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Statements by Seychelles on the occasion of the 34th session of Governing Council of IFAD

It is an honour and indeed a privilege to address the governors' council meeting of the organization after an absence of some 18 years. We live in a world which has an abundant food supply to feed everyone to his heart' content. However, depending on circumstances the food either does not get to where it is needed or when it gets there no one has the relevant resources to purchase it. Poverty is the fundamental basis for the existence of the malnourishment and hunger.

Small nations like Seychelles have very high vulnerabilities which further disadvantage them. We hade limited natural resources to fall back on. Agricultural land is scarce and finite forcing us to be net food importers. We are distantly placed from the main markets and they have high container transport costs, insurance and freight. This escalates when there are high risks in the region such as piracy. We have comparatively large populations in relation to the land area and they do not have economies of scale.

The industries on which we have come to depend on are very volatile and these will include tourism which is easily negatively impacted upon by the slightest turmoil sometimes in the most remote corner of the globe.

The small island developing states are the first to be afflicted by climate change and the last to be able to pull themselves out of its consequences. This translates into the fact the small island developing states cannot depend on the income of any specific industry. This makes them financially and food insecure.

New challenge and emerging threats keep pilling up on our side, threatening significantly the gains achieved. Piracy in the Indian Ocean is becoming a major threat for Seychelles. Both our artisanal and industrial fisheries along with lucrative tourism activities, the two economic pillars have been significantly affected leading to a 40% loss of the national GDP in 2010. It is a matter of time now before vital food supplies imported to the Seychelles are interrupted by action of piracy in their active zone of operation. Today, over and above the general food price increases, we add the inflated costs of freight and insurance charges for our food imports.

We understand that our development can only be sustained with the assistance of partners. For some of us have used development funds most efficiently have had appreciable national development. Seychelles has moved from the position of least developed country status to that of middle income country status. However in so doing we have shut ourselves out of the possibility of securing concessionary development funds at competitive interest rates. Chairperson, ladies and gentlemen, while some of the small nations and island states might be perceived to be doing well according to some established criteria, the fragility of our main industries and our vulnerability to natural calamities such as piracy and others are hardly emphasized. We seek partnership to overcome the multiplicity of emerging challenges. We commit to make very efficient use of the limited resources as we are aware that it is the only way to maintain the gains achieved. We perceive IFAD as a major partner in national agricultural sector development. We would want to renew our collaboration towards greater food security and better nutrition as highlighted by Mr Kofi Annan and other speakers. Seychelles is back and on behalf of the Government and people of Seychelles I would like to express my gratitude for receiving us back.

Ladies and gentlemen I thank you for your attention.

19 February 2011