FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

FAO: Tech can be boon to food production – if used responsibly

The global consumption crisis was one of many pressing issues on the agenda of the Eurasian Media Forum "The World Today: Transforming Reality?" which took place 22–24 May 2019 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

It was the sixteenth such forum held in Kazakhstan. More than 700 delegates – among them representatives of world-known media agencies, analytics offices and government agencies – discussed important issues of societal development.

Topics discussed at the forum included the new models of world development in the context of emerging de-globalization, opportunities and challenges posed by the widespread introduction of artificial intelligence, the crisis of trust in international relations and the future of journalism in the digital world, the growing influence of the blogosphere in the communications industry, food shortages, and the bourgeoning consumption crisis associated with the depletion of natural resources.

“Breakthrough technologies help us to produce more food,” said Jorge Fonseca, an advisor with the FAO Food Systems Strategic Programme, at a session on the consumption crisis. “But we need to be responsible in applying these technologies, and we need to completely change our behaviour in food consumption.”

He provided the audience with several examples of agriculture in which inappropriate and excess use of pesticides and other chemicals led to farming failures. Fonseca also shared how the dependence on and irresponsible management of plastic is leading to dramatic damages to the environment across the planet.

“People were thinking that plastic packaging would be a panacea for food safety and was creating an easy way for food logistics and trade worldwide,” Fonseca said, “but a few decades later we think of plastics in a quite different way because of its impact on our nature.”

Touching the issue of food security, Fonseca emphasized the growing volumes of food loss and food waste and mentioned a new FAO initiative – the Urban Food Agenda – that targets issues of food integrity and looks for ways to reduce food waste and improve the food and green environments in cities.

The main mission of the Eurasian Media Forum, as the leading independent dialogue platform of Central Asia, is to create conditions for free and open dialogue of politicians, journalists and experts on the key issues of the geopolitical, economic, socio-cultural development of Kazakhstan, Eurasia and the entire international community. This was the first year in which FAO has taken part in this event.

29 May 2019, Almaty, Kazakhstan