India has urged the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations to find innovative solutions, evidence-based analysis and partnership to develop multi sectoral solutions to the challenges of water scarcity, climate change, hunger and nutrition.
Speaking at the 35th Asia-Pacific Regional Conference (APRC) organised virtually by Bhutan, Parshottam Rupala, Union Minister of the State Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, stressed upon India's "neighbours first" policy and reaffirm that the country's agriculture sector will live up to the aspirations of the region. "We will collaborate in exchange of best practices in R&D and programmatic interventions to step up production and productivity of agri produce, with sustainable use of natural resources and develop robust agri value chains for the benefit of the people of our countries," Rupala said. He reaffirmed India's commitment to fulfill aspirations of Asia-Pacific regional countries and share responsibility to ensure food security for all.
Over 400 delegates from 46 FAO member nations in the Asia Pacific along with private sector and civil society organisations from the region have come together for the four-day conference that will conclude on September 4. This virtual conference has been convened to plan responses and recovery work to address the twin pandemics-COVID-19 and hunger.
"A flexible approach has been adopted for facilitating imports from other countries - digital copies of phytosanitary certificates are being accepted to not disturb the world food supply chain during the pandemic," said Rupala. Reminding that the Asia Pacific region contributes immensely to the fisheries resources in the world, the minister wanted the interests of small-scale fisheries farmers within the context of future of fisheries roadmap to be protected for food security and poverty reduction.
Citing India's success in tackling the desert locust crisis, Rupala expressed the government's willingness to share its experience and work with FAO to assist other countries in the event of a recurrence of locust attack.
The COVID-19 has led to a setback in the fight to end hunger and malnutrition as food production and supply has been hit hard in many countries. FAO has already presented a COVID-19 Response and Recovery Program to prevent global food emergency during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, while working on medium-to long-term development responses for food security and nutrition.