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Statement by H.E. Mr. M. Fazhul Karim Ambassador of Bangladesh to the 31st Session of IFAD’s Governing Council

Chairperson,
Distinguished Governors,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, allow me to extend my delegation's warmest felicitations to you and the members of the bureau on your well deserved elections. As I take the floor, Chairman, I am glad that the previous speakers have very eloquently articulated the challenges facing our economies, i.e., climate change, rising food prices and the prices of agricultural inputs and widespread rural poverty. I am not going to elaborate on these issues due to time constraints.

I would, however, like to share with this February gathering our experience in fighting poverty and achieve sustainable development as well as the challenges we are facing in this regard.

Distinguished delegates,

As you are aware, the year 2007 was a very difficult year for Bangladesh with an unprecedented occurrence of three natural disasters, two major floods and a devastating cyclone. Cyclone Sidr killed over three thousand people and destroyed homes, infrastructure and around one quarter of the Sundarban forest. While killing and displacing a large number of rural population, the floods damaged crops of vast areas of the country. The entire machinery of the government was mobilized to bring succour to the affected people. Friendly governments, international organizations, NGOs all came forward to help the affected people and we deeply appreciate their valuable assistance. The government is now engaged in rehabilitation and rebuilding works with particular focus on helping the farmers and rural poor. These natural disasters have had a major impact on food production in the country, seriously hampering our efforts to achieve food security.

It is heartening to note that there is now a global consensus that climate change is a reality and that catastrophic climate events, such as floods, cyclones, tidal waves, etc. would increase in the days to come.

Given the fact that Bangladesh is a low lying delta, it would be more vulnerable to climate change. Natural disasters pose serious development challenges to developing countries like Bangladesh and international solidarity is vital to face these challenges effectively. We count on agencies such as IFAD to partner with us in assisting farmers to reduce their vulnerability while at the same time increase agriculture production.

Chairperson,

Bangladesh remains predominantly an agricultural economy and the majority of rural households depend on agriculture for employment and livelihood. You would be happy to know that Bangladesh has made impressive progress in the social sectors and its micro-credit programme has become a model to address rural poverty and empower women. We, however, need a conducive international environment in the form of greater market access for our products and support in reversing the impact of climate change to make further progress in the above mentioned areas.

We value very highly IFAD's focus on rural poverty and its contribution to agriculture research and rural development. We are particularly appreciative of IFAD's support to small and marginal farmers.

Distinguished delegates,

I would like to conclude by underscoring the importance of global solidarity in support of the developing countries, specially the LDCs, so that they can face the challenges of poverty, underdevelopment and climate change in an effective manner. We must also help strengthen the capacity of IFAD to contribute meaningfully in these areas.

I thank you all.