28 May 2007

UN food body meets in Marshalls tomorrow

11:59 am on 28 May 2007

The Food and Agriculture Organisation's South West Pacific Ministers of Agriculture meeting will begin tomorrow in the Marshall Islands.

The meeting comes against an increasing trend of urban poverty and malnutrition among children in parts of the Pacific.

FAO's Director General, Jacques Diouf, will be in Majuro for the meeting, which brings high-level political leaders from the 14 independent Pacific nations together with donors and other UN agencies every two years to address key food security and agriculture issues in the region.

FAO officials say that there will be in-depth discussions on a range of food security needs and challenges in the region, including plant production and protection, forestry, fisheries, agri-business and rural development.

In the Marshall Islands, a just-released study of fourth grade primary school students shows that in the weight for age section, 53 percent of public students had some level of under-nutrition with just over a quarter of them having moderate or severe under-nutrition.

The FAO meeting will take stock of a number of donor-funded projects in different parts of the Pacific aimed at increasing food available to island communities.