The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated the importance to reshape people's food systems
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said establishing effective institutions for food system governance was another strong policy lever for inclusive food systems, in their 2020 Global Food Policy Report (GFPR) published on Monday.
A virtual event was co-organized by IFPRI South Asia, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS) on the day to present the highlights of the report in the South Asian context, said a press release.
The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated the importance to reshape people's food systems - making them more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient, the release added.
The disruptions to supply chains, lack of access to health and nutrition services, and overwhelmed social protection system have led to increased food and nutrition insecurity in the region.
Consequently, the awareness and need to work towards inclusive food systems have been amplified for all countries in the region.
The IFPRI's GFPR highlights the central role that inclusive food systems play in meeting global goals to end poverty, hunger, and malnutrition, and offers recommendations for making food systems more inclusive for four marginalized groups – smallholders, women, youth, and conflict-affected people.
The report also provides analysis on transforming national food system in several countries like Bangladesh and Ethiopia, and advice on development of food system in different regions worldwide.
“Food systems provide opportunities to improve food and nutrition security, generate income, and drive inclusive economic growth, but even in prosperous times too many people are excluded from fully participating in them and securing these benefits,” said Johan Swinnen, director general of IFPRI.
In times of crisis like today, inclusion is an even greater imperative for protecting the most vulnerable, he added.
“Covid-19 has struck the world at a time when experts were already deliberating on the need for a paradigm shift in the agri-food sector that could address the broader challenges of sustaining the humanity. Covid-19 is expected to lead to a significant shift in dietary preferences, adding new dimensions to the food system thinking,” said Ramesh Chand, member NITI Aayog.
South Asia’s steady progress has reshaped the region’s diverse food systems over the past decade.
This regional transformation has been marked by strong economic growth, rising real wages, and the expansion of nonagricultural sectors.
In recent years in South Asia the growth rate of high-value foods has been greater than that of cereals.
The increase in income and greater diet diversity has also led to growth of the food processing sector.
“Real wages are rising, shares of agriculture in GDP are declining, and nonfarm employment in much of the region has surpassed that of farm employment. These structural changes will bring about changes in food system with new challenges—the challenges of ensuring that food system transformation is efficient, inclusive, and sustainable,” said Shahidur Rashid, director South Asia, IFPRI.
The report recommends three key policy levers which will be critical in making the food system transformation inclusive and sustainable: (1) reforming agricultural input subsidies and price supports; (2) improving the targeting of social protection programs; and (3) building effective institutions for governing the emerging food system.
Reforming some of the age-old programs on agricultural subsidy and price policies could free up public funds, to invest in fostering more inclusive, equitable, and gender- and nutrition-sensitive food systems.
“Food system governance have significant potential for promoting an inclusive food system but the political will is required to provide adequate funding and to respond to bottom-up pressure from consumer rights groups and civil society organization,” said Abdul Wajid Rana, program leader, Pakistan Strategy Support Program, IFPRI.