FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

FAO conference for Asia-Pacific closes with emphasis on supporting SDGs, improving nutrition and countering threats to agriculture from climate change

12/03/2016 Putrajaya, Malaysia

Forty-four countries in the Asia-Pacific region have called on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to move forward with regional efforts to eradicate hunger, malnutrition and counter threats to agriculture from climate change by 2030.

The Conference also stressed the need to revitalize the image of the agriculture sector in general in order for it to be considered an important career choice for young people

The FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific wrapped up in the Malaysian city of Putrajaya with the support of FAO member countries who endorsed the Organization’s future course of work, particularly its four Regional Initiatives to achieve zero hunger, improve rice production, blue growth, and further develop value chains in the Pacific Islands.

“We believe these four general initiatives, combined with country programmes and specific projects, will enable countries to move forward in the implementation of the Agenda 2030,” said FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva.

Specifically, the Conference also requested FAO support for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by assisting member countries in the following areas:

▪ Reflecting SDGs in national policies and programmes, including formulating and implementing sound policies related to agricultural trade, enhancing food safety, controlling transboundary animal and plant pests and diseases, developing food value chains and reducing food loss and waste, building on FAO’s normative and standard setting work;
▪ Monitoring and evaluating progress towards achievement of relevant SDGs, through appropriate indicators;
▪ Developing robust data collection systems and capacities for analysis;
▪ Developing and strengthening policies, institutions and technical capacities to enable countries to double their agricultural productivity and to manage risks posed by climate change, including sea-level rise, floods, droughts and other natural disasters.

 

Good progress in reducing hunger – but much more to do

The Director-General pointed out that, while remarkable gains have been made in reducing hunger, there were still 490 million hungry people in the Asia-Pacific region. Therefore, much more work needs to be done in this region to eradicate hunger and undernutrition. He stressed the growing problem of obesity as another issue that needs to be addressed.

“We need to sensitize governments and the public to the magnitude of this problem, its causes and effects, as well as possible strategies to combat it,” Graziano said.

Youth and Agriculture

A round table discussion looked at the changing demographics of people working in agriculture. The Conference heard from delegates that farmers in many countries are aging and that rural youth are increasingly uninterested in working in agriculture – whether that is farm labour or agricultural sciences.

Young people are increasingly moving to the cities, and in some countries of our region the average age of a farmer is 55,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative.   Agriculture must be a profitable sector for young people to find it attractive to work in and more than anything there should be a change in the mind set of societies to look at farming as a respectable profession. There must be incentives and motivation for young people to dedicate their working lives to agriculture.” 

Delegates agreed that more attention is needed to attract young people back into the agriculture sector through training courses, additions to school curricula from a very young ageand make greater use of modern technologies that reduce the drudgery often associated with agriculture.

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