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Webinar: Regional Consultation on Forgotten Foods in Asia-Pacific
May 28, 2021 @ 12:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Developing a Regional Manifesto
Why this is important:
Around 1.9 billion people in Asia-Pacific cannot afford a healthy diet. Yet, many traditional nutritious foods that can easily grow even in harsh conditions and without significant investment have almost vanished from people’s tables. To get this food back requires a collective recognition of their significance and value for sustainable development.
Around 3 billion people across the world cannot afford a healthy diet and 1.9 billion of them are in the Asia-Pacific Region. Of these, 1.3 billion live in South Asia, 230 million in East Asia, 325.5 million in Southeast Asia, and 0.5 million in Oceania according to a recent United Nations agencies report. More than 350 million people in Asia-Pacific were undernourished in 2019, which is half of the global total, as stated in the Asia and the Pacific Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2020: Maternal and Child Diets at the Heart of Improving Nutrition.
In the past, Asia-Pacific countries were cultivating and consuming a wide variety of food crops, which had high nutrition value. However, as a result of modern, industrialized agriculture and consequent changes in policies and food habits, many have moved away from the traditional foods. These have now almost become forgotten food, and include, for example: pseudo cereals (grain amaranth, buckwheat and chenopods), small millets (finger millet, foxtail millet, proso millet, kodo millet and barnyard millet), underutilized grain legumes (rice bean, moth bean, adzuki bean, faba bean and horse gram), tuber crops (taro, cassava, sweet potato, yams, potatoes), minor fruits (jackfruit, custard apple, jewish plum, ber and tamarind), as well as seabuckthorn. Furthermore, a recent regional survey also included red gram or pigeon pea, and sorghum in this ‘forgotten’ food category.
A shift from the current ‘yield-for-immediate-profit’ paradigm towards multi-functional and diversified agri-food systems is needed to achieve zero hunger and provide nutritious, healthy and sustainable diets. This requires, among others, a transformation of agricultural innovation systems, valuing local knowledge and ingenuity, as well as neglected genetic and species diversity. Greater diversity associated with sustainable management practices is needed in agricultural and food systems to feed 9.7 billion people in 2050.
The Regional Consultation on Forgotten Food will seek information and set priorities from collective actions to promote research, innovation, education, sustainable production, processing, marketing and consumption of forgotten food. Specifically, the conference aims to:
- Improve different stakeholders’ recognition of the importance and value of forgotten species and sustainable agricultural technologies, such as agroecological approaches, participatory plant breeding, efficient seed systems, and new technologies.
- Articulate and analyze multi-level (institutional, organizational, individual) capacity development needs in the areas of research, extension, education and development across the value chain of such crops.
- Identify strategic and effective ways to lobby and advocate for policy innovations to ensure the use and conservation of forgotten food, such as incentives for their cultivation and conservation, as well as incentives for farmers to innovate.
- Identify possible areas for collaborative research projects and partnership opportunities, and discuss the establishment of a Regional Knowledge Hub on Forgotten Food.
A comprehensible and actionable draft Manifesto on Forgotten Foods in Asia-Pacific region, owned by major farmers organizations, as well as research and development agencies, will be considered by the wider community of stakeholders. The Manifesto will provide a framework for public declaration of shared values, operational principles and concrete strategies that will help smallholder farmers to localize actions and policies within their own communities and countries. It is envisioned that this will eventually facilitate the preparation of a Global Manifesto.
Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) in partnership with Global Forum of Agricultural Research, Alliance Bioversity – CIAT, Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) and M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), and International Crop Research Institute for Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
Selected regional representative groups and actors of various innovation systems, including APAARI members, institutions including national and international research and educational organizations, custodian Farmers, farmers associations, value chain actors and the private sector, civil society and policymakers from Asia-Pacific.