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South-South and triangular cooperation to foster smarter agriculture, says FAO

The path to reducing unacceptable hunger levels lies in the ability to transform the agricultural sector, according to FAO director-general QU Dongyu

“We need smarter agriculture that works with, not against, nature, that properly values and remunerates the contributions of small-scale producers, fishers, pastoralists and indigenous peoples not only to food but to preserving biodiversity and maintaining ecosystem services,” he said.

The director-general said this at “Targeting Hunger: South-South and Triangular cooperation for Transforming Agriculture,” an interactive dialogue held at the UN headquarters and convened by the president of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

“Hunger is a scourge unbefitting of our era,” intoned Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, president of the 74th UNGA.

More than 820 million people in the world suffer from hunger as measured by the prevalence of undernutrition measure, while two billion people experience moderate of severe food insecurity on a regular basis, according to FAO's State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019 report.

Attaining sustainable and climate-mart agriculture

FAO has been at the forefront of South-South and triangular cooperation for more than 40 years, raising more than US$370mn for projects and deploying more than 2,000 experts and technicians to 80 countries to foster the transfer of solutions and technologies. Such exchanges allow for effective dissemination of sustainable and climate-mart agriculture knowledge, experience and technologies to smallholder farmers, said Qu.

Participants in the dialogue concurred that important policy interventions favouring smallholders were needed in the areas of providing technical support, access to finance and weather and risk mitigation instruments, market access and storage facilities and research and technologies that respond to their specific needs. Tailored cooperation arrangements are conducive to coming up with local solutions that can be scaled up and propel self-reliance, and require financial support for the products as well as social sectors of countries where food insecurity is persistent.

The director-general said the hand-in-hand initiative will foster the implementation of high-impact and innovative South-South and triangular cooperation projects. The initiative is designed to identify and target areas where the gap between agricultural potential and actual development is so large that investment can help lift people out of both poverty and hunger.

“The goal is to understand where and how investment, innovation, policy and institutional change can help in making agri-food system transformation a driver for achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals," Qu added.