As COVID pandemic continues to spread, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has convened a four-day virtual conference from September 1 to bring together representatives of 46 FAO member nations in Asia and the Pacific to closely examine the food security conditions in the region.
The 35th Session of FAO APRC (Asia Pacific Regional Conference) comes in the backdrop of Asia-Pacific region's status as home to more than half of the world's undernourished, and the fear that with COVID-19, the number of hungry people in Southern Asia may rise by nearly a third to touch 330 million by 2030. The 400 plus delegates, drawn from government, private sector and civil society organisations, plan responses and recovery work to address twin pandemics-COVID-19 and hunger. Bhutan is the host country.
From Afghanistan and Iran in the west, across populous South and East Asia, and far out into the Pacific Islands, new ways and approaches will be needed to battle back from these twin pandemics. Climate change is another aggravating factor menacing efforts to increase resilience across our food systems, the conference notes.
"We must come to terms with what is before us and recognise that the world and our region has changed. We must find new ways to move forward and ensure sustainable food security in the face of these twin pandemics, as well as prepare for threats that can and will evolve in the future," said Jong-Jin Kim, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific. "This virtual conference brings together the people and ideas to chart a true course of action for the benefit of all."
Speaking at the conference, India's representative Alka Bhargava, Additional Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare said the country has taken prompt measures to mitigate the impacts of pandemic which coincided with rabi harvesting.
The conference will highlight FAO's recently launched comprehensive COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme designed to provide a flexible and coordinated global response that aims to ensure access to nutritious food for everyone. The programme includes the mobilisation of all forms of resources and partnerships at country, regional and global level. The main aim is to mitigate the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic while strengthening the longer-term resilience of food systems and livelihoods.
The conference will also consider new marketing channels (such as e-commerce) and new technologies (including better storage facilities) that will help reduce food losses, as these are critical to ensure the flow of nutritious foods and to generate improved incomes for those who work across the entire food and agriculture sectors.