Workshop Promotes Accessible Agribusiness in Thailand

BANGKOK: A regional workshop opened on February 21 in Bangkok to promote disability-inclusive agribusiness, bringing together the Asia-Pacific Development Centre on Disability, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations 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, people with disabilities comprise 15 per cent of the world population. In Asia-Pacific, disabled people and their families make up about 40 per cent of the population. 

Hunger and malnutrition continue to be a major challenge. The Asia-Pacific region has the most undernourished people, some 563 million. That’s more than 62 per cent of the 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.

“FAO has long been a promoter of the rights of persons with disabilities”, focusing on “capacity building and skill development and linking persons with disabilities with markets, so they gain income generating opportunities and self-reliance, which promotes their self-esteem,” Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO assistant director-general and representative for Asia-Pacific, said in his opening remarks yesterday.

In Thailand, 13 years ago, FAO initiated the project known 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 an equitable society and alleviating poverty, he said.

The workshop should consider issues like the development and implementation of disability-inclusive policies and strategies that help improve access to productive resources and assets such as credit for persons with disabilities engaged in small and medium businesses.

The private sector should increase job opportunities for persons with disabilities and provide enhanced technical and vocational training opportunities to help persons with disabilities become financially independent and self-reliant.

A certification system should also be created for products produced by people with disabilities to promote the value of disability-inclusive products and services, he added.

Source: The Nation