Enrichment of skills for global food safety a must - GulfToday

Enrichment of skills for global food safety a must


Dr Suzie Newman (left) and Nguyen Thi Thu Hoai at the ‘Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Business Forum’ on Monday.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

Food is a basic right and everyone must be responsible. No one must be a Mr Scrooge when it comes to the transfer of knowledge including the skills to ensure global food security and safety.

This was elucidated on Monday from the several panel discussions that consisted the “Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Business Forum,” co-organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry with the Government of New Zealand, part of the ongoing People and Planet Programme on Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Week at Expo2020 Dubai.

The opinion of resource speakers and those interviewed prior to the international summit, bolstered the 2022 focus of the first-of-a-kind 2021 to 2025 Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for C) of the UAE and the USA. AIM for C aims to fast track the research and development (R&D) on novel agricultural or farming inventions against dwindling resources and environmental degradation.

At the Monday afternoon panel discussion on the AIM for C with UAE Climate Change and Environment Minister Marian Bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb AlMheiri, USA Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack said these focus areas are the assistance to small-holder farming communities in the poor and developing states (no one must be left behind in global food production and distribution); the reduction of the agricultural methane (this gas is a deadly air pollutant which has been proven in a 20-year study to be 80 times hazardous than carbon dioxide with one million premature deaths each year); emerging technologies; and agro-ecological research (organic and regenerative farming practices combined with the traditional/convention for more sustainable food production). Vilsack added these focus areas shall be carried out via the innovation sprints - the increase in aggregate self-financed investments sourced from volunteer non-government partners - such as the newly-signed in American multinational technology company IBM.

In his morning virtual address, New Zealand Agriculture/Trade & Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor mentioned the efforts of Wellington to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions “from our agricultural sector...We cannot solve the global food problem in isolation. Trade is the solution to food security.”

From the “Effective Use of Resources for Farmers” session chaired by New Zealand Plant & Food-International Development head Dr Suzie Newman, Sam AgResearch (VietNam) chairperson Nguyen Thi Thu Hoai, in the farming industry for 40 years, pointed out how the Wellington-based team of scientists and agricultural experts, has assisted thousands of Dragon Fruit farmers improve the well-being by means of R&D combined with classes and workshops. That assistance opened Vietnamese Dragon Fruit to penetrate the world market including the food retail shops in the UAE. She is looking forward to the success of the “Avocado Project.”

Email interviewed, OnlyFromNZ (professional services on water management, food production, marine, eco-tourism and conservation sectors) Senior Consultant Lesley Kennedy said: “Only by moving from an ego-system (thinking and acting for ourselves), to an eco-system (thinking and acting for the community), can we eradicate food-agriculture-livelihood challenges.”

From the “A Modern Food Safety System” virtual panel, New Zealand Food Safety Ministry for Primary Industries Deputy Director General Vincent Arbuckle said: “Food safety should never be which we must beat against with. Technology must be shared. We should share everything (with regards) food. Research, policies, knowledge transfer.” His take-away for the audience that boils down on continuing public health education: “Do not forget the consumers. Food safety (starts and) happens at home with the cooking and hygiene.”

Ukraine IFC Food Safety (helps the national government in the regulation and policy-making of food safety standards) Advisory Policy Lead Kateryna Onul said: “Food safety is connecting people, knowledge and skills. It is collaboration and working together.”

New Zealand AgResearch (among seven government research institutes established in 1992 and which is specifically tasked to deliver high quality science and research to improve the productivity and value of the pastoral agriculture sector) chief executive officer Dr Sue Bidrose said that as the food system is not only limited to the production but stretches out to distribution while it also encompasses biodiversity and the environment: “Food safety is about everyone’s health and welfare.”

Emailed, Bidrose said: “Globally, there is clearly an increasing focus on climate change, availability of natural resources such as water and the ethics of livestock farming and land use for agriculture. The (Novel Coronavirus) pandemic has also brought greater attention to the issues of maintaining a safe, secure food supply to all nations. (We are committed to produce) trusted research and innovations that allow us to continue to produce safe, nutritious food and quality animal products that the world needs but in a sustainable and ethical way. All of the world’s consumers have a part in how they live their lives, and what they choose to consume.” She claimed that through research, it was evidenced that the use of natural fibre like sheep wool than synthetic fibre protects more water reservoir and environments. 

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