MANILA, Philippines -- International donors and financial
institutions should increase funding support for agricultural
productivity research to address the global food crisis, the
government's representative to the United Nations has said.
Ambassador Hilario Davide Jr., Permanent Representative
to the UN in New York, made the call before a recent Special
Meeting on the Food Crisis convened by the Economic and Social
Council of the United Nations.
Davide batted for increased funding from donor institutions
and countries for the International Rice Research Institute
"The call of the hour includes the immediate positive/affirmative
response from all concerned, such as the International Monetary
Fund, the World Bank, the Internal Fund for Agricultural
Development and development partners to the most basic need
of the IRRI -- funds for research," Davide said.
"The research of the IRRI, the world's main repository
of rice seeds as well as genetic and other information about
rice -- the crop that feeds nearly half of the peoples of
the world -- has been, unfortunately, tremendously slowed
down because of cuts in funds for agricultural research," he
Davide cited the case of the brown plant hopper, a tiny
biting fly that has caused havoc across East Asia.
"Damage to rice crops which has caused reduced production
output would have been prevented if only IRRI's budget for
research has not been cut or reduced," he said.
The envoy cited IRRI reports that the brown plant hopper
was multiplying by the billions and chewing through rice
paddies in East Asia, threatening the health and lives of
many poor people.
He said China, the world's biggest rice producer, has announced
that it was struggling to control the rapid spread of these
insects which could destroy as much as 20 percent of a harvest.
Davide also said that although no fewer than 14 new types
of genetic resistance varieties of rice have been discovered,
the budget cuts prevented the IRRI from moving any further
to breed these traits into widely used rice varieties.
"If money is available for research, IRRI can accomplish
the task in four to seven years and save millions of people
from hunger, from deaths," he said.
"I urge the UN to do something right now, and not later,
to influence and muster a collective action to courageously
and decisively meet the crisis with unparalleled political
will -- a collective action that is powered by the spirit
and virtues of coherence, cooperation and coordination," Davide