India has managed Covid-19 induced food insecurity remarkably well, and relaxation in restrictions given to farm sector helped to have better rabi harvest as well as the higher area under Kharif crops, Ministry of Agriculture officials told a regional meeting of UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) started in Thimpu on Tuesday.

“Indian government has taken prompt measures to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic which coincided with rabi harvesting,” said Alka Bhargava, Additional Secretary in the Ministry while participating in the 35th Asia-Pacific Regional Conference of FAO, remotely.

Apart from official delegates from 46 FAO member countries, representatives of the private sector and civil society organisations are participating in the four-day conference, convened to plan responses and recovery work to address twin pandemics—Covid-19 and hunger.

The Covid-19 has led to a setback in the fight to end hunger and malnutrition. Food production and supply has been hit hard in many countries. However, it barely had any impact on India’s foodgrains production or on its efforts to control cross-boundary pests and diseases.

“India has produced record foodgrains and successfully controlled trans-boundary pests like Fall Armyworm and desert locust,” said S K Malhotra, India’s Agriculture Commissioner. He also assured the participating countries that India would support in ensuring stable global food supply through its agri-export policy.

The Asia-Pacific region is home to more than half of the world’s undernourished, and with Covid-19 the number of hungry people in Southern Asia is projected to rise by nearly a third to 330 million by 2030.

“We must come to terms with what is before us and recognise that the world and our region has changed. We must find new ways to move forward and ensure sustainable food security in the face of these twin pandemics, as well as prepare for threats that can and will evolve in the future,” said Jong-Jin Kim, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific.

“This virtual conference brings together the people and ideas to chart a true course of action for the benefit of all,” he said.

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