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Time to Tackle Global Food Crisis

Source: Science and Technology Daily | 2022-09-29 09:57:55 | Author: Gong Qian

A harvester is seen on the outskirts of Vladivostok, Russia, Sept. 13, 2022. (PHOTO: XINHUA)

By Gong Qian

The World Food Day is to be celebrated on October 16 with an inclusive theme this year of "Leave No One Behind."

However, despite food supplies being able to adjust to demand around the world, it is forecasted that 205.1 million people will be in a food crisis or worse in 45 countries or territories, according to the 2022 Global Report on Food Crises Mid-Year Update published in September.

So what is contributing to the crisis and how can it be dealt with?

Main factors behind food insecurity

The current global food crisis is largely driven by climate change, long-standing regional conflicts and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Food trade restrictions are fueling the crisis.

Climate change has escalated frequent extreme weather events including floods, heatwaves and drought. This has devastated the food system, especially food production. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted that the rising heat and rainfall associated with climate change are increasingly degrading land, making soil less productive. Researchers found that up to 30 percent of the expected increase in growth of European crops has been cancelled out by adverse weather.

The Russian-Ukraine conflict is one of the other key drivers of food insecurity. According to National Geographic magazine, the two countries produce nearly 30 percent of the world's traded wheat, and they are also the main suppliers of fertilizer. Now, the conflict has resulted in less or no grain exports from the two and soaring food and fertilizer prices.

According to the Guardian, at least 50 countries depend on Russia and Ukraine for 30 percent or more of their wheat supply, including developing countries in northern Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

However, the situation is getting worse. Some food trade restrictions have been put in place by countries to protect insufficient domestic food supplies. As of September 15, 21 countries have implemented 30 food export bans, and six have implemented 11 export-limiting measures, according to the World Bank. For example, Turkey has stopped exports of butter, beef, lamb, and vegetable oils.

Urgent actions to solve food crisis

Facing these challenges and difficulties, global solutions are needed now more than ever.

In response, heads of FAO, IMF, WBG, WFP, and WTO issued a joint statement on September 21 to address the problem.

For example, the WBG is making up to 30 billion USD available over a period of 15 months in areas such as agriculture, nutrition, social protection, water and irrigation. The IMF is proposing a new "food shock window" within the IMF emergency lending instruments.

China has made compelling contributions to alleviating the world food crisis. According the China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, China has provided more funding and experts and undertaken more projects under the framework of the FAO's South-South Cooperation Program than any other developing countries. To date, China has offered more than 30,000 tons of emergency humanitarian food aid to developing countries in need.

Over the years, China has carried out agricultural cooperation with more than 140 countries and regions, and provided more than 1,000 agricultural technologies to other developing countries, driving their crop yield up by 30 to 60 percent on average and benefiting more than 1.5 million small agricultural households.

The road ahead to tackle the food crisis is arduous, but efforts can be made to accelerate change. "Our focus is on transforming agrifood systems to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable, for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all, leaving no one behind," said Qu Dongyu, Director-General of FAO at a high-level event.

World Food Day is for everyone and everyone needs to be part of the change.

Editor: 汤哲枭

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