Hiroshima, Japan, 24 February 2010 - While indicators suggest that the Asia-Pacific is recovering from the recent economic crisis, APEC is keeping an eye on food security.
The remarkable spike in food prices between 2007 and 2008 and the subsequent global economic crisis highlighted the fragility of food security. In 2009, the undernourished population exceeded one billion people; and estimates indicate that to accommodate a world population of more than 9 billion by 2050, agricultural output must increase by 70 percent.
In a meeting today, APEC Senior Officials and experts on food issues discussed a possible agenda for the first APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security, which included sustainable agricultural development and reliable access to food.
APEC Officials will invite other key stakeholders including relevant APEC working groups and the APEC Business Advisory Council to discuss these issues at an informal dialogue to be held when Officials next meet in Sapporo in May.
Food issues have been included in APEC priorities and activities for some time but, today, are more important than ever:
Two-thirds of the undernourished population in the world resides in the Asia-Pacific region and more than one third of them in APEC economies; APEC membership includes major players in international agricultural trade, both in exports and imports; Increased food demand attributed to population growth and changes in dietary patterns in the region could bring about instability in the balance of food supply and demand;
The extent of interdependence for food is increasing in the Asia-Pacific region due to expanded agricultural trade;
Some APEC economies have already experienced social instability - such as food protests and riots - during the food price spike in 2007 - 2008; and
Natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis that can affect food supply occur frequently in the Asia-Pacific region.
The first APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security will be held on 16-17 October in Niigata, Japan. An APEC Action Plan on Food Security will be developed during the meeting.