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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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Bhutan

Bhutan is a landlocked mountainous country with a rugged landscape in the eastern Himalayas situated between China (Tibet Autonomous Region) and India. It has an area of 38 394 sq km, with elevations ranging from 150 m to more than 7 000 m above sea level. More than 70 percent of the area is covered by forest and only around 2.9 percent is under cultivation. Although small, Bhutan has a wide range of agro-ecological zones and climates, ranging from subtropical to temperate and alpine, providing opportunities for broad crop and livestock farming. It also is recognized as a global biodiversity hotspot. The country’s economy is largely based on agriculture, and 62 percent of the population are farmers who depend on crop production and livestock for their livelihood. Agriculture contributes up to 16.77 percent of the counrtry’s GDP and accounts for 4.3 percent of exports. The crop sector alone contributes 10.06 percent of GDP. Farming is predominantly subsistence in nature but is gradually gaining commercial momentum. The agriculture sector continues to play an essential role in reducing poverty and bringing prosperity to the Bhutanese people. Poverty is almost entirely a rural phenomenon with 12 percent of the population living under the poverty line of USD 28 per person per month.

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