INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN
REPORT ON THE FAO ASIA PACIFIC REGION CONFERENCE
8-11 March, 2022 by Randy Rainbird, Environment Adviser.
Please find below the report by Wendy Rainbird about the Food and Agriculture Conference Asia Pacific Region, that occurred from 8-11 March online on Zoom and which was hosted by Bangladesh. We hope this report is concise enough while referring to the important issues.
The Food and Agricultural Organisation Asia Pacific Conference was held from 8-11 March hosted from Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Some of the key concerns are:
1.Actions to promote climate resilient agrifood systems in Asia and the Pacific Region (APR).
2.Identifying One Health priorities in APR. One Health being about the interlinking between our health, and the health of our environment for the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.
3. The FAO has Priorities that include Better Production, Better Nutrition, Better Environment and Better Life that are anchored in the Sustainable Development Goals. Some of these SDGs referred to in presentations
were about SDG 1 Ending poverty, SDG 2 Ending Hunger, SDG 10 Ending Inequalities, as well as SDG 13 taking urgent action on climate change.
4. There are hundreds of FAO projects and they have prioritized for example Rural Women’s empowerment. Also, resilient agrifood systems particularly with the impacts of climate change.
Water scarcity is a major concern in many countries, and spokespeople described as its impact on food security being at breaking point for many countries, even Vietnam. There are transboundary dependencies for
Vietnam and other countries, increased water demand, low access to clean safe water, with a lot of contamination of water, plus low efficiency of water use. The Mekong Delta is unusually dry and that has led to crop failures, and increased poverty. The Vietnamese spokesperson said their priorities are to strengthen legal frameworks, have better plans and strategies for water management, a national irrigation network, and
upgrade existing water facilities. They talked of educating about the value of water.
Pacific Islanders usually depend on groundwater and this resource is becoming over-exploited and contaminated sometimes by salinity as sea levels rise.
5. Scaling up inclusive digitization in agricultural value chains. The on-going e-commerce revolution is happening at the same time that mobile-based business models are emerging to provide advisory, marketing and financial services at scale to smallholder farmers. In some countries low literacy levels impacted on the take up of digital technology.eg. PNG. An Indigenous Civil Society presenter said that in many Pacific Islands there is a lack of access to the internet, smartphones or other devices.
However, as in the point below, some people are finding ways to overcome lack of accessibility.
Some countries mentioned the ageing, and declining numbers of small scale farmers, but with use of drones, smart devices and other digitization, young people can get engaged in agrifood production.
6. Presenters and leaders spoke about the ways that science, technology and innovation can lead to more efficient, inclusive and resilient agrifood systems. This is across all sectors, is people centred, evidence driven,
ethics based and gender equal.
Thailand said these need to be accessible and affordable and for some countries, or communities they are costly. But Bangladesh presented a video that included Digital Village Centres that have been set up across
Bangladesh. There were women in the room, and people are being educated in internet use, that can help with pest management, markets and market pricing, so famers are more connected and can develop business planning and get support. Another example was Samoa Women’s Association that provided access to women, especially with the pandemic, to develop micro-businesses, online platforms to sell products. 70 % of market stallholders were women and they could access better earnings.
One example was in vanilla production.
7. One of the FAO Priorities is for better nutrition and a number of countries’ representatives spoke about increasing urbanisation together with changing diets and importation of processed foods that are not always better for our nutrition. They spoke about programs for promoting healthy food and more equitable food systems. Eg in the Philippines.
8. The impact of Covid on food chains was mentioned by many representatives. The Thai spokesperson said about the importance of social protection and safety nets. In Japan both the Japanese government and FAO helped to improve food supply chains, while Singapore, that is so dependent on food imports, they are working on producing more of their own food, on roof-top gardens, in aquafarms, and indoor vegetable farms.
The Philippines government proceeded to develop programs for healthier, sustainable food systems. The Samoan spokesperson told about Covid amplifying the challenges of climate change impacts, and their dependence on processed, imported food. While in Thailand urban vegetable growing grew a lot.
In Korea, they developed a National Food Plan based on food security, environmental sustainability, and healthy food. They expanded precision agriculture and reduced food waste.
9. The session on the Strategy on Climate Change reported about its impact on food production and the need for urgent action and enhanced actions. They spoke about the potential to combine adaptation and mitigation in agrifood systems. For example, Japan spoke about forest conservation benefiting water catchments and therefore water supply, and sequestering CO2. Also, the value of carbon sequestration in soils that also improve soil nutrition. Thailand and others spoke about reducing food loss and waste as part of climate change mitigation. Rotting food increases greenhouse gases. Bangladesh spoke about using floating gardens in the flooded zones.
10. In Nepal, with help from the World Bank, they developed GIS mapping over the country, and integrated that with provinces and sub-sections to find the most suitable food production within those regions. They explored climate change impacts on land and crop use. They improved the location of market hubs according to types of food produced. But serious climate change impacts are the melting of the Himalayan glaciers, and extreme rain events associated with the monsoons, leading to flash flooding, general flooding, mudslides and land slides impacting dwellings as well as crops. While other countries like Thailand and Vietnam are mapping the increased impacts of drier dry seasons, and the need to manage water allocations.
11. Some countries reported about greener agriculture by using bio fertilizers and bio pesticides, climate resilient plants and distribution of their seeds.
12. The leader who spoke from the Maldives was passionate about the impacts of climate change on their country from sea level rise, to salinity into taro and coconut areas so they cannot be grown, to ocean acidification and high water temperatures causing coral bleaching. This in turn impacts tourism which is important for the Maldives. He said climate change is an existential threat to them and urged countries to be very strong on climate mitigation.
This post will expire on Sunday April 24th, 2022 3:04pm