FAO head calls for efforts to strengthen world food systems

ROME, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- The director-general of the Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Friday said the coronavirus pandemic has illustrated the need for the world to strengthen agriculture and food systems.

Qu Dongyu, a former vice-minister of China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs who has led FAO since 2019, said his organization was prepared to support the global effort to develop what he called a "new path" for improving the sustainability of agriculture and food systems.

He mentioned an array of FAO-sponsored programs that could bolster the process, including the agency's COVID-19 Response and Recovery Program, a partnership project, and its Hand-in-Hand Initiative, which aims to accelerate agricultural transformation and sustainable rural development.

Qu's remarks were part of a broader Conference of Agricultural Ministers, which took place in Berlin, the capital of Germany, with many participants taking part through video link. The event included ministers from around the world, as well as the heads of various multilateral organizations.

"The pandemic has given impetus to innovation and we should work together to keep up this momentum," Qu told participants in the summit.

In a statement, FAO said Qu's remarks fit in with remarks from Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres, who called on the participants to take "bold action" to improve global agriculture and food systems.

In addition to Qu and Guterres, participants included David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, also based in Rome, Patricia Espinosa, the former minister of foreign affairs in Mexico who now heads the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and German Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture Julia Klockner.

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