Asian scientists seek to improve food security

Scientists from countries across Asia gathered in Nusa Dua to discuss ways to enhance food resilience through food technology innovation in an era of rapid economic development and social change. During the 5th International Symposium of Heads of Research Councils in Asia (ASIAHORC) organized by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), attendees sought to find ways to accelerate problem-solving innovations in this increasingly populous region. “Asia has experienced rapid economic development and high income growth in recent years.

Significant population increases, and consequently food consumption, combined with the complexity of high and volatile food prices, climate change, natural resource constraints and rapid demographic changes, have elevated the importance of food security,” said LIPI chairman  Lukman Hakim on Wednesday. “Food science is crucial to addressing this issue. It should be a foundation to bridge political and investment barriers for food security within the region, as well as within each country.”

He said the science community in Asia needed to find innovative ways to ensure food security in the region, including the exploration of bioresources for food alternatives, sustainable agricultural practices, bioprocessing technology and food engineering. “Countries must support the science community with strong and clear policies on this issue,” he stressed. Bogie Soedjatmiko Eko Tjahjono, head of LIPI cooperation and science publication bureau, said that discussion during the symposium focused on five sub-themes: bioresources for food, functional food, bioprocessing technology, food engineering and  food science policy.

Scientists, researches, practitioners and decision makers from China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippine, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam exchanged ideas, concepts and best practices in food sciences. The attendees discussed the promotion of collaboration among experts in Asian countries and the importance of clear food security policy and solutions. In his opening remarks, Lukman explained that over the last few decades, food had become a pressing issue around the world. “More than 800 million people do not have enough food; 500 million of them live in Asia.

More than 3 million children under the age of 5 die every year because of malnutrition, 25 percent of children suffer from stunted growth, 80 percent live in developing countries and more than 60 million children go to school hungry every day, again, a great number in Asia.” “In the years to come these pressing problems will become even worse. Demand for food will continue to grow as the world population grows. Approaching the middle of the century, the population is expected to reach 10 billion, but food production will only be able to feed 7 billion people. How will we feed the remaining 3 billon people?”

Food technology, he went on, could enhance food production as well as maintain production stability. Lukman said the price of food across Asia had soared, citing the cost of domestic rice in China, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Vietnam had increased by up to 46 percent during the period of June 2010 to May 2011. Food prices are affected by the rising price of energy as well as the expansion of alternative energy, which use food commodities as a raw material for biofuel, not to mention inappropriate trade policies.

The 2012 Global Hunger Index noted that children suffering from malnutrition in Timor Leste, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Lao, Pakistan, Cambodia, North Korea, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Indonesia, Mongolia and Vietnam were at an alarming level. “This calls for a breakthrough in food alternatives that apply sustainable agricultural practices and the technology practices of food bioprocessing and engineering,” Lukman said.

source : bali daily

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