MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Hundreds of policymakers, development experts and representatives from the public and private sectors will meet in the Philippines this week to explore new opportunities to boost investment in Asia and the Pacific's agriculture sector.

Co-organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the 7 - 9 July forum in Manila is a venue to explore new approaches to tackle the region's food security challenges.

"Last year, more than 100 million people joined the ranks of the global hungry as a direct result of soaring food prices, two-thirds of whom are here in the Asia and Pacific region," said ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda. "The Investment Forum for Food Security will look at existing barriers to achieve food security, and design practical mechanisms to overcome them."

IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze said the forum will be an important venue for sharing innovations and good practices on new approaches to sustainable and inclusive food security. "It will provide a unique opportunity for governments, the private sector, civil society representatives and development partners to work together and discuss concrete investment plans for several countries of the region," he said.

Mr. Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO's assistant director-general and regional representative for Asia and the Pacific, said the forum will address three key issues: escalating food prices, concerns about future food production to meet growing demands, and overseas leases or purchases of farmlands in developing countries.

"FAO calls for responsible investments in agriculture and inclusive business models that bring
benefits for investors and local small farmers," said Mr. Konuma. "During and after the meeting, FAO will continue to advocate for world solidarity and new partnerships to meet the food security challenges in the region."

In conjunction with the forum, NGO representatives are meeting today and tomorrow in Manila under the theme "Investment for whom and for what? Bringing in Asia Pacific people's voices in the Investment Forum for Food Security." The meeting, attended by some 70 civil society organization delegates, will report the outcome of its discussions to the forum later this week.