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The APEC ministers have released a food security plan

Agriculture and food ministers from Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member countries have launched a new 10-year food security plan, reaffirming their commitment to an open, transparent, productive, sustainable, and resilient APEC food system.

According to a press statement published by the 6th APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security and received here on Thursday, almost 2.37 billion people would lack access to sufficient food in 2020, an increase of 320 million in only one year.

According to a study released by the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC), the number of individuals experiencing acute food insecurity and in need of life-saving or livelihood-saving assistance reached a five-year high last year.

Against this background, APEC ministers met on Thursday for their annual APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security. The APEC Food Security Roadmap Towards 2030 was approved during the conference, which was headed by New Zealand’s Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor.

The roadmap outlines objectives and major action areas where APEC is well-positioned to assist in ensuring that people always have access to enough, safe, cheap, and nutritious food to satisfy their dietary requirements and food choices in order to live an active and healthy life.

“While food security was already a challenge, Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) demonstrated that our food systems and economies are vulnerable and that our food systems require improvement, particularly to achieve the APEC 2040 vision of an open, dynamic, peaceful, and resilient region,” O’Connor said in his opening remarks.

He said the plan includes four important areas of emphasis, which are linked with New Zealand’s APEC 2021 objectives as well as the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040.

He listed four priorities: first, digitalization and innovation in terms of using digital levers to drive food sustainability; second, productivity in terms of prioritizing systems that are fit for purpose; third, inclusivity in terms of ensuring that underrepresented groups are set up to thrive; and fourth, sustainability in terms of addressing climate change and environmental challenges.

“In addition to addressing food security challenges, the roadmap emphasizes efforts to improve productivity and efficiency, reduce food waste, mitigate and adapt to climate change, as well as reduce costs and facilitate food trade,” said Philip Houlding, chair of the APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security Group.

The group was responsible for the roadmap’s creation and for driving public-private sector collaboration on all areas of food security in the region.

As the area recovers from Covid-19, APEC ministers recognized the advantages of digitalization and explored how to encourage innovation and enhance the use of digital technologies to guarantee food security.

“The epidemic has expedited digital transformation and underlined the ability of a digitally empowered economy to better recover and flourish,” O’Connor added. “However, successful recovery requires collaboration across all levels of government in order to achieve this transition and improve food security in the APEC area.”

Ministers also emphasized the private sector’s critical role in the food value chain, including production and processing, distribution, trading, and investment, he added.

In addition, APEC ministers urged more cooperation between governments and the business sector to guarantee an innovative, updated food system that can address future food security concerns, he said.

“We cannot accomplish the other objectives we have for our economy until we have food security for all of our people,” O’Connor added.

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