FAO pays tribute to Her Royal Highness, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand for lifetime promotion of child nutrition and food security
BANGKOK, Thailand The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today conveyed its special gratitude to Her Royal Highness, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, for more than three decades of work to promote child nutrition and her personal advocacy to achieve a food secure world.
The tribute was made in the form of a presentation to The Royal Society of Thailand by FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, Hiroyuki Konuma.
“For 30 years, FAO has been privileged and is greatly indebted to be honoured by Her Royal Highness’ presence at the annual World Food Day celebrations at the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok,” said Konuma during his presentation. “In 1980, Her Royal Highness initiated the Agriculture for School Lunch Project which has led to more than 30 years of development work on the improvement of the quality of life of school children through agriculture for school lunches.”
At the beginning of the project, instead of providing children with ready-to eat meals, Her Royal Highness introduced a small-scale integrated farm to schools in remote areas of Thailand. These were initially piloted in three schools by providing inputs ranging from agricultural materials and tools to seeds, animals, cooking utensils, technical training and advice.
Since then, and over the span of three decades, Her Royal Highness has promoted good nutrition for children additionally through other activities such as interventions designed to control iodine and other micronutrient deficiencies, promoting adequate child nutrition during Ramadan and improved nutrition for secondary school students.
“Through her work, children have been encouraged to participate in food production from these farms – from growing traditional fruits and vegetables to water management and use of biological controls to eliminate pests. The excess food produced from school farms can be sold through school cooperative shops and the surplus products are sold to local communities. The income generated is used in an agricultural revolving fund for use in the next production cycle. Through this, children also learn how to keep accounts and how to run small businesses according to the principles of the cooperatives,” Konuma said.
Emphasizing soybean, Her Royal Highness also intends to promote the consumption of soybean milk and its products, because it is a good source of low-cost protein.
Her Royal Highness’ initiatives have been further implemented in 10 countries including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam.
“I wish to further convey FAO’s special gratitude for Her Royal Highness’ support of the Zero Hunger Challenge in Asia and the Pacific Region, starting with the launch in Timor-Leste, with Your Royal Highness’ gracious presence, in January 2014,” Konuma stated. “Since then, the Zero Hunger Challenge has been launched in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal and Viet Nam. Other countries are preparing to follow suit.”
“This year, in October, FAO celebrates its 70th Anniversary. Her Royal Highness has graciously accepted to preside over this event in Asia and the Pacific and our 2015 World Food Day Celebration at FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific,” said Konuma. “Again, on behalf of the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, I extend my warmest gratitude to Her Royal Highness.”