India is ready to work with the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to assist other countries in the event of recurrence of migratory pests such as locust and fall armyworm, Minister of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala said on Thursday. The minister expressed the government's willingness to share India's experience and work with the FAO on controlling migratory pest while addressing a four-day FAO's 35th Asia-Pacific Regional Conference (APRC).
This virtual conference, hosted by Bhutan, was convened to plan responses and recovery work to address the twin pandemics - COVID-19 and hunger. In India, the problem of desert locust that prevailed since April 11 has now subsided after the government's timely measures in over 10 northern states to prevent its spread. Extending support for tackling locust problems, Rupala asked the FAO to find innovative solutions to address challenges related to water scarcity, climate change, hunger and nutrition.
"I urge FAO to find innovative solutions, evidence-based analysis and partnership to develop multi-sectoral solutions to the challenges of water scarcity, climate change, hunger and nutrition," the FAO statement quoted the minister having said in the meeting.
He also reaffirmed India's commitment to fulfil aspirations of Asia-Pacific regional countries and share responsibility to ensure food security for all.
"Our 'neighbours first' policy will live up to the aspirations of the region with collaboration in the exchange of best practices in R&D and programmatic interventions to step up production and productivity of agriculture produce," Rupala said.
The minister also mentioned that the government has adopted a "flexible approach" for facilitating imports from other countries. Now, digital copies of phytosanitary certificates are being accepted to not disturb the world food supply chain. According to the FAO, global food systems are under stress due to the compounding threat of the pandemic on existing crises such as conflict, natural disasters, climate change, pests and plagues. The COVID-19 has led to a setback in the fight to end hunger and malnutrition. Food production and supply has been hit hard in many countries.
"We have recently presented the FAO COVID-19 Response and Recovery Program, which aimed at preventing a global food emergency during and after the COVID-19 pandemic while working on medium- to long-term development responses for food security and nutrition," said FAO Director-General Qu Dongyuhis in the conference.
"In line with the UN approach to "build back better," and in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals, it aims to mitigate the immediate impacts of the pandemic while strengthening the future resilience of food systems and livelihoods," he added.
The conference also discussed new marketing channels (such as e-commerce) and new technologies (including better storage facilities) that will help reduce food losses, as these are critical to ensure the flow of nutritious foods and to generate improved incomes for those who work across the entire food and agriculture sectors.