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Creating Sustainable Value Chains For Transforming Food Systems

KJ Contributor
KJ Contributor

A multi-stakeholder panel discussion will be conducted on 4 February 2020; Lecture Hall, NASC Complex, New Delhi, India by IRRI. Food systems are at the nexus of food security, nutritional health, ecosystems, climate change, and prosperity. Agricultural policies in India to date have focused on mainly on increasing food production, but may have neglected the negative externalities on nutrition, natural capital, and biodiversity. A new paradigm on food system transformation is emerging using the concept of ‘planetary boundaries’ in defining the ‘safe operating space’ for stability of the earth system and human health. Globally, the food system has been adapting to rapid population growth. However, more than 800 million people still have inadequate access to food – many of whom live in India. In addition, a growing share of the world population suffers from micronutrient deficiencies or is overweight or obese, leading to an increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases.

India and, indeed, most countries in South Asia are now food surplus but by no means “nutrition secure” and micronutrient malnutrition remains a huge challenge. Both availability and affordability of healthy and nutritious diets pose challenges for some of the most vulnerable in society, especially women and children. It is now accepted that the existing food system is in need of urgent transformation if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

An effective food system transformation in India and South Asia, in practical terms, requires change in four key areas : (i) access to affordable nutritious and healthy food for all; (ii) sustainable food production, processing, trade and retailing; (iii) mitigating and adapting to climate change; (iv) improved

Small holder farmer livelihoods and resilience by enhancing prosperity of farming and rural communities. Issues that the panel will consider include:

Nutritional status across India, Farming systems diversification to improve incomes and diets, Implementing POSHAN Abhiyan, Biofortification of staples, Agri-nutrition education & awareness, Policies and institutional infrastructure,  Sustainable food value chain, Food safety and standards across food value chains and Environmental impact of production of staple crops.

To help operationalize the food system transformation, one could develop and strengthen sustainable agricultural value chains with appropriate cropping and mixed livestock/fish systems tailored for specific agro-ecologies in India and South Asia. In the short to medium term, fortification and/or biofortification of staple crops, especially with iron, zinc and beta-carotene offers an interim solution for poor nutrition for vulnerable consumers. A policy brief will be prepared based on the outcome of the panel discussion and will be submitted to the government.

Author - IRRI

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