UAE’s call to address food insecurity timely - GulfToday

UAE’s call to address food insecurity timely

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The photo has been used for illustrative purpose.

Food security, taken for granted in the fairly well-off countries, remains out of bounds for many people in less developed nations.  Thanks to the coronavirus, conflict and climate change, food insecurity has become more acute. It has spiralled over 70 per cent this year, and is in danger of hitting more than 270 million people this year, according to a recent UN World Food Programme report.

 As a nation which has plenty of food reserves, the UAE does feel for the millions who are going without food every day.  The zero hunger target by 2030 therefore is all the more imperative amid the current conditions.

UAE Food Minister Mariam Almheiri’s call at the UN to address the world’s aggravating hunger crisis is therefore very vital and timely. The world must act and act now if we are to reach zero hunger by 2030 – that was the message delivered on Friday by Mariam Almheiri, UAE Minister of State for Food and Water Security, at the United Nations (UN) Food Systems Summit.

“The magnitude of the task that faces the global community in meeting SDG 2 – Zero Hunger by 2030 – is clearly huge. The reality of the situation is that we were already struggling to meet Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. COVID has, in effect, moved the finish line,” she said.

“There is no more time to talk. We have to act… and act now,” Almheiri remarked.

Lebanon is a classic case in food insecurity. Owing to the financial hardship that the people are facing there, two-thirds of the people are on the breadline; there are long queues for food and petrol. The currency has hit an all-time low; people cannot access their savings and withdraw it from ATMs.

There are nearly a billion people who do not have enough to eat. To curb the rising hunger, world leaders have pledged to tackle this crisis. But paying lip service does not help. There has to be proper, effective action and this is where the UAE leads the way.

The country’s National Pathway for Food Systems Transformation could set a path to lead the global community to reach SDG 2. This will help remodel its own food security through employing technology, innovation and sustainability, creating a template for other countries to follow.

In support of the 2030 Agenda, the United Arab Emirates has instituted a National Pathway for Food Systems Transformation that aims to meet its own food security objectives in tandem with delivering on the SDGs. “Our vision and pathway for this transformation is derived from the UAE’s Vision 2021 and the National Food Security Strategy 2051, which aims for the country to be a global leader in innovation driven food security within the next 30 years.

“Our National Food Security Strategy has five strategic goals that includes strengthening our food supply chains, increasing innovation in our food value chain, reducing food loss and waste, improving food safety and nutrition, and mitigating food risks and crises.”

The UAE has already got down to action: it has set down firm roots for initiatives that will bear fruit within the next 10 years.

While the coronavirus has been an agent of devastation for humanity, it has also been a catalyst for positive change, with the pandemic having accelerated the adoption of technology in business and pushed companies over the technology tipping point, transforming the way they operate. She said that the world should seize this opportunity to effect the same transformative change with its food systems.

The UAE’s recently launched Food Tech Valley aims to triple the country’s latest technology across the food value chain. The new city will use modern farming techniques and the latest agri-technologies to produce over 300 varieties of crops, with the facility representing the future of food.

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