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ADB urges resilient food systems in Asia–Pacific

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
ADB urges resilient food systems in AsiaâPacific
The ADB said policy action on rising food insecurity should focus on strengthening food systems in the longer term.
Businessworld / File

MANILA, Philippines — Countries in Asia and the Pacific should have policies that focus on building resilient food systems in the long term to address rising food insecurity, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said.

In its recent blog, the ADB said policy action on rising food insecurity should focus on strengthening food systems in the longer term.

The multilateral lender said the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the food security and nutrition for millions of people, with Asia and the Pacific badly hit.

Citing the World Food Program, ADB statisticians Stefan Schipper and Karen Firshan and writer Sean Crowley said while the 2008 food crisis was driven by disruption in global markets, the COVID-19 food crisis was due to rising unemployment and reduced product markets.

They said both urban and rural households’ ability to purchase food was reduced by income and remittance losses.

Moreover, supply disruptions reduced food availability and increased local food prices.

For economies that rely on imports, the situation was more challenging as currency depreciations and supply chain disruptions increased the cost of food.

Rising food insecurity will not just reverse gains in women and children’s nutrition, but also put future human capital and the economies’ productivity at risk.

To alleviate the food crisis due to COVID-19, ADB said many Asian economies like the Philippines implemented food assistance programs.

In the Philippines in particular, the Department of Social Welfare and Development distributed food packs to the poor and vulnerable sectors.

For the ADB experts, having resilient food systems in the longer term can be achieved by helping farmers prevent, prepare for, and adapt to weather shocks.

“Investing in early warning systems, such as spatial information technology and crop modelling, can help farmers anticipate extreme weather events and plan accordingly,” they said.

They said food security issues are inexorably linked to agricultural policies.

“To provide nutritious food that is affordable for all, agriculture policy in the region will need to promote productivity growth while ensuring environmental sustainability,” they said.

ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK

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