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Future Smart Food

Rediscovering Hidden Treasures of Neglected and Underutilized Species for Zero Hunger in Asia

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For centuries people in Asia and the Pacific region have grown and consumed a wide variety of nutritious foods. Unfortunately, more recent generations have slowly but surely changed their diets and have moved away from many of these traditional foods. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is working with our Member Countries to reinvigorate both production and consumption of these crops – often referred to as neglected and underutilized species (NUS). This work is consistent with FAO’s role in providing support to countries to meet the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), primarily, but not limited to, SDG2 which aims to achieve Zero Hunger, specifically to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture” by 2030. The Zero Hunger goal implies that no one should be left behind. The Asia-Pacific region is home to most of the world’s undernourished people (490 million). Other forms of malnutrition remain challenging, including stunting and micronutrient deficiencies. While in some countries there are rising rates of overweight and obesity. The issues are manifest in both the demand side and supply side. On the demand side, there is population growth, urbanization, migration, and the changing consumption associated with rising incomes. On the supply side, the combined effects of climate change, declining agricultural biodiversity, water scarcity, land scarcity, and degradation of natural resources are threatening world food security.

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Myanmar

Myanmar is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia with a total land area of 676 577 sq km, and is located between latitude 9° 32ʹ and 28° 31ʹ north and longitude 92° 10ʹ and 101° 11ʹ east. Myanmar shares borders with China, Lao PDR, Thailand, India and Bangladesh. Its estimated length is approximately 2 100 km from north to south while its width is 925 km from east to west. The population of Myanmar in 2014 was 51 701 000 with a population density of 76 people per sq km (DOP, 2015). The physical geography of Myanmar is structurally complex and diverse, having a topography of steeper mountain ranges, upland plateaus and hill valleys in the eastern, northern and northwestern regions. The undulated central dry zone is surrounded by the western coastal range and lowland deltaic region in the lower part of the country and a narrow coastal strip is formed further south adjoining with peninsular Thailand. From the north to south, there are four major rivers: the Ayeyarwady, Chindwin, Sittaung and Thanlwin which are associated with the complex terrain formed by the large drainage systems and their wider tributary networks (NBSAP, 2011).

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