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Asia and the Pacific Regional Overview of Food Insecurity: Investing in a Zero Hunger Generation

"Asia and the Pacific Regional Overview of Food Insecurity: Investing in a Zero Hunger Generation "– the first post-Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) report of its kind  acknowledges that eradicating hunger means reducing poverty and addressing economic, social and environmental challenges. This is exacerbated by a forecasted increase of two billion to the world population – culminating in more than nine billion people by 2050.

According to the report, zero hunger can be achieved, provided that certain steps are followed, particularly by increasing investment in more efficient production methods and agricultural research.

The FAO further estimates that to feed an estimated world population of nine billion people by 2050, nearly 60% more food will be needed, most of which “will need to come from small farmers, who produce a majority of the world’s food.” The FAO estimates that nearly one-in-three children in the Asia and the Pacific region suffer from stunting, while 12% of the population – mostly in Southern Asia – is undernourished. The report also examines the impact of poor diets, such as rising obesity and micronutrient deficiency.

GLAST-2016 addressed the theme ‘Eliminating Hunger and Poverty through S&T Innovation.’ Hosted by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and co-organized by FAO and the CGIAR global research partnership, the Forum echoed concerns expressed in the FAO report that investment in agricultural sciences has been on the decline at the same time that advances against hunger have been slowing. GLAST was initiated by CAAS, FAO and CGIAR in 2006 as a platform for sharing information and experiences, as well as promoting partnerships among national agricultural research institutions and international organizations. All four previous GLAST events, in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2013 respectively, have taken place in China.

Changing diets: Another dimension

In addition to examining the challenges of hunger and undernutrition amidst limited natural resources, the report explores other aspects of malnutrition arising from poor diets, such as in micronutrient deficiency. While figures differ by country, obesity has been increasing regionally by more than four per cent annually.

The report analyzes other emerging regional issues, such as dietary diversification. As countries grow richer, diets change. This is happening rapidly in Asia, where per capita rice consumption has declined and that of fish, fruits and vegetables has grown rapidly.

“The most striking example of this is the rapid take up of dairy products across the region,” explained Ms. Kadiresan, elaborating that while milk and dairy products promise improved nutrition, “policy-makers need to ensure that the region's small-holder dairy farmers […] have fair access to, and compete in, the marketplace.”

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

One in three people suffers malnutrition at global cost of $3.5 trillion a year – UN