Concern Marks World Food Day in Dili

Timorese President Visits Concern Food Booths

17 October 2007

For Immediate Release

(Dili, Timor Leste)

Concern Worldwide marked World Food Day in Dili on Tuesday with a public event aimed at showcasing local food production and sustainable farming techniques. Timor Leste is one of 150 countries to observe World Food Day, an event launched by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1945 to highlight access to food as a basic human right. The theme of this year’s event was “The Right to Food,” meaning every person, under international law, has the right to regular access to sufficient nutritionally adequate and culturally acceptable food for an active, healthy life. “It is the right to feed oneself in dignity, rather than the right to be fed,” said Chana Opaskornkvl, FAO chief of office in Dili, at Tuesday’s World Food Day celebration. It is unacceptable that the world produces enough food to feed everyone but some 850 million people go to bed hungry every night, a portion of them in Timor Leste, he said.

Concern’s Timor Leste office worked with partner organizations to set up two food booths in Dili’s Mercado Lama, a major marketplace in the capital city, where numerous government and international agencies also commemorated World Food Day. The booths featured local foods including beans, cassava, potatoes, corn and other products. After delivering a speech at the market to mark World Food Day, Timor Leste’s President Jose Ramos-Horta stopped by the Concern booths where he examined the local products and spoke with members of Concern’s partner organizations. Ramos-Horta said one of the keys to increasing food production in Timor Leste is the construction of new and better roads.

“If we’re serious about resolving the problem of food security in this country, we must address the infrastructure problems. There’s no way around it,” Ramos-Horta said. The president said he has recommended that the government invest in road projects and other transportation infrastructure so that farmers can get their goods to market. Ramos-Horta also emphasized environmental stewardship as vital for transitioning Timor Leste from subsistence agriculture to market-oriented production. Policies to preserve Timor’s fisheries, land and forestry resources are urgently needed for sustainable and expanded production of the country’s natural resources, according to Ramos-Horta. Reforestation programs are particularly important not only because of forest degradation but because they can also generate thousands of jobs, he said.

Concern Worldwide is a Dublin-based non-governmental organization that does long-term development and emergency response work in 30 of the world’s poorest countries. In Timor Leste, Concern’s food security projects are based in Manufahi and Lautem Districts. With funding from the European Union and other sources, Concern is working with local communities to access basic services, build skills and capacities, and take control of resources and benefits to improve food security in sustainable ways.

For more information or photos, contact Clare Danby at +670-7230961.

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