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Leaders of UN food agencies call for measures to curb hunger

(Xinhua)    09:03, September 08, 2020

ROME, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- Qu Dongyu, director-general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), on Monday called for "collective action" on a global level to help assure the sustainability of the world's food supply going forward.

Speaking via video link to the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing, Qu said that the global COVID-19 outbreak has directly and indirectly exposed vulnerabilities in the world's food systems. He said the pandemic has also illustrated the resilience of a system "able to overcome business-as-usual approaches" to problem-solving.

But he said that in order to make food systems more resilient, collective action is required "to ensure that markets function well and that timely and reliable information on market fundamentals" is available to all market players.

"Let us work together to ensure the continued flow of food, products, services, and inputs that are essential for agricultural and food production across borders," Qu urged.

Qu spoke on Monday at a special forum within the trade fair -- the "International Forum for Development and Investment of Modern Supply Chain of Food" -- where he was joined by Amir Mahmoud Abdulla, deputy executive director of the World Food Program (WFP). Abdulla also called for steps to be taken to increase the resilience of the world's food systems, particularly when it comes to those most in need, such as those in conflict zones or in the poorest countries.

FAO and WFP are two of the three United Nations food-related agencies based in Rome, along with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The two organizations were among a wide array of multilateral groups to have officials addressing the Beijing trade fair, which is due to conclude on Wednesday.

Qu, a former vice-minister for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in China, praised his native country's role in taking steps to stabilize food production and supply with a focus on small farmers and consumers. He also noted the role of Chinese e-commerce companies to make supply chains more efficient, as well as the government's efforts to increase cooperation between various stakeholders.

"Before and during the pandemic, the Chinese government has also been proactively partnering with other countries and international organizations in facilitating international cooperation on resilient food systems," Qu said.

Qu also highlighted FAO's role in confronting challenges related to food sustainability presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing attention to the work of FAO's Response and Recovery Program, which the director-general said has identified seven major areas to prioritize.

Two of the areas "are specifically on food systems: one is Trade and Food Safety Standards; the second is Food Systems Transformation along the whole value chain," he said.

According to data from FAO, WFP, and IFAD released in June, there are more than 820 million people in the world who suffer from extreme hunger. Efforts to reduce that number this year have been complicated by the global COVID-19 outbreak.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Liang Jun)

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