Last week in Singapore, leading policymakers and influencers from throughout Asia and the world met to discuss the food security challenges and priorities facing the region at the first International Conference on Asian Food Security (ICAFS), themed ‘Feeding Asia in the 21st Century: Building Urban-Rural Alliances’.
As part of the conference, participants were invited to discuss the six Farming First principles as an approach to sustainable agriculture in the future. The six principles are designed to be farmer-centric, knowledge-based and dynamic so that continual progress can be made in achieving food security in a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable manner.
The three-day conference addressed the four basic dimensions of food security: availability, physical access, economic access and utilisation. Topics discussed in sessions included sustainable growth in agricultural production, resilient food supply chains, the impacts of trade policies, and humanitarian food aid strategies.
With the IFAD reporting that 60.5 per cent of rural Asians living in poverty, hundreds of experts have stressed the importance of increasing food production in a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable manner in Asia, calling for a ‘doubly green revolution’.
And as rice yields in Asia are expected to fall between 17-20 per cent by 2050 due to rising temperatures, policymakers need to ensure that the world’s farmers have access to the appropriate mix of tools, knowledge and technologies they need to boost productivity and maintain viable rural livelihoods. Singapore has already announced funding of US$8.2 million for research into new rice varieties.
Siang Hee Tan, Farming First spokesperson and Executive Director of CropLife Asia, said:
“Asia’s farmers are small-scale entrepreneurs in the making. If they are equipped and supported to adapt to meet the world’s food demands, they can boost their own livelihoods while driving broader economic development.”