Climate change, malnutrition within LAC region to dominate FAO conference


Guyana will next month lead the charge to find solutions to mitigate the impacts of climate change, food insecurity and malnutrition within Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region.

These discussions will be conducted by several Heads of State at the 38th session of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Regional Conference for the LAC region.

On Wednesday, the Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha and the Assistant Director General and FAO Regional Representative for LAC, Mario Lubetkin, were part of a panel at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal, and the minister reminded the participants that Guyana is championing food security across the region.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hugh Todd; Country Representative for the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Wilmott Garnet and the Country Representative for the FAO, Dr Gillian Smith were among the high level attendees at the conference.

“We are seeing the political will to reduce hunger, we have seen targeted action to look at different aspects, for example in the Caribbean, and we set targets, especially in Guyana.

“Since 2020, we have seen the entire region has that political will and made the agri-food system stronger so that we can withstand the shocks that are happening around the world,” the Agriculture Minister said.

At the FAO conference slated for March 18-21 in Georgetown, influential persons and political leaders will discuss strategies to develop a plan of action that will strengthen the regional response to food insecurity, poverty and inequality. These discussions will play into the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 that are crucial for the well-being of individuals and societies.

Attendees at the press conference. (Photo: Ministry of Agriculture/ February 7, 2024)

The region has managed to overcome several impacts brought on by climate change, poverty and inequality. But achieving the goals requires international response. Hence, investment for world development, rural development, reducing food loss and waste, climate change are among the aspect that will be targeted during these discussions.

Minister Mustapha said Guyana’s food security agenda includes ensuring that malnutrition is mitigated. As such, the School Feeding Programme under the Ministry of Education provides meals for students.

And the Agriculture Ministry continues its work with IICA and the FAO, which are global partners that have over the years played a significant role in supporting its Agricultural plans and sectoral development.

On Tuesday, the FAO delegation met with President Dr Irfaan Ali when he recommitted that the country will continue to actively participate in combatting climate change and food insecurity.

According to Lubetkin, the country leaders can make accomplishing these goals easier through bilateral collaborations.

“The process of discussion about Food security goes beyond the FAO…the outcome is to try to create the synergies, to try to work together with perhaps a few points, perhaps more than a few because this is the only way we can complete what was never completed in the region,” the  Assistant Director General said.

He also said this high-level dialogue is necessary to understand the position each country plays in achieving the SDGs.

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