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Saturday, February 23, 2019
The author is Senior Communications Officer at the Asian Development Bank (ADB)
MANILA, Jun 21 2016 (IPS) - Asia’s economic growth over the last decade has been relentless, bringing with it a rising population and an influx of people from the countryside to the cities in search of prosperity. These trends are not expected to abate.
By 2025, the total population of Asia and the Pacific region should reach about 4.4 billion. And over the next 40 years, Asia’s urban population is projected to increase from 1.9 billion to 3.2 billion.
In another significant trend, the middle income population will also grow to about 2 billion by 2050. Such demographic shifts bring benefits, but many problems also—whether providing jobs, services, or a clean environment.
Food conundrum: increase production, avoid waste
Without a significant increase in food production above current trends, declines in caloric availability and an increase in child malnutrition by up to 20% are anticipated.
“Asia and Pacific is home to the largest numbers of the food and nutrition insecure people in the world, accounting for almost two thirds of the world’s total of 800 million,” says Mahfuzuddin Ahmed, ADB’s Technical Advisor on Rural Development and Food Security.
“The region faces new challenges to produce and access more nutritious and safe food for its growing populations. Thus, achieving food security for all, now and into the future, is at the core of the post-2015 development agenda.”
In this regard, climate change and disaster risks, financing gaps, poor logistics and infrastructure deficits are among the other major constraints to realize the Sustainable Development Goals to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030.
For example, projections to 2050 for Asia and the Pacific show that with temperatures rising, yields of rice, wheat, and soybeans may decline by 14 per cent-20 [er cent, 32 per cent-44 per cent, and 9%-18%, respectively.
Meanwhile, post-harvest losses account for about 30 per cent of the total harvest in the Asia and Pacific region.
About 42 per cent of fruits and vegetables and up to 30 per cent of grains produced across the region are lost between the farm and the market caused by inadequate infrastructure such as roads, water, power, and market facilities, as well as a lack of post-harvest-facilities such as pack-houses and cool and dry storage facilities; lack of dedicated transport systems for food; and poor quality bulk packaging that result in spillage and damage.
Safe, nutritious, and affordable food for all
It is against this backdrop that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is hosting a Food Security Forum on June 22-24. Taking the theme Safe, Nutritious, and Affordable Food for All to echo the inclusive nature of global food security goals, the forum will tackle transformations, trends, and future direction from food production to consumption.
At the event, partner institutions, government leaders, private sector champions, civil society organizations, experts, farmers, youth leaders, and development practitioners will discuss strategies, and share experiences and innovations to engineer new approaches and investment while consolidating the existing ones.
Sessions will tackle such major topics as the region’s agriculture transformation challenges, value chains in agribusiness, safe quality and nutrition in food, and a farmers’ roundtable. Books on Water-Saving Rice Technologies in South Asia and Improving Logistics for Perishable Agricultural Products in the People’s Republic of China will be launched.
Working for food security
ADB has committed 2 billion dollars annually to meet the rising demand for nutritious, safe, and affordable food in Asia and the Pacific. ADB work recognizes the significant role of smallholder farmers, agribusinesses, connectivity, and value chains in advancing the food security agenda and will prioritize business approaches for sustainable and inclusive agriculture.
But this is not ignoring the need for increased productivity and reduced food losses as well as enhanced food safety, quality and nutrition to meet the growing and evolving demands of the population, while ensuring the improved management and resilience of natural resources and ecosystems.
“ADB’s support to agriculture and natural resources in the future will emphasize investing in innovative and high-level technologies, for which partnership building, experiential learning and knowledge sharing will be crucial,” said Mr. Ahmed.
“To this end, the Food Security Forum aims to be a platform to exchange knowledge and work together for safe, nutritious and affordable food for all.”
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