Current affairs Jan 2021 - The Recitals (January 2021)

 Measures For A Sustainable Food System 

A. Harnessing Digital Technologies 

• Harnessing digital technologies to improve food system outcomes looks at the opportunities from digital technologies, including better transparency of agricultural value chains, smarter farms, and improved public services. It also reviews some of the risks, including an over-concentration of service providers, poor data governance, and exclusion. 

• Digital technologies can significantly reduce the costs of linking sellers and buyers; reduce inequalities in access to information, knowledge, technologies and markets; help farmers make more precise decisions on resource management by providing, processing, and analyzing an increasing amount of data faster; and potentially reduce scale economies in agriculture, thereby making small-scale producers more competitive. 

• Adoption of digital technologies varies significantly across countries, with lower current adoption rates in low-income countries. Increasing its adoption in the food system will require addressing supply side factors such as low rural network coverage and availability of digital application; and demand side factors, including need for better skills and knowledge, trust, affordability, and the absence of complementary investments.

B. Maximizing Finance For Development In Agri Chains 

• Current levels of investment in agricultural value chains are insufficient to achieve key development goals including ending poverty and hunger and boosting shared prosperity through more and better jobs. 

• There is still a critical need for public resources to finance essential public goods and services such as human capital, agricultural research, and complementary public infrastructure. Crowding-in private investment in the agriculture sector can help achieve development goals and optimize the use of scarce public resources. 

• Factors that can help maximize finance for agricultural development include: improving the enabling environment for the private sector, promoting responsible investment, improving the policy and regulatory environment; using public financing to improve private incentives and to reduce transaction costs and risks—including through blended finance.

 C. Shaping Food System To Deliver Jobs 

• The food system currently employs the majority of people in both self and wage employment in developing countries, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future

• Jobs in the food system extend beyond agricultural production and account for a large share of the global economy’s manufacturing and services sectors. As per capita incomes increase and eating patterns shift, the demand for jobs in these off-farm segments of the food system – including processing, distribution, transportation, storage, retailing, preparation and restaurants -- will increase. 

• Agriculture and family farming in particular, must be more firmly linked to the broader rural and urban economy. This can be done by developing agro-industries and setting up infrastructure to connect rural areas, small cities and towns. 

• Further, strong institutions supported by efficient fiscal systems, are needed to ensure economy-wide income-earning opportunities, effective social protection, and competitive and equitable domestic and international markets for inputs and outputs. All these aspects are critical to improve the efficiency and equity of economic systems and facilitate their structural transformation.

D. Improved Nutrition And Health 

• Malnutrition and food-borne diseases impose large current and future human, economic, fiscal, and social costs on countries. Key among these is child stunting that has life-long consequences, reducing cognitive development and lifetime earnings of individuals, and undermining the future competitiveness of countries. 

• Reducing these costs requires multisector approaches. Shaping food systems to deliver improved nutrition and health requires a combination of improved knowledge, sound policies, regulations, and investments across the production-to-consumption continuum. 

• The goal is to stimulate behavioural change in food producers, post-harvest handlers, food processors, food distributors, and consumers. As the link between food systems and household nutrition and health passes primarily through women, greater consideration of this gender dimension is needed across all interventions. 

• Consumer awareness and education regarding the nutritional content of food and diet-related diseases are also critical to reduce the “triple burden” of malnutrition that is, undernourishment, micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity. 

• Food prices should reflect the inherent nutritional value of food as well as the full range of costs associated with their production and consumption along the entire food value chain. 

• This can help limit the growth of food demand and reduce food losses and waste, while contributing to the preservation of natural resources and the improvement of nutrition 

E. Climate Smart Agriculture

 • Droughts, floods and rising temperatures are already cutting crop yields, threatening food, fish and meat supply and pushing people deeper into poverty. Climate change and the effects of climate shocks are dampening the prospects for future productivity growth. Agriculture and land use changes already contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. 

• Meeting the rising demand for food and ending hunger and food insecurity requires a climate-smart food system that improves agricultural productivity, has greater resilience to climate change and lowers greenhouse gas emissions.

• Efforts to rehabilitate degraded land and practices that limit degradation are required to maintain the resource base and reduce the use of inputs. This has to be coupled with increasing the efficiency of water use. 

• There is a need to develop communities, scientists, investors, and civil society to rally behind governments and farmers to support integrated approaches and overcome barriers to adoption of CSA. 

• To ensure that sufficient land and water resources are available to meet total demand from agriculture, significant investments are required in the research and development of sustainable technologies and practices, infrastructure and human capital. 

• There is a growing spectrum of interventions—policies, practices and innovations— that must help secure the triple win of higher agricultural productivity, increased resilience to climate change and lower emissions. F. Additional Measures 

• Permanently eliminating hunger, malnutrition and extreme poverty requires building resilience to protracted crises, disasters and conflicts, and preventing conflicts by promoting inclusive and equitable global development. 

• Eradicating extreme poverty, and ensuring that vulnerable people who escape poverty do not fall back into it, requires action to reduce inequalities. That means addressing inequalities both between and within countries, in levels of income, in opportunities and in ownership of assets, including land. 

• Thus ensuring a more equitable distribution of income within and across countries is indispensable in the quest for food security, better nutrition and environmental sustainability of food systems It is evidently clear that business-as-usual is not an option. Major transformations of agricultural systems, rural economies and natural resource management will be needed to meet the multiple challenges and realize the full potential of food and agriculture to ensure a secure and healthy future for the entire planet.

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