H.E. Ambassador Bui The Giang,
Deputy Permanent Representative of Vietnam,
at the Special Meeting of ECOSOC on food crisis
New York, 20 May 2008
Let me join previous speakers in thanking you for convening this timely meeting on food crisis. Reasons of the crisis have been said to be many, but most directly are impacts of the increased global energy price, leading to the rise in prices of fertilizer, processing equipment, transport, and ultimately agricultural production costs. Speculation has also been controversially mentioned as one of contributing reasons. But whatever reasons are, it’s evident that the current food prices have made basic staple food unaffordable for millions of people in many countries, especially developing ones.
Viet Nam is no exception in this food crisis. Just a short while ago, within two months, Vietnamese consumers suffered a double increase in rice prices. This exerted a multiple pressure on the country’s capacity to control inflation and ensure macro-economic stability, and posed a major threat to the achievement of national social and economic goals.
In face of the situation, the Vietnamese Government has put in place a series of immediate measures, including intensified information and communication activities, more fiscal policy incentives, and accelerated implementation of strategy on farmers, agriculture and rural areas. It has further pushed forward the elaboration and realization of a longer-term plan on food security. As a result, the overall situation has fundamentally come back to normal, with soaring food prices being curbed and the right to food being mainly ensured for the population, particularly the poor. On a better note, we have just recorded a bumper harvest in the Mekong Delta, the main rice paddy stock of our country. If weather conditions are favorable, we’d expect a year-end volume of rice that allows us to guarantee our national domestic food security, at the same time fully honor existing rice exporting contracts and consider signing possibly new ones, most with Asian and African partners. We have for the past few days hosted several African leaders coming to our country for this purpose. And we are making intensive preparations for the 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to be held in Japan a week from now also for that purpose.
Given the complex and multidimensional nature of the current food crisis, we believe there can be no single solution to it, and no single country can act alone. The designing of comprehensive responsive measures requires all-out efforts from all members of the international community. In the immediate time, food relief is badly needed for people in hunger- and famine-ridden areas of the world. In the long run, it is imperative to raise the awareness of policy makers and practitioners and the public in general on the vitality of agriculture and the necessity of investment in agriculture which has been widely perceived during the last few decades as a low profitable sector of the economy. In this connection, donor organizations and developed countries should implement their commitments of financing for development, particularly in agriculture, provide further technical assistance in agricultural capacity building, R&D and technology transfer. The continued support of donors for South-South cooperation in agriculture is also necessary to make it more effective and beneficial to sustainable agricultural development in agro-based countries.
In this context, we are strongly convinced that the United Nations can and should play the leading role. We therefore support the Secretary-General’s initiative to set up a Task Force to deal with the food crisis, and we call for appropriate, practical and applicable mandates, capabilities and working mechanisms to be designed to ensure effective performance of this Task Force. We further suggest that the United Nations incorporate the food crisis as an important intertwined topic into other forthcoming conferences on climate change and financing for development. We also welcome the FAO Conference in Rome this June. The Vietnamese Government will do its best to contribute to this conference and beyond.
Thank you, Mr. President.