SfL’s Kawamura Shares Views on COVID-19, Challenges to Food Systems Security

April 14, 2020

For Immediate Release April 14, 2020

Solutions from the Land Co-Chair A.G. Kawamura said the organization’s promotion of agriculture’s role in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) reflects a compelling call for action by all countries – both developed and developing – in what must ultimately be a focused global collaboration to ensure food security and a better planet.

In an interview broadcast on the online video channel TheIMPACT, Kawamura told host Vince Molinari that agriculture must thrive if the SDGs are to be met – ending poverty and other deprivations, improving health and education, reducing inequality, and spurring economic growth – all while tackling climate change.

“But we can’t meet those goals if agriculture is not doing well on the planet,” he said. “The new way of looking at agriculture, many of us believe, is through the lens of those SDGs.”

However, Kawamura, a third-generation fruit and vegetable grower and a former secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, acknowledges that the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic is posing new, formidable and unanticipated challenges in the U.S. and global agriculture sector.

Kawamura cited predicted viral outbreaks in the United States in previous years, such as the H1N1 and H1N2 swine flu strains, which he said were met with strategic crisis preparations and exercises in anticipation of an expanding pandemic that never occurred.

“But with COVID-19, we’re seeing stresses and strains that are unexpected and unprecedented,” he said. “This is not a fire drill. Every day is a day when we recognize the vulnerability of our food system.”

Optimistically, Kawamura also expressed confidence that the United States, the agriculture sector here and producers around the world “will all rise to the challenge and ensure food security. But we will need help. The remarkable work done by the heroes of the farm and food sectors during this crisis has received new attention, appreciation and support.

“I think this pandemic – as difficult as it is, as challenging as it is – is a bit of a reset button,” he said. “The world will learn very quickly just how collaborative we can be” in order to meet and turn back the threat the outbreak poses to global food availability.

Questioned by Molinari about SfL efforts on the international stage and with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Kawamura said SfL’s activism in global climate negotiations aims to take advantage of the relatively recent (2017) recognition by negotiators of the role agriculture is taking in dealing with a changing climate. He said SfL is promoting the sector’s capability in countering the impact climate-induced volatile conditions can have on the ability to produce food. Next week SfL will be announcing details of a new initiative and team of distinguished senior advisors who have volunteered to guide its “Enabling Farmers to Meet Global Sustainable Development Goals” work stream.

“We have to have the capacity to feed everybody, and then we have to have the will to feed everybody.” While the capacity is here, he says, the will is still lacking. While the pandemic has been tragic, Kawamura notes that it is bringing together aligned and visionary interests from around the world, setting the stage for even more dynamic action and achievement at the global level.

“The will to make things happen is the bright spot here,” he said.

For additional information, contact Kawamura at (949) 254-0218, or at [email protected]; or SfL President Ernie Shea at (410) 952-0123, or at [email protected].

About Solutions from the Land: Solutions from the Landis a nonprofit corporation focused on land-based solutions to global challenges. Its mission is to identify and facilitate the implementation of policies, practices, and projects at a landscape scale that will result in land being sustainably managed to produce food, feed, fiber, and energy while protecting and improving critical environmental resources and delivering high value solutions to combat climate change. To learn more, see www.sfldialogue.net/what_is_sfl.html.

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