APEC economies commit to a 10-year food security roadmap

The implications for ag/hort scientists were still being studied , when AgScience posted this news.

But it involves food production and food security, so our expertise is bound to be required.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor made the announcement.

Agriculture and food ministers from APEC economies have committed to delivering a new roadmap to guide efforts to boost food security over the next ten years, he said.

The commitment was made at the virtual Food Security Ministerial Meeting which Mr O’Connor hosted as part of New Zealand’s hosting of APEC 2021.

“Ensuring the world has a consistent supply of food is one of the biggest challenges facing APEC economies and the rest of the world, particularly as we recover from COVID-19,” Damien O’Connor said.

The World Bank estimate nearly 2.37 billion people lacked access to adequate food in 2020 – a rise of 320 million in just one year.

Wealthy Western countries are not being spared.  The COVID-19 pandemic has led to major disruptions to supply within both production and distribution networks in Britain, where the British Poultry Council is pressing the UK Government to deal with the culinary consequences of shortages of workers resulting from the UK’s departure from the European Union.

The British food industry faces huge disruptions that have forced leading restaurants – including Nando’s and KFC – to reduce their service or to close.

Poultry producers have warned that serious staff shortages caused by Brexit could mean there are not enough turkeys to go round this Christmas.

Supermarkets have also been struggling to fill shelves amid a serious shortage of HGV drivers that is affecting areas such as milk deliveries.

But a Canadian farming newspaper has drawn attention to a much more critical issue: famine is looming as developing countries struggle to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus with unpredictable and limited vaccines.

About 41 million people are at risk of starving to death in 2021.

Mr O’Connor’s news about the APEC commitment to food security accordingly is timely.

“We must work together to overcome the enormous challenges we face. Overcoming food insecurity caused by COVID-19 is the immediate task. We also need to tackle issues that impact security such as climate change, water security, food loss and waste, limited resources, and the need to reduce the environmental impacts from production.

“The extent of this challenge is huge, but I believe it’s achievable. Fora such as APEC are critical in unlocking the full potential of the Asia-Pacific.”

Food Safety Minister Ayesha Verrall was New Zealand’s representative at the virtual meeting.

“We need to work together to ensure the Asia-Pacific has access to safe, sustainable and nutritious food now, and in the future,” Ayesha Verrall said.

To hit our APEC goal of enabling more certainty of food supply, New Zealand has led the development of the Food Security Towards 2030 Roadmap that will guide efforts to enable food security now and in the future.

“The roadmap is a guiding document to ensure APEC economies work towards a common purpose of building a resilient, efficient and more sustainable food production system, linking together the strands of production, processing, trade, and consumption,” Damien O’Connor said.

The roadmap incorporates four key areas of focus:

  • Digitalisation and innovation: using digital levers to drive food sustainability
  • Productivity: prioritising systems that are fit for purpose
  • Inclusivity: ensuring that underrepresented groups are set up to thrive
  • Sustainability: tackling climate change and environmental challenges

Member economies are committing to a programme of specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based (SMART) goals in order to meet the 2030 implementation of the roadmap.

Damien O’Connor said a Ministerial Statement for Food Security released today is a sign of the commitment by APEC communities to this critical area.

“The path is clear, and collectively APEC economies have a wealth of knowledge and expertise to get there.

“At the heart of our food security work is the APEC theme of “Join, Work, Grow. Together. Haumi ē, Hui ē, Tāiki ē.

“By working together, we can keep our people fed, while building a future of sustainable growth, equitable development, and stability in APEC regions,” Damien O’Connor said.

In holding the chair, New Zealand’s three policy priorities for APEC 2021 are shaped by the COVID-19 crisis. They are focused on bringing the region together to promote an inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery.

Read the Food Security Roadmap Towards 2030

Read the Ministerial Statement for Food Security

Source:  Minister of Agriculture

Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog