Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Member profile

Santosh Kumar Mishra

Organization: Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)
Country: India
Field(s) of expertise:

This member contributed to:

    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)

      Dear Sir/Madam,

      I am pleased to send you my contribution to: HLPE e-consultation on the V0 draft of the Report on Data collection and analysis tools for food security and nutrition. The attached contribution is in MS Word (20 pages). I hope you (your office) will find my inputs meaningful. 

      Best regards,   

      Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra 

    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)

      I am pleased to submit herewith my inputs for the Consultation for the development of the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality and Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment in the Context of Food Security and Nutrition. I hope that you (your team) will find my contribution (which are in MS Word, 9 pages) interesting & meaningful, in academic and research terms.

    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)

      Note: The inputs are being submitted by Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra in his individual capacity.


      1. Comments below are being offered by Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra from academic and research points of view.
      2. Wherever possible, well verified research facts have been presented in support of review comments.
      3. Point-wise and specific comments have been presented in response to the text given in the document (titled “Zero draft of the CFS VOLUNTARY GUIDELINES ON GENDER EQUALITY AND WOMEN’S AND GIRLS’ EMPOWERMENT in the context of food security and nutrition”), published online at:
      4. Views presented in the following pages are based on (1) research findings, & (2) first hand experiences of Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra, learnt while interacting (in-person) with various stakeholders during his study visit to the USA, Ireland, the UK, Sweden, etc. 

      Does the Zero Draft appropriately capture the main challenges and barriers that hinder progress in achieving gender equality and the full realization of women’s and girls’ rights in the context of food security and nutrition? If not, what do you think is missing or should be adjusted?

      The Zero Draft document covers all relevant areas.

      Additional Point: Refer to first sentence of point no. 4 (page 3), of the published document (on: I do not agree with this sentence (statement): Currently, the global food system produces enough food to feed every person on the planet. There is no scientific data available to support this. I am of the determined research view that the global agriculture-sector is not able to, till date, produce enough for everyone on the globe, except for some countries.

      Does Part 2 of the Zero Draft satisfactorily reflect the core principles which should underpin the Guidelines? If not, how do you propose to improve these principles?

      The guiding principles reflect all core and key issues of concern and relevance in the context of gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment for the purpose of food security and nutrition. However, I find one meaningful aspect missing. It is about family life education (FLE). I suggest following text be included:

      30.   Family life education (FLE) for inculcating values among women and girls in order to enable them take rational decisions in matters pertaining to food security and nutrition  (FSN), at all times and everywhere. The Guidelines recognize the significance of FLE approach that can be used by policy makers and relevant stakeholders as an educational tool for imparting value-based skills among children (including adolescent boys and girls of all ages). In broader perspective, the Guidelines promote FLE for all on the planet for securing FSN, in general, and healthy living (HL), in particular, now and for the future.

      Rationale (justification) behind adding above guiding principle on FLE:
      I am of the considered view that FLE should be imparted to everyone in all countries and continents. Education of this type should be imparted by parents, responsible family members, civil society stakeholders, and others involved. FLE starts from home; it is informal in nature which can form part of extension and outreach activities (initiatives) that are carried out across the regions of the globe at various levels of education. This type of education should necessarily be provided (both within and outside of the university, college, & school system) to young boys and girls at appropriate stages during their childhood days. The broad subject areas of relevance (in the context of FSN (food security and nutrition) and HL [healthy living]) to be covered in FLE; include (a) “negotiating skills”, (b) “communication skills” and (c) “values for healthy and responsible living”. I argue that the end product of the FLE should be equip boys and girls with skills needed for taking right and rational decisions in all matters from day one till remaining years of their lives. This is of increased significance, especially in the present day situation wherein family disintegration, changing social behaviour, disrespect for parents, deviation from well-defined and established social norms are frequent occurrence in many countries. I, in my individual capacity, witnessed these events occurring during my travel, in the past, to the USA, Canada, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, Kenya, Tanzania, Philippines, Hong Kong, Australia, and Greece. I travelled to these countries as a party of study visits. I had an opportunity to interact (in-person) with scholars and researchers on the relevant issues of FLE. Often, tools suggested by national governments, policy makers, and inter-governmental agencies for empowering women and girls (in all countries) pertain to (a) institutional reform, (b) legislative measures, (c) advocacy efforts, and (d) imparting relevant education and skills through formal and non-formal channels (streams) of education. Nevertheless, my academic and research experiences of over 32 years and my personal interaction with stakeholders and collaborators, both in India and elsewhere, are suggestive of the fact that traditional tools used for empowering women and girls does not, in many cases, lead to significant and meaningful outcomes (to the desired levels). This is because of the fact that required value changes does not take place in the lives of women and girls (and boys and girls), especially in the context of FSN and HL. These changes can be ensured through FLE. However, I make a specific point, at this juncture, that devising mechanism for imparting FLE must involve, among others, counsellors, as they are better informed about psychological framework of children and the ways in which FLE should be imparted among them, keeping in mind the individual learning skills.                    

      Do the nine sections of Part 3 of the Zero Draft comprehensively cover the policy areas to be addressed to achieve gender equality and the full realization of women’s and girls’ rights in the context of food security and nutrition? If not, what do you think is missing?

      I agree with the aspects covered under nine sections of Part 3 of the Zero Draft. It comprehensively covers relevant policy areas.

      Does Part 4 of the Zero Draft provide all the elements necessary for effective implementation and monitoring of the use and application of the Guidelines? If not, what do you propose to add or change?

      Part 4 of the Zero Draft includes all the elements necessary for effective implementation and monitoring.

    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)


      Models of public school food procurement and the relevant legislation

      1. What supportive policies and regulatory instruments are necessary to attract and integrate local producers and agribusinesses in the public procurement process for school food on a sustainable, long-term basis? What kind of procurement model for school food does your country employ?

      In terms of supportive policies and regulatory instruments needed to attract and integrate local producers in the public procurement process for school food on a sustainable and long-term basis, the concept of “short food supply-chains” (SFSCs) is relevant.  The conceptual framework of SFSCs encompasses different typologies and operating models. Farmers might sell their products to local agribusinesses in many ways: (a) off-farm, (b) in the neighbouring places of consumption such as farmers’ markets, (c) in shops owned by farmers themselves, (d) in food festivals and fairs, (e) through farm-based delivery schemes, or (f) through one single trade intermediary (cooperative shops, specialist shops, supermarkets, etc.). Local agribusinesses (who procure food), in turn, can deliver school food through the mechanism that suits locally prevailing socio-economic and demographic situations. This strategy will ensure school food supply on sustainable and long-term basis. Alternatively, farmers can also sell their products directly to school catering units and canteens (in the framework of public procurement schemes). The SFCSs aim at reducing the distance between agriculture and school food consumption, directly re-connecting farmers to end users. They are at the crossroad of economic, environmental and social issues and needs.

      (Source:, Accessed on December 2, 2020)

      As regards answer to the question: “what kind of procurement model for school food does your country employ”, India (the country I am resident of) has government-supported food delivery system. The distribution system of a school feeding program in India is known as mid-day meal. Under this initiative (mid-day meal), cooked food from a kitchen facility is transferred to schools within a specified delivery system. It is pertinent to note that food is required to be delivered before the lunch period.

      2. At which institutional level should decisions be taken on the public procurement of school food (e.g. central government, regional government, local government, or directly by the schools)? Please share your country example.

      For the purpose of public procurement of school food, appropriate decisions can be taken at any or multiple levels: national/central, provincial/state, and/or local levels. All this depends on national policy as well as aspirations of stakeholders. Decisions can also be taken at the school level in countries with not bigger population size and no scarcity of food availability. In India, decisions are primarily taken by the central government. Procurement policies at each level of government, from school boards to the concerned ministries, can make regulations and policies about: (a) the use of school meal funds; (b) the procurement process, and contracting requirements; and (c) the goals and practices for using locally grown foods. 

      3. What barriers and obstacles exist in the legislation, practices and policies for public procurement of school food and, in particular, for the procurement from local and smallholder producers in your countries? How have these obstacles been removed in your country?

      There are several barriers in procurement of school food, including faulty policies and corruption among involved stakeholders. However, another new and emerging obstacles are being witnessed in several continents of the globe in the form of global warming and climate change. Damage caused to the environment and ecology has resulted in unpredictable weather conditions which, in turn, has led to constant flooding and drought like situations. The ultimate outcome is inadequate food production which also hinders public procurement of school food.    

      Actors needed to be involved in public school food procurement and their roles:

      4. What actor should take the lead for an efficient public school food procurement? What should be the roles of other actors?

      All stakeholders should aim to foster a global framework and rationale on preferential public procurement for school food. This type of framework should aim to boost business opportunity for smallholder farmers’ participation in institutional markets, while contributing to an improved food security and meals’ diversity at schools. This outcome can be achieved by enhancing the technical capacity of concerned national governments. Policy makers, and other stakeholders/actors also need to provide additional options for decision making on supply chain and business models, operational modalities, and adapted public procurement regulatory frameworks and contractual options for an inclusive public procurement of a diversified food basket.

      (Source:, Accessed on December 3, 2020)

      5. What should the role of parent committees in the school-food procurement process be? How are parents involved in the school-food procurement processes in your country?

      Parents and parent committees can work as facilitator in the process of public procurement for school food. Here, it is also pertinent to note that Parents may influence dietary behaviour among children. However, their actual influence may depend on the age and life style of each individual child.

      6. What instruments are necessary to improve the integration of specific groups such as producer associations, women's associations, cooperatives, etc. in the procurement of school food? Please share your country example.

      Integration of stakeholders and specific groups (such as producer associations, self-help groups (SHGs), and women's associations) for the purpose of procurement of school food requires co-ordinated initiatives. Microfinance institutions comprising self-help groups (SHGs) are increasingly recognised as facilitator for expanding avenues for procurement of and access to school food.

      Contribution of public school food procurement to ensuring nutritious and safe school food:

      7. Should the composition of the school food basket and food safety standards be an integral part of the legal public school food procurement framework? Please provide an example on how these aspects are regulated in your country.

