Markets and Trade

G20 Agriculture Ministers: Agri-food systems are key to reducing inequalities, says FAO Director-General

- 17/09/2021
Florence, Italy

17 September, Florence - Leaders of the G20 countries must continue to support the smooth functioning of global agri-food systems, which faces ongoing challenges from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said in remarks opening the G20 Agriculture Ministers' Meeting in Florence, Italy. 

Qu hailed the G20's pivotal leadership role over the past 18 months in mitigating the effects of the pandemic on the sector. "I can confidently say that our collective efforts kept agri-food systems open and trade flowing," he said. 

Yet challenges persist, notably due to how the pandemic has "expanded existing inequalities," he said, citing the International Monetary Fund's estimation that the per capita income loss for emerging markets and developing economies has been two and a half times the proportion of those in advanced economies; as well as FAO's assessment that food insecurity has risen from 8.4 percent to around 9.9 percent of the world's population.  

FAO's Director-General stressed that there is clear evidence that "agri-food systems are key to reducing these inequalities, especially in rural areas."

He also emphasized the continual emergence of new and complex crises, citing the cases of Afghanistan and Haiti, appealing to G20 members and other donors to provide swift support to farmers in troubled regions. FAO has launched an appeal for $36 million in urgent short-term immediate assistance to ensure Afghan farmers do not miss more of the upcoming winter wheat planting season.

Qu showed the ministers  at the meeting a brief video message from Thomas Pesquet, a French astronaut and  FAO Goodwill Ambassador who is currently on the International Space Station, in which the Director-General asked Pesquet to share his thoughts with the G20 ministers.