Philippine Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar has pledged to continue pursuing innovative programs to achieve sustainable agricultural production and food systems in the face of the pandemic, alongside counterparts from Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, and Laos.

In a virtual meeting initiated by the Japan Ministry of Agriculture – Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), the six agriculture officials issued a joint statement, leading to the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) in New York in September this year. A pre-summit for the UNFSS will be held in Rome from July 26 to 28, 2021. The agriculture leaders jointly recognized the importance of achieving sustainable agricultural production and food systems globally.

“As countries belonging to the Monsoon Asia region, we share several regional particularities with regards to agricultural production, including distinctive climate conditions such as high humidity and high temperature, abundance of paddy fields, and high percentage of small- and medium-sized farmers,” the officials said in a joint statement.

Apart from Dar, the agriculture officials who made the commitment were Minister Nogami Kotaro of MAFF Japan, Minister Veng Sakhon of MAFF Cambodia, Laos Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Phet Phomphiphak, Vice Minister Le Quoc Doanh of Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Lim Kok Thay, chief executive officer of the Singapore Food Agency.

The officials also stressed that: “We believe innovation in the realm of agriculture and related industries is the key to sustainable agricultural production and food systems, especially for small- and medium-sized farmers, and private sector investments need to be encouraged to enhance this innovation.”