      It depends on national policies and requirement. There cannot be standard parameter for making composition of food safety policies an integral part of the legal public school food procurement framework.

      Securing funding for a suitable implementation of public school food procurement:

      8. To what extend should school food programmes rely exclusively on public funds? What should be the roles of other actors in ensuring sustainable financing?

      Extent of dependence on public fund will governed by food situation in a continent, or region, or nation. If there is need for public funding, other stakeholders have to join hands together to mobilize long-term finance. 

      9. What measures are needed to cover possible funding gaps?

      Funding gaps can be filled, to some extent, by efforts of regulatory authorities. National & international donors can also make difference.

      Модели государственных закупок продовольствия для школ и соответствующее законодательство

      1. Какие вспомогательные меры политики и нормативные инструменты необходимы для вовлечения и интеграции местных производителей и предприятий агробизнеса в процесс государственных закупок продовольствия для школ на устойчивой долгосрочной основе? Какая модель закупок продовольствия для школ применяется в вашей стране?

      Что касается вспомогательных мер политики и инструментов правового регулирования, необходимых для привлечения и интегрирования местных поставщиков в процесс государственных закупок продовольствия для школ на устойчивой и долгосрочной основе, актуальными являются короткие продовольственные товаропроводящие цепочки (КПТЦ). Концептуальная структура КПТЦ охватывает различные типологии и операционные модели. Фермеры могут использовать различные способы реализации продукции местным предприятиям агробизнеса: а) реализация вне фермы; б) реализация в зонах, прилегающих к точкам потребления, например на фермерских рынках; в) реализация в собственных фермерских магазинах; г) реализация на продовольственных фестивалях и ярмарках; д) реализация посредством схемы поставок на базе фермерского хозяйства; либо е) реализация посредством единого торгового посредника (кооперативные магазины, специализированные магазины, супермаркеты и т. д.). Местные предприятия агробизнеса, занимающиеся поставками продуктов питания, в свою очередь могут осуществлять поставки продовольствия в школы в рамках механизма, который подходит для соответствующих местных социально-экономических и демографических условий. Эта стратегия обеспечит поставку продовольствия для школ на устойчивой и долгосрочной основе. Кроме того, фермеры могут осуществлять реализацию своей продукции напрямую в школьные пищеблоки и столовые (в рамках схем проведения государственных закупок). КПТЦ обеспечивают сокращение расстояния между сектором сельского хозяйства и потребителями продовольствия в школах за счет восстановления прямой связи между фермерами и конечными потребителями. Они также находятся на стыке экономических, экологических и социальных проблем и потребностей.

      (Источник:, доступ 2 декабря 2020 г.)

      Что касается ответа на вопрос «Какая модель закупок продовольствия для школ применяется в вашей стране?» в Индии (страна моего проживания) организованы системы поставки продовольствия, действующие при поддержке государства. Система распределения в рамках программы школьного питания в Индии обеспечивает школьные обеды. В соответствии с данной инициативой приготовленная пища из производственной точки направляется по школам в рамках специализированной системы поставок. Целесообразно отметить, что продовольствие должно быть доставлено до наступления обеденного времени.

      2. На каком институциональном уровне должны приниматься решения по вопросам государственных закупок продовольствия для школ (например, на уровне центрального, регионального или местного правительства либо непосредственно школами)? Приведите пример из опыта вашей страны.

      В целях обеспечения государственных закупок продовольствия для школ могут быть приняты соответствующие решения на любом уровне или на нескольких уровнях: на национальном/центральном уровне, на уровне провинции/штата и (или) на местном уровне. Все это зависит от национальной политики, а также устремлений заинтересованных сторон. В тех странах, где размер населения не превышает количество жителей Индии и отсутствует проблема дефицита продовольствия, школы могут самостоятельно принимать решения. В Индии решения принимаются главным образом центральным правительством. Меры политики на всех уровнях управления, от школьных советов до соответствующих министерств, могут предусматривать положения и политику в отношении следующих вопросов: а) использование средств, выделенных для обеспечения школьного питания; б) процедура закупок и требования в отношении привлечения подрядчиков; в) цели и методы продуктов питания местного производства.

      3. Какие барьеры и препятствия существуют в законодательстве, практических методах и мерах политики в области государственных закупок продовольствия для школ и, в частности, в области закупок продукции местных и мелких производителей в вашей стране? Каким образом в вашей стране были устранены эти препятствия?

      В области закупок продовольствия для школ существует ряд барьеров, включая несовершенные меры политики и коррупцию среди задействованных заинтересованных сторон. Вместе с тем на нескольких континентах возникают новые препятствия в виде глобального потепления и изменения климата. Вред, причиненный окружающей среде и экологии, привел к формированию непредсказуемых погодных условий, которые в свою очередь привели к возникновению регулярных наводнений и засушливых периодов. В конечном итоге это приводит к недостаточным объемам производства продовольствия, что также затрудняет проведение государственных закупок продовольствия для школ.

      Субъекты, которых необходимо привлечь к участию в государственных закупках продовольствия для школ, и их функции

      4. Какой субъект должен взять на себя ведущую роль для обеспечения эффективных государственных закупок продовольствия для школ? Какие функции должны выполнять другие субъекты?

      Всем заинтересованным сторонам следует стремиться к формированию глобального рамочного механизма и основы для реализации предпочтительной процедуры государственных закупок продовольствия для школ. Этот рамочный механизм должен быть направлен на расширение коммерческих возможностей для участия мелких фермеров в работе институциональных рынков при одновременном содействии повышению продовольственной безопасности и разнообразия школьного питания. Достижение этого результата возможно за счет расширения технического потенциала соответствующих национальных правительств. Органы, разрабатывающие политику, и другие заинтересованные стороны/субъекты, также должны предоставить дополнительные варианты для принятия решений в области товаропроводящих цепочек и бизнес-моделей, оперативных процедур и адаптированных нормативно-правовых баз в отношении государственных закупок и вариантов договоров для инклюзивных государственных закупок диверсифицированной продовольственной корзины.

      (Источник:, доступ 3 декабря 2020 года)

      5. Какую функцию должны выполнять в процессе закупки продовольствия для школ родительские комитеты? Каким образом родители участвуют в процедурах закупок продовольствия для школ в вашей стране?​​​​​​​

      Родители и родительские комитеты могут выполнять функцию содействующей стороны в процессе проведения государственных закупок продовольствия для школ. Также целесообразно отметить, что родители могут оказывать влияние на пищевое поведение детей. Вместе с тем фактическая степень влияния может зависеть от возраста и образа жизни конкретного ребенка.

      6. Какие инструменты необходимы для улучшения интеграции в закупку школьного питания конкретных групп, таких как ассоциации производителей, женские ассоциации, кооперативы и другие? Приведите пример из опыта вашей страны.​​​​​​​

      Интеграция заинтересованных сторон и конкретных групп (таких, как ассоциации производителей, группы взаимопомощи (ГВП) и женские ассоциации) для целей закупки продовольствия для школ требует скоординированных инициатив. Микрофинансовые учреждения, включающие группы взаимопомощи (ГВП), все чаще получают признание в качестве стороны, содействующей расширению перспектив в области закупок продовольствия для школ и обеспечения доступа к продовольствию для школ.

      Вклад государственных закупок продовольствия для школ в обеспечение питательного и безопасного школьного питания​​​​​​​

      7. Должны ли состав школьной продовольственной корзины и стандарты безопасности пищевых продуктов быть неотъемлемой частью правовой основы в области государственных закупок продовольствия для школ? Приведите пример того, как эти аспекты регулируются в вашей стране​​​​​​​.

      Это зависит от национальных мер политики и требований. Невозможно предусмотреть стандартный параметр для включения положений мер политики в области безопасности пищевых продуктов в качестве неотъемлемой части нормативно-законодательной базы в области государственных закупок продовольствия для школ.

      Обеспечение финансирования для надлежащей реализации процедур государственных закупок продовольствия для школ​​​​​​​

      8. В какой степени реализация программ школьного питания должна осуществляться исключительно за счет государственного финансирования? Какие функции в области обеспечения устойчивого финансирования должны выполнять другие субъекты?

      Степень зависимости от государственных средств будет определяться в соответствии с положением в области продовольствия на континенте, в регионе или на территории государства. В случае необходимости государственного финансирования другие заинтересованные стороны должны объединить усилия, с тем чтобы мобилизовать долгосрочное финансирование.

      9. Какие меры необходимо принять для устранения возможного дефицита финансирования?​​​​​​​

      В некоторой степени нехватка финансирования может быть компенсирована мерами со стороны регулирующих органов. Национальные и международные доноры также могут изменить ситуацию к лучшему.

      Сантош Кумар Мишра,
      ​​​​​​​Ресурсный центр народного образования (РЦНО), Департамент по вопросам дополнительного образования, обучения взрослого населения и деятельности в области повышения уровня знаний, Женский университет S. N. D. T., Мумюаи, Индия

    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)

      The Near East and North Africa (NENA) region is facing key challenges including ending poverty and hunger as well as responding to climate change and the conservation of natural resources to avoid further degradation.

      • How does/did the COVID-19 outbreak exacerbate the challenges faced by small-scale family farmers (SSFF)?

      It has been found that both lives and livelihoods are at risk from the COVID-19 outbreak among small-scale family farmers (SSFF) in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region. Though in some countries, the spread of the pandemic has been slowing down and cases are decreasing, in others, COVID-19 is resurging or continuing to spread quickly. This is still a global problem calling for a global response. All nations/regions in the NENA region are confronted with unfavourable food situation resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. The SSFF (small-scale family farmers) are faced with challenges they will continue facing in the years/decades to come. This is due mostly to a lack of access to food. As incomes fall, remittances are lost, and in some contexts, food prices rise. In countries already affected by high levels of acute food insecurity, it is no longer a food access issue alone, but increasingly a food production issue.

      [Source:, accessed on August28, 2020.]

      • And what are the main areas of interventions that could efficiently build SSFF resilience and ensure sustainable livelihood?

