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Food security can check distress-related migration: FAO

Oct 16, 2017

A large proportion of today’s migration is due to ‘push’ factor caused by lack of livelihood opportunities in rural areas, said Shyam Khadka of FAO.

Shyam Khadka

Shyam Khadka, the representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in India, in an interview to Ashok Kumar of OneWorld South Asia, said that many developing countries are unable to take advantage of the potential benefits of biotechnology because they lack the necessary infrastructure for research. Excerpts from the interview:

OneWorld South Asia: What is the theme of this year’s World Food day?

Shyam Khadka: This year’s agenda for World Food day is ‘Change the future of migration - Invest in food security and rural development’. This theme has been chosen against the fact that a large population todays is made of migrants. In terms of numbers, there were 244 million international migrants in 2015.

This figure is 40% more than in 2000. Equally importantly, people who move within national borders were estimated at 763 million in 2013. Hence, we are talking about 1 billion people who migrate either within the nation or between and among nations.

OWSA: What kind of work is FAO undertaking towards healthy migration policies?

Shyam Khadka: FAO is working with governments, UN agencies, the private sector, civil society and local communities, to generate evidence on migration patterns and is building countries’ capacities to address migration through rural development policies.

FAO supports governments and partners as they explore the developmental potential of migration, especially in terms of food security and poverty reduction

OWSA: How will the issue of food security determine the future of migration?

Khadka:Put simply, migration is the result of either ‘pull’ factors – better livelihood opportunities become available elsewhere, or ‘push’ factor – desperation due to poverty and hunger in the place of residence of the migrant. If the migration is due to genuine pull factor, there is no major issue.

In fact, when the economy is transforming the usual tendency would be shift of labour force out of agriculture and out of rural area. But a large proportion of today’s migration is due to ‘push’ factor caused by lack of adequate livelihood opportunities in rural areas and consequent lack of food security. Hence, if we could ensure food security in the place of residence of migrants the distress-related migration can be checked and managed better.

OWSA: What kind of role will biotechnology play in securing global food security?

Khadka: To FAO, biotechnology represents a suite of tools that have great potential to improve the productive capacity of agriculture in the developing world. It also recognizes, however, that there are substantial obstacles to be overcome.

Also, many developing countries are unable to take advantage of the potential benefits of biotechnology because they lack the necessary infrastructure for research and development, regulatory decision-making, and policy-implementation. This can skew the benefit of bio-technology to the firms and countries which have technical and financial resources to make use of bio-technology.

FAO recognizes that when appropriately integrated with other technologies for the production of food, agricultural products and services, biotechnology can be of significant assistance in meeting the needs of an expanding and increasingly urbanized population. Regarding biotechnology, FAO assists its Member countries and their institutions by:

. Providing them with legal and technical advice,

· Assisting them to develop their capacities in agricultural biotechnologies and related issues through technical co-operation and training,

·Providing them with access to high-quality, updated, balanced, science-based information, and

· Offering them a neutral forum to discuss policy and technical issues related to biotechnology.

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