People from Asian and European countries yesterday urged leaders of the regions to take necessary measures so that the impacts of climate change do not threaten food security.
The call came at a session, titled "Green Economy and Climate Change: Implications for Asian food sovereignty", during the 9th Asia-Europe People's Forum at National Culture Hall in Vientiane.
Impact of climate change on food security, and industrialisation, were two key topics on the agenda during the session.
“In the past our province never suffered strong storms or other weather extremes, but now we do,” said Khonsack Keomanivong of Savannakhet province.
He went on to say that the issue should be made a priority by the government due to its increasingly devastating effect on people across the globe.
Many participants commented that industrialised countries in particular should make a greater commitment to help less developed countries to handle the effects of global climate change.
It was agreed that they could do this through both financial contributions and also by cutting the amount of pollution they emit into the atmosphere.
Farmers also expressed their concerns over the threat of industrialisation.
As a growing number of investors turn their attention to building up large scale agricultural and food production businesses, farmers are worried that their small, family-based businesses will suffer.
A contributor from Thailand said the main concern was that if investors were allowed to continue pursuing this line of business, individual farmers could be left in a vulnerable position as they would be unable to compete.
The effects of large-scale farming and production are already becoming visible in Laos. Local pig farming has been particularly hard hit, with many farms closing down after a Thai business set up operations recently.
Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr Nam Vinhaket warned that pig farms invested in and operated by local people would continue to suffer unless a strategy was devised to allow them to compete with foreign-owned businesses.
Agricultural land being used for industrial development was another issue raised during the meeting.
People from several countries said they had been calling for their governments to proceed with caution when approving land concessions for such projects.
It is believed that allowing agricultural land to be used for industrial development could lead to food insecurity, particularly in areas where agriculture is the main source of income for most families.
As part of the Asia-Europe People's Forum, more than 20 meetings took place yesterday in various venues across Vientiane.
The meetings were organised to allow people from Asia and Europe to discuss issues of concern and reach mutual understanding on how best to tackle them.
The key outcomes of the three-day forum, which ends today, will be compiled into a list of final recommendations to be submitted to the leaders of the two regions at the Asia-Europe Meeting Summit, scheduled to take place on November 5-6.
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