      The global community, including the NENA region, is faced with the COVID-19 at a time when hunger or undernourishment keeps rising. According to the latest estimates published by the United Nations (UN), an additional 83 million people, and possibly as many as 132 million, may go hungry in 2020 as a result of the economic recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. This would be in addition to the 690 million people going hungry now. At the same time, 135 million people suffer from acute food insecurity and in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

      In situations where people suffer from hunger or chronic undernourishment, it means that they are unable to meet their food requirements over a prolonged period. This has long-term implications for their future, and continues to present a setback to global efforts to reach Zero Hunger. When people experience crisis-level, acute food insecurity, it means they have limited access to food in the short-term due to sporadic, sudden crises that may put their lives and livelihoods at risk. However, if people facing crisis-level acute food insecurity get the assistance they need, they will not join the ranks of the hungry, and their situation will not become chronic.

      Most importantly, although globally there is enough food for everyone, too many people are still suffering from hunger, the food systems are failing, and the pandemic is making things worse. According to the World Bank, the pandemic's economic impact could push about 100 million people into extreme poverty. Soaring unemployment rates, income losses and rising food costs are jeopardizing food access in developed and developing countries alike and will have long-term effects on food security for the SSFF. Furthermore, the pandemic may plunge national economies into recession, and countries ought to take urgent measures to mitigate the longer-term impacts on food systems and food security.

      There is a serious concern that producers might not being able to plant this year, or not plant enough, as normally. If the policy makers do not help producers to plant this year, this will translate into a lack of food later this year and in 2021. This is one prominent area that requires intervention. Equally urgent is the compounding threat of the pandemic on existing crises - such as conflict, natural disasters, climate change, pests and animal diseases - that are already stressing the food systems and triggering food insecurity around the NENA region. Interventions in such areas will ensure sustainable livelihood.

      [Source:, accessed on August28, 2020.]

      • Can you share success examples in the region?

      For the purpose of ensuring sustainable livelihood the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has successfully  implemented the “Climate Change and Adaptation Solutions for the Green Sectors of Selected Zones in the NENA Region” project with special focus on Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. The project used state-of-the art climate change projections, and the AquaCrop. The AquaCrop is the FAO’s model for crop yield response to water and climate change, to assess changes in yield of key crops in selected NENA countries under various climate scenarios. The aim of the intuitive was to provide evidence for a regional dialogue and strategic thinking about adaptation responses necessary for coping with the challenges of climate change, water scarcity and food security.

      In the year 2017, the project resulted in a contribution to the Arab Climate Change Assessment Report, within the framework of the Regional Initiative for the Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on the Water Resources and Socio-Economic Vulnerability in the Arab Region (RICCAR). The RICCAR is implemented through a collaborative partnership involving the FAO and 10 other implementing partner organizations. Additionally, a regionally focused and forward looking technical report Climate Change and Adaptation Solutions for the Green Sectors in the Arab Region, currently under preparation, will be issued under this project.

      While farmers are the direct beneficiaries of the project, scientists and research institutions also benefit from the ability to design their research strategies and programmes taking into consideration impacts of climate change. Evidence from the project can also be used by policymakers in the agriculture and water sectors to better plan and manage limited land and water resources available. While the project itself was focused on a selection of crops and countries, the methodology is easily scalable. The project nurtured strong cooperation and coordination with other international and regional organizations, such as the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD), creating a positive impact on the quality of the reports produced, and also on FAO relations with its partners in the region.

      [Source:, Accessed on August 28, 2020.]

      2) Sustainable transition towards more sustainable agri-food systems: In order to meet the needs of a growing population, it is essential to accelerate the transition toward more sustainable food systems with special consideration to the degradation of the already scarce natural resources and climate change impact in the NENA region.

      • Can you give brief description of key CC impact factors on productivity of main farming systems in the region?

      The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading at a fast pace in the Near East and North Africa region, albeit at slower pace than in other regions. As of 21 April, more than 40,000 people have been confirmed positive. Since the declaration by WHO of COVID-19 as a global pandemic on 11 March, governments of the Near East and North Africa region have imposed a series of measures to slow down the spread of the disease. This policy brief aims at assessing the potential impacts of COVID-19 and associated lockdown and social distancing on agriculture and food security in the region and proposing measures to mitigate the impacts on food security and nutrition with special attention to the most vulnerable segments of societies. NENA countries remain vulnerable to the multiple risks triggered by COVID-19. The NENA countries have differentiated exposure levels to the impact of COVID-19. While most countries may withstand the initial supply- and demand-side shocks associated with the COVID-19, a deepening of the global economic recession and prolonged period of disruption in the global and local supply chains may have considerable impacts on production, availability and access to food.

      [Source:, Accessed on August 28, 2020.]

      • How can innovation and digital solutions accelerate such transition of the agi-food systems?

      For producers, manufacturers and distributors, the heightened regulatory focus on the security and integrity of the food supply chain has placed additional emphasis on accurate record-keeping, transparent accountability and end-to-end traceability. To meet the needs of the modern regulatory landscape, food chain stakeholders require robust systems and tools to manage their quality control (QC), environmental monitoring and chain of custody data. Despite this, many businesses still handle this information using paper-based approaches or localized spreadsheets, which can compromise operational efficiency and regulatory compliance.

      The fundamental flaw of these traditional data management approaches is their reliance on manual data entry and transcription steps, leaving information vulnerable to human error. To ensure the accuracy of data, some companies implement resource-intensive verification or review checks. However, these steps inevitably extend workflows and delay decision-making, ultimately holding up the release of products at a high cost to businesses. Moreover, as paper and spreadsheet-based data management systems must be updated by hand, they often serve merely as a record of past events and are unable to provide insight into ongoing activities. The time lag associated with recording and accessing supply chain information means that vital insight is typically unavailable until the end of a process, and data cannot be used to optimize operations in real-time.

      Furthermore, using traditional data management approaches, gathering information in the event of an audit or food safety incident can be extremely challenging. Trawling through paperwork or requesting information contained in spreadsheets saved on local computers is time-consuming and resource-intensive. When it comes to establishing accountability for actions, these systems are often unable to provide a complete audit trail of events.

      Given the limitations of traditional workflows, food supply chain stakeholders are increasingly seeking more robust data management solutions that will allow them to drive efficiency, while meeting the latest regulatory expectations. For many businesses, laboratory information management systems (LIMS) are proving to be a highly effective solution for collecting, storing and sharing their QC, environmental monitoring and chain of custody data.

      One of the most significant advantages of managing data using LIMS is the way in which they bring together people, instruments, workflows and data in a single integrated system. When it comes to managing the receipt of raw materials, for example, LIMS can improve overall workflow visibility, and help to make processes faster and more efficient. By using barcodes, radiofrequency identification (RFID) tags or near-field communication, samples can be tracked by the system throughout various laboratory and storage locations. With LIMS tracking samples at every stage, ingredients and other materials can be automatically released into production as soon as the QC results have been authorized, streamlining processes and eliminating costly delays.

      By storing the standard operating procedures (SOPs) used for raw material testing or QC centrally in a LIMS, worklists, protocols and instrument methods can be automatically downloaded directly to equipment. In this way, LIMS are able to eliminate time-consuming data entry steps, reducing the potential for human error and improving data integrity. When integrated with laboratory execution systems (LES), these solutions can even guide operators step-by-step through procedures, ensuring SOPs are executed consistently, and in a regulatory compliant manner. Not only can these integrated solutions improve the reliability and consistency of data by making sure tests are performed in a standardized way across multiple sites and testing teams, they can also boost operational efficiency by simplifying set-up procedures and accelerating the delivery of results. What’s more, because LIMS can provide a detailed audit trail of all user interactions within the system, this centralized approach to data management is a robust way of ensuring full traceability and accountability.

      This high level of operational efficiency and usability also extends to the way in which data is processed, analysed and reported. LIMS platforms can support multi-level parameter review and can rapidly perform calculations and check results against specifications for relevant customers. In this way, LIMS can ensure pathogens, pesticides and veterinary drug residues are within specifications for specific markets. With all data stored centrally, certificates of analysis can be automatically delivered to enterprise resource planning (ERP) software or process information management systems (PIMS) to facilitate rapid decision-making and batch release. Furthermore, the sophisticated data analysis tools built into the most advanced LIMS software enable users to monitor the way in which instruments are used and how they are performing, helping businesses to manage their assets more efficiently. Using predictive algorithms to warn users when principal QC instruments are showing early signs of deterioration, the latest LIMS can help companies take preventative action before small issues turn into much bigger problems. As a result, these powerful tools can help to reduce unplanned maintenance, keep supply chains moving, and better maintain the quality and integrity of goods.

      While LIMS are very effective at building more resilient supply chains and preventing food security issues, they also make responding to potential threats much faster, easier and more efficient. With real-time access to QC, environmental monitoring and chain of custody data, food contamination or adulteration issues can be detected early, triggering the prompt isolation of affected batches before they are released. And in the event of a recall or audit, batch traceability in modern LIMS enables the rapid retrieval of relevant results and metadata associated with suspect products through all stages of production. This allows the determination of affected batches and swift action to be taken, which can be instrumental in protecting consumer safety as well as brand value.

      Increasingly, LIMS are helping businesses transform food security by bringing people, instruments and workflows into a single integrated system. By simplifying and automating processes, providing end-to-end visibility across the food supply chain, and protecting the integrity of data at every stage, these robust digital solutions are not only helping food supply chain stakeholders to ensure full compliance with the latest regulations; they are enabling businesses to operate more efficiently, too.

      [Source:, Accessed on August 28, 2020.]

      • How can the UNDFF provide tools and measures that help SSFF facing the climate and socioeconomic challenges?

