Irish Forum for International Agricultural Development meeting with QU Dongyu, Director General FAO
This week I participated in the Irish Forum for International Agricultural Development (IFIAD) meeting between QU Dongyu, Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Irish NGOs, youth representatives and universities.
In my remarks I said “This Government recognises food insecurity as a pressing issue for all countries in the world and this will be most felt in the world’s poorest countries in the coming months and years. Climate change remains as the biggest challenge to global food security. We are supportive of the FAO Climate Strategy and it is imperative that Ireland play our part. We have our own history of the potato famine, and the consequential death and emigration on an incomprehensible scale to spur us on.”
I also thanked the Director General for setting up dedicated FAO committees on women and youth.
“When we talk about food security it is important that we know exactly what we are talking about. This week my colleague, Minister McConalogue, announced funding for food waste reduction projects, and it is important we make the link to food security. We must not allow food security to mean the continuation of food waste in rich countries to the detriment of poor countries.
When we speak of food security it must always be in the context of feeding the poorest countries in the world - it is a matter of life and death. Within the poorest countries it often women who suffer most. I am very encouraged by the role of FAO in challenging gender roles and empowering women farmers’ economic independence”.
A round table discussion took place with representatives from Self Help Africa, Concern Worldwide, NUI Galway, Trocaire, Goal Global, University College Cork and Act 4 Food Act 4 Change and was Chaired by Professor Charles Spillane, Director of the Ryan Institute NUI Galway and Chair of IFIAD.
The event’s location in the Irish Emigration Museum close to the Irish Famine Memorial on Custom House Quay in Dublin was remarked upon by the Director General who said “Ireland's Famine Memorial is a humbling reminder of our commitment to the FAO mandate. It's our collective responsibility to ensure tragedies like this don't happen again. We have to work hand in hand to strengthen agrifood systems & save lives.”
My thanks to Dr Patrick Greene and team at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum for an enlightening tour.