UN Praises Vietnam's Hunger Fighting Policies

Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (2011 file photo).
Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (2011 file photo).
Marianne Brown

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization is urging countries to follow Vietnam’s example in boosting agricultural production to combat food shortages that can lead to political instability.


The head of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, Jose Graziano da Silva, praised Vietnam’s agricultural policies for combating local hunger and increasing its exports in a region that has long battled chronic hunger.

"Vietnam is one of the few countries in the world that has been increasing exports and also assuring food security locally, and this is crucial for political stability and also for peace," he said.

The Asia Pacific is home to more than  60 percent of the world's people suffering from hunger and malnutrition. The FAO regional conference is focusing on finding sustainable ways to increase production in the face of rising food prices.

Food insecurity

Retail rice prices in Asia are 10 to 30 percent higher than at this time last year. Director da Silva warns the prices could fuel social unrest.

"We have seen in a lot of countries, but especially in Arab countries, in Africa, that there is a growing relationship between conflict and food insecurity," he said. "When people do not have food security assured by the government, when they don’t have reasonable price for their food basket, conflict emerges."

Deficit to surplus

Vietnam has grown from a country of food deficiency 30 years ago to the world’s second largest rice exporter after Thailand. Last year the country exported 7.2 million tons of rice.

The FAO’s Asia director, Hiroyuki Konuma, attributed the country’s success to investments in agricultural research, and urged other countries to take heed.

"Vietnam’s agriculture productivity growth has been very remarkable in the past decade," he said. "Rice productivity growth has been outstanding. This is one of the evidence on government policy that put an emphasis on agricultural production growth, particularly in the area of agricultural research."  
Konuma said the global population is expected to grow by another 1 billion people by 2050, which means there is very little potential to expand agricultural land, especially in Asia. That is why, he said, food production depends on increased yields.

Research is key

The FAO estimates that between now and 2050, 91 percent of the growth in food production will come from higher yields. He said research is the key, and his organization is working with other countries, including North Korea, to improve production.

"We have been putting a lot of effort in the DPRK, North Korea, we have just started a program. For example if North Korea can increase productivity by one ton per hectare, then it will actually solve food shortage," he said.

During the news conference, Konuma also said a new strain of bird flu affecting countries in the region is now under control. Recent deaths from H5N1 in Vietnam were caused by the old strain, which has a vaccine.

Graziano da Silva took over as FAO director-general in January. He said sustainable increases in agricultural production and a "fairer and more inclusive" global food system are needed if the world is to address global hunger.

The one-week conference is set to wrap up Friday.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Itachi
April 07, 2012 6:46 PM
Why don't you take into account that the Mekong Delta- the main rice production area of Vietnam, is gradually saturized by several dams constructed by China, Laos and Cambodia? What you are looking at is a result of high-nutrient soil and effective agriculture. But what about the future, Mr Konuma? Will we able to remain such remarkable state?

by: Adam Bray
March 20, 2012 11:06 PM
Vietnam has made improvements, but only where it adopts elements of Capitalism and pushes Marxism aside. Vast areas of the country lay barren and unproductive now, thanks to communist collective farming. Government mismanagement of agriculture continues to devastate large areas. The majority of Vietnam's farmers are desperately poor and do not own their own farms--they belong to the government. Vietnam is far from stable--it is at its most politically uncertain time in 20 years.

by: Oui
March 16, 2012 7:42 AM
So glad that my nation keeps progressing & thriving significantly.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs