Food chain 'must change'

Food chain 'must change'

Current system not sustainable for world

"We are currently in [what the UN calls] the 'Decade of Action' to transform food systems towards achieving... a complete overhaul of the global food system and address the global food crisis," said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa.

The government is investing to accelerate food system transformation with a focus on knowledge and technology-based investment in a bid to ensure the country's food security, while reaffirming its commitment to the UN's framework through the Bio-Circular-Green Economy (BCG) model.

In his keynote speech for the Bangkok Post Conference 2022 dubbed "The Future of Food", Varawut Silpa-archa, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said the BCG model on food security and environmental sustainability will be key to safeguarding Thailand's food system, which will have a positive impact on the global food system.

He said that the government has been working closely with related agencies to ensure food security and lay a solid foundation for the BCG model, including the establishment of the National Bio-Bank to conserve and ensure the effective utilisation of natural resources to secure food for future generations.

Moreover, the country's first-ever bill on biodiversity is being considered by the cabinet. The bill is hoped to enhance the nation's capacity to turn its resources into products with added value and ensure the community's right to wisely use their resources as food, medicine and more, Mr Varawut said.

In his speech, Mr Varawut said Thailand is highly-vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change despite the fact that it contributes less than 1% of the global greenhouse gas emissions.

"We will be affected directly and indirectly by the global food crisis, in terms of higher prices of feed grains, fertilisers and fuel, as well as climate change. We are currently in [what the UN calls] the 'Decade of Action' to transform food systems towards achieving ... a complete overhaul of the global food system and address the global food crisis," he said.

In a bid to address climate change risk factors which have a strong impact on food security, the government has set up the National Climate Change Master plan 2015-2050, which focuses on preparedness, mitigation and capacity building, he stressed.

Worachai Bhicharnchitr, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bangkok Post Plc, gives his welcoming address at the virtual Bangkok Post Conference 2022 yesterday.

The National Adaptation Plan and National Determined Contribution identified "safeguarding of food security" as the top priority, to be achieved by improving the resilience of Thailand's agricultural sector with the use of technology, innovation and traditional knowledge which will help farmers adapt to the negative impacts of climate change.

"In addition, the carbon credit system will encourage Thailand to reduce emissions overall. This will incentivise players in the food business to incorporate green solutions," he said.

He pointed to a number of ongoing efforts to promote food security, such as the Rice NAMA project, a Thai-German cooperation which aims to help over 10,000 farming households move away from conventional methods which produce high levels of methane.

In addition, he said, the PTT-NR joint venture is investing in plant-based innovations which aims to reduce methane emission and water consumption across the sector.

"I would say that 'business-as-usual' is not an option. A major transformation of agricultural systems and natural resources management is seriously required to secure our food systems," he said.

Thailand is one of the largest net food exporters in the world, exporting about 1.1 trillion baht worth of food products last year.

Roughly 40-50% of the country is used for agricultural purposes. The agricultural sector is still crucial for Thailand's economy, employing around 33% of Thailand's workforce and accounting for around 8-12% of the country's annual GDP.

Last year, it was estimated that the average Thai household generates about 150 kilogrammes of food waste each year.

In response, the government issued a 20-year Strategic Plan for Pollution Management, with targets of a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030.

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