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Forty Asia and Pacific countries agreed transforming agri-food systems

By: Staff Writer

February 25, Colombo (LNW): Forty countries from the Asia and Pacific region agreed that transforming agrifood systems was imperative to providing food security for their children’s generation and beyond, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported

The summation was delivered at close of the 37th Session of the FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific (APRC37) in Colombo. The conference was hosted by the Government of Sri Lanka.

Forty countries of Asia and the Pacific attended the APRC, with the vast majority attending in-person, including some 20 government Ministers.

It was the first time since 2018 that a large in-person gathering of the region’s food and agriculture Ministers and other policymakers was convened by FAO, and is seen as emblematic of the attention needed to recover from the pandemic and disruptions caused to food production and distribution that has plagued many countries in the region ever since.

The global pandemic, coupled or followed closely with a shortage of food, feed fuel, fertilizer and access to finance, caused food price to jump significantly.

 Lessons were learned and many called it a ‘wake-up call’ to ensure that food affordability and availability and agricultural production must be a global priority.

“Food and agriculture are now at the centre of the global development agenda and this is an opportunity for all of us, including civil society and private sector organizations to decisively reimagine and reshape agrifood systems for global economic, social and environmental benefits,” said Jong-Jin Kim, FAO’s Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific.

“This transformation will be important for you to maintain a sustainable environment and increase biodiversity, while providing opportunities for decent jobs for people. That is the added value of modern farming,” Kim said to the delegates at the end of the four-day conference.

Kim called on the FAO Member Nations gathered to address these issues holistically. “We must do this together with all relevant key partners, not only with the Ministers for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, but also with Ministers for Welfare, Women, Children, Environment, Science, Education, Trade Investment and Finance. These are their duties too. So, we must work together as a team.”

“Science and Technology are constantly evolving. In the agrifood sector, we should lead,” said Kim. “Agriculture, food and nutrition are at the core of humanity’s needs – and the world casts its eyes towards Asia and the Pacific region for leadership.

As the Director-General said – we are the Agents of Change,” Kim added, referring to the opening statement to the conference by the FAO Director-General, Dr QU Dongyu.

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