COVID-19 Smart Food Message – Rebuilding the food system, but getting our priorities right!

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we are going to have to rebuild and overhaul our food system. How do we make it nutrition secure, secure for the most vulnerable in our society, and climate change and pandemic-proof? The solution lies in getting our priorities right, by placing nutrition, the environment, and the producers of food at the center of the discourse on transforming the food system and restoring equilibrium and equity.

This means foods that are smart – good for you, planet and farmers and all producers – being at the center of the food system.

 ‘Good for you’- These are foods that are nutritious and healthy. Prioritizing their availability to the most disadvantaged sections of the population who have less access to a diversity of healthy foods or can’t afford healthy foods is the first step. Starting early is crucial. Special attention is needed on the first 1,000 days of a child. If mother and child do not receive nutritious foods at this time, the physical and mental damage to the child is long lasting and irreparable.

Good for the planet’. It is crucial to build systems that are rewarded for being more environmentally sustainable, including those that contribute less to climate change and leave the least carbon footprint. Agriculture contributes to about 1/3 of greenhouse gas emissions. So let’s put emphasis on foods and practices that reduce this.

Good for the farmer and all producers of the food’ – Especially important are smallholder farmers and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who produce the majority of our food but have minimal or no back-up systems, rendering them highly vulnerable to shocks like COVID-19. There are about half a billion smallholder farmers in the world. A large number of them are women who carry the double burden of food production and family responsibilities. We need to develop systems and policies that support the farmers and SMEs to be sustainable and resilient.

We all have a stake in rebuilding the food system. And it will only work if we do this together. Smart Food will be part of this rebuilding and we are happy to work with you in any way we can.

Results of a survey from Indian millet entrepreneurs on how they are being impacted by COVID-19 and what will best help them.


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