FAO Regional Conference focuses on innovation and digitalization to deal with crop and livestock illnesses in addition to construct resilience to local weather and weather-related threats
Dhaka/Rome — Ministers and high-level delegates from throughout Asia and the Pacific met right now with a deal with enhancing vitamin, lives and livelihoods within the wake of the worldwide pandemic, whereas taking purpose at ongoing local weather and extreme weather-related threats, and tackling illnesses and pests which might be affecting crops and livestock on the planet’s most populous area. Improved ecosystem responses within the Pacific Islands is one other key subject.
The thirty sixth Asia and Pacific Regional Conference (APRC), convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and hosted by the Government of Bangladesh, is happening within the capital, Dhaka.
Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina highlighted her nation’s achievement of self-sufficiency for a number of important meals and famous that agriculture stays the “spine” of the economic system, offering livelihoods for 40 p.c of the labour power. She appealed for “reaching meals safety and vitamin in the actual sense,” and she or he referred to as for collaboration amongst nations within the area in areas corresponding to training, biotechnology and inexperienced investments.
The FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, attending the regional convention in particular person, acknowledged the toll the worldwide pandemic has inflicted on lives and livelihoods of the individuals of Asia and the Pacific. He famous there was an extended strategy to go for the area to eradicate starvation and enhance vitamin, pointing to a FAO report from final yr that discovered 40 p.c of the inhabitants had been unable to afford a wholesome, nutritious weight loss program.
Reversing a few years of progress, starvation in Asia and the Pacific is on the rise once more, and inequalities are growing, notably between rural and concrete populations, whereas too typically ladies and youth are being left behind. “The pandemic has compelled us to rethink our priorities and approaches and has highlighted the significance of extra sustainable and resilient societies, in addition to of the urgency to realize the Sustainable Development Goals to safe meals, well being, training, a wholesome surroundings, and an honest life for all,” the Director-General mentioned in his Statement to Conference.
This has led to a motion to rework the area’s agrifood methods and make them extra environment friendly, extra inclusive, extra resilient and extra sustainable, he added.
The Director-General mentioned FAO will likely be aiming to do that by 4 Regional Priorities. They deal with reworking agrifood methods for sustainable manufacturing and wholesome diets; accelerating sustainable pure assets administration for biodiversity conservation and local weather motion; supporting inclusive rural transformation for sustainable agrifood methods and equitable rural societies, and constructing sustainable and resilient agrifood methods within the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Scaling up digitalization in meals and agriculture sectors to rework agrifood methods
A key space of curiosity on this APRC is the digitalization of agriculture and meals processes which might be sweeping throughout Asia and the Pacific, and the potential they’ve for the area and the world, if scaled up additional, to assist rework agrifood methods in ways in which additionally profit smallholder farmers. This would help reaching the “Four Betters”, as set out within the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31: Better manufacturing, Better vitamin, a Better surroundings and a Better life for all — leaving nobody behind.
FAO has been a pacesetter in selling digitalization and innovation in agricultural processes — from producers, to processers, transporters, retailers and customers — by FAO’s 1,000 Digital Villages Initiative, as one prime instance, and the creation of a SIDS Solutions Platform as one other.
“The 1,000 Digital Villages Initiative goals to transform villages the world over into digital hubs to help the acceleration of rural transformation,” Qu mentioned, noting that the initiative has been rolled out in 15 nations throughout the Asia-Pacific area and can facilitate smallholder producers’ entry to information and markets, whereas decreasing the digital hole, together with the gender and rural divides.
This “will leverage the entrepreneurial spirit of youth and ladies within the area by creating an enabling surroundings, and supporting the event of nationwide e-agriculture methods and digital instruments and companies. And I’ve excessive expectations for this area as a result of there are such a lot of ‘champion nations’ and you have already got digital worth, digital governance and digital economic system in rural areas,” the Director-General mentioned throughout his assertion to the convention.
The regional convention’s agenda contains a number of high-level segments with ministerial roundtables.
Indeed, the convention “is a good alternative to debate nation and regional priorities and likewise urgent points and wishes within the area such because the impacts of local weather change, the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of agriculture, pure useful resource administration, meals safety and vitamin,” mentioned Mohammad Abdur Razzaque, MP, Bangladesh’s Minister for Agriculture and the Chairperson of APRC36.
“The shortcomings of our international agrifood system have been laid naked. The dots do not join anymore,” mentioned Hans Hoogeveen, Independent Chairperson of the FAO Council. “We want transformative change, and we’d like it now. Transformative change by way of transformative actions. There aren’t any excuses anymore for not performing.”
“We want a broader innovation in the way in which we govern of our meals methods, regionally, nationally and globally: what I wish to check with as ‘governance innovation’,” mentioned Gabriel Ferrero, Chairperson of the Committee on World Food Security.
The FAO Director-General expressed his gratitude to the federal government and folks of Bangladesh for internet hosting APRC36 throughout difficult occasions, and for the participation of delegates who joined the assembly each just about and in-person in Dhaka.
Regional structural reforms to raised serve Members
The Director-General emphasised that he has initiated institutional reforms to present FAO’s regional and subregional places of work extra agility to assist them ship on flagship initiatives and help the Organization’s Strategic Framework 2022-2031.
As examples of this enhanced supply, he cited 9 nations within the area which might be already collaborating within the Hand-in-Hand Initiative, which goals at growing agricultural manufacturing in areas with the very best charges of poverty and starvation. He additionally pointed to the 1,000 Digital Villages Initiative, which seeks to scale back the digital hole confronted by smallholders and rural dwellers, whereas the brand new One Country One Priority Product initiative, focuses on merchandise with distinctive qualities, and holds vital alternatives for implementation across the area, Qu mentioned.
More actions are forthcoming, the Director-General added, as FAO develops its regional technique on digital innovation and completes the Regional Technical Platform on Aquaculture, which can turn into a information hub on the topic, permitting nations around the globe to learn from the huge experiences acquired within the Asia-Pacific area.
While the Asia and Pacific Regional Conference is convened each two years to hunt the views and course of the governments of FAO Member Nations within the area, it has expanded to turn into extra inclusive of different actors, corresponding to civil society organizations and the non-public sector, each of which participated in #APRC36.