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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2013

United Nations General Assembly: Launch of the International Year of Quinoa

Statement by Stephanie Lee, Charge d'Affaires A.I - 20 February 2013

Mr President,
H.E. President Evo Morales Ayma
H.E. Mrs Heredia Humala
H.E. Mr Jose Graziano da Silva
Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

With close to 1 billion people suffering from malnutrition, including one third of all children in the developing world; and with rapid population, soaring food prices and climate change threatening to intensify these challenges; the imperative to identify viable options for sustainable agricultural production and food security, particularly in the developing world, has never been greater.

New Zealand was therefore pleased to lend its support to the initiative instigated under the leadership of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to convene today’s meeting to mark the launch of the International Year of Quinoa.

Sometimes the path to resolving the challenges of the future lies through the past; and sometimes the key to unlocking contemporary innovation is found in the most ancient wisdom.  We pay tribute to role played by the Andean indigenous people – the original agricultural innovators and the living embodiment of the principles of sustainable development – in fostering and preserving quinoa as a versatile and highly nutritious food source for present and future generations.

Today’s launch of the International Year of Quinoa highlights the exceptional nutritional and agricultural benefits of the qualities of the “golden grain”.  But it also underlines the broader need to consider innovative ways in which agricultural production and productivity can be sustainably increased to meet growing global demand; and in which food security and nutrition might be enhanced for the one in seven members of the global community who currently go hungry. 

There is much that we can learn from each other as we seek to meet these challenges; and the versatility and high nutritional value of quinoa make it a promising option for many communities, particularly those that do not have ready access to alternative protein sources.

Much more can – and must - be done to achieve our shared goal of eliminating hunger and malnutrition.  We need fairer global rules for trade in agricultural products, to ensure farmers in developing countries can compete on a level playing field.  We need improved access by such farmers to credit and to relevant information and technology.  And we need investment in relevant infrastructure and in enhanced distribution systems.  And we need to develop agricultural production systems resilient enough to withstand the impacts of climate change.

The challenge is vast; but we are pleased to be associated with today’s launch, which we hope can make a practical contribution to meeting it over the coming year.top of page

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Page last updated: Monday, 25 February 2013 15:35 NZDT