Bandar Seri Begawan - Brunei Darussalam is now officially a member of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
The admission ceremony took place at the FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy during the FAO Conference which started on June 15, 2013 and will end on June 22, 2013.
According to a press release from the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, besides Brunei Darussalam, two other nations were also accepted by the FAO Conference of Nations as new members of the FAO, namely, Republic of South Sudan and Singapore.
With the inclusion of Brunei Darussalam and the other two countries, FAO now has 194 member states, one member organisation and two associate members.
Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, as the head of Brunei Darussalam's delegation attended the admission ceremony to represent the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
Also attending the conference as part of the delegation were Dayang Hajah Normah Suria Hayati binti Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama (Dr) Haji Awang Mohd jamil Al-Sufri, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR); Dato Paduka Awang Zainidi bin Haji Sidup, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Brunei Darussalam to France; Dayang Hajah Aidah binti Haji Mohd Hanifah, Acting Director of Agriculture and Agrifood; and senior officials from MIPR.
Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya delivered an acceptance speech in which he expressed his gratitude to members of FAO for their generous support in accepting Brunei Darussalam as a new member of FAO.
He added that Brunei Darussalam is a small nation with a population of only about 400,000 people and. imports 80 per cent of its food supplies. Therefore, there is an urgent need to improve and enhance its agricultural system and policies to ensure food security for its people, according to the press release.
He also highlighted the efforts undertaken by the government in reviewing its policy on the domestic staple food production, namely the rice production; and the long-term rice production programme to achieve self-sufficiency in Brunei Darussalam, which has been implemented since 2009. To achieve all these endeavours, he looked forward to working closely with the FAO in various initiatives, training and projects.
The FAO was established on October 16, 1945 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada with its headquarters located in Washington, DC, United States, until 1951 when it was moved to Rome.
The FAO, which is headed by a Director General, is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. The heart of FAO's efforts basically focuses on achieving food security for all to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. It has a mandate to improve nutrition, increase agricultural productivity, raise the standard of living in rural populations and contribute to global economic growth.
The FAO has identified five strategic objectives, namely to help eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition: make agriculture more productive and sustainable, reduce rural poverty; ensure inclusive and efficient agricultural and food systems; and protect livelihoods from disasters, the press release stated.