COVID-19 impact : Pakistan participates in FAO’s Regional Conference hosted virtually by Bhutan

Ministerial session highlights the importance of supporting the livelihoods of the most vulnerable people

P.N Report

PESHAWAR: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations convened the 35TH session of the Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific (APRC-35) virtually from September 1 to 4, 2020 and hosted by the Royal government of Bhutan.

A press release states that the conference focused on regional priorities and pressing issues such as COVID 19, the state of agriculture, natural resources management, food security and nutrition.

The conference also highlighted examples of partnerships, innovation and digital technologies that are helping to improve food security and nutrition across the region as well as regional and global policy and regulatory matters.

On the occasion, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu, government ministers as well as civil society and private sector representatives voiced concern over COVID-19’s impacts on the food security and livelihoods of millions of people, and urged for greater action to overcome the food and agriculture challenges facing the region.

The FAO director-general said small and vulnerable farmers must be at the centre of the response. “Smallholder farmers and their families, food workers in all sectors, and those living in commodity- and tourism-dependent economies are particularly vulnerable. They urgently need our attention,” QU urged.

 

Mina Dowlatchahi, Country Representative in Pakistan, said the 35th Regional Conference has provided a valuable virtual platform for members to exchange their views, knowledge and experience in addressing food security and nutrition challenges amidst COVID19 pandemic, to identify regional priorities, new ways of working and collective actions to accelerate progress towards the eradication of poverty (SDG1) and hunger and all forms of malnutrition, which is the sustainable development goal-2.

Pakistan has actively contributed by sharing perspectives of its development strategy: Pakistan is targeting population below the national poverty line, and small holder farmers agriculture transformation by agro-ecological zones, in an effort to contain the combined impacts of COVID-19 on food systems, climate hazards and the recent Desert Locust national emergency in a slowing down economy,Mina said.

The novel coronavirus has implications for local, national, regional and global policies and it is important that global and local conditions alike are recognized when confronting this pandemic, said the Independent Chairperson of the FAO Council, Khalid Mehboob.

“The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the vulnerability and weaknesses of already fragile global food systems. We must take urgent action to transform our food systems,” stressed ThanawatTiensin, the chairperson of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), an international and intergovernmental platform which includes the private sector and civil society and reports to the FAO Conference and the UN General Assembly.

Representing Pakistan at the ministerial session of the Regional Conference, Federal Minister for National Food Security & Research Syed Fakhar Imam stated that during these difficult times of COVID-19 and locust invasion, Pakistan is trying to sustain particularly those people living below the poverty line. “We need to upgrade and digitalise our agro-technology and carry out the best practices as being followed in the advanced countries,” he added.  

The Asia-Pacific region is home to more than half of the world’s undernourished people, and with the impacts of COVID-19 the number of hungry people in Southern Asia could rise by nearly a third to 330 million in the next 10 years, the release said.