Food Sovereignty: Civil Society Views of Opportunities and Threats" with the participation of civil society members from Angola, Brazil, Iran, Italy, Malaysia and Senegal.

To hear the statements delivered by FAO Director General Jacques Diouf and the guests of honour attending World Food Day ceremony at FAO headquarters please visit: http://www.fao.org/wfd/ceremonies_2004_en.asp

For more information on WFD 2004 events please visit the official WFD site at http://www.fao.org/wfd/