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المنتدى العالمي المعني بالأمن الغذائي والتغذية

Re: How can value chains be shaped to improve nutrition?

Florence Egal
Florence EgalFood Security and Nutrition expertItaly

The consultation states clearly that VCs are only one dimension of food systems, which is of course correct, but therefore remains biased towards the classical supply driven approach and risks reinforcing the prevailing confusion between food chains and food systems. The paper should therefore consider providing the rationale and a roadmap for reorienting food systems as an integrating concept for Agenda 2030.

There is now increased awareness that value chains have contributed so far to increased malnutrition through monotonous or unbalanced diets, increased socio-economic differences - and therefore poverty and marginalization – and dependence on food imports, erosion of biodiversity and environmental degradation. There is therefore certainly scope for drastic improvement.

The paper rightly mentions the need to go beyond the economic assessment of VCs. Too often economists keep mentioning food import as the cheapest option. It is urgent to revisit subsidies and incorporate environmental and social costs. Long food chains too often undermine local livelihoods.

Legal and regulatory frameworks need to be reviewed and adapted to integrate human rights. In recent years adoption of locally inappropriate standards, norms and regulations have eroded livelihoods of small-scale producers.

Consumers are not always equipped to adapt to change and make the right food choices. And they are often misinformed through inappropriate marketing. This aspect needs strengthening. 

In recent years the promotion of fortified foods for improved nutrition has de facto resulted in marginalizing local food systems and increased cosnumer dependence on imported foods. It is essential that the impact of such VCs on small scale food producers be monitored.

In recent years, spread of hypermarkets and public-private partnerships have resulted in increased concentration of food distribution. And cash transfers have encouraged beneficiaries to change their food practices, in particular through shifting food purchasing from traditional retailers to super markets.

The paper makes no reference to sustainable use of biodiversity (see Bioversity International), retrieval of indigenous knowledge, supporting local products, traditional food systems and value chains. Priority should be given to local markets and short food chains to relocalize diets and food systems. Small-scale food processing is essential for local diets, employment and resilience. While there will always be a need for national, regional and international trade (and in particular fair trade), it is urgent to relocalize agriculture and support local food systems to counterbalance the trends in the last decades.

And last but not least, it is urgent to make an inventory of and review relevant local practices with a view to generate practice-based evidence. Applying the IPES food research principles. 

Apologies for not answering the questions but both framework and questions seem geared to justify a narrow set of classical top down interventions.