HA NOI — Food security, investment trends, agricultural finances and food price changes were hot topics at the Asia-Pacific Regional Civil Society Consultation in the capital last Saturday.
The event was co-hosted by the Viet Nam Farmers Union (VNFU) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
"The event highlights the importance of co-operation in supporting farmers and developing solidarity in the fight against regional hunger," said Hiroyuki Konuma, assistant director-general and FAO regional representative for Asia and the Pacific.
According to Konuma, the consultation is an expression of international concern about the hunger and malnutrition of almost 1 billion people around the world, deteriorated by increasing food prices and natural disasters.
Developing effective small scale farming models is believed to be amongst the keys to sustainable agricultural production.
It is estimated that three billion rural residents, most being small scale farmers, are severely affected by the interconnected crises of food, finance, fuel and climate change.
Land grabbing, less intensive farming and input-efficient techniques are major threats to sustainable food production in the region.
Sarojini V. Rengam, a member of the Civil Society Mechanism of the Committee for Food Security, called on the Vietnamese Government to support local farmers with ecological-production models to reduce the effects of climate change and maintain sustainable growth.
Domestic farmers, especially those amongst ethnic minorities, still suffer from poor living conditions despite their contribution to production and agriculture over the past years, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hoang Van Thang.
"Experiences drawn from discussions are expected to help Viet Nam improve the living conditions of its farmers," said Vice Chairman of the VNFU Nguyen Duy Luong.
Additional focus fell on forecasting resource trends in agriculture, rice output and food balance in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta by 2050.
According to the Bruce Hanon and Matthias research model, which considers long-term changes in socio-economic development, population fluctuations lead to increased rice output and loss of paddy land for housing.
Results based on this model show that the population of the area would be nearly 27 million, with paddy land accounting for around 1 million ha and 4.8 million tonnes of rice in 2050.
However, with paddy land directly affected by climate change and industrialisation, figures are likely to remain at 850,000 ha and 2.6 million tonnes, which places huge pressure on the future of national food security.
Possible solutions to such a scenario include stabilising rice production and population control alongside the application of modern technology.
The two-day consultation will be held in conjunction with the 31st FAO-Asia Pacific Regional Conference set to kick off this week. — VNS