February 27, 2017

28/02/2017: The Raghavan Report, Asia’s food future: a fresh perspective

by Raghavan (‘Ragha’) Sampathkumar

To say 2016 was an eventful year would really be an understatement not just for the Americans but for the world

Raghavan Sampathkumar

Among several key developments, as a food and agribusiness professional, I list the following as my favorites. First, the humble grain got glorified as the IR8 rice variety celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Hailed “the miracle rice”, IR8 helped prevent famine-induced deaths in the 1960s and brought millions of Asians out of acute hunger. Still rice contributes close to four fifths of all calories consumed by over four billion Asians.

However, as diets are transforming faster, per capita rice consumption has been declining over the last few decades and consumption of livestock products, fish, fruits and vegetables has grown rapidly. Then, pulses had their fair share of recognition as the United Nations announced 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (IYP).

Their rich nutritional value as “natural superfoods” and their contribution to environmental sustainability aspects are getting due attention globally more so in the traditionally animal-protein consuming regions.

The third one is a tale of two cities - New Delhi and Beijing. The two Asian giants were fighting for the notorious top spot of “the most polluted” in the world.

Unlike the latter, New Delhi’s dangerous air pollution was caused by burning of wheat stubbles after harvest in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

Strong voices were raised to press the Government to review India’s over emphasize on cereal-based agricultural and food subsidisation policies that made these states “the wheat bowl of India”.

Further, FAO in Asia Pacific stressed the need for more action on the Anti-Microbial Resistance issue and called for concerted action by all stakeholders in the food chain.

Meantime in South Korea, two strains of H5 virus (bird flu) struck in December when global meat demand will probably be at its peak. At 15kg per capita, South Korea is one of the top consumers of chicken meat in Asia. These will have significant biosecurity and food safety ramifications on domestic production and trade of meat, feed and grains globally.

The Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam led by the FAO and the International Dairy Federation (IDF) was a defining moment for the global dairy sector.

It promulgates enhanced focus and integrated multi-stakeholder approaches with special emphasize on income, employment and livelihoods of the smallholders; sustainable development goals (SDGs); nutritious and healthy diets; the need to address environmental degradation and climate change, and to support biodiversity.

Read the full article HERE.

The Global Miller
This blog is maintained by The Global Miller staff and is supported by the magazine Milling and Grain
which is published by Perendale Publishers Limited.

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