Collaboration will be the key effort to strengthening food security in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), according to Chair of the APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) Chantanon Wannakejohn.
A recent APEC press statement noted that food security, food safety and sustainable agriculture development have long been the concerns in Asia-Pacific, adding that as the region works to overcome the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, APEC is advancing actions to ensure that people do not go hungry and are well-nourished, while taking care of the environment.
Wannakejohn said, “Despite having various individual food systems, member economies are confronted with similar vulnerabilities, and this is why collaboration will be the key in our efforts to strengthen food security in APEC. There is a need for us to improve both the quality and the quantity of our food production, this also includes improving the way we trade our food products with each other.
“While we look for ways to grow and increase our production, we need to decrease the environmental impact of food value chains and support good environmental outcomes.
“APEC should have a role in addressing some of the key food security challenges as we are, collectively, significant food producers and consumers.”
The statement noted that sustainability has become the main focus area as APEC officials advance the region’s vision to restore growth that is strong, balanced, secure, sustainable and inclusive, including ensuring food security and safety.
It mentioned that last year, agriculture and food ministers reaffirmed their commitment to an open, transparent, productive, sustainable and resilient APEC food system by launching a new 10-year food security roadmap.
This year, the PPFS will focus on developing concrete actions to carry out the APEC Food Security Roadmap of 2030, said the statement. Leveraging on the rapid advancement of digital technology over the course of the pandemic, member economies are seeking wider adoption of global data standards to improve the overall transparency and efficiency of food value chains, with a review scheduled to be conducted in 2025, it was shared.
“Digitalisation and other innovative technologies provide us with opportunities to strengthen food security by enhancing productivity, minimising food loss and waste, dealing with climate change and natural disasters, as well as facilitating food waste,” Wannakejohn said.
The press statement further noted that member economies will explore domestic schemes or programmes that encourage innovative products and solutions, as well as research and development of emerging technologies such as smart agriculture.
It stated that public-private partnership will also play a key role in supporting members’ individual and collective efforts to minimise the food system’s harmful impact on the environment. For this, economies are looking to intensify public-private investment in infrastructure and cold-chain to reduce the current level of food loss and waste.
“We strongly believe that the future of food security and economic growth will depend on how we can foster growth in parallel with creating the balance in our economy, social and environment front,” Chantanon said. “This is also in line with the theme and priorities of APEC Thailand 2022.”
The statement added that Thailand has highlighted its economic model of bio-circular-green (BCG) as one of its priorities this year. Agriculture and the food sector are one of the main focus industries – the goal being products diversification and the migration of low-value commodities to value-added products.
The Food Security Ministerial Meeting is scheduled to be held in August this year.
The APEC’s PPFS was established in 2011 to strengthen public-private cooperation to address food security issues in the region.
The focus of PPFS is to promote public-private partnerships and investments to ensure greater resilience in the food systems and the APEC Business Advisory Council’s (ABAC) recommendations for a whole-of-system approach for food production.
In 2021, the 21 APEC member economies reaffirmed their commitment to an open, transparent, productive, sustainable and resilient APEC food system by launching a new 10-year food security roadmap, dubbed the Food Security Roadmap 2030.
This roadmap details goals and key action areas where APEC is well-placed to help ensure people always have access to sufficient, safe, affordable and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life, focussing on various initiatives.
This year, the PPFS will pursue meaningful dialogues with the public and private sector to ensure development of an Implementation Plan of the Food Security Roadmap 2030, which utilises a whole-of-system approach for food security across the region and agri-food value chain, recognising the importance of digitalisation and innovation, productivity, inclusivity, and sustainability towards this goal in line with APEC’s Putrajaya Vision 2040 and the Aotearoa Plan of Action.