Laos is committed to reducing food insecurity and malnutrition to levels that would be considered insignificant by 2025 and to eliminate both by 2030 in line with the National Nutrition Strategy, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Dr Lien Thikeo has said.
The government has prioritised multi-sectoral convergent approaches to do this and the work is being carried forward by two multi-sectoral and multi-agency coordination bodies, the National Nutrition Committee and National Committee on Food Security and Commercialisation, he said in his opening remarks at the 40th Session of the FAO Conference held recently in Rome, Italy.
“This commitment is reflected in a variety of instruments, such as the Agricultural Development Strategy 2025 and Vision 2030, and the National Nutrition Strategy 2025,” Dr Lien told the conference with the theme “Zero Hunger: Turning Commitment into Action to Achieve SDG2”.
The Lao government has developed its Agriculture Strategy to 2025 and Vision to 2030 with three foundations – agriculture, forestry, and rural development along with poverty reduction.
These are being implemented through four main plans, including sustained food security and nutrition, clean commercial production of quality products at quantity, sustainable forest and natural resource management, and rural development and poverty reduction programmes.
The government appreciates the FAO's support to achieve these goals as well as its contribution to national food security and commercialisation, he added.
“We highly appreciate the three Rome-based agencies for their support for children's first 1,000 days, prioritising underprivileged populations. Also for support to farmer field schools as a rural implementation mechanism with the participation of villagers,” he said.
The government is encouraging poverty reduction programmes. Together with this, Laos has 10 project implementing plans that include targets, indicators and interventions.
“In order to meet the Zero Hunger Challenge in Laos, it is essential to balance the production of nutritious food for local consumption with commercial production,” Dr Lien said.
He highlighted that the goal of the Zero Hunger Challenge is to end hunger in all forms. To accomplish this and achieve SDG2 will require a worldwide effort with international, regional and national cooperation, and contributions from all sectors around the world.
The Laos government developed a roadmap for “Zero Hunger”, including implementation guidelines and a monitoring and evaluation framework, in 2015. The following year, the main elements of this roadmap were reflected in the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2016-2020. About 18.5 percent of Lao people are undernourished, says the State of Food Insecurity 2015 report published by the FAO, IFAD and WFP.
Even though the MDG for hunger was achieved in Asia and the Pacific by 2016, the region still has 490 million people suffering from chronic hunger. Around 30 percent of children under five in the region are stunted.
At the same time, about 18 million children under five are overweight and childhood obesity is increasing. Micronutrient deficiencies remain a major problem in many countries that requires continued effort towards future resolution.
During the meeting, Dr Lien met the FAO Director General, Mr José Graziano da Silva, the IFAD President, Mr Gilbert Houngbo, and the Executive Director of WFP, Mr David Beasley.