Workshop on disability-inclusive agribusiness
A regional workshop opened today to promote disability-inclusive agribusiness. The 2-day workshop brought together the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Nippon Foundation in a joint effort to work towards a disability-inclusive private sector engagement.
According to the World Report on Disability, a joint publication of the World Health Organisation and the World Bank, disabled people comprise 15 percent of the total world population. In Asia and the Pacific, disabled people and their families make up about 40 percent of the total population.
Hunger and malnutrition continue to be a major challenge. The Asia-Pacific region has the largest number of undernourished people, some 563 million. That's more than 62 percent of the total number of chronically hungry people in the world. There has been little recent improvement because of widening inequity and income disparity, as well as high and volatile food prices, which affect the most vulnerable groups in society, including people with disabilities and their families.
In opening remarks Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific said, "FAO has long been a promoter of the rights of persons with disabilities," focusing on "capacity building and skill development and linking disabled people with markets, so they gain income generating opportunities and self-reliance, which promotes their self-esteem." For example, he said, "In Thailand, 13 years ago, FAO initiated the project know as Mushroom Production Training for Disabled People to improve the livelihoods of rural people with disabilities." It proved to be a very successful first step towards building equitable society and alleviating poverty.