Food security a priority, say APEC Ministers

October 18, 2010 09:40

The 1st APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security opened on Saturday with acknowledgement that the region needs to increase agricultural production as the population grows, reports with reference to APEC. 

Other items on the agenda for the two-day meeting in Niigata include sustainable development; the impact of climate change on agricultural production; the outlook for food supply and demand in the Asia-Pacific region; and the role international organizations can take to secure the food supply.

In his opening statement , Japan's Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Michihiko Kano, said food and agriculture are critical components to the human security agenda in the Asia-Pacific where half of the world's grain is produced yet one-quarter of the population remains undernourished.

"The world's food demand will increase along with economic development," said Minister Kano. "In order to feed the hungry, it is estimated that world food production needs to increase by 70 percent."

"The region faces serious problems that jeopardize agricultural production including climate change and water shortages. It is also vulnerable to natural disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis and floods.

"Recent consequences of these disasters on agricultural production have begun to affect people's lives in the APEC region. Still fresh in people's memory are the high food prices in recent years which affect food security around the world.

Accounting for 40 percent of world's population and half of global GDP, the APEC region includes major exporters and importers of agricultural projects and grain.

During the first part of the plenary session, Ministers shared their views on how APEC economies will confront multiple challenges including the expansion of food supply capacity, growing populations and environmental challenges in the agricultural sector. They also discussed how each of their economies are addressing the synergy between rural development and food security.

They also discussed on how APEC economies will work together to facilitate improved agricultural trade, maintain reliable markets, enhance the business environment and ensure food safety. Promoting responsible agricultural investment was regarded as an indispensable element of food security.

Ministers also heard presentations by multilateral organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization, Asia Development Bank, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the World Food Program, the World Bank and International Fund for Agricultural Development.

The outcomes of the 1st APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security will be conveyed to APEC Economic Leaders in November when they meet in Yokohama, Japan.

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