The Agriculture Ministry is proposing the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to enhance FAO office in Bhutan to achieve the greater result in agriculture and food security. The ministry made the proposal at the on-going FAO’s 35th Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific hosted by Bhutan.
The conference convened virtually amid the pandemic to bring about solutions to immediate impacts of COVID-19 on the agriculture and food sector in the region.
The ministry says the proposal comes amid the emerging situation which calls for enhanced professional and operational capacity backed by adequate resources in FAO country office to deliver what Bhutanese agriculture sector needs.
“Bhutan joined as a member state of FAO in 1981 and started a country office since then. However, the office has remained the same as how it started then. It is small and moreover, Nepal and Bhutan share one representative. If we have a designated representative in the country we can have a bigger office and that will make it easier to garner support,” said Rinzin Dorji, the Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture and Forests.
Close to 500 participants from 46 FAO member countries in the region are taking part in the virtual conference. The conference was scheduled to be held in February this year but was kept on hold owing to travel restrictions across the world. Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji said it is essential to bring together experts in the field of food and agriculture to understand the evolving negative impacts of the pandemic on those whose livelihoods depend on agriculture.
During the course of the four-day conference, the representatives from FAO member states also proposed new marketing channels and new technologies including better storage facilities to help reduce food loses and ensure the flow of nutritious foods and to generate improved incomes for those working in the food and agriculture sector.
“The conference will have countries sharing their expertise in food security. For example, some countries are able to secure food for people despite the pandemic situation. So they will be sharing what made it possible for them to do that. We have also suggested considering how technology and innovation can be used in the agriculture and food sector,” the Secretary added.
During the 34th session of the Asia Pacific Regional Conference (APRC) held in Fiji, Bhutan volunteered to host the 35th session. APRC is held once in two years on a rotational and voluntary basis among the member states to discuss the country and regional priorities and pressing issues such as COVID-19, the state of agriculture, natural resource management, food security management and nutrition.