Jakarta (VNA) – The ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) have issued a joint statement reaffirming commitment to ensure food security, food safety and nutrition in the region during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The joint statement was issued at the recent ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry.

AMAF Chair Dato Ali Apong, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism of Brunei, affirmed that ASEAN will continue working to ensure the sustainable supply of sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meet the dietary requirement of ASEAN populations during and after the pandemic.

While it is too early to assess the full impact of COVID-19, the pandemic-related disruptions on travel and supply chain markets will have potential risks on the availability and prices of food and agriculture produce in the region depending on the duration of the outbreak and the severity of containment measures needed, according to the statement.

The AMAF pledged, among others, to minimise disruptions in regional food supply chains by working closely together to ensure that markets are kept open and transportation of agricultural and food products are facilitated. They also stressed the importance of reducing excessive price volatility particularly price spikes, ensuring adequate emergency food and reserves and providing timely and accurate market information.

The ministers urged ASEAN member states to implement necessary measures, projects and programmes at the national level to meet the immediate food needs of the ASEAN population, particularly the vulnerable groups in the society.

Further, they highlighted the need to boost the ASEAN nations’ social protection programmes for smallholder farmers, and micro, small and medium enterprises to increase food production and ensure food security in the region.

According to the statement, ASEAN countries are discussing a study focusing on the challenges and solutions to reduce disruptions in food and agriculture trade before, during and after the pandemic./.