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Asia-Pacific Nations Grapple With Threats to Food Supply

The Food and Agriculture Organization will try to find remedies for major problems – 40% of people in the region cannot afford a healthy, nutritious diet

With stepped up inspections on food imports, Hong Kong is again following in the footsteps of mainland China on Covid-19 policies. Photo: AFP.


Delegations from 46 Asia-Pacific nations are convening in Dhaka to assess damage to the food and agriculture sectors in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic and other threats.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will attempt to find remedies for major global nutritional problems – 40% of people in the region cannot afford a healthy, nutritious diet.

FAO’s Food Price Index is now recording its highest food prices, globally, in more than a decade. The Russia-Ukraine war is likely to aggravate food costs as it threatens to disrupt grain exports as well as energy sources.

Animal and crop diseases and threats to food and agriculture production, aggravated by the ongoing disruption resulting from the climate crisis, will also feature prominently in discussions.

Improved ecosystem responses in the Pacific Islands is another key topic for the session, which will be a hybrid in-person and remote event.

“It is the first time FAO has convened a regional conference in Asia and the Pacific in a hybrid mode,” FAO director-general Qu Dongyu said.

The FAO said application of innovation, science and digitalisation to help agrifood systems is among the main points for consideration.

Delegates are also focusing their attention on responses to longstanding threats to livestock, such as those caused by avian influenza, African swine fever and weakened immune responses due to overuse of antimicrobials in animal production.

The FAO said the Covid-19 pandemic would also be prominent in discussions.

“I am hopeful that also sends a signal that, while Covid-19 is still with us and around us, we are slowly emerging from its grip,” Jong-Jin Kim, FAO assistant director-general, said.

“We now see light at the end of the tunnel with an eventual return to a more traditional meeting and working environment,” he added.

  • George Russell




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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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