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426. Building Agrifood Systems Resilient to Shocks and Stresses

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Shocks and stresses such as the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change/extreme events, conflicts, and chronic hunger and malnutrition are threatening the stability of the agrifood system. If action is not taken now, the agrifood system could face a situation where it cannot guarantee physical and economic access to nutritious food that provides a healthy diet for all.

On November 23, 2021, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released the 2021 State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) report stressing the need to build agrifood systems that are more resilient to shocks and stresses.

In this report, shock is defined as a short-term event that has a negative impact on the agrifood system, people's welfare, assets, livelihoods, safety and ability to withstand future shocks. The agrifood system is defined as the activities that include the production, storage, processing, transportation, distribution and consumption of food and non-food agricultural products. These activities generate 11 billion tons of food each year and directly or indirectly employs 1 billion people. Food production and supply chains have historically been vulnerable to climate extremes, conflicts, and rising global food prices, but the frequency and severity of these shocks are increasing every year. In addition, disruptions to major transportation networks affect vulnerable segments of society through food price spikes.

The report also provides indicators for over 100 member countries, taking into account transport networks, trade flows, access to healthy and diverse diets, and more. While low-income countries generally face many challenges, middle-income countries are not immune to risks. As examples, in the case of Brazil, 60 percent of exports are dependent on a single trading partner country, limiting its options when exposed to shocks. On the other hand, there are also risks in high-income countries such as Australia and Canada due to the distances required for food distribution.

In order to build agrifood systems resilient to shocks and stresses, the report has the following recommendations for governments and policy makers: (1) ensuring diversity of food sources and of actors in food supply chains; (2) managing connectivity, such as through the creation of robust food transport networks; (3) providing a longer-term development perspective that raises incomes; improving productivity and efficiency to lower the cost of nutritious foods; and (3) supporting livelihoods with gender and nutrition-sensitive social protection programs.

Fruits and vegetables play an important role in food and nutrition security, but they are also vulnerable to food losses, and thus are one of the food groups most affected by the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. JIRCAS, in collaboration with the FAO Liaison Office in Japan, will host the online symposium Fruits and Vegetables - Research and Opportunities for Human and Planetary Health on Monday, December 6, 2021 (Monday) as an official side event of the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit (N4G). The symposium will also discuss issues in the production and distribution of fruits and vegetables. Please watch and join us.

Symposium: Fruits and Vegetables - Research and Opportunities for Human and Planetary Health

Program: https://www.jircas.go.jp/en/symposium/2021/e20211206 
Date & Time: December 6 (Mon), 2021 at 16:00-17:45 JST
Format: Online
Registration: Nov 15 (Mon) 09:00 - Dec 6 (Mon) 15:00 JST
URL: https://www.jircas.go.jp/en/symposium/2021/e20211206/entry

For inquiries, please contact the Information and Public Relations Office at:
Email: event-jircas@ml.affrc.go.jp
URL:  https://www.jircas.go.jp/en/form/inquiry

The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) report 2021, Making agri-food systems more resilient to shocks and stresses https://www.fao.org/3/cb4476en/online/cb4476en.html

Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Director, Information Program)