Science, technology and innovation are key to transform agri-food systems in Central Asia
FAO Director-General spoke at the Third Meeting of the Central Asian Ministers of Agriculture
On 15th of March Kyrgyzstan hosted an online high-level meeting of Agriculture Ministers of Central Asian countries, with the participation of Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) QU Dongyu.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Regional Development of the Kyrgyz Republic, in coordination with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), held the Third Meeting of Ministers of Agriculture of the Central Asian countries, focusing on issues of science, technology and innovation in agriculture that can contribute to the transformation of agri-food systems in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The pandemic is giving us a rare opportunity to reset, rethink and redouble our efforts to build forward better and greener, using coordinated approaches that are inclusive, holistic, and coherent," the Director-General said alluding to the region's major potential for establishing innovative models for cooperation fostering game-changing solutions to common challenges.
He stressed the importance of making agri-food systems capable of providing access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food for all, while ensuring environmental sustainability. To this end, he encouraged Ministers to revisit their development strategies with a focus on innovation, policy, investment and infrastructure, including roads, food storage and research facilities. The FAO chief also underscored the need to carry out holistic feasibility studies in order to attract more investment.
For his part, the Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Regional Development of the Kyrgyz Republic, Askarbek Janybekov, noted that the pandemic unveiled the vulnerability of food systems and the immediate need for introducing new technologies in the sector. Given how interconnected food systems in the region are, these issues cannot be addressed in isolation, the Minister stressed. Today's meeting proves that the countries in Central Asia share the common vision, and are ready to tackle the challenges together in line with the global and regional agendas, the Minister added.
This is the first ministerial meeting of all, which was personally attended by the Director-General of FAO.
Meetings of the Ministers of Agriculture of Central Asia are facilitated by FAO with the aim to provide a forum to deliberate on important and relevant topics related to agriculture and jointly reflect on agricultural development trends in the region.
They are attended by the Ministers responsible for Food and Agriculture from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan Uzbekistan and FAO as well as by the regional representatives of International Financial Institutions and Organizations (EBRD, IDB, IFAD, World Bank, Eurasian Development Bank, ITU etc.).
The first meeting of the Ministers of Agriculture of Central Asia was held on 19 May 2020 on "Food Security and Agricultural Development under COVID-19: Sharing Good Practices and Coordinating the Response". The meeting was hosted by the Minister of Agriculture of Uzbekistan.
The second meeting took place on 8 December 2020, on the theme of "Digital Agriculture: Opportunities and Challenges" and was hosted by the Minister of Agriculture of Kazakhstan.