APEC nations aim to boost agricultural productivity

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Reuters | Sun Oct 17, 2010

NIIGATA, Japan Oct 17 (Reuters) - Asia Pacific nations agreed on Sunday to boost the region's agricultural productivity through technology transfer and information sharing as climate change and a fall in arable land threaten future food supplies.

The 21-member countries of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) also called for "responsible" agricultural investment as rising acquisition of farmland in developing countries by other nations to ensure their own food supplies is causing friction with local people.

"Climate change will affect agricultural products a lot around the world in the foreseeable future," Phillip J. Glyde, deputy secretary, department of agriculture fisheries and forestry of Australia, told a news conference.

He said Australia enjoyed a good harvest this year, but "the real challenge will be at the next twenty, thirty or fifty years to feed more people with less water, less land and climate constraint environment".

Thai Agriculture Minister Theera Wongsamut said the country, a big rice exporter, was going to adjust its irrigation systems after heavy rainfall due to the La Nina weather phenomenon caused serious disruption in some parts of the country.

The world needs to produce 70 percent more to feed the projected global population in 2050, and 90 percent of the growth in crop production needs to come from higher yields and more efficient use of land due in part to limited arable land, Michihiko Kano, Japan's agricultural minister said.

The APEC nations adopted 62 action plans aimed at sharing technology and information mainly through websites and workshops.

"Land grabbing" is one of lingering effects of a spike in food prices in 2007 and 2008, when food importing countries with land and water constraints such as the Gulf States increased investments in farmland abroad.

Countries with large populations and food security concerns, such as China, South Korea and India, were seeking opportunities to produce food overseas, the International Food Policy Research Institute said.

China and South Korea are among the APEC members, along with the United States, Russia, Canada, Australia and other Southeast Asian countries. (Reporting by Yuko Inoue; Editing by Alex Richardson)


First APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security

Niigata, Japan, 16-17 October 2010


"To this end, noting the growing commercial pressure on land and other natural resources across the developing world, we supported responsible agricultural investment that aims to create a 'win-win-win' situation for recipient economies, local communities and investors. We also supported the ongoing efforts by relevant international organizations, in association with various stakeholder groups, to develop principles and best practice on Responsible Agricultural Investment (RAI) to help frame a coordinated global response."

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