East Asia must produce more food, says WEF

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East Asian countries must strengthen their cooperation for food security in the coming years, World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia Co-Chairman and World Wide Fund (WWF) International President Yolanda Kakabadse said.

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At the closing plenary of Grow Asia Agriculture Forum on Wednesday, Kakabadse noted that food security is an urgent issue not only in East Asia but globally as well.

“Given the unprecedented growth of human population and stress on our one and only planet, we must find a way to produce more food in the next forty years than we have produced for the last thousand years,” she explained.

Kakabadse mentioned three areas on which the region should focus.

First, East Asian countries must give attention to wasted food.

She cited an international study that said 43 percent of packed foods in the world go to waste.

“Too much of the food we produce is wasted and we need to manage it,” Kakabadse said.

“The second is distribution. Better production system will not solve the problem we face unless [it is]supported by better distribution system,” she added.

Third is management of inputs.

“There is immense competition for key resources like land and water. Without the efficient use underpinned with good planning and equitable governance of these resources, we will be solving one problem while creating more aggravating problems,” Kakabadse said.

“We are working together across the sectors and linking consumption and production more holistically by, for example creating regulatory enabling conditions, market base instruments and open dialogue,” she added.

Kakabadse said East Asian countries must have an effective collaboration and promote governance and inclusiveness among economic sector, government and civil society on food security issues.

“Food production is one of the key economic sectors dependent on the ecosystem . . . Managing natural capital sustainability is key for sustaining food supply, agricultural and fisheries livelihood and resilience and human well-being more broadly,” she noted.

“This means that ensuring national, sectoral development strategies take full account of this state of natural assets. In planning investments, in infrastructure, land use allocation, setting standards for environmental management and production, including allocation of resources like water,” Kakabadse said.

On the first day of the forum, stakeholders in the region discussed issues and identified common challenges in agriculture and came up with solutions to be undertaken by each East Asian nation.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the Philippine government is committed to help push for execution and realization of goals and priorities set during the Grow Asia Agriculture Forum.

“We stand ready to continue collaborating with WEF-Grow Asia and be an active partner in crafting and pushing for new, out-of-the-box solutions to helping farmers and fishers across the region produce enough food for all despite climate change and other challenges,” Alcala added.

PNA

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