Representatives of seven Pacific nations have arrived here to attend the 26th Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) regional conference for Asia and Pacific that will review the state of agriculture and food security in the region.

Australia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Samoa, Solomon Island and Tonga have sent their delegations to the May 13 to 17, 2002 conference, which is being held for the first time in Nepal, states a press release issued by the FAO on Sunday.

The prime minister of Tonga, Prince Ulukalala Lavaka Ata, minister for resources and development of Marshall Islands John Silk, minister for agriculture, forests, fisheries and meteorology of Samoa, Tuisugaletaua Aliimalemanu Sofara Aveu and minister of agriculture and livestock of Solomon Islands Stephan Paeni, will head their respective delegations.

The Kathmandu meeting is one of a series of FAO regional conferences prior to a gathering of world leaders for the World Food Summit, Five Years Later, to be held at FAO headquarters in Rome, from June 10 to 13, 2002. The summit has been convened to mobilise the political will and resources to accelerate global hunger reduction in keeping with the 1996 World Food Summit pledge to halve the hunger levels by the year 2015.

Pacific islands nations, however, have different food security concerns. These countries are worried about ensuring consumption of healthier food to protect their people from diseases caused by eating the wrong kind of food. This was expressed in Port Vila, Vanuatu from 23 to 24 July 2001.

Agriculture ministers from the Pacific meet biennially to review the implementation of the 1996 World Food Summit Plan of Action stated the release.