Food Coalition

Promoting sustainable local value chains through improved food systems for better food security and nutrition

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the functioning and resilience of our food supply chains. While lockdown and physical distancing measures have, understandably, been implemented to tackle the public health threat, they have also affected food markets from local to global level. Some supply chains (such as wet markets and the hospitality sector) have been completely disrupted or seen significant operational change. Consumption patterns have changed, too, largely for fear of food shortages, reduced incomes and the closure of food outlets (canteens, restaurants and hotels). Containment measures notwithstanding, food production, processing, access and availability continued and must be maintained to ensure food and nutrition security for all.

Food supply-chain resilience and flexibility are, therefore, more important than ever. As lockdowns ease, food businesses need to adapt to a ‘new normal’ that includes physical distancing, flexible working schedules and infrastructure, recessionary conditions and new consumption patterns (including a shift to online or takeaway food purchases, greater demand for packaged foods and different food choices). Some operators are better positioned than others to grasp emerging opportunities; the latter will need support to stay in business and to sustain their livelihoods.

Changes in food supply chains and food systems and their differing implications on producers, value chains operators and consumers in the countries of the region continue to be monitored and assessed to inform the immediate and medium-term responses. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in coordination with the United Nations Country Teams, are working with national governments and partners in the region to assess the evolving impacts of the pandemic on food and nutrition security and food consumption patterns. For example, in Moldova, FAO and the World Bank are launching a comprehensive country assessment.

In the meantime, governments need to focus on ensuring the efficient and effective functioning of food supply chains, prioritizing those that can take advantage of potential opportunities, that are financially viable, that protect the livelihoods of vulnerable groups and that will build back better by integrating sustainable practices. This includes strengthening short value chains to link food producers to local markets and consumers, helping to enhance resilience of the food systems.

Improving local value chains and food systems in a sustainable way will entail overcoming a broad range of challenges due to: (1) weak logistics along the supply chain, (2) the disruption of markets, (3) changes to or lack of inputs and ingredients, (4) inadequate technology and infrastructure to store surplus product and minimize food loss, (5) insufficient knowledge or ability to comply with food safety and sanitary rules and (6) limited access to finance and credit. Under the evolving circumstances, value chain operators and the private sector depend on a supportive policy and enabling environment to produce quality local foods.

Priority Areas of work: Food Systems Transformation
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth, 10. Reduced Inequality, 12. Responsible Consumption and Production, 15. Life on Land, 17. Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Level: Regional
Region: Europe and Central Asia
Country: Armenia, Republic of Moldova
Budget: USD 2.5 million

Action Sheet:  CB2482EN.pdf

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