POTENTIAL AND ISSUES FOR COLLABORATIVE ACTION ON TROPICAL FRUIT RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
To begin with, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Government of Thailand, to the Thai Department of Agriculture, to the Kasetsart University, to the Horticultural Science Society of Thailand and finally to the International Society for Horticultural Science - for organising and hosting this important international symposium on tropical fruits. Special thanks are also addressed to my esteemed colleague and friend, Dr. Subhadrabandhu, the organiser of this event, for. having me the opportunity to take the floor before this forum of distinguished experts and scientists who have gathered here from of many parts of the world. I am especially pleased to have the opportunity, also, on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, to extend the best wishes and greetings of our Director General to all participants and organizers of this Symposium.
It is not by chance that FAO is present at this Symposium; in fact on many occasions in the past FAO has actively participated in other technical meetings held under the auspices to the International Society for Horticultural Science, in order to contribute towards resolving production technology constraints hampering the development of fruit crops in tropical countries. For a long time FAO has been engaging efforts in promoting the production of tropical fruits of superior quality, both for domestic consumption and for export.
Tropical fruit production has already been confirmed to be one of the key activities for improving farmers' earnings and consequently living standards in many developing countries. In fact, the tropical countries which have already started to work in the field of research in order to upgrade the productivity and quality - initially of the major tropical fruits (such as mango, banana, pineapple, etc.) and more recently many of the promising, so - called "minor tropical fruits" (such as rambutan, longan, litchi, mangosteen, langsat, durian, annona, sapota, chicosapota, acerola, etc.) - have already achieved recognition and competitivity on the international market, succeeding in reaching outlets such as those in Western Europe, Japan and USA.