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Statement by Nepal to the 24th Session of IFAD's Governing Council

Madame Chairperson,
Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is indeed a great pleasure for me to be here in Rome on the occasion of the Twenty-Fourth Session of IFAD’s Governing Council. I am honored to have the opportunity to address this august forum today and share views of my delegation on multiple dimensions of the critical issue of our time - the issues of rural poverty, food security, sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation. I would also like to take this opportunity, Madame Chairperson, to extend, our heartfelt congratulations to Mr. Fawzi H. Al-sultan for putting commendable efforts and professional wisdom towards preparing the Fund for facing the challenges of the 21st century during last eight years as President of IFAD.

Madame Chairperson,

During our journey of more than two decades, we have been persistently committing ourselves to the cause of setting humanity free from hunger, malnutrition and poverty. And yet, the fundamental challenge to humanity is equally real and relevant today than a couple of decades ago when we created IFAD. Moreover, new dimensions of environmental misbalance and natural calamities have been unfolding with increasing recurrence hitting painfully harder particularly to weaker economies. We are faced today with more compelling urgency to leapfrog into the twenty first century through creation of new opportunities of employment and income generation without prejudicing the environmental sustainability. Our promises must be backed up with real resources. We think it appropriate today to recall the clarion call of IFAD for redoubling the international effort towards achieving the goal of eradicating poverty and hunger while commemorating its Twentieth Anniversary three years ago. Let us be reassured, at this juncture, that we strive hard to fulfill this commitment even as the commitment of 0.7 percent of Gross National Product for Official Development Assistance as peace dividend made by industrial countries has remained unfulfilled by a large margin.

While new plateaus in production frontiers have been achieved through growth strategies backed up by the scientific breakthroughs, most part of it has been of little solace to the poor and hungry of many parts of the world, given the persistent inequality in the access to the stock of increased production and broadened resources. The spatial and societal asymmetry between the distribution of population and production remains to be a matter of great concern -- especially for Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Our real challenge is now to work towards the direction of connecting people to the accomplished progress to make a lasting difference in the lives of millions of rural people in these regions.

At the national level, Madame Chairperson, I would like to share our experiences briefly on some of the critical issues facing less developed mountainous countries like Nepal. The upland areas comprise the large part of the country and are the traditional homelands for the poor. The population carrying capacity of mountains and hills have been rapidly dwindling and the sustainability of the terrace agriculture has been under constant threats. As a sequel, the population pressure has been shifting rapidly to the fertile lands of the southern plains, the size of which is itself very small. Our challenge is to thwart this process through promotion of sustainable livelihood in the uplands. To this effect, we are looking forward to work together with IFAD. In this connection, we find the Fund's recent emphasis on upland area development very much encouraging.

I am pleased to mention that IFAD has been a valuable partner in our efforts to alleviate rural poverty ever since it started its operation in 1978. Working together for more than two decades, we share valuable experiences regarding strengths and weaknesses of effective poverty focussed programmes. It is time that we take advantage of these experiences in charting out new areas and thrusts of cooperation. We are keen on adopting policies and measures that have potential not only to spur growth in agriculture but also to make this growth pro-poor capable of uplifting the standard of living of the vast majority of our people who reside largely on rural areas and inspire us to live in local and global harmony. We have increasingly been committing ourselves to focus on rural development through the process of decentralization and beneficiary participation and to find areas of cooperation on strengthening local institutions as local development agents. As we look forward to engage in effective partnership with IFAD in this endeavor of ours, we look forward to work with IFAD, as well as other donors, in carving out an institutional framework that would provide an effective mechanism for mobilizing funds for poverty alleviation programmes.

Madame Chairperson,

I would like to reassure Nepal’s full commitment to collaborate with IFAD in its own capacity and potentials.

My delegation fully endorses the proposed program and budget of IFAD for 2001.

May I conclude with best wishes for the grand success of this Session.

Thank you all for your kind attention.

JAYAPRAKASH PRASHAD GUPTA
Hon’ble Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Nepal