NEW DELHI, 20 October 2020: Against the backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic that has challenged lives, livelihoods and economics, the three UN food agencies called for an unprecedented response by way of collaboration and partnership to continue the fight against food and nutrition insecurity.
Speaking at an online event to mark the World Food Day, representatives - Tomio Shichiri, FAO; Meera Mishra, Country Coordinator, IFAD; and Bishow Parajuli, WFP Representative and Country Director - stressed on the need for 'Building Sustainable Food Systems'.
The event was organized in partnership with Josh Talks - one of India's largest and fastest growing impact story telling platform.
All speakers emphasised the call to "grow, nourish, sustain, together" to collectively address challenges the food systems have faced since the onslaught of the pandemic.
Highlighting the ongoing challenges of Food and Nutrition security, Tomio Shichiri - FAO Representative in India said, "Food is the essence of life and the bedrock of our cultures. FAO is working with government, training institutions and other stakeholders to establish an enabling environment for nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems policies. While speaking about the emerging issues in Food Security, Mr Shichiri reiterated the need to make value chains more resilient to global shocks. Hence, the value chains should not only focus on domestic demands, but capture the wider markets."
One of the biggest challenges to Food Security is climate change
Shichiri said, "We need to invest in decentralised institutions and build their capacities to mitigate the risk through the deployment of early warning systems."
He underlined the need to build farmers' capacity to diversify their crops, and adopt agroecological practices to minimize negative outcomes.
Bishow Parajuli - WFP Representative and Country Director to India said, "While progress has been made in the last few years, there is a lot of work yet to be done. Around 690 million people from across the globe still do not have access to affordable and nutritious food on a daily basis. The situation has worsened due to COVID-19 as the population living under acute hunger is growing up to 270 million. And climate change continues to be a real and potent threat to agrobiodiversity, which will impact everything from productivity to livelihoods across food and farm systems. This calls for a revamp of the entire mechanism that brings food from farms to our plates."
Ms Meera Mishra - Country Coordinator, IFAD India emphasized the need for a resilient food system that could provide quality and nutritious food that is also affordable, so that the poor can also access it. She said, "The number of people living below the poverty line has increased since April 2020 owing to COVID-19. What the pandemic has brought to the fore is the need for a comprehensive structure that safeguards small-scale producers; a supply-chain mechanism that restores hygiene and sanitization of the final output; and incentives that will help improve the income and productivity of the vulnerable population. IFAD believes that a rapid increase in investment in small-scale agriculture can jump start pandemic recovery, safeguard food supplies, and ensure that marginalized rural communities are not left behind."
All three representatives also highlighted the crucial role women play in agricultural production and improving food security.