As Food System Summit kicks off Sept 23

By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

The International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, Tuesday, released report indicating over 800 million people across the world remain in deep hunger, and called for more investment on food system.

This was stated by the Associate Vice President, Strategy and Knowledge Department, IFAD, Dr Jyotsna Puri, while lamenting the contractions within the international agric space over the years.

Puri stated this ahead of Food Systems Summit on 23 September, 2021 under the leadership of Secretary-General of United Nations, UN, António Guterres, which is intended to result in actionable commitments from heads of state and other leaders to transform global food systems.

READ ALSO: IFAD warns against poor treatment, neglect of farmers in food value chains

It is also a culmination of 18 months of engagement with governments, food producers, civil society and companies on how to transform the way people produce, process and consume food.

According to him, transforming global food systems to become more inclusive, fair and sustainable may seem an insurmountable challenge, yet there are concrete actions policymakers can take, according to a new report released by IFAD called ‘Rural Development Report’.

He said: “We are living in a world of huge and unfair contradictions. There are 800 million hungry people and yet high obesity rates. Nutritious diets are expensive yet many small-scale farmers are poor.

“Current food growing practices are not good for our environment. It is clear that we need a revolution. A revolution so dramatic that previous versions of food systems are unrecognizable.”

However, he (Puri) sees this week’s UN Food Systems Summit as a watershed moment to commit to real change, with the Rural Development Report offering governments recommendations for concrete actions that can be taken.

The report, Transforming food systems for rural prosperity, stresses the importance of focusing investments and policy changes on rural food value chains so that all people can access adequate nutritious food in a manner that does not harm the environment, and so that food producers can earn decent incomes.

According to IFAD the majority of people in rural areas earn an income from working in small-scale agriculture, which is a vital source of national and global food. In fact, farms of up to two hectares produce 31 per cent of the world’s food on less than 11 per cent of the farmland.

Also he (Puri) pointed that, “We know what needs to change to make the production, marketing and consumption of food fair and sustainable, which results in nutritious, affordable food for all. This report gives strong evidence and recommendations for specific actions. Now we need the investments and political will to take action.”

The key recommendations of the report include: Invest more in rural farms and local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that support activities after the farm gate, such as storing, processing, marketing and food distribution. A focus on local ownership and employment will increase job opportunities, particularly for women and young people, while giving small-scale farmers access to new and diverse markets.

Make available innovations (such as nature based solutions and agro-ecology) and affordable digital technologies to boost rural small-scale farmers’ production so that farmers can be climate-resilient, using low carbon and sustainable techniques.

Develop and focus on pricing systems that reflect the full and true cost of production, including rewarding farmers for ecosystem services, such as maintaining healthy soil and regulating pests.

Promote accessible and affordable nutritious food. At least 3 billion people cannot currently afford healthy diets. Changing this requires focusing on nutrition education, empowering women to make nutrition decisions, and stronger government policies to regulate and steer market choices. Governments can use market-based instruments, income support and public procurement to focus on nutrition-rich foods.

 Engage to rebalance global trade and governance to correct power imbalances. The present concentration of power within food systems calls for rethinking regulations and trade arrangements so that rural people in developing countries can benefit. Food markets need to be accessible to rural people, and on fair terms. Incentives need to be in place to reward nature-based practices and local, healthy diets.

However, the report pointed out that over the past 70 years, a focus on industrial farming and producing more calories at low cost has been accompanied by growing malnutrition, increased food waste, and a high environmental cost. Food systems are responsible for 37 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, and are also highly vulnerable to a changing climate.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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