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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

COVID-19: Innovation key to feeding the world says FAO DG - NaijaAgroNet: ... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Director-General QU Dongyu has said that innovation is the key to feeding the world, especially in time of pandemic and climate change, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Addressing the Agriculture Ministers' Conference in Berlin Dongyu underscored the importance, in the wake of COVID-19, of continued global cooperation to find new ways to strengthen the sustainability of agri-food systems, and outlined FAO and its partners' role in this.

Qu reinforced FAO's readiness to support the world in a "new path", particularly through FAO's COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme, Hand-in-Hand Initiative and its Geospatial Platform, and the One Health approach. Concerning the latter, FAO launched a new report on the opportunities for innovation in livestock systems this week at the conference, formally called the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA).

The week-long GFFA brought together over 90 ministers from all over the world, together with high-level representatives of international organizations. The final communique adopted on Friday calls for impetus for climate action, response to COVID-19, and preventing future pandemics - the overarching theme of this year's forum.

The FAO Director-General, speaking in a session chaired by the German Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, Julia Klöckner, highlighted the key conclusions of the FAO high-level panel during GFFA on ‘How innovation can help strengthen the sustainability of food systems and prevent future pandemics'.

"The key point that emerged from our discussion was that the pandemic gave impetus to innovation: we should work together to keep up this momentum," Qu noted.

He mentioned several examples for innovation in practice, as presented in the panel, related to policy measures, multi-partner initiatives, digital tools, as well as new business models, including agricultural information systems and e-commerce developed to improve digital infrastructure in rural areas.

Referring to the request made to FAO at the previous GFFA, Qu updated the ministers on FAO's work on the establishment of the International Platform for Digital Food and Agriculture which has already been approved by FAO's governing Council.

Qu's words resonated with the message of UN Secretary-General António Guterres to the conference, who called for "bold action" to improve global agri-food systems, and invited all countries to join the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit to inspire action towards the vision of a healthy planet and healthy diets.

Also speaking during the session was Janusz Wojciechowski, the Commissioner for Agriculture of the European Commission; and David Beasley, Executive Director of World Food Programme of the UN. Director-General Qu, Minister Klöckner, Commissioner Wojciechowski were later joined by Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the GFFA closing press conference.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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