      While continuing to give priority to the health crisis, governments need to ensure that all of their populations have access to adequate food and that all the necessary measures are taken to keep food systems working safely and efficiently. The following actions may be considered as a part of a strategic COVID-19 food security action plan:

      1. Countries in the region should play their role in ensuring that the global food supply chain is kept alive, through international advocacy, implementing appropriate tax policies, facilitating trade flows and monitoring food prices.
      2. Ensure institutional coordination and consultation with all the food value chain actors while implementing health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. More than ever, the COVID-19 crisis requires the inclusion of the private sector and civil society in public decision-making to ensure that decisions are inclusive, understood and shared and that everyone involved plays their role in keeping the local food supply chain functional, to identify bottlenecks and respond to needs in a timely way.
      3. Protect those who have lost their jobs and vulnerable groups including farmers. Scaling up social protection measures, to the highest possible extent, is crucial to ensure the basic needs of vulnerable people who have lost their jobs because of lockdowns including the daily wage workers, and to avoid compounding the health crisis with food a security crisis.
      4. Support smallholder producers and rural youth and promote innovation. The COVID-19 crisis and its containment measures are having an impact on all sectors of the economy, including smallholder farmers, who represent a vulnerable group and need urgent assistance in terms of access to markets, inputs and credit. Digitalization can be used to facilitate access to input and output markets and to financial support. Thus the crisis should be used to advance agriculture modernization and transformation. A range of innovation options is available and should be applied to support small-scale farmers under the emergency conditions to build stronger and more resilient farming communities. Countries should take this opportunity to accelerate the digitalization of agriculture.
      5. Promote healthy diets during and after the pandemic. People affected by obesity, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are at high risk from COVID-19. This underlines the importance of healthy diet as a frontline defence for disease prevention. During the pandemic and lockdown directives to stay at home, the risks of eating unhealthily become higher. It is therefore essential that governments advise all segments of society to maintain a nutritious and healthy diet.
      6. Support regional collective action to protect people affected by crises in the region. People in crisis situations depend crucially on humanitarian assistance for their food security and their survival. More than ever, regional collective action and solidarity are needed to support health systems in countries affected by conflict and to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on food security.

      [Source:, Accessed on August 28, 2020.]

      3) Towards an inclusive and equitable growth: Improving the productivity and sustainability of small-scale family farmers alone will not be sufficient to achieve the UNDFF milestones or SDG goals in the NENA region. The engagement of adolescents and youth, women and individuals in vulnerable situations such as migrants, will be critical to long term, inclusive and equitable growth.

      • Based on your experience, what are effective strategies, instruments or mechanisms to ensure adequate access to services, resources and social protection among marginalized or vulnerable groups, including in humanitarian contexts?

      As a human right that is intrinsic to all, the international community recognizes the need to design and implement social protection systems according to the principle of social inclusion, underlying the particular need to include persons in the informal economy. Delivery systems should, therefore, be particularly attuned to the challenges and obstacles faced by vulnerable and disadvantaged groups and take special measures to protect these. Indeed, a “human rights-based approach” to social protection requires that States give special attention to those persons who belong to the most disadvantaged and marginalized groups in society. This entails guaranteeing non-discriminatory treatment as well as adopting proactive measures to enable those suffering from structural discrimination (for example, ethnic minorities or indigenous peoples) to enjoy their rights. Affirmative action and other proactive measures should aim at diminishing or eliminating conditions that give rise to or perpetuate discrimination, and at countering stigmas and prejudices.

      Policy makers and sustainable development scientists recommends the use of a range of laws, policies and programmes, including special measures to tackle discrimination. The measures that States adopt should pay attention to the specific human rights problems that emerge with relation to, for example, gender, age, disability, migration and displacement. Of particular relevance in this context are the obligations imposed by:

      1. the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),
      2. the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC),
      3. the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and
      4. the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families.

      Further, it is required that all national governments not only to ensure that women enjoy their right to social security on an equal basis to men, but also to undertake appropriate special measures so as to provide women with equal opportunities in public life, education, employment, health care, economic and social life, and marriage and family relations. In order to redress disadvantages associated with gender, both contributory and non-contributory social protection programmes should be made gender-sensitive. This means contributory programmes taking into account the factors that prevent women from making equal contributions, such as intermittent participation in the workforce on account of care responsibilities and unequal wage outcomes. Furthermore, non-contributory programmes should consider that women are more likely to live in poverty than men and often have sole responsibility for the care of children. In any case, States have obligations to take into account the whole range of women’s rights. Also, national governments must take appropriate measures to modify the social patterns that accord differential status to men and women and ensure the equality of women in rural areas as well.

      From a human rights perspective, social protection programmes should also be child-sensitive in their design, implementation and evaluation. The CRC (the Preamble, Articles 2 and 23 in particular) emphasizes that the best interests of children should be respected at all times, and their special needs should be accommodated. A child-sensitive social protection programme is one which ensures the rights of the child, and takes into account all the factors that might place children in a vulnerable position. Programmes are required to factor in age- and gender-specific risks and vulnerabilities at each stage of the life course, especially considering the needs of families with children. Special provisions should be made for children without parental care and those who are marginalized within their families due to gender, disability, ethnicity, HIV/AIDS status or other markers of identity. To achieve these ends, it is necessary that intra-household dynamics be carefully considered, including the balance of power between men and women. A child-sensitive programme must also include the voices and opinions of children and youth, and their caregivers in design and implementation processes.

      Persons with disabilities face various impediments to the enjoyment of their human rights, and thus social protection programmes must employ the utmost sensitivity with regard to their needs. Programmes must ensure their effective coverage and access to social protection benefits, support services as well as to information related to assistive technology and other facilities. Social protection programmes must incorporate the following principles:

      1. respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons;
      2. non-discrimination;
      3. full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
      4. respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity;
      5. equality of opportunity;
      6. accessibility; and
      7. equality between men and women.


      Lastly, various other characteristics, such as ethnicity, health status, sexual orientation or geographical location can also impede the equal enjoyment by some people of their economic, social and cultural rights, including their right to social security. Each of these characteristics must be taken into account when a social protection programme is designed and implemented. Inclusion of those who are disadvantaged and marginalized is the first step but it is not enough. The provision of quality social services needed by different groups is equally important. For example, building maternal health clinics in rural areas does not necessarily meet the state’s obligations if the services provided in those clinics are worse than in clinics elsewhere in the country or if they do not meet standards set in similar contexts.

      [Source:, accessed on August 28, 2020.]

      • Despite the informality of the agriculture sector, any support for smallholder family farming can and should go hand in hand with the promotion of the Decent work Agenda. Family farmers are engaged in arduous and sometimes hazardous work to cut costs and compensate for the farm’s low productivity to an extent of involving children too, based on your experience please give three priority actions to enable decent employment for rural smallholders, youth and women and to eliminate child labour in family farming.

      Three priority actions to enable decent employment for rural smallholders, youth and women and to eliminate child labour in family farming are outlined below:

      1. Trade: Several countries in the region depend on agriculture for much of their export earnings. A high portion of such earnings from agriculture means that these countries are particularly exposed to any shocks emanating from global agricultural markets. Conversely, countries which export commodities, but are net food importers, could face a situation where dwindling revenues from the export of non-agricultural products undermines their ability to buy enough food on the international markets. Global economic forecasts suggest a sharp decline in overall economic activity, which, in turn, is a factor weighing on international commodity prices through a weaker import demand globally. Net agricultural importers would stand to benefit from lower import prices, easing possible contractions in purchasing power that may arise from internal economic recessions. Lower import prices could function as an automatic stabilizer for food security in low-income food-importing developing countries, allowing them to import food at lower prices. However, exchange rate swings may affect both the quantity and price of foods available to domestic consumers.
      2. Tourism: The lockdown associated with COVID-19 since mid-March 2020 has led to a collapse in worldwide travel, including in most countries of the region. Travel bans in many countries and the temporary closure of associated business activities have led to an almost complete cessation of travel to and from the NENA countries. This has meant an immediate halt to all tourism, and uncertainty about the lockdown’s duration is translating into cancellations of bookings and a complete paralysis of the tourism industry. Local tourism is also affected by the lockdown imposed by governments in the NENA region. Box 3 analyses the impact of the reduction in tourism on regional food security.
      3. Energy markets: Amid lower economic activity and decreasing demand because of COVID-19, crude oil prices have fallen sharply. While the extent and the depth of a possible economic contraction are still unknown, lower growth and reduced movements of goods and people are likely to take a particularly high toll on energy prices. Lower energy prices will have diverse impacts on the region’s agriculture and food markets.

      On the agricultural output side, lower energy prices will reduce the amounts of agricultural feedstock used to produce biofuels. Typical feedstock products such as sugar cane and maize are likely to see the most pronounced contractions in demand and the most significant downward pressure on prices. However, this will benefit countries in the region overall since they are net importers of maize.

      On the agricultural input side, lower energy costs will translate into reduced production costs, particularly in more capital-intensive farming in the region. Direct impacts include lower energy costs for all forms of mechanization, including the power needed to till fields, to irrigate and for transportation. Indirect impacts will be channelled through the lower cost of energy-intensive inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and electricity. These lower input costs would act as an automatic stabilizer for farm incomes and attenuate the direct impact of the COVID pandemic in general.

      On the negative side, low energy prices will affect incomes and the economies of oil-export-dependent countries in the region (GCC countries, Algeria and the State of Libya mostly). The inevitable return of overseas workers from the GCC will be a double blow to many economies in the region. Remittances to the Middle East and North Africa region are projected to fall by 19.6 percent to USD47 billion in 2020, following the 2.6 percent growth seen in 2019. The anticipated decline is attributable to the global slowdown as well as the impact of lower oil prices in GCC countries. This may have a ripple effect on the economies and on food security in the region through their impact on employment, remittances, investment flows and aid.

      [Source:, Accessed on August 28, 2020.]

      4) Enabling environment for the implementation of UNDFF: Building an enabling environment for the implementation of UNDFF regional action plan means that there are adequate resources and that governance and institutional arrangements are effective and inclusive.

      • How do you define roles of Governments, development agencies, farmers’ organizations, civil society and private sector in implementing the UNDFF in the region?

      After an intense campaign led by civil society, on 17 December 2017, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously and supported by 104 countries, adopted the Resolution (A/RES/72/239) declaring 2019-2028 as the United Nations Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF). The UNDFF is a historic opportunity to stimulate the development of public policies and investments in favour of family farming from a holistic perspective, unlocking the transformative potential of family farmers and making a huge contribution to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). It places family farmers at the centre of food systems, ensuring food security, improving livelihoods, better managing natural resources, protecting the environment, maintaining culture and achieving inclusive and sustainable development. The UN General Assembly designated FAO and IFAD to lead the implementation of the Decade, along with a range of other actors, including National Committees for Family Farming, other platforms for policy dialogue and family farming organizations.

