ROME, Italy, Nov. 20, 2009—On the sidelines of the 36th Session of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Ministerial Conference, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan met with Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP), and Akram Musa Hadi Al Hakim, Iraq’s Acting Minister of Agriculture.
"The World Food Program works tirelessly to fight hunger and food insecurity around the world," said Merrigan. "This meeting was an opportunity for me to thank the WFP on behalf of USDA and the entire U.S. government and reiterate how much the United States values its partnership with this important organization."
As the United States finalizes its global hunger and food security strategy, it will rely on the WFP’s resources and expertise in safety nets, storage, transportation and logistics to ensure its efforts have the most impact in developing countries.
Merrigan also met with Iraq’s Acting Minister of Agriculture to discuss USDA’s contributions to help rebuild and reconstruct Iraq’s agricultural sector.
"We discussed the numerous initiatives being implemented by USDA’s Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) agricultural advisors to revitalize Iraq’s agricultural sector and the various USDA programs and activities helping to strengthen the Iraqi government in the areas of rebuilding agricultural markets and improving management of natural resources," said Merrigan. "Among USDA advisors’ initiatives, we both noted the impressive progress that the Green Mada’in Association for Agricultural Development east of Baghdad has made in less than a year to become a sustainable and dynamic force in Iraq’s efforts to employ modern agricultural techniques."
In December, the farmer’s cooperative will celebrate the grand opening of its new office and warehouse facilities and the first meeting of its board of directors. The cooperative owes its success in part to the oversight of two USDA PRT agricultural advisors; the support of other agricultural associations in the region, Iraq’s Ministry of Agriculture and Iraq’s Prime Minister; and the funding obtained through contributions by cooperative members, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Commanders’ Emergency Response Program. In addition to rebuilding Iraq’s agriculture sector, the United States continues to be among Iraq’s leading suppliers of agricultural commodities and products, helping to bridge the gap between Iraqi demand and domestic production.
Merrigan is the first woman to chair the FAO conference, which was last chaired by the United States 20 years ago. As chair, Merrigan is overseeing discussions on the ongoing FAO reform effort and officiated as heads of delegations presented their country’s view of the state of food and agriculture at the conference’s plenary session.
The Conference is the supreme governing body of FAO and meets in regular session every two years. Its main functions are to determine the policies of the organization, approve the program of work and budget and make recommendations to members and international organizations. In addition to being attended by all members and associate members of the organization, it is also attended by observers from non-member nations, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations. Members include 191 nations, one member organization, the European Community, and one associate member, the Faroe Islands.
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