Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization Qu Dongyu Monday called for global cooperation to overcome the immediate challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, while tackling longer-term issues of fighting hunger and poverty and promoting sustainable and resilient production systems.
Qu made the remarks when attending the China Agricultural Outlook Conference 2020, which was held online. In his video speech, Qu said COVID-19 is a global crisis that requires a global response.
“The world is confronted today with the big challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we must not lose sight of our goal of forging a world free from hunger and poverty.
Food insecurity has been on the rise over the last few years,” Qu said. He urged to strengthen the resilience of food and agricultural systems in order to deal with unexpected and sudden shocks.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that our food system is relatively resilient, but at the same time, it has exposed weaknesses that we need to address urgently.
Strengthening our food systems, from production to distribution and retail, is key to fighting hunger and tackling diseases whenever they emerge in humans, animals or plants,” Qu said.
“Despite abundant global supplies of basic food commodities in terms of production and stocks, we have observed disruptions in terms of logistics and movement of products as a result of the measures introduced by countries to contain and mitigate the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.
That is why necessary measures must be put in place to ensure that supply chains continue to flow smoothly. It is essential that international trade and markets are kept open, Qu said.
He pointed out that trade restriction measures and protectionist policies can have profound consequences, particularly for low-income countries who depend on both imports to meet their needs and exports to earn revenues and foreign exchange. Qu also mentioned that digital technology can be an important tool in the fight against COVID-19.
It can help farmers to access in a timely manner critical market information, such as input and output prices. It can also facilitate the implementation of safety measures at all stages of the food chain.
The China Agricultural Outlook Conference, organized by the Agricultural Information Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, has issued the China Agricultural Outlook report to update agricultural monitoring information and guide agricultural production and market adjustment of agricultural products.