UN project to ensure food security

KATHMANDU: In a bid to assist Asia-Pacific countries to combat food insecurity, the United Nations is partnering with China to promote hybrid rice technology in 12 developing countries, including Nepal, in the region.

The project - Extension of Hybrid Rice Cultivation Technology for Food Security in the Asia-Pacific Region - will be officially launched on 24 August in Beijing, with the theme ''South-South Cooperation''. Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and Niu Dun, Vice-Minister for Agriculture, China, will launch the project, amidst a function in Beijing.

According to ESCAP, representatives and trainees from 12 participating countries, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, People's Democratic Republic of Korea, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Timor Leste are attending the event. Similarly, UN agencies and government ministries, experts and stakeholders are taking a part.

The two-and-a-half-year project aims at increasing the production of rice in developing and some of the least developed countries through hybrid rice cultivation technology. The Asia-Pacific region is home to 64 per cent of the world's undernourished people. Rising food prices, compounded by shooting energy price amid the global financial crisis, has made innovation in agricultural technology an imperative.

Experience in China has shown that hybrid rice technology can increase crop yield per unit, in the face of decreasing arable land and water supply.

The project is a partnership between the United Nations Asian and Pacific Centre for Agricultural Engineering and Machinery - a regional institution of ESCAP - and the Centre of International Cooperation Service of the Ministry of Agriculture of China.