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Experts unveil roadmap for post-pandemic food crisis

$320B needed annually in public, private capital towards realization of sustainable development goals

Addis Getachew   | 25.06.2020
Experts unveil roadmap for post-pandemic food crisis

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

Top-notch experts from six continents on Thursday unveiled what has been described as “ambitious roadmap” to rescue fractured food systems in Africa and other parts of the world.

The road map was unveiled during a webinar organized by the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR), global partnership that unites international organizations engaged in research about food security, through its Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security.

The report entitled Actions to Transform Food Systems under Climate Change came as a response to a sobering UN warning issued two weeks ago of an impending “global food emergency” induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors.

The launch featured more than a dozen farmers and influential food and agriculture voices speaking live in a global “relay” from Ethiopia, Australia, Vietnam, India, Mali, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK, Colombia, and the US.

Imelda Bacudo, the advisor on Food Security and Climate Change for the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), was one of the speakers.

“We felt the effects of this pandemic far earlier than many other regions and quickly moved to mobilize resources and policy changes,” a statement quoted Bacudo as saying. “It’s clear that dealing with the food impacts of these external shocks requires action far beyond the food and agriculture sector. And that kind of cross-sector collaboration remains a challenge, at the regional and national level.”

Rikin Gandhi, the CEO of Digital Green, said: “In Ethiopia and India, with COVID-19 and a desert locust outbreak spreading just as the cropping season is getting underway, digital technologies are enabling extension agents and farmers to stay connected.”

Gandhi said: “It means they can share data and insights from the field that can be critical to overcoming these twin challenges.”

Ambassador Seyni Nafo from the Republic of Mali said: “There are many proven approaches to making our food systems far more resilient to external shocks, but they have not been implemented at an adequate scale to provide rural communities with the support they need.”

According to the press release issued by CGIAR, the UN was especially concerned about food systems in places like sub-Saharan Africa that prior to the pandemic were reeling from a surge in droughts and floods -- and where global heating is likely involved in East Africa’s ongoing battle against locust swarms.

The experts that combined expertise in the fields of agriculture, food security and climate change in their report issued an 11-part plan to reset the post-pandemic food systems.

It recommends avoiding expansion of agricultural land spanning 250 million hectares (617.7 million acres) of tropical forests and 400 million hectares of wetlands, enable markets and public sector actions to incentivize climate-resilient and low emission practices, bringing 200 million farmers into appropriate markets by 2030 through increased profitability and market development.

Shifting to healthy and sustainable climate-friendly diets, reducing food loss and waste, and unlocking $320 billion in public and private capital per year to realize business opportunities in the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals are some of the plans laid out by the experts.

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