      Governments are the primary actors in the physical, social, and economic aspects of a nation’s food security, so any attempts to improve agriculture and food security outcomes must also consider the role of governance. It is a two-way relationship. Stable agriculture and food security systems can help to establish stable and transparent governments, which contribute to more inclusive and effective agriculture and food security systems. The intricate connections between agriculture, food security, and governance suggest that attempts to reduce chronic hunger must integrate all three elements. In particular, certain principles of governance (participation, accountability, transparency, effectiveness, and the rule of law) should be integral parts of programs for agriculture and food security. Such efforts could work across multi-sector actors and food systems, empowering all stakeholders to make changes to increase food security and reduce malnutrition. Explicit attention to governance and public policies pertaining to agriculture can also help governments realize their food security goals.

      Efforts to integrate governance within food security work have recently gained traction as traditional approaches have failed to prevent the occurrence of global food crises. Such integration efforts have found support in instances where food security work coincides with other efforts to improve governance. After the food crisis of 2007 and 2008, it became apparent that food security required good governance at international, national, and local levels. Indeed, some analyses indicate that certain trends affecting governance on all levels (including globalization, the power of transnational corporations, and weak public regulation) are major drivers of food insecurity in the world.6, 7 The challenges are exacerbated by rising food demands across the globe, which have put further pressure on already-strained political systems.6 The effective coordination of governance, food security, and agriculture work is the key to addressing some of these large problems.

      [Sources: (1), accessed on August 28, 2020), and (2), accessed on August 28, 2020)]

      • What are the bottlenecks –any of the above institutions may encounter in achieving the UNDFF implementation in the region and how to overcome them? E.g. in terms of policies, financial resources, technical capacities, etc.

      Achieving the goals of the United Nations Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF) in Near East and North Africa (NENA) region need co0ndideration of following three aspects:

      1. Poor Governance: Poor governance can be a major driver of food insecurity. Most of the armed conflicts in the world take place in low income, food-deficit countries that depend on domestic agricultural production. Current policies and programs that address agriculture and food security are hindered by complex political processes and interactions between stakeholders (government, private sectors, and farmers) who have unequal power and access to resources. Agricultural systems are often harmed by conflict, poor institutional capacity, and the bad design and implementation of government policies. Most importantly, countries that do not adequately invest in agriculture are more likely to experience chronic food insecurity.
      2. Good Governance: Good governance, on the other hand, supports the aims of agriculture and food security through multiple pathways. And a good system of governance must be able to respond to a food crisis and address the complex problems of food insecurity in order to eliminate hunger. The integration of governance allows programs to formulate food security strategies that respond to diverse and ever-changing needs by aligning objectives and actions across all levels of the government. In Brazil, for example, a new ministry coordinated food and nutrition goals as a national priority, which helped to improve food security throughout the country. At the local level, civil society organizations that work with the government can make valuable contributions to food security: (a) by forging better links between decision-makers and the affected population, (b) by facilitating the efforts of multi-sector actors with different levels of government, and (c) by providing resources and knowledge that may be lacking in government agencies. In this respect, integrated programs can address political and socioeconomic obstacles that prevent improvements to nutrition and food security. These programs can also incorporate the ideas of marginalized groups (including poor farmers and women) who are otherwise excluded from decision-making processes.
      3. Integration: Integrating principles of good governance programming (e.g., accountability, citizens’ participation) to agriculture and nutrition interventions can also improve service delivery and enhance positive development outcomes. For example, the participation of farmers in the design of agricultural policies in a number of developing countries (such as Senegal, Bolivia, Brazil, and Niger) has led to inclusive agricultural policies that improved farmers’ access to agricultural and food value chains. In Niger, the Nigeriens Feed Nigeriens 3N initiative has invested in the infrastructure and services at 255 sites across the country to help agricultural producers improve their business performance. The services (which are tailored to the local agricultural and ecological contexts and to meet the needs of local populations) have successfully supported the decentralization of authority associated with food and nutritional security

      Stable and effective agricultural systems and populations that have food security can also support the aims of governance, including greater civic participation and effective rule of law. Food-secure populations are more likely to participate in political processes, whereas food insecurity can increase grievances against institutions, hinder political participation, and contribute to outbreaks of armed conflict. Removing socio-political obstacles and enhancing food security improves the government’s responsiveness to its citizens (which increases the government’s legitimacy and stability) and strengthens the social contract between local stakeholders and their government. In turn, the empowerment of local stakeholders allows them to participate in policy development and to identify and implement local priorities. Such exchanges have seen positive outcomes in several parts of the world. For example, food security programs in Nepal have improved community relationships with the government and short-term jobs in agricultural programs promoted peace in Liberia. The relationship between food security and governance can be supportive or destructive. Afood-secure population can bolster stable governance, whereas a food-insecure population can destabilize governance.

      [Source:, Accessed on August 28, 2020].

      5) Partnerships: Partnerships associated with sustainable development initiatives can create synergies to address interconnected challenges that need to be addressed. With the aim to implement the UNDFF action plan in its seven pillars in the NENA region.

      • How can innovative partnerships be built and established? And how/what existing initiatives would you propose to replicate or scale up?

      In the new millennium, much of the funding for food security projects and programmes is passing through partnerships between different organizations. There are several types of partnerships, each with their own type of cross-sector collaboration: public-non-profit, public-private, private-non-profit, tripartite, and multi-stakeholder partnerships. Within these categories, again, one may find a wide variety of types of partnerships.

      A widely-shared expectation is that such partnerships are among the most effective mechanisms to foster development, including in the particular area of food and nutrition security. For example, through partnership constructions the aim is to more effectively address the participation of new actors like emergent small farmers, resource sharing and learning at systemic levels. The assumption is that partnerships would improve food and nutrition security and the inclusiveness of food markets. However, the real impact on food security and food markets is still not clear. Most research is based on the management level of partnerships. The partnership mechanism should focus on knowledge development and sharing and deepening the knowledge in the following areas:

      1. Generating impact on food and nutrition through partnerships. What socioeconomic and environmental impacts can such partnerships achieve? How can partnerships improve their impact and do more than just deliver outcomes? In this perspective, scaling-up and scaling-out are key.
      2. Creating social impact by combining bottom-up and top-down approaches. This will, include a focus on inclusive partnerships and collaboration with local actors. Most partnerships are quite top-down – there is funding available and established organizations, businesses and institutes are forming partnerships to meet the goals of the proposal guidelines. However, local actors are often marginally involved. What is the best way to improve social impact by combining both approaches?
      3. Effective partnership management. This involves creating mutual understanding, mutual respect, and focusing on joint problem-solving and partner relationship management. It is very practical and tries to bridge the different cultures within the partnership. There are already lots of lessons learned here which need to be incorporated in the knowledge agenda on cross-sector partnerships. These can also be used to establish a more bottom-up and participatory management structure within partnerships.

      [Source:, accessed on August 28, 2020.]

    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)

      1) Can you share examples on how the bottlenecks listed in the policy brief have been addressed and with which result?

      The bottlenecks addressed by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) in the Brief (titled Responding to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on food value chains through efficient logistics; published on web link: on April 4, 2020), has debated some of the situations that can hinder supply of and access to adequate food to the beneficiaries (across the region of the globe). The COVID-19 pandemic is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus (referred to as the COVID-19 virus). However, it seems that all food-supply chains have not been looked into, the reasons being non-availability of data/information owing to the world-wide COVID-19 epidemic (and resulting lockdown). The governments around the world have implemented measures to curb spread of the COVID-19.          

      2) What has been the impact of measures to face the COVID-19 pandemic on the exports of food and cash crops?

      National governments around the globe have taken appropriate measures to ensure adequate production and supply of food chain. Nature of measure taken depends on locally prevailing situations of the economy. In cities around the world, reports of panic buying and food hoarding have proliferated since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

      3) What has been the impact of measures to face the COVID-19 pandemic on the imports of food ingredients, inputs, packaging and other goods related to the food value chain?

      On the supply side, global grain stockpiles are healthy but could quickly be depleted as the virus disrupts food production and distribution. And shortages of animal feed, fertilizers, and pesticides have increased both the costs of farming and the risk of bad harvests. Further, in the post-outbreak era, what can food sector players do to make their supply chains both responsible and resilient? Solutions should run along below lines:

      a) Go-to-market versatility: Existing go-to-market channels like bars and restaurants have closed down and expectations are that it will take 12-18 months before societies fully recover from COVID-19. Companies, therefore, need to invest in capabilities, especially focusing on online/digital solutions.

      b) End-to-end supply chain management: As sourcing ingredients/merchandise becomes harder for businesses, one alternative is to work with a wider pool of suppliers, including regional ones, and keep larger strategic stocks. A broad product range is more expensive to maintain, but spreads risks. An alternative is to simplify recipes and/or remove problem products from the portfolio, resulting in a leaner, more manageable product range, less risk and lower costs. That would also free up time and resources to invest in the development of innovative new products that combine a healthy lifestyle with minimal environmental impact. Meanwhile, it’s important to invest in relationships with supply chain partners. Supplier and customer loyalty and resilience are pivotal to ensure business continuity and to thrive post-COVID-19.

      4) How have logistics from the national to the local level been impacted by the pandemic and response measures?

      From harvesting fruits and vegetables in India to operating meat plants in the USA, labor shortages are becoming increasingly apparent as cross-border travel restrictions in much of the world disrupt the normal seasonal cycle of migrant farm workers. And transportation shortages are making it more challenging to get produce to market.

      It is important to note that nobody knows the timetable for the lifting of COVID-19 containment measures. But when the lockdown is over, businesses that have used the downtime well – by embracing supply chain innovation, diversification and collaboration, preferably also integrating sustainability goals– will come out fitter for the future.

      5) What have been the implications on informal cross-border trade?

