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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Re: Towards a common understanding of Sustainable Food Systems

Beate Scherf
Beate ScherfFood and Agriculture of the United Nations (FAO)Italy

Dear all,

Thanks for sharing this document. I am wondering how it relates to the FAO Food Systems Framework that is currently being developed under the leadership of ESN.

The introduction is focusing on crop yields and crop production solely but should cover all food production agricultural sectors. I also note that pastoralism, the livelihood of several million people utilizing and managing more than a third of the world’s terrestrial area producing both milk and meat with grazing ruminants is not even mentioned. Also the generalization of people consuming too much animal protein should be written in a more specific way because this is only true for highly developed countries whereas ultra-processed food is on the rise also in developing countries. However, of the 2 billion malnourished people in the world, a large portion suffers of anemia because of lack of animal-source foods.

I also wonder from where the definition of agriculture has been taken. I have not seen this definition before and I must say it reads quite strange. We usually introduce the term as agriculture encompasses all agricultural sectors (crop and livestock production, aquaculture, fisheries and forestry). The terms farmers, farming systems and farming communities should be used carefully as they do not encompass all agricultural sectors and basically exclude pastoralism, aquaculture, fisheries and forestry.

Moreover the term natural resources is often used to encompass land and water but sometimes to also encompass biodiversity. It should either be defined in the wide sense or when applicable also be referred to biodiversity which is often forgotten.

Please check general statements – e.g. pest-resistant varieties and breeds – and use sector specific and adequate wording – in this case disease tolerant breeds.

Circular economy is an element of agroecology. This might be highlighted.

The list provided on page 26/27 seems to be limited to the One Planet Network. However many more initiatives illustrate and/or respond to the practice of creating resilient production systems.

Page 31 – I agree that the ecosystem approach is focusing on ecosystems but agroecology is rather people centered and it is not new but has been developed over the last century (when looking at literature).

Page 32 – agroecology may also comprise aquaculture. Agroecology goes beyond agro-ecosystems and promotes transformation of food systems including shortening value chains and consumer- producer interactions which is later explained on page 33. Agroecology is promoting territorial approaches. Here the approaches are overlapping.

I understand that the one health approach also includes environmental health which is not been mentioned in the definition.

Page 37 – I would suggest to replace the word ‘eater’ by ‘consumer’. The term ‘effluent form confined animal feed operations’ is not clear. Rather than air, water and soil are being contaminated by pesticides. Also further down on that page – it is not just a matter of nutrient density but also micronutrient content and availability in terms of absorption rates.

Page 46 – precision agriculture also applies to livestock production and e.g. milk yield, concentrate feed intake and health data. Integrated production may also include aquaculture e.g. livestock-aquaculture integration. Also the integration of trees (fruits, nuts, fertilizer trees, shade or feed or fencing for livestock trees).

Page 56 – smallholder farmers – this definition excludes pastoralists which are often considered in this category despite that they may manage large herds utilizing mostly communal lands – see on small scale livestock keepers.

I am looking forward receiving the final report.

With kind regards,

Beate Scherf