Climate change is real for us – Mustapha tells Borlaug International Dialogue

–reiterates need for adequate financing to address food crisis, climate change

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha has voiced the strong need for adequate financing and robust actions to lift the world from food crisis and climate change.
As he participated in the Borlaug International Dialogue, in a session titled “Food Governance in an Unprecedented Era”, stakeholders discussed how to guarantee an adequate functioning of the agri-food systems in times of simultaneous crises that have severe consequences for individual countries and for the world.
The session was organised by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in conjunction with the World Food Prize Foundation (WFP); and Mustapha, sharing his input, detailed that the current global food crisis requires a transformation of all points along the food chain.
“Today there are countries that suffer from food shortages even though they have money. If we don’t act together, we are all going to suffer the consequences”, he warned.

Minister Mustapha and other global leaders at the Borlaug International Dialogue

The Minister explained that, in his country and across the Caribbean, leaders are working to reduce the dependency on food imports and exposure to climate shocks. “Climate change is very real for us. Last year Guyana suffered one of the most devastating floods in history”, he explained as he underscored the need to promote insurance that covers the loss suffered by farmers in the face of more frequent natural disasters.
He added, “Guyana’s economy has grown incredibly, thanks to oil and gas, but it is essential that we diversify. Today we produce 60 per cent of the food we consume, but we are not satisfied.”
The Borlaug International Dialogue, taking place in the USA, is considered the largest international forum on agriculture, and consists of a series of discussions hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation (WFP) with the participation of Government officials, Private Sector representatives, international organisations, agricultural producers, academics, scientists, educators, and students.
This year’s Dialogue is themed “Feeding a Fragile World” due to the severe simultaneous impact on the global agri-food systems of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Eastern Europe, and climate change. The different sessions focus on the relationship between agriculture, food security, and climate change with the goal of building global alliances against hunger and malnutrition.
Mustapha participated in the session with Minister Counsellor for Agricultural Affairs of Panama, Carlos Salcedo Zaldivar; Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), Karen Ross; and Minister of State at the Federal Government of Pakistan, Shahryar Ali Khan.
Director General of IICA, Manuel Otero, moderated the session, in which he posed the discussion questions, which referred to the impact that the current crises are having in each country, and what public policies are being implemented to deal with shocks related to health, conflict, and climate.
Salcedo detailed the State Policy for Development of the Agricultural Sector, currently in discussion between the Panamanian Government and different stakeholders.
“Producers have demanded that we hold this debate, to which we have incorporated different international organizations. The IICA played a key role in satisfying this demand to guarantee a state policy that provides legal certainty to agriculture”, commented Salcedo, who explained that education, financing, productivity, market access, technology, and institutional strengthening are the central themes.
Secretary Ross also referred to the effects of climate change. Ross, highlighting the importance of youth and women in rural areas, stated that California would continue to make investments that favour the resilience of agriculture, the transition to carbon-neutrality, the reduction of methane emissions from livestock, and the improvement of soil health and energy efficiency.
“In 2020, we experienced the worst wildfire season in California history. For 30 days, the Central Valley, which is our most productive area, was covered in smoke and ash. This was dramatic for a state that produces one-third of all vegetables and two-thirds of all fruit for the United States”.
In turn, Ali Khan revealed that 67 per cent of the population of Pakistan works in agriculture, and that the impact of climate change on the country is severe.
“We need more technology for small-scale farmers, to ensure their resilience,” he decried.