      Farmers need to reconfigure their supply chains away from bulk wholesale to (currently closed) restaurants, hotels, and schools, and toward grocery stores and home delivery. But that takes time, not least because commercial and consumer food products are prepared and packaged differently. In the meantime, fresh produce has had to be destroyed. Furthermore, some major food-producing countries have already imposed export bans or quotas in response to the pandemic, as Russia and Kazakhstan have done for grain, and India and Vietnam have done for rice. Meanwhile, other countries are stockpiling food through accelerated imports, as is true of the Philippines (rice) and Egypt (wheat). Such food protectionism may seem like a good way to provide relief to the most vulnerable segments of the population, but simultaneous interventions by many governments can result in a global food-price surge

      6) What challenges related to the food value chain have emerged during the relaxing of COVID-19 containment measures?

      While the COVID-19 pandemic has led to falling growth, rising unemployment, widening fiscal deficits, and soaring debt in advanced and emerging economies alike, the appearance of new infection hotbeds in developing countries will mean an even starker trade-off between saving lives and protecting livelihoods. Moreover, developing countries are already facing a sudden stop in capital and remittance inflows and a collapse in tourism, while the terms of trade and currencies of the many oil and primary-commodity exporters among them are crashing. Even before COVID-19, many low-income countries were at serious risk of debt distress. And many of these economies are also highly vulnerable to a spike in food prices.

      Nomura’s Food Vulnerability Index ranks 110 countries based on their exposure to large food-price swings, taking into account their nominal GDP per capita, the share of food in household consumption, and net food imports. The latest reading shows that of the 50 countries most vulnerable to a sustained rise in food prices, nearly all are developing economies that account for nearly three-fifths of the world’s population.

      In fact, surging food prices would be a global problem, because they are highly regressive everywhere. Even in developed economies, a jump in food prices would drive a bigger wedge between the rich and poor, exacerbating already severe wealth inequality. No one should ignore the age-old connection between food crises and social unrest.

      Multilateral institutions have mobilized quickly during the crisis to provide emergency loans to a record number of developing countries, while G20 creditors have agreed to a temporary suspension of debt-service payments from poor countries that request forbearance. But because the risks posed by surging food prices do not apply only to the most vulnerable economies, temporary debt relief may need to be extended to other countries as well.

      7) Are there any additional areas not yet included in the brief that warrant particular attention with regard to logistics affecting the food supply chain?

      With the pandemic threatening to wreak even more economic havoc, governments must work together to address the risk of disruptions to food supply chains. More broadly, some modicum of global policy coordination is essential to prevent food protectionism from becoming the post-pandemic new normal. However, following areas warrant particular attention by policy makers with regard to logistics affecting the food supply chain:

      a) Harvests: As spring arrives, crops are rotting in the fields. Europe’s asparagus growers, for instance, are dramatically short of staff, with migrant workers from Eastern Europe unable to come to their farms due to border restrictions - or simply afraid to risk infection.

      b) Logistics: Food transport, meanwhile, is steadily turning into a logistics nightmare. Where produce does get harvested, border controls and air freight restrictions are making international transport of fresh goods extremely difficult – and expensive.

      c) Processing: Food processing plants are scaling or shutting down due to containment measures or staff shortages, with their suppliers scrambling to adjust their output. In Canada, for example, poultry farmers collectively acted to reduce their output.

      d) Go-to-market: Companies that normally sell a significant portion of their output through out-of-home channels (for example soft drink producers) are seeing their sales slashed.

      e) Sourcing: Supermarkets, while scoring stellar sales figures, are understaffed and under-delivered. Because of sourcing problems, products based on wide range of ingredients are becoming increasingly difficult to make and are therefore disappearing from store shelves.

    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)

      1) In order to increase access to eggs for the world’s poorer populations, what should be the right balance between small-scale production, large-scale commercial production, and long-distance trade? If countries do increasingly move towards large-scale production, how do we balance the interests of better nutrition with concerns about smallholder livelihoods?

      1.1) In order to increase access to eggs for the world’s poorer populations, what should be the right balance between small-scale production, large-scale commercial production, and long-distance trade?

      The answer to right balance between “small-scale production”, “large-scale commercial production”, and “long-distance trade” lies in locally prevailing situations.

      1.2) If countries do increasingly move towards large-scale production, how do we balance the interests of better nutrition with concerns about smallholder livelihoods?

      National governments need to look into nutrition aspects of egg production through appropriate strategies that focus on farming and hygiene issues. As regards balancing act between nutritional aspect and safeguarding the interests of small scale egg producers, there is need to involve all stakeholders in planning and implementation process. Most importantly, the viable and practical solutions should come from joint consultation, especially by involving community level stakeholders, including egg producers. There is no standard formula to ensure balance.

      2) What are the different ways that we could increase demand for eggs, other than increasing availability and reducing price? What are some examples of successful initiatives?

      A) Strategies Required for Increasing Egg Demand:

      Eggs are wholesome, nutritious food with high nutrient density. They provide 12% of the daily value for protein and a wide variety of other nutrients like vitamins and minerals, along with various other important ingredients so crucial for growth and good health.

      Protein in the nutrition is one of the most important health indices that affect children's growth and development. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two newly-recognized nutrients that have put eggs in the "functional foods" category. A functional food is one that provides health benefits beyond its basic nutrient content. Recent studies have shown that consuming lutein and zeaxanthin can significantly lower risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness affecting people over the age of 65. In addition, there is a less likelihood of cataracts (source: accessed on November 05, 2018 from:

      As regards strategies for increasing demand for eggs, information, education and communication (IEC) need to be touched upon. In more accurate terms, this will require “educational intervention”, wherein the national governments, across the regions of the globe, all those involved (including health educators and medical/para-medical personnel) should educate masses about significance of egg consumption. This initiative can envisage engaging print, electronic as well as digital (including social) media. Universities, colleges and other educational institutions can make difference.

      B) Examples of Successful Initiatives:

      a) American Egg Board – Introduction to the Initiative:

      Today, just two percent of the U.S. population lives on farms, producing food for the remaining 98 percent of the population. America’s egg farmers continue to modernize egg farming production and processing practices in order to meet the demand for nutritious, high-quality eggs.

      America’s egg farmers have very strict safeguards and practices they follow to make sure their hens are healthy and to protect the quality of the eggs. Hen health and egg quality are the top two priorities on egg farms all day, every day. Egg farmers follow guidelines to ensure the hens are provided with nutritious feed, clean water, proper lighting and fresh air. Light, housing, diet and health are very important to the production process in order to provide high-quality eggs, and therefore, very important to the egg farmer. Advances in science and technology help egg farmers preserve safety and quality throughout the gathering, inspecting, packaging and handling process (Source: Accessed on November 5, 2018 from:

      b) Production Process:

      The egg production process includes the following phases:

      Laying: Hens lay eggs in a controlled environment and are fed a high-quality, nutritionally balanced diet of feed made up mostly of corn, soybean meal, vitamins and minerals to produce quality eggs.

      • Collecting: Some eggs are still gathered by hand, but in most production facilities, automated gathering belts do the job.
      • Washing: Although the hen supplies the bloom, a natural coating to protect the porous shell, in nature, the coating dries and is lost. The bloom is also lost through the egg washing process when the eggs are washed and sanitized.
      • Candling: The step in the grading during which the farmer (egg grader) looks inside the egg, without breaking it, to determine the quality.
      • Grading: Farmers classify their eggs by the interior and exterior quality at the time it is packed. Grades include AA, A or B. There is no difference in the nutritional value between different grades and all eggs sold at the retail level must meet the standards for Grade B or better. However, few Grade B eggs find their way to the retail market:
        Grade AA: Egg content covers a small area – white is firm and has thick white surrounding the yolk, and a small amount of thin white. The yolk is round and elevated.
        Grade A: Egg content covers a moderate area. White is reasonably firm and has a considerable amount of thick white and a medium amount of thin white. The yolk is round and elevated.
        Grade B: Egg content covers a very wide area. White is weak and watery, has no thick white and the large amount of thin white is thinly spread. The yolk is wider than normal and flat.
      • Sorting & Packing: Eggs are sorted according to size (minimum weight per dozen) and should be placed large-end up in their cartons.
      • Shipping: Egg farmers ship their eggs in refrigerated trucks. Most eggs in the U.S. reach the grocery store just one day after being laid and nearly all of them reach the store within 72 hours, or 3 days.
      • Selling & Storing: Eggs must be refrigerated. An egg can age more in one day at room temperature than in one week in the refrigerator. The best place for the egg is in its carton on an inside refrigerator shelf.
      • Enjoying: America’s egg farmers produce a high-quality product that provides all-natural, high-quality protein, that is now 14 percent lower in cholesterol (down from 215 mg to 185 mg), and 64 percent higher in vitamin D.

      (Source: Accessed on November 5, 2018 from:

      3) How can we mitigate the potential downsides of large-scale egg production on animal welfare and carbon emissions?

      3.1) Large-Scale Egg Production and Animal Welfare:

      Technology can play significant role in ensuring animal welfare while ensuring large-scale egg production. However, assessing welfare in large poultry flocks, to be able to detect potential welfare risks and to control or minimize its impact is difficult. Current developments in technology and mathematical modelling open new possibilities for real-time automatic monitoring of animal welfare and health. New technological innovations potentially adaptable to commercial poultry are appearing, although their practical implementation is still being defined. In this paper, we review the latest technological developments with potential to be applied to poultry welfare, especially for broiler chickens and laying hens. Some of the examples that are presented and discussed include the following: sensors for farm environmental monitoring, movement, or physiological parameters; imaging technologies such as optical flow to detect gait problems and feather pecking; infrared technologies to evaluate birds’ thermoregulatory features and metabolism changes, that may be indicative of welfare, health and management problems. All these technologies have the potential to be implemented at the commercial level to improve birds’ welfare and to optimize flock management, therefore, improving the efficiency of the system in terms of use of resources and, thus, long term sustainability (Accessed on November 5, 2018 from:

      3.2) Large-Scale Egg Production and Carbon Emissions:

      Information on the sources and magnitudes of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions from livestock food production is of considerable interest to policymakers. Recently, several governments have committed to: (a) reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and (b) minimize the projected impacts of climate change. The GHG from red meat production are relatively well understood and high in comparison with poultry meat production. The difference is largely due to the contributions of methane and nitrous oxide. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made significant contribution in studying and understanding underlying linkages between large-scale egg production and carbon emissions (Accessed on November 5, 2018 from: Eggs constitute a major alternative source of animal protein in the UK, but information on the GHG emissions associated with UK egg production is limited to studies of partially comparable US intensive systems and UK studies modeling aggregated national data. A recent review of the sustainability of egg production highlighted these gaps in understanding of their environmental impact (Accessed on November 5, 2018 from:

      4) What do we need different stakeholders (governments; private sector; academia; normative agencies) to do to accelerate access to eggs in poor communities?

