H.E The Hon. Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak,
The Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia

H.E. Ministers and Deputy Ministers, D-8 Countries

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia for graciously' agreeing to officiate the opening of this D-8 Ministers meeting. My gratitude also goes to all those present today for your support in attending this meeting on Food Security. To our brothers and sisters from overseas, "Selamat Datang” or welcome. This meeting is indeed a reflection of not only Malaysia's continued support and commitment to D-8, but also the solidarity and coherence of all our members in facing food security challenges. Hence the theme of this forum:- "D-8 Cooperation in Food Security".

Distinguished Delegates,

The severity of the global food crisis which hit us about a year ago can still be felt even today. At the height of the crisis, tension was quite high in a number of countries. We've heard of the riots in African nations such as Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Ivory Coast in early 2008. We've read of the rioting in Haiti in April 2008 which led to the dismissal of its Prime Minister. All these were precipated by food shortage and unprecedented escalation in food prices.

This crisis has also resulted in an increase in the number of undernourished people. As stated by Dr. Jacques Diouf, the Director General of FAO, the global food crisis has brought the number of undernourished people to 973 million out of the total world population of 6.5 billion. The challenge, he said, is to double global food production by 2050. However, this can only be made possible if food security is accorded the highest priority by all nations.

The responses to the food crisis have been varied. Some have imposed restrictions on the export of staple food, increased food stockpile, subsidised food production through the provision of agricultural inputs and controlled input costs. However, such measures will only result 'in short term respite and. may eventually lead to medium and long term price instabilities in the domestic and global markets and trade distortions which will hamper the optimum utilisation of scarce resources. The answer to the question of ensuring food security requires multilateral coherence and global alliance. It is in this spirit that this meeting is convened by D-8 today and tomorrow.

Distinguished Delegates,

The D-8 Kuala Lumpur Declaration adopted in July 2008 by D-8 Leaders expressed and I quote:

The urgent need to address the current global shortage and skyrocketing prices of food items which pose a serious threat to socio-economic stability and agree to deepen our cooperation, including joint ventures and private sector involvement, to produce fertilizer, animal feed and the creation of a seed bank to ease the supply side constrains in agricultural inputs to boost food production"

The private sector can play vital role in complementing the Government's efforts in increasing food production. The development of new and sustainable technology and the setting up of plants for agricultural inputs will boost food and agricultural production.

In this regard, we are fortunate in Malaysia that under the leadership of our Prime Minister, agriculture has been identified as the third engine of growth under the current Ninth Malaysia Plan.

Emphasis is given to New Agriculture, which entails expansion of large¬-scale commercial farming, ventures into high quality and value added primary and processing activities as well as the application of biotechnology in agriculture.

Our Prime Minister has also introduced the concept of growth corridors, in which agricultural progress and projects play a significant part in its

blueprints. I am confident that agriculture will retain its importance in the months and years ahead under the leadership of Dato' Sri Najib Tun Abdul Razak.

Distinguished Delegates

I would like to commend 110 participants representing the private sector who have worked hard the whole of yesterday to come up with proposals during the Business Leaders' Meeting covering animal feed, fertilisers and seed bank.

Among the proposals put forward are for the establishment of joint research and development in the production and conservation of good quality fertilisers amongst the D8 countries, to create a mechanism for downstream' tri-level seed bank, to form a central collating agency to facilitate the transfer and storage of data relating to animal feed in the respective member countries and to set up a monitoring body to determine excess products that can be traded. Indeed the Ministerial Meeting will benefit a great deal from the active participation of leading members of the private sector from member countries.

Before I conclude, I would like to thank all those involved in organising this meeting. My thanks to participants from the public and private sector, the D8 secretariat and my staff who have worked tirelessly to ensure the success of this meeting. Thank you once again to Dato' Sri Najib, our Deputy Prime Minister for his kind presence and continued support.

Thank you.

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