FAO Liaison Office with the Russian Federation

QU Dongyu: New approach and new business model in fighting hunger

Photo: ©FAO/Anna Glukhova

FAO Director-General addresses high-level forum organized by the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Agriculture

7 October 2021, Rome/Moscow – Ending hunger and building sustainable agri-food systems requires the support of all stakeholders, including the private sector, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, said today.

“We need a new approach – a new business model. We must produce more with less,” the FAO Director-General stressed in remarks made at the high-profile International Agro-Industrial Forum held on the sidelines of the “Golden Autumn – 2021” Exhibition in Moscow, organized by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation within the framework of the Agro-Industrial Complex Week.

“The agro-industrial complex successfully solves the problems of food security in Russia and maintains a course towards the creation of high-tech, modern production,” said Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin in his video address to Forum participants. “As the President has repeatedly emphasized, we fully provide ourselves with basic food products and consistently develop global markets.”

“Much is being done for the development of agrobiotechnology. Since last year, Russian agricultural universities have created 56 new varieties and hybrids of agricultural crops,” continued the Russian Prime Minister. “The legislative framework for the agricultural sector has also been substantially updated. This year, 18 federal laws have been adopted for a widest range of agricultural issues. In particular, the requirements for the creation of small cooperatives have been reduced, which should simplify the launch of small businesses in rural areas.”

Addressing the Forum, during the session on Global Sustainable Development Challenges, Dr Qu pointed out that “a few years ago, we knew that we faced a hard challenge: to end hunger by ensuring that all human beings on earth had access to the foods for them to live a healthy life. We knew that we were moving – slowly, perhaps, but steadily – towards that goal. Unfortunately, today we face a humbling reality: progress has slowed down and we are no longer on track to end world hunger in the foreseeable future.”

“That is real daunting issue for all of us,” proceeded the FAO DG. “Up to 811 million people were facing hunger in 2020 – an increase of 161 million since 2019. But the problem we face is not limited to hunger alone. The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals are much broader and deeper. While we continue to worry about ensuring availability and accessibility to food for everyone everywhere, we are also concerned about all other forms of malnutrition and their life-destroying impacts.

“The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2021 found that the cost of access to healthy diets is more than three times greater than the cost of ensuring access to the daily requirements for dietary energy. And these costs of healthy diets are so high, that 3 billion people worldwide cannot afford them.

In addition, evidence shows that current policies, management, practices and technologies to produce enough foods will bring new negative impacts on our biodiversity, our ecosystems and the climate crisis, on our planet fundamentally.

More than 4 billion people globally are directly involved in the production, harvesting, processing, distribution, and marketing and delivery of foods. Yet the vast majority of these people are the poorest among us.

At the same time, current consumption patterns and the agri-food systems that support them have significant environmental impacts. They are contributors to high food loss and waste, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, loss of biodiversity, and a growing source of inequality, and generating severe human, economic and environmental costs that run into the trillions of dollars.

To get to where we need to by 2030, we must understand the challenges facing us through an agri-food systems lens, and act holistically. By recognizing their interconnected consequences.

At FAO we see Hand in Hand by six pathways to follow:

One: scale-up climate resilience;

Two: intervene along the agri-food supply chains to lower the cost of healthy foods;

Three: tackle poverty and structural inequalities, ensuring interventions are pro-poor and inclusive;

Four: adopt policies that strengthen the resilience of the most vulnerable to economic adversity;

Five: improve safety nets by better integrating humanitarian, development and peace-building policies in conflict-affected areas; and

Six: promote changes in consumer behaviour that impacts positively on human health and the environment.

FAO has entered a new era with a reformed organizational structure making it more modular and agile in order to make ourselves fit for purpose. We have identified four cross-cutting/cross-sectional accelerators: technology, innovation, data and “complements” (governance, human capital, and institutions).

Our new Strategic Framework 2022-2031 endorsed by Members is focused on supporting the achievement of the SDGs through the transformation to MORE efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life.

We are committed to ensuring that science and evidence underpins our work. We are committed to making all our data, and professional and technical knowledge available as global public goods. We are also committed to increasing our engagement with the private sector.

Partnership with the private sector is a driving force in FAO’s Hand-in-Hand Initiative, which I launched two years ago. Implementation of the initiative is moving fast, and is already active in 45 countries. Working with governments to build and sustain ambitious national and territorial programmes for agri-food systems transformation. But the successful transformation of the world’s agri-agri-food systems needs the collective support of all stakeholders, including the private sector. As well as our collective realization of the interlinked impacts of all our actions.

We must collectively pledge to work together, guided by the aspirations of the 2030 Agenda, to achieve the Four Betters. For a better future for all, ensuring that no one is left behind,” concluded Dr QU Dongyu.

During the forum, Russian and foreign officials and business experts and representatives discussed a range of issues including the impact of current economic, technological and social factors on the development of sustainable agriculture, successful global sustainable crop and livestock production practices, and international experience related to responsible investment in the agricultural sector.


About the forum

The “Golden Autumn – 2021” exhibition is the main agricultural forum held annually by the Russian Ministry of Agriculture for over 20 years. In this 23rd edition it is enriched by a set of business and cultural activities.   

This year’s event is held in person at a new venue – Patriot Park (Moscow Region). More than 100 exhibitors from various regions of Russia take part in the exhibition. It presents the best farm products from all over the country, including from participants of the regional food brands contest “Tastes of Russia,” lasting till 10 October.

In 2019, in the framework of the two-day visit to Moscow as a guest of honour and keynote speaker at the International Agro-Industrial Forum on the sidelines of the 21st “Golden Autumn” Exhibition, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu conducted several high-profile meetings and negotiations with top level government officials of the Russian Federation.

The recording of the session can be found here.