38th FAO conference to foster discussions to promote regional food security

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Assistant Director General and Regional Representative of FAO, Mario Lubetkin, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha; Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd; FAO Country Representative in Guyana, Dr Gillian Smith, and UN Resident Coordinator in Guyana, Yesim Oruc

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 38th regional conference for Latin America and the Caribbean (LARC38) will allow the region to discuss challenges and top priorities in food and agriculture, aimed at fostering regional coherence in global policies.

The highly anticipated agriculture forum will be hosted in Guyana for the first time from March 18 to 21.

Discussions will focus on financing to end hunger, technological innovations to reduce post-harvest loss of food waste, and the adaptation and mitigation of the effects of climate change for a sustainable agriculture system and food security.

The conference will also address access to financing mechanisms to facilitate national programmes, promote technological transfers and capacity building, and end food hunger and malnutrition among children in the region.

Speaking at the conference’s press launch at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), Liliendaal, on Wednesday, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha highlighted that the event will aid in formulating policies and guidance for Latin America and the Caribbean, since their agricultural food systems are extremely vulnerable.

The post-COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian/Ukraine conflict, the impact of climate change, and other factors continue to undermine the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by placing many of the targets at risk of not being met by 2030.

“But as a region, we must remain resolute. We have diligently sought solutions to address the complex changes of challenges and strive to minimise the impact on our population,” Minister Mustapha noted.

However, as the scope of these challenges extends beyond individual capacity, he underscored that the region must unite with institutions that have the capabilities to navigate some of these obstacles.

The FAO continues to be a key partner in the region, providing significant technical assistance for the execution of numerous projects across the agriculture sectors that contribute to the region’s food security agenda.

The organisation’s drive to achieve better production, nutrition, and environment aligns with CARICOM’s 25 by 2025 objective, promoting regional food security through targeted action, to reduce the region’s food import bill by 25 per cent.

“We had a meeting where the president met with the regional director of the FAO. And he reiterated that at the end of this conference, we want to talk about outcomes. We must come up with a programme that Latin America and the Caribbean will follow for the next two years,” he reported.

Meanwhile, Assistant Director General and Regional Representative of FAO, Mario Lubetkin stressed that the conference’s framework seeks to address climate change, trade, and sustainable production to achieve a common goal.

“I have seen that one of the big challenges of the conference is to combine in a new way, the concept of local, regional and global…There are no other ways if we want to resolve the problems,” Lubetkin also emphasised.

Various ministers of agriculture and other high-ranking officials from the region’s member states come together annually at the FAO regional conference to discuss matters centred on food and agriculture.

For the first time, Guyana will be hosting this conference as it continues to play a leading role in agriculture and food security regionally.

A total of 33 countries will be meeting in Guyana to attend the high-level session slated to be held at the ACCC. Over 100 delegates are expected to attend the conference.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd; FAO Country Representative in Guyana, Dr Gillian Smith; UN Resident Coordinator in Guyana, Yesim Oruc; Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture’s (IICA) Country Representative, Wilmot Garnett and other officials were also at the launch.