Need to make agri-food systems resilient to address food security: SOFA 2021

What is the News?

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) has released the State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) report 2021– Making agrifood systems more resilient to shocks and stresses.

What is the purpose of the report?

The report is an annual flagship report of FAO. It aims at bringing to a wider audience balanced science-based assessments of important issues in the field of food and agriculture.

What are Agri-Food Systems and its contribution?

Agri-food systems include the web of activities involved in the production of food and non-food agricultural products and their storage, processing, transportation, distribution and consumption.

Agri-food systems produce around 11 billion tonnes of food each year and a multitude of non-food products, including 32 million tonnes of natural fibres and 4 billion tonnes of wood.

What are the key findings of the report?

Gross Value of Agri Output: The estimated gross value of agricultural output in 2018 was $3.5 trillion. 

Employment: Primary Agri production alone provides about a quarter of employment globally, more than half in sub-Saharan Africa and almost 60% in low-income countries.

GHG Emissions: Agro-food sector including forestry and fisheries accounts for a third of the anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. It occupies 37% of the Earth’s land area.

What happens if there is a disruption in Agri-Food Systems?

The fragility of agri-food systems can affect a large population. Around 3 billion already cannot afford a healthy diet currently due to this. An additional 1 billion would join their ranks if a shock reduced their income by a third.

Note: The report defines shocks as short-term events that have negative effects on a system, people’s well-being, assets, livelihoods, safety and ability to withstand future shocks. 

Food costs could also increase for up to 845 million people if a disruption to critical transport links were to occur.

What are the recommendations given by the report to improve Agri-Food Systems?

Diversification: Diversification of actors, input sources, production, markets and supply chains to create multiple pathways for absorbing shocks. 

Supporting the development of small and medium agrifood enterprises and cooperatives would also help maintain diversity in domestic value chains. 

Connectivity: Well-connected networks overcome disruptions faster by shifting sources of supply and channels for transport, marketing, inputs and labour. 

Improving the resilience of vulnerable households is critical to ensure a world free from hunger. This can be done by improving access to assets, diversified income sources and social protection programmes. 

Source: This post is based on the articleNeed to make agri-food systems resilient to address food security: SOFA 2021published in Down To Earth on 25th Nov 2021.

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