      Setting directions and goals for animal production systems requires the integration of information achieved through internal and external processes. The importance of stakeholder input in setting goals for sustainable egg production systems for poor communities should not be overlooked by the agricultural animal industries. Stakeholders play an integral role in setting the course for many aspects of egg, from influencing consumer preferences to setting public policy. The Socially Sustainable Egg Production Project (SSEP) involved the development of white papers on various aspects of egg production, followed by a stakeholder workshop to help frame the issues for the future of sustainable egg production. Representatives from the environmental, food safety, food retail, consumer, animal welfare, and the general farm and egg production sectors can facilitate making egg accessible for poorer section of the population across the regions of the globe (Accessed on November 5, 2018 from:

    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)

      Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

      E – Discussion No. 130: Transforming gender relations in agriculture through women’s empowerment: benefits, challenges and trade-offs for improving nutrition outcomes [1]

      Contributor: Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra [2]

      [1]: Comments submitted on July 21, 2016, 2016 to [email protected]

      [2]: Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra (Ph. D.), Technical Assistant, Population Education Resource Centre (PERC), Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work (DCAEEW), S. N. D. T. Women's University (SNDTWU), Patkar Hall Building, First Floor, 1, Nathibai Thackerey Road, Mumbai-400020, Maharashtra, India 

      Note: Views expressed below are of the contributor (in individual capacity) AND NOT of the PERC, DCAEEW, SNDTWU (the contributor is employed with presently) 

      1. How far can policy recognition of women’s roles and contributions to agriculture lead to strengthening women’s agency, empowerment and in turn nutritional outcomes?

      During end of previous decade, there has been growing recognition of the fact that developmental initiatives, particularly in the developed world, has led to considerable changes in women’s position in the society. This recognition was pushed by certain crucial underlying social and technological changes, as well as a liberalized political environment. Women were part of a rapid increase in the extent and quality of education. In the United States, the civil rights movement, affirmative action, and consciousness−raising resulted in a political renaissance for both black people and women. Access to higher education and training, as one direct result, improved the bargaining position of black and white women in the job market. This emancipation led to, and was supported by, important changes in societies’ attitudes. This was followed by reforms in policy and legislation aimed at strengthening women’s contribution to betterment of nutritional outcomes.

      The major changes, as outlined above, provided women particularly in the wealthiest societies, with almost similar social, political and economic rights to those of men in these countries. Although further progress is still to be made, by the 1980’s women were increasingly seen as nearly equal partners in the workforce at all levels of developed society. This liberation movement, evolving at different rates in various countries, was an important factor in the global concern for issues affecting women, with a leading role coming to be played by the United Nations. With advances in industrialized societies under way, the position of women in developing countries, and the equally compelling case for concern for their position, came increasingly to the fore. The changes in developed societies in favour of women’s status were seen almost universally as signs of progress in society, beneficial not only to women, but to communities as a whole.

      Programs intended to improve nutritional conditions for women and their families can be more successfully designed and implemented if there is a greater understanding and awareness of the specific roles that women play. This is because of the fact that women’s status and their health (and nutrition) are intricately entwined. Thus, in order to ensure any meaningful improvement, one must first deal with those ways in which health and nutrition of a woman are affected adversely by the existing social, cultural and economical systems. A sound nutrition program needs to go beyond the provision of health and nutrition services. Also, there is need to recognize that nutritional problems often have their origins in social and economic systems, and that these problems can be solved only by bringing about changes in these systems, particularly at household level. Further, women’s access to productive resources affects food availability at the household level. Increased access to productive resources itself can be an outcome of many complex interrelated factors such as:

      • increased income and more importantly increased control over it (both women’s income and total household income);
      • enhanced educational opportunities, social knowledge and decision-making power;
      • increased time available and devoted to productive tasks; as well as
      • enhanced efficiency of production.

      Source: United Nations (October, 1990). Women and Nutrition – Nutrition Policy discussion paper No. 6. Switzerland: ACC/SCN, c/o World Health Organization., accessed on July 22, 2016. 

      1. Are there experiences/strategies that can help address the issue of women’s time?
      1. Examples demonstrating the impact of the reduction or redistribution of unpaid care work on nutritional outcomes in agricultural households.

      Unpaid care work is a critical - yet largely unseen - dimension of human well- being that provides essential domestic services within households, for other households and to community members. ‘Unpaid’ means that the person doing the activity does not receive a wage and that the work, because it falls outside the production boundary in the, is not counted in GDP (gross domestic product) calculations. ‘Care’ means that the activity serves people and their well-being, and includes both personal care and care - related activities, such as cooking, cleaning and washing clothes. The term ‘work’ implies that the activity entails expenditures of time and energy. “Unpaid care work” is also referred to as ‘domestic’ work in order to distinguish it from market - based work.


      Source: Falth, Anna; and Balackden, Mark (October, 2009). Policy Brief: Gender Equality and Poverty Reduction. United Nations Development Program (UNDP)., accessed on July 22, 2016. 

      From a human rights perspective, social protection programs should recognize the role of women as caregivers and the burden that this role can create. For example, when women are made responsible for complying with conditions attached to participation in a conditional cash transfer (CCT) program (for example, taking children to medical check-ups or ensuring they go to school) or when they are required to travel (sometimes long distances) to collect the benefits or to participate in various stages of the program, their domestic unpaid workload increases. If this is not expressly addressed in the program design, the increased burden on women may further undermine their own welfare disincentivizing them from participating in the program. Sometimes, programs that have not been designed with women’s care responsibilities in mind can even have a detrimental impact on girls’ schooling. For example, when as program moves on, the time the mother spends away from home, girls are then required to assume their mother’s responsibilities such as cooking or collecting water.

      Source: Social Protection Human Rights (2015). Care responsibilities and unpaid care work. Social Protection Human Rights., , accessed on July 22, 2016.

      In the context of unpaid care work, there are policies to enhance female labor force participation and gender equity in various parts of the globe. Following example from Brazil demonstrates the impact of the reduction or redistribution of unpaid care work on overall gender equity and agricultural households:

      Over the past two decades, Brazil’s female labor force participation rate (FLFPR) increased by more than 15 percentage points to almost 60 percent, with the increase mainly driven by married women and women with children. Brazilian women are now more educated than men, with tertiary education participation exceeding male participation. However, the gender gap in labor force participation remains at a high 21 percentage points, women are 9 percent more likely than men to live in poverty, and women face significant earnings gaps. Brazil is ranked eighth out of 86 countries in the 2012 Social Institution and Gender Index (SIGI), which comprises five dimensions of social institutions to promote gender equality.

      Brazil has implemented following targeted reforms to remove restrictions in access to resources and entitlements for women:

      • The National Documentation Program for Rural Women Workers helps rural female workers obtain the necessary documentation to get access to land, credit and government services, which resulted in an increase in the share of women who own land titles from 13 to 56 percent between 2003 and 2007.
      • The Bolsa Familia direct cash transfer program was launched in 2003 as a merger of the federal government’s existing conditional and unconditional cash transfer programs and covered around one fourth of Brazil’s population by 2007. Building on studies that show that increasing women’s share in household income raises the share of resources spent on family well-being, this program distributes most of its payments directly to women. The program has increased women’s financial independence (SIGI, 2012) and has also had a positive effect on women’s labor force participation.
      • In 2004, the authorities adopted the National Plan for Women’s Policies to address specific needs of mothers, including health care during pregnancy, as well as child care and education.
      • Brazil’s maternity benefits policies include 120 days of paid leave at 100 percent of their salary, which is paid by the employer but reimbursed by Brazil’s Social Security Institute. An additional 60 days allowance that can be provided by employers is tax-deductible.
      • In the year 2003, the authorities introduced the Pronaf-Mulher credit line targeting women in rural areas. As a result, women’s credit share in rural development financing programs increased by some 15 percent between 2001 and 2006 to almost 26 percent.

      Source: Elborgh-Woytek, Katrin, et al. (September, 2013). Women, Work, and the Economy: Macroeconomic Gains From Gender Equity. International Monetary Fund (IMF)., accessed on July 22, 2016.

      1. Do men, community/state institutions take responsibility for the care of young children, especially during peak cultivation seasons when women’s labour is much needed?

      This question has no standard answer. In some settings, community takes responsibility to some extent. It all depends upon type of family, nuclear or joint, and the level of responsibility assigned to each family member. Another contributing factor is value system. For example, in to understand Southeast Asian parenting and child-rearing practices, one must first understand the cultural values and beliefs that influence parents, especially regarding family life and interpersonal relationships.

      1. How rigid or flexible are social norms when it comes to issues of survival?

      This question has no standard answer. In some settings, social norms are rigid and vice-versa. There are let of variations in the context of type of society, rural-urban differences, type of value system, geographical region, etc. But as the time goes on, on finds variations in flexibility of social norms.  

      1. Are you aware of changes in gender divisions of work, roles/responsibilities in contexts of change (eg: shifts in cropping patterns, technical innovations, the loss of ecosystem services, social and political conflict)? How is the contribution of men to household nutrition changing?

      Differences between men and women with respect to dietary intakes and eating behaviours have been reported and could be explained by gender differences in motivational variables associated with the regulation of food intake.

