THE WAY FORWARD │ Level Up Philippine Agriculture!

DA chief, other Asian agri ministers vow to pursue sustainable food systems 

Author: DA Communications Group | 19 July 2021

Agriculture Secretary William Dar joined his counterparts from Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, and Lao PDR, as they committed on behalf of their respective governments to continue pursuing innovative programs to attain sustainable agricultural production and food systems, amid the global pandemic.

The six agriculture ministers met virtually on July 19 — initiated by the Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) — and issued a joint statement, leading to the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) in New York, USA, in September this year.

They said they jointly recognize the crucial importance to achieve sustainable agricultural production and food systems on the occasion of the UNFSS pre-summit in Rome, July 26-28, 2021.

“As countries belonging to the Monsoon Asia region, we share several regional particularities with regards to agricultural production, including distinctive climate conditions such as high humidity and high temperature, abundance of paddy fields, and high percentage of small- and medium-sized farmers,” the ministers said.

“Taking into account these regional particularities, we will make our maximum efforts to achieve the goals of sustainable agricultural production and food systems as well as the SDGs, while recognizing that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution leading to those goals, including an approach to the reduction of chemical pesticides and fertilizer usage,” they added.

“We believe innovation in the realm of agriculture and related industries is the key to sustainable agricultural production and food systems, especially for small- and medium-sized farmers, and private sector investments need to be encouraged to enhance this innovation,” the ministers said in their joint statement.

“Also, international collaboration is important to introduce innovative and sustainable agricultural practices and technologies such as digital tools, machineries and pest control tools, and we decide to promote and deepen our collaboration through joint research projects and existing frameworks for bilateral and plurilateral cooperation to achieve a balance between productivity and environmental protection,” they concluded.

For his part, Secretary Dar encouraged his counterparts to unite and strive to achieve desired goals and initiate transformative change in their respective countries.

“We acknowledge that our countries are confronted with similar challenges to our agriculture sector and food systems. Thus, we fully support any international or regional collaboration and initiatives that will result in increased agricultural productivity, competitiveness and profitability, taking into account sustainability and resilience for our agriculture smallholders,” he said.

He added that the Philippines, led by the Department of Agriculture, concluded the National Food Systems Dialogue, on July 13-14. The summaries of the insights and recommendations will be shared during the Rome pre-summit next week, and at the New York UNFSS in September.

“Your Excellencies, we are confident that by the end of the UN Food Systems Summit, we will gain more commitments and solutions in our hands. And it is incumbent upon us to carefully scrutinize all of these and draw deeply as we jointly work to build a better world—where agricultural production and food systems are sustainable and resilient, and our citizens enjoying affordable, safe, and nutritious food,” he concluded.

The other agriculture ministers who attended the virtual meeting were:

  • Minister Nogami Kotaro, of MAFF Japan;
  • Minister Veng Sakhon, MAFF Cambodia;
  • Phet Phomphiphak, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Lao PDR;
  • Vice Minister Le Quoc Doanh, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam; and
  • CEO Lim Kok Thay, of Singapore Food Agency. ### (Kristel Merle, DA-AFID)
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