Livestock farming must shift towards sustainability to enhance food security, says FAO director-general

pexels nicholas githiri 3019067Agricultural sectors and livestock farming must move towards sustainability to enhance their contribution to food security, nutrition and healthy diets and to better recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges

This is said by FAO director-general QU Dongyu in his opening remarks at the 27th session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG).

A sustainable livestock sector will foster inclusive economic growth, improve livelihoods, maintain animal health and welfare, and address environmental issues, he added.

This is the first virtual COAG - bringing together more than 120 member states, partners and the public in an open online session. The main theme of this year’s session is Sustainable Livestock for SDGs.

In his address to the members of the committee, representatives of the United Nations and Specialized Agencies and other delegates, the director-general stressed the need for a holistic and inclusive approach to the policies and technical actions of the livestock sector, including all stakeholders in the food system. In this regard, he stressed the vital role that the private sector needs to play and the importance of strong partnerships with the sector.

Noting that the combined impacts of COVID-19, its suppression measures and the subsequent global recession would increase the burden on family farmers and the most vulnerable, the director-general highlighted the need for increased support and investment in knowledge, infrastructure and technology for sustainable agriculture.

“Our assessment suggests that the pandemic may add up to 132 million people to the ranks of undernourished in the world in 2020. This would be disastrous, particularly in the context of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals,” Qu said calling for an integrated agri-food system approach that addresses food security, livelihoods and the management of natural resources comprehensively and effectively.

In addition to COVID-19, agricultural and food systems are under increasing pressure from other unprecedented threats, such as climate change, affecting crop yields, reducing crop and animal diversity, and increasing the incidence and spread of pests and diseases, the FAO chief said.

“The people most vulnerable to climate shocks and natural hazards are the 2.5 billion small-scale farmers, herders, fishers and forest-dependent communities who derive their livelihoods from natural resources,” he noted.

The director-general called on countries to step up efforts to address the root causes of hunger and malnutrition through transformative changes in the way we produce, distribute and consume food.

“To achieve this, we need to transform food and agriculture systems, ensure inclusiveness and equality; identify and implement innovative approaches and technologies in agriculture; move towards more sustainable and diversified patterns of production and consumption; and improve governance,” he concluded.

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