The Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU) is calling on world leaders to act to prevent a global food security crisis while combatting COVID-19.
As the deadly pandemic devastates countries and communities across the world, already broken food systems, which now face unprecedented pressures as societies and supply chains close down, must evolve quickly if they are to function effectively. And FOLU’s Call to Action wants efforts to be stepped up in three action areas:
- Keep the supply of food flowing across the world – maintain open trade
- Scale support to the most vulnerable – ensure access to nutritious, affordable food for all
- Invest in sustainable, resilient food systems – sow seeds of recovery for people and planet.
Among the signatories backing the call are leaders from big business, academia, NGOs, farmers’ groups and industry. These include Mark Malloch-Brown, Co-Chair, UN Foundation; Gerda Verburg, United Nations Assistant Secretary General, Coordinator of the SUN Movement; Ramon Laguarta, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo; Alan Jope, CEO, Unilever; and our Editor-at-large, Marc Buckley.
Global Food Policy Report
Echoing the call for change, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) this week released a report which says inclusivity must be at the heart of food systems – if they are to stand up to challenges like COVID-19.
In its 2020 Global Food Policy Report, the IFPRI makes it clear to policymakers that the quest to develop robust food systems that are resilient, healthy and climate-smart, will only succeed by making inclusivity the guiding light.
“The spread of COVID-19 has highlighted how vulnerable we all can be to global shocks,” said Johan Swinnen, director general of IFPRI. “Greater inclusivity in food systems is not a panacea for this or any other crisis, but it is a critical part of strengthening our resilience. Times of crises also offer opportunities for change and it is essential that we act now so that everyone, especially the most vulnerable, can recover from the COVID-19 shock and be prepared to withstand future shocks.”
He added: “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. In times of crisis like today, inclusion is an even greater imperative for protecting the most vulnerable.”
To help governments, the report sets out steps for building inclusive food systems. Specifically for four groups often left on the sidelines: women, youth, smallholders and conflict-affected people. For smallholders, for example, who make up 75% of farming units south of the Sahara – and 85% of the units in South Asia – there is limited access to the range of tools needed to capitalise on growing food demand.
“Initiating and sustaining a process of inclusive transformation requires supporting smallholders’ market access by investing in basic infrastructure, creating market incentives, and promoting inclusive agribusiness models. But it is as important to invest in the ‘hidden middle’ of supply chains where millions of small- and medium-scale enterprises already operate in food processing, storage, logistics and distribution. Getting this right will be essential to lift smallholders from poverty and food insecurity,” said Rob Vos director of IFPRI’s Markets, Trade and Institutions Division.
On the importance of supporting women, Hazel Malapit, senior research coordinator at IFPRI added: “Women’s empowerment can spur a wide range of improvements that often reverberate throughout households and societies – from agricultural productivity, to household food security and dietary quality, to maternal and child nutrition.”
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