Delegates from 46 nations joined Tuesday’s opening of a virtual summit hosted by the Food and Agricultural Organization on how to help pandemic-battered farmers keep supplying food for tens of millions of people.
In a region that is home to more than half of the world’s undernourished people, the coronavirus pandemic has hit small farmers particularly hard, threatening the ability of people in rural and urban locales alike to stave off hunger and malnutrition.
FAO has forecast the coronavirus pandemic will increase the number of undernourished people by up to 132 million this year and the number of acutely malnourished children by 6.7 million worldwide. As a result, it said, the world faces two “pandemics”: COVID-19, and a related spike in hunger worldwide.
“We must come to terms with what is before us and recognize that the world and our region has changed,” Jong-Jin Kim, FAO’s assistant director-general and regional representative for Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement.
“We must find new ways to move forward and ensure sustainable food security in the face of these two pandemics, as well as prepare for threats that can and will evolve in the future,” he said.
The government of Bhutan was playing virtual host to some 400 delegates expected to take park in FAO’s four-day regional conference, organized by the Rome-based U.N. agency’s Bangkok office.