Hiroshima, JAPAN – While indicators suggest that the Asia-Pacific is recovering from the recent economic crisis, APEC is keeping an eye on food security.
The remarkable spike in food prices between 2007 and 2008 and the subsequent global economic crisis highlighted the fragility of food security. In 2009, the undernourished population exceeded one billion people; and estimates indicate that to accommodate a world population of more than 9 billion by 2050, agricultural output must increase by 70 percent.
In a meeting today, Senior APEC Officials discussed key challenges to food security in the region including: improving productivity, nutritional value, and the resilience of crops and livestock; improving human resource capacity in agriculture; bolstering confidence in trade and the ability of global markets to meet food demand; management of natural resources; management of fisheries, aquaculture and marine resources; and improving infrastructure in areas such as irrigation, transportation and storage.
APEC Officials will invite other key stakeholders including business people and food security experts to discuss these issues at an informal dialogue to be held when Officials next meet in Sapporo in May.
Based on these discussions an agenda will be formulated for APEC’s first ever Ministerial Meeting on Food Security.
- Food issues have been included in APEC priorities and activities for some time but, today, are more important than ever:
- Two-thirds of the undernourished population in the world resides in the Asia-Pacific region and more than one third of them in APEC economies;
- APEC membership includes major players in international agricultural trade, both in exports and imports;
- Increased food demand attributed to population growth and changes in dietary patterns in the region could bring about instability in the balance of food supply and demand;
- The extent of interdependence for food is increasing in the Asia-Pacific region due to expanded agricultural trade;
- Some APEC economies have already experienced social instability – such as food protests and riots – during the food price spike in 2007 – 2008; and
- Natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis that can affect food supply occur frequently in the Asia-Pacific region.
The first APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security will be held on 16–17 October in Niigata, Japan. An APEC Action Plan on Food Security, containing specific projects and initiatives, will be developed during the meeting.