WORLD FOOD DAY Celebrated in MYANMAR, Rome, and MEXICO

Around the world, celebrations, presentations and discussions of many types marked commitments of being “United Against Hunger” to address food insecurity and malnutrition over the past week and culminating in World Food Day, October 16th. AVSI was involved in a great number of these events, most notably in Myanmar, Rome (to discuss Haiti), and Mexico.

                       

Myanmar

On October 16, 2010 in the capital city of Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, at the headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, AVSI participated in the celebrations of the “Fight Against Hunger Day”, organized by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). The AVSI delegation was headed by Mr. Luciano Valla, AVSI Representative for Myanmar; the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Forest attended as well.

 

AVSI displayed posters about the on-going project “Support to Special Rice Production in the Dry Zone, Mandalay Division” implemented in cooperation with FAO, following a letter of agreement signed in May 19, 2010 in Yangoon.

 

The project’s objective is to improve the quality and quantity of rice production in an area affected by chronically limited rain. Two main groups of activities are planned:

  • Extension services and training sessions of one full day every two weeks, held directly in the fields over a five-month period, to groups of 20-25 farmers in each of the 30 villages involved. Thus around 750 farmers will receive instruction to better cultivate and harvest rice; particular attention will be given to the introduction of new methods for the selection of seeds in order to achieve a stable and long-lasting effect on their quality. In addition to the distribution of improved traditional seeds and seeds of new experimental varieties, mechanical tools, and especially water pumps for irrigation, will be provided.
  • Multiplication of high quality seeds on a lot of 50 acres followed by distribution to the farmers. The land is located in the city of Kalaw, Shan State, next to a seed production facility managed by the Ministry of Agriculture.

FAO is co-financing the project through the “Environmentally Sustainable Food Security Program “(ESFSP) set up by FAO following the Cyclone NARGIS that hit Myanmar in 2008, and with important financial support from the Italian Government as well.  To manage this project AVSI has opened an office in Pyawbwe. AVSI staff includes five agronomists working in the field, and one agronomist coordinator plus administrative personnel.



 








[Photos: (top) World Food Day celebration; (above left) Training of Trainers;
(right) AVSI Representative Luciano Valla with Minister of Agriculture.]

Rome

On October 12, 2010, AVSI’s Secretary General Alberto Piatti participated in the FAO Committee on World Food Security Haiti consultations held in Rome, Italy. This inter-governmental committee was recently re-launched to address global food security concerns which are only increasing due to rising food prices. The panel on Haiti featured the Haitian Minister of Agriculture, the Haitian Ambassador to Italy, and AVSI staff including agronomist Joseph Gaspard Brice and Maria Teresa Gatti, AVSI Director of Knowledge Management.  The Minister of Agriculture announced his country’s “National Plan for Investment in Agriculture” which underlines the priority areas of action intended to revitalize the sector following the devastating earthquake. AVSI’s Agronomist Brice spoke about the connection between agricultural development and nutrition education as necessary for achieving food security. Brice also stated that even in rural development, the real protagonist of change is the person and his/her intelligent commitment to reality.

 

Mexico

On October 15, 2010, AVSI in Mexico participated in a conference in the capital city under the title “Socio-cultural Customs, Nutrition and Obesity in Mexico and Europe: Common Problems, Actions and Perspectives.” At this conference, AVSI’s Rossanna Stanchi joined the Italian Ambassador to Mexico to present the experiences of fighting against malnutrition in the community of Monte Alban, on the outskirts of Oaxaca. The message of commitment and local success was conveyed with particular energy given the on-going, and much anticipated, construction of a new Community Development Center in Monte Alban. Despite the delays occasioned by the June earthquake and the intense September rains, construction is moving forward thanks to generous support from Italian, Spanish and US donors. The new community center will house an expanded community kitchen as well as educational facilities to continue reaching hundreds of children and mothers with nutritious food and education on a daily basis.


These events reflect a multi-year committment of AVSI to expanding its programs addressing food security, including both fundamental aspects of agricultural production and nutrion.