BANGKOK: Food value chain actors attending the 2nd Global Sustainable Rice Conference and Exhibition this week in Bangkok realigned commitments to reduce waste in the production, distribution and trade of the world’s most consumed staple grain.
APSA attended the conference and exhibition as a supporting organization, joining hundreds of public and private sector stakeholders, researchers and reps from the international development community.
Held October 1 and 2 at the United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok, the biennial meeting was co-convened by members of the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) – a global multi-stakeholder alliance comprising some of the world’s leading rice producers and buyers – along with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and UN Environment.
According to the SRP, some 1.3 tons of food – a third of all food produced globally – is lost or wasted every year, resulting in annual economic losses upwards of $940 billion.
As part of concerted efforts to attain the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals specific to agriculture, the SRP recently revealed a target to cut such waste in half by 2030.
According to a statement distributed at the conference, SRP is working towards this target by engaging its member institutions and the World Resources Institute through a task force that will “identify hotspots, develop a roadmap to improve farming methods, tackle rice loss and waste across the supply chain, identify strategies to accelerate change and monitor industry actions …” and thus “… make a significant difference to many of the 144 million small farmers whose livelihoods depend upon rice.”
Themed “Business Unusual” the 2nd Global Sustainable Rice Conference and Exhibition built on the success of the inaugural 2017 edition by taking “a cross-cutting approach to engage a growing global community of sustainable rice stakeholders with a shared vision to transform the global rice sector.”
The conference featured a plenary panel discussion and six conference tracks focused on the complex role of rice and the potential of collaborative approaches to drive large-scale and long-term change.
Such change will not be without challenge, however, suggested Dechen Tsering, UN Environment Regional Director and Representative, Asia and the Pacific Office: “We have to look at the impact of growing rice on the environment… this presents critical developmental challenges so we’re looking at how we can climate-proof our production systems”
And despite technological trends benefiting the food value chain, the traditional aspect of food is here to stay, suggested Temina Lalani-Shariff, Director of Communication and Stakeholder Engagement, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI): “Despite innovations like the impossible burger, staples are still and will continue to be in demand.”
As for the driving role of multi-stakeholder platforms such as the SRP, Jong-Jin Kim Deputy Regional Representative for the Asia and the Pacific, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), concluded, “The real value of SRP is the way it provides something that public and private stakeholders can agree upon as a basis for dialogue and planned action to bring about change in the rice sector”
Among notable actions highlighted at the opening session of the conference was the signing of a partnership agreement between SRP and Global GAP (Good Agricultural Practices). Global GAP is the internationally recognized label standard to identify quality agriculture products.
Speaking on the partnership, Kristian Moeller, CEO of Global GAP said: “Standing here in front of you in Asia, as a farmer’s son from northern Germany … this is the dream which I have always had … every generation has a right to save food as a part of sustainability. I am committed to all of you, to farmers, to deliver and bring the services to farmers, consumers and the entire supply chain.”
Aside from this, SRP signed another partnership agreement with the Earth Security Group.
Stay tuned for more details.