President Mori Gives Keynote Address at Pohnpei State's World Food Day Event
Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): October 16, 2009 - Today, World Food Day (WFD) was celebrated throughout the Federated States of Micronesia and President Manny Mori gave the keynote address at Pohnpei State's WFD event held at the Pohnpei State Agriculture Department in Kolonia. The formal program began at 10:00 AM and was held in front of a crowd of more than a hundred people with the theme of "Achieving Food Security in Times of Crisis". Present were farmers, fishermen, students, people from the state and national government, the diplomatic corps, and people from the communities of Pohnpei. Welcoming remarks were given by Pohnpei State Lieutenant Governor Churchill Edwards followed by remarks and an introduction of President Mori by the Administrator of the Office of Economic Affairs of Pohnpei State, Mr. Valerio Hallens.
President Mori's remarks began by talking about the fragility of the FSM's food security as has been witnessed in the past three years due to some natural disasters. He spoke of the high prices of imported food and the negative impact that these unhealthy, imported foods are having on the health of the people of the FSM. The President said that Pohnpei, although blessed with fertile soil and an abundance of local farm produce, still imports $17 million worth of food items each year and over 95% of these are processed foods. In particular, he pointed to statistics from the latest Household Income and Expenditure Survey that revealed that even the lowest expenditure households rely more on purchased items than subsistence production as compared to other FSM states.
President Mori stated that at the national level, the total import of food into the nation is about $40 million, accounting for 30% of our total imports. While, on the other hand, the nation is exporting only $5 million worth of goods, and Pohnpei is exporting a total of about $500,000, primarily comprised of kava and betel nut.
The President encouraged people to plant local crops not only for local consumption but also for export. He spoke of the national government's direction to try and tackle the transportation problem of exporting food and remove trade barriers to open up markets for exporting local produce to Guam and Hawaii, and assured the public that this work is in process. The President also highlighted the need for sustainable farming practices to help the environment and counteract climate change impacts.
The President concluded by saying there is a need for local restaurants to serve more local food on their menus and for parents to feed their children local food so they grow up knowing and liking the benefits that local food gives. "Let's go local" was his closing statement to the crowd.
The President's address was followed by the introduction and presentation of the essay contest that the State Department of Education held last week. After the speeches, the program moved to a tour of the exhibits and demonstration sites. Several organizations were present with displays of local produce including the People's Republic of China Supported FSM Pilot Farm, the FAO/FSM Soaring Food & Fuel Prices Project, the Island Food Community of Pohnpei, along with various other non-governmental groups and local farmers competing for prizes with local food and crops.
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FSM Office of the President Public Information: Press, Radio, Video P.O Box 34 Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941 Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092 Fax.: (691) 320-4356 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.fsmpio.fm/