The Secretary-General of the United Nations will convene a Food Systems Summit in September, 2021 in a bid to accelerate the implementation of the Decade of Action to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
The summit will awaken the world to the fact that we all must work together to transform the way the world produces, consumes and thinks about food.
It is a summit for everyone everywhere – a people’s summit. It is also a solutions summit that will require everyone to take action to transform the world’s food systems.
Back home, one needs to ask; is the Ugandan food system positioned to accelerate attainment of the 17 SDGs? Is it working for every one and every segment of society hence leaving no one behind? Is it working for the smallholder farmer? Does it pay a living income to the farmer and living wage to the worker in the farm? Is it nature positive and therefore provides for broader biodiversity concerns?
To respond to the above questions, in affirmative, would be a great distortion and oversimplification of reality because there is consensus at global and national level that the status of our food system is fragile, unequal, unattractive to the youth, propagates hunger inter-alia.
Therefore, the status quo is not acceptable! There is need for transformation to ensure that the food system contributes to attainment of 17 SDGs by 2030.This requires holistic system and use of integrated approach to food system transformation.
Consequently, we need to focus on food system productivity as opposed to agricultural productivity by emphasizing agricultural intensification and nature positive agriculture.
Apparently, food unites us all as families, cultures, countries and the whole world.
Hence, government agencies, civil society, private sector must unite, around food for meaningful transformation.
One needs to note also that the failures in the food systems are across the entire food value chains and not only on markets.
It’s astonishing, to see that farmers who produce food for all people in the world, are at the same time wallowing in poverty!
The ingredients to transformational food systems are science, farmers experience, indigenous knowledge, innovation and investment, agroecology, postharvest handling, storage, stopping wastage, social protection (scaling up school feeding) inter-alia.
There is food for everyone, unfortunately, 1/3 ($1trillion) of the food produced globally is lost. Whereas the world population is about 7.7 billion, the food produced is for 12 billion people resulting into excess there by impacting negatively on the biodiversity.
Food systems needs not only to be resilient to Covid-19 but also climate change; it should also take care of human rights, fair income distribution and balance of power along the food value chain.
For a better food systems, farmers, government and consumers should act responsibly to have the food systems contribute to the attainment of SDGs.
Key challenges facing the globe including climate change, loss of nature and mounting inequality; are manifested more in the food systems. Hence, a call for decades of action with bold ambition and acceleration to improve food systems by the UN Secretary General.
Are there game changing remedies to transform current food systems?
Yes: strengthen regional and national trade, connect people to markets without middlemen by use of e-commerce, increase markets for farmers through local purchases, scaleup biofortification and fortification, promote inclusive value chains, provide financing to farmers, put resources, technology behind entrepreneurs, facilitate farmers to supply schools under school feeding program, realigning public spending to ensure access to safe, healthy and nutritious food, prioritize agriculture amidst limited fiscal space amidst Covid-19, promote one district, warehouse, factory initiative.
Fred Alex Ahimbisibwe – Rural Economist [ the writer of the article]
Microfinance Training & Advisory Services Ltd
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