APEC economies told to strengthen efforts in food security

Vice Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Henry Ame has urged the APEC economies to strengthen their efforts in addressing food security.

Ame called on the APEC economies to ensure that effective and efficient food value chains are developed to supply sufficient nutritious, safe and affordable food at all times to its consumers.

Speaking during the opening of the Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) Meeting on the 10th March, 2018, Ame said APEC economies have a vital role to play because they are major producers of food items that are consumed and traded globally.

Delegates from seventeen (17) member economies attended the two-day PPFS meeting held at the Gateway Hotel. Following the PPFS meeting, the delegates participated in a joint PPFS-Ocean Fisheries Working Group (OFWG) Meeting the next day.

Ame stressed that APEC needs to consider and take action on addressing the supply side of food security, promote climate smart resilience food production system, translate policies into business opportunities, and promote inclusive growth; focusing on enhancing greater participation of smallholder and women farmers in the food value chain.

He said by 2050, it is estimated that global population will reach 9.6 billion people and food production has to be increased by 60 per cent to feed the growing population.

“Increase in food demand will be brought about by increases in population, income levels and urbanization. Whilst on the supply side, the declining volume and productivity of production resources such as land, water and seas and climate change are the main threats to food production and food supply chains.”

Ame said APEC economies must continue their efforts to address food security challenges, especially the supply side issues focusing on sustainable food production, increase in productivity, and proper management of natural resources and use of climate smart resilience farming technologies.

The biggest threat to global food security at the moment is climate change. APEC economies are vulnerable to climate hazards like cyclones, floods and droughts that disrupt food value and supply chains causing lower incomes for farmers and increase food prices.

“APEC must make it a priority to promote sustainable food production systems that should include protection and management of natural resources like land, water and seas and oceans, and use of climate smart resilience adaptive food production systems. This will ensure global food security is achieved and maintained; and hunger, malnutrition and poverty are eradicated.”

Ame also urged APEC to translate agriculture and food security policies into business opportunities to increase trade and marketing of agricultural products for domestic and international markets and create enabling environment to promote growth and expansion of food trade and marketing.

The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) could play an important role to work closely with private sector and business organizations of APEC economies to convert these policies and create employment and socio-economic opportunities.

PPFS Chair and Secretary for the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Dr Vele Pat Ila’ava, in his opening address, said the PPFS forum also plays an important role in global food security since APEC economies dominate global production and trade in food items such as rice, maize, vegetables, eggs and captured fish and aquaculture.

“One of the important outcomes of the PPFS is the APEC Food Security Road Map 2020, which is the principal food security plan for APEC economies,” Dr Ila’ava said.

“This is a very comprehensive food security plan that will guide us to achieve the vision of long lasting food security in APEC economies.”

“However, as you are all aware, food security is becoming difficult to achieve in many parts of the world due to demand and supply side issues like increase in population and limited resources like land and water to produce food, and climate change.”

Dr Ila’ava said he expected the PPFS forum to continue to provide guidance to strengthen our efforts to deal with food demand and supply issues and specific issues of food security and climate change.

“Although we continue to strengthen efforts and build momentum to address food security and climate change as demonstrated in the development of Action Plans like Multi Year Action Plan (MYAP) on Food Security and Climate Change, we must also strengthen efforts to promote rural development through the Action Plan on Rural-Urban Development to strengthen food security and quality growth.”

“This will ensure that the rural population, which is often dominated by smallholder farmers and is where level of poverty is high, are empowered to increase productivity to achieve food security and poverty alleviation.”

Dr Ila’ava said PPFS must also consider looking into areas such as nutritional security and disaster and emergency management. PPFS must also promote greater gender inclusion of women in agriculture and food security.