The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) recently published a report titled “The State of Food and Agriculture 2021”, calling on countries around the world to strengthen agricultural cooperation to transform agrifood systems to make them more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable and jointly safeguard global food security.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerability of agrifood systems to shocks and stresses and led to increased global food insecurity and malnutrition, according to the report.
Focusing on the theme of making agrifood systems more resilient to shocks and stresses, the report assesses the capacity of countries’ agrifood systems for responding to and recovering from shocks and stresses and offers advice and guidance on how to boost the resilience of agrifood systems.
Measures taken to contain the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted global and national supply chains and caused economic downturns in many countries, and loss of purchasing power harmed the food security and nutrition of billions of people, particularly in low-income countries and among the poorest, the report points out.
Low-income countries have generally encountered severe challenges posed by COVID-19, and Upper-middle income countries are also faced with risks brought by the pandemic, according to the report.
“This year’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World estimates that between 720 and 811 million people were affected by hunger in 2020, up to 161 million more than in 2019, with the increase largely propelled by the COVID-19 crisis,” says the report.
The report estimates that an additional one billion people are at risk as they would not be able to afford a healthy diet if a shock were to reduce their incomes by one-third.
The ongoing pandemic, local conflicts and climate change, among other factors, have compounded the vulnerabilities in the food systems around the world, said World Food Program (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley.
Efforts must be made to create a brand new global food system that benefits people around the world, pointed out UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“Food systems can and must be critical engines for economic recovery: for ending poverty and reducing inequalities; for decent work; and for addressing the planetary emergencies of climate change, pollution and shocking biodiversity loss,” Guterres said.
As the world’s largest developing country, China has made continuous efforts to promote international agricultural cooperation and done what it could to help more countries improve their agricultural technology levels while speeding up agricultural development at home.
So far, China has sent more than 2,000 agricultural experts and technicians to over 70 countries and regions in the world, including Africa, Asia, the South Pacific region, and the Caribbean region, providing training for nearly 100,000 foreign farmers.
Besides, the country has held approximately 500 training sessions at home, which have been attended by 11,000 foreign experts and professionals in the agriculture sector.
In addition, the country has promoted and demonstrated over 1,500 technologies to many countries in crop production, animal husbandry, aquaculture, farmland water conservancy, and agricultural products processing, which has increased the production of project areas by 40 percent to 70 percent on average and benefited more than 1.5 million farming households.
On Nov. 25, a South-South and triangular cooperation project supported by China and the WFP kicked off in China with the purpose of providing agricultural technology training for Sri Lanka. More than 160 officials from Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Agriculture, technicians from agricultural research institutes, and representatives of farmers in the country have taken part in the training sessions under the project.
The project will help smallholder farmers who grow rice and corn in Sri Lanka improve their agricultural productivity, said Maha Ahmed, Deputy Country Director of WFP China.
The sharing of experience and knowledge exchange under the project will play a positive role in the endeavors of Sri Lanka to build a sustainable food production system and realize the goal of zero hunger, according to Ahmed.
China has also actively advanced policy coordination in the international community to improve the governance capacity of the FAO at the global level and promote the formulation of reasonable international rules in such aspects of grain supply as the reduction of loss, transportation, quarantine, and import and export trade.
In September this year, China hosted the International Conference on Food Loss and Waste (ICFLW) under the theme of reducing the food loss and waste and promoting global food security.
More than 300 representatives from over 50 countries, international organizations, enterprises, and non-governmental organizations carried out in-depth exchanges at the conference, achieving 10 consensuses on reducing food loss and waste which cover such aspects as action, mechanism, platform, and production.
China promotes international agricultural cooperation and shares experience in agricultural development with other countries in light of local conditions, contributing greatly to global food security, said Matteo Marchisio, Country Director and Representative for China at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).