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Latin America and the Caribbean map pathway to transform agri-food systems

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Posted: Thursday, March 31, 2022. 11:17 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Ecuador is hosting ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 37th Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean through tomorrow, Friday.

There are plans to foster healthy diets, galvanize inclusive rural development and promote sustainable and resilient agriculture in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to discuss ways to mitigate the impact of rising food and fertilizer prices on the region, the world’s largest net food exporter.

The conference is “an opportunity for us to coordinate in a concerted fashion the protection of the resources of social capital and the economy that depend on agricultural production,” said President Guillermo Lasso of Ecuador.

“The food you produce and export will influence the nutrition of hundreds of millions of men, women and children within and beyond the shores of this prodigious land,” FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu said in his opening remarks to an audience including President Guillermo Lasso of Ecuador and ministers from 33 countries in the region.

He praised the region’s ministers, and all the public and private actors in its agrifood systems for their work to keep food production and trade flowing during the pandemic. “You must maintain this same effort across your agri-food systems, to the benefit of global food security,” he added.

The priority themes for this Regional Conference are sustainable agrifood systems for healthy diets for all; prosperous and inclusive rural societies; and sustainable and resilient agriculture. The fourth better, a better life for all, requires protecting the many families impacted the most by the pandemic, and a concerted effort to reduce territorial, gender, ethnic and rural-urban inequalities, Qu said.

A new urgency debated by Members during the Regional Conference is the rise in food and fertilizer prices, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine; which Director-General Qu recognized as of critical importance to the region, as it poses risks to producers, consumers and economic recovery.

“Peace is fundamental to protect people from hunger!” he said. “I call on you to identify the key multilateral actions that can be taken to reduce the impact of the crisis,” he added: “No single country is big enough, or powerful enough, to address this problem on its own.” Qu noted that FAO has issued a call for all countries to keep global food and fertilizer trade open.

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