International Women's Day, which is slated for March 8, is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. In the world of agriculture, women often play an important role in the production of food crops, especially in developing countries. But that's not all. When you look at the whole food value chain in developing countries, you will often find that for primary processing, and also distribution, women are key players. Around the world, women are on the front line of the food service and preparation sectors. This goes to show that more attention needs to be given to women in agriculture for a successful and thriving industry globally.
As we have begun this New Year, we have the opportunity to shape a food system that’s even better than before.
During the past year, we have heard some great leaders – young and old – in Africa talk about their common themes on the vision of a new African food system. I think these are themes which could strengthen any food system.
10 years ago I had a dream to start a new business focused on issues I am passionate about. That dream has been shared by the incredible coterie of colleagues we have built at Emerging ag – truly my dream team! Over the past decade, we have had the opportunity to work on exciting projects with interesting clients from around the world. Although this year we didn’t get to visit those clients and projects in-person, we were so lucky to have had a busy, constructive, exciting year – our biggest yet despite all the challenges. Here are a few highlights:
I have been closely observing the impact of the pandemic on food systems and the response of agri-food actors around the world. The projections of food insecurity are devastating. However, I have found reassurance in seeing how the global food system showed tremendous resilience in such adversity. We saw many actors rising to the occasion to become food heroes. These were ordinary people such as farmers, transporters, grocery store owners, restaurant managers who worked around the clock, adjusted nimbly to difficult challenges, and demonstrated that every part of the food value chain is essential to a sustainable and resilient food system.
The plant-protein market is growing. A recent study by JP Morgan estimated that the market will be worth $100 billion by 2030. Although this represents a seemingly small portion of the entire global protein market, it presents an opportunity for growth in the plant-protein sector. What this invariably means is more people are moving to plant-based diets and looking for plant-based sources of proteins. As a result, stakeholders in the food supply chain such as processors, retailers, and restaurants are also finding innovative ways to introduce and incorporate these options so as to meet changing consumer demands.
On September 25th, the “Global Day of Action” for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, I joined a line-up of chefs, farmers, seed savers, educators, policymakers and consumers in an immersive experience designed to raise awareness of the importance of crop diversity and its connection to healthy soils and resilient, sustainable agricultural systems. Discussions focused on what the future of food could be like if we conserve and use the amazing diversity of our foods.
The world grows hungrier …
The SOFI 2020 Report is clear – global hunger remains entrenched, large numbers of the world’s population have little or no access to regular, safe and nutritious food, a situation that has been gravely exacerbated by the onset of COVID-19. Global efforts to end hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition need to be intensified.
In a continuing string of virtual events, the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) is fast approaching! AGRF is Africa’s largest agriculture and food systems event. The summit is intended to be a forum that allows for sustainable and actionable plans to be developed which will help African countries continue to grow their agricultural sectors. This 10th annual summit will take place September 8th – 11th and bring together thousands of participants including government officials, civil society and private sector members, research fellows, and development partners.
This article was originally posted through Farming First.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on nearly every facet of life, and food systems are no exception.