      1. What is the link between dietary diversity, women’s engagement with agriculture, and access to ecosystem services?

      Broad-based agricultural growth has been shown to be effective in reducing poverty. However, increases in agricultural productivity do not translate directly into improved health and nutrition outcomes. A broad body of literature demonstrates that the linkages between agriculture, health, and nutrition are dynamic and multifaceted. Production-oriented projects that ignore the nutritional quality of food produced, potential trade-offs between crops for food and other uses, the health impacts of pesticide exposure, and a range of other health and nutrition outcomes stand to have little  - potentially even negative - impact on the well -being of the rural poor. With the increasing recognition that agricultural growth and development do not necessarily translate into improved nutrition outcomes, policymakers are increasingly grappling with how to design and implement agricultural policies and programs that can also achieve nutritional objectives. Agriculture has direct links to nutrition in the sense that it provides a source of food and nutrients and a broad-based source of income, as well as directly influencing food prices.

      Further, with the increasing recognition that agricultural growth and development do not necessarily translate into improved nutrition outcomes, policymakers are increasingly grappling with how to design and implement agricultural policies and programs that can also achieve nutritional objectives. Agriculture has direct links to nutrition in that it provides a source of food and nutrients and a broad-based source of income, as well as directly influencing food prices. Gender roles mediate these linkages, particularly in relation to increased food availability and increased income. Thus, one possible pathway through which agricultural development could improve health and nutrition outcomes is by considering gender roles and gender equity in agriculture.

      Source: Malapit, Hazel Jean L., et al. (December, 2013). Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture, Production Diversity, and Nutrition: Evidence from Nepal (IFPRI Discussion Paper 01313). Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)., accessed on July 22, 2016.

      1. For Afghanistan, we want to capture experiences about women’s roles in agriculture and agribusiness value chains in order to shape policies and interventions to recognise and support women’s contribution to livelihood security.

      Following experience can be quoted as guiding principle on women’s roles in agriculture for Afghanistan:

      Rural Women’s Project: In Tanzania, agriculture is the largest and most important sector of the economy. Majority of the country’s population which lives in rural areas relies heavily on agriculture. The sector accounts for about half of the national income, three quarters of merchandise exports and is source of food and provides employment opportunities to about 80 percent of Tanzanians. Agriculture also has linkages with the non-farm sect ors through forward linkages to agro-processing; consumption and export; provides raw materials to industries; and a market for manufactured goods. Consequently, agriculture has a pivotal role in economic growth, and is directly linked with sustainable development and poverty reduction. Gender differences are a significant attribute in agriculture, from access, control and ownership of land to marketing of raw and processed produce. In Tanzania, despite constitutional proclamations of gender equality and many laws that promote equal opportunities for both men and women, it remains the case that on both smallholder farms and large plantations, men and women carry out different types of work, have different levels of access to resources, and are unequally rewarded for their contributions to the agricultural system, with women typically having less access and lower incomes.  Among the CARE’s mandate in various countries in Africa is to promote gender equity, women’s empowerment, productive and sustainable agriculture, market engagement, and environmental change. The newly defined overarching goal of CARE Tanzania states that “CARE Tanzania and allies will contribute to the empowerment of the most marginalized and vulnerable rural women and girls to exercise their rights. This will enable them to achieve access to, and control over quality services and resources, leading to sustainable livelihoods”.

      In order to support the goal, CARE Tanzania, is launching a major initiative targeting ‘Women and Agriculture (WAA)’ in Southern Tanzania, that will promote pro-poor and gender sensitive approach to economic development and management of natural resources. The initiative aims to achieve more productive and equitable participation of rural women in the agriculture sector, focusing on smallholders.

      The proposed WAA program will address CARE’s long-term goal of promoting impact groups including the most marginalized and vulnerable women and girls dependent on natural resources in areas with severe environmental restrictions. As a result, the impact groups will have built their resilience, diversified their livelihood strategies, addressed equitable access to, and control over resources, and benefiting from natural resources. The program’s geographic area of focus is Mtwara and Lindi Regions. The two regions are characterized by:

      • relatively poor infrastructural links,
      • varied and vast undeveloped terrain,
      • erratic weather conditions,
      • high level of poverty,
      • food insecurity,
      • cultural dynamics,
      • high illiteracy, and
      • maternal mortality rates.

      Source: Care Tanzania: Women and Agricultural Project., accessed on July 22, 2016. 

    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)

      Food systems provide for all people’s nutritional needs, while at the same time contributing to economic growth. The food and agriculture sector has the primary role in feeding people well by increasing availability, affordability, and consumption of diverse, safe, nutritious foods and diets, aligned with dietary recommendations and environmental sustainability. Applying these principles helps strengthen resilience and contributes to sustainable development.

      However, hunger, malnutrition, and poor health are widespread and stubborn development challenges. Agriculture has made remarkable advances in the past decades, but progress in improving the nutrition and health of poor farmers and consumers in developing countries is lagging behind. For instance, in Zambia, 45% children under five years old – almost one million -- are stunted.  ‘Stunting’ is a technical term used by nutrition and public health specialists that refers to low height for age – a key indicator of child health. This is a result of chronic malnutrition, which is usually caused by the lack of good-quality food and poor access to health care particularly in the 1,000-day window between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday.

      Agricultural programmes and investments can strengthen impact on nutrition if they:

      • incorporate explicit nutrition objectives and indicators into their design, and track and mitigate potential harms, while seeking synergies with economic, social and environmental objectives.
      • assess the context at the local level, to design appropriate activities to address the types and causes of malnutrition, including chronic or acute under-nutrition, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and obesity and chronic disease. Context assessment can include potential food resources, agro-ecology, seasonality of production and income, access to productive resources such as land, market opportunities and infrastructure, gender dynamics and roles, opportunities for collaboration with other sectors or programs, and local priorities.
      • target the vulnerable and improve equity through participation, access to resources, and decent employment. Vulnerable groups include smallholders, women, youth, the landless, urban dwellers, the unemployed.
      • collaborate and coordinate with other sectors (health, environment, social protection, labor, water and sanitation, education, energy) and programs, through joint strategies with common goals, to address concurrently the multiple underlying causes of malnutrition.
      • maintain or improve the natural resource base (water, soil, air, climate, biodiversity), critical to the livelihoods and resilience of vulnerable farmers and to sustainable food and nutrition security for all. Manage water resources in particular to reduce vector-borne illness and to ensure sustainable, safe household water sources.
      • empower women by ensuring access to productive resources, income opportunities, extension services and information, credit, labor and time-saving technologies (including energy and water services), and supporting their voice in household and farming decisions. Equitable opportunities to earn and learn should be compatible with safe pregnancy and young child feeding.
      • facilitate production diversification, and increase production of nutrient-dense crops and small-scale livestock (for example, horticultural products, legumes, livestock and fish at a small scale, underutilized crops, and bio-fortified crops). Diversified production systems are important to vulnerable producers to enable resilience to climate and price shocks, more diverse food consumption, reduction of seasonal food and income fluctuations, and greater and more gender-equitable income generation.
      • improve processing, storage and preservation to retain nutritional value, shelf-life, and food safety, to reduce seasonality of food insecurity and post-harvest losses, and to make healthy foods convenient to prepare.
      • expand markets and market access for vulnerable groups, particularly for marketing nutritious foods or products vulnerable groups have a comparative advantage in producing. This can include innovative promotion (such as marketing based on nutrient content), value addition, access to price information, and farmer associations.
      • incorporate nutrition promotion and education around food and sustainable food systems that builds on existing local knowledge, attitudes and practices. Nutrition knowledge can enhance the impact of production and income in rural households, especially important for women and young children, and can increase demand for nutritious foods in the general population.

      Most importantly, increasing women’s participation in agriculture and related activities is of great significance for improving nutrition and reducing hunger worldwide. Women play a vital role in advancing agricultural development and food security. They participate in many aspects of rural life – in paid employment, trade and marketing, as well as many unpaid activities, such as tending to crops and animals, collecting water and wood for fuel, and caring for family members. Women also manage household consumption and food preparation. But women face many constraints in the multiple activities they pursue – less land ownership, access to credit, extension and other services, and ability to hire labor. Too often, these constraints as well as women’s current and potential contributions to agricultural production go unrecognized.


      “A farm laborer carries her child as she tends to tobacco crops”

      Increasing opportunities for women can have a powerful impact on productivity and agriculture-led growth. Women are just as efficient agricultural producers as men and can achieve similar yields when given equal access to resources, including training and services. For example, in Kenya, researchers found that women could increase their crop yields by approximately 20 percent if given the same access to the same resources as men. In Burkina Faso, it has been estimated that overall household production could increase by about six percent by more equitably distributing fertilizer and labor between male and female-farmed plots. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20–30 percent. This increase could raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 – 4 percent and reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12–17 percent, up to 150 million people.


      “Women selling vegetables”

      When women’s productivity and incomes increase, the benefits amplify across families and generations. Women tend to devote a larger fraction of their income to their children’s health and nutrition, laying the foundation for their children’s lifelong cognitive and physical development.6 In Nepal, for example, the children of women who own land are twice as likely to be adequately nourished than children in households where women work on family land they do not own or children growing up in landless households. Mothers who own land are better able to provide more nutritious food to their children and ensure their health and wellbeing.

      Strengthening women’s power, influence, and decision-making roles within the family and community can be an effective strategy to improve their consumption of nutritious foods and their health. In many parts of the world, women are more likely than men to spend the income they control on food, health care, and education for their children. Thus, increasing women’s access to land, ability to make decisions about land use, and control of physical and financial assets will not only increase agricultural production, but also improve child health and nutrition. Empowering women to promote healthy, diverse diets through the production and consumption of nutrient-rich crops using local food systems is critical for ensuring food and nutrition security. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30 percent and reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12-17 percent.

      Incorporating gender-sensitive nutrition components into policies and programs can avoid unintended gender impacts that undercut the effectiveness of these initiatives. In addition to providing women and girls with more opportunities to participate, gender-sensitive nutrition programs measure the impact of planned activities on women and men. Efforts to improve women’s nutritional status will be most effective if conducted in conjunction with programs that aim to improve the status of women and reduce gender inequalities.

      While planning or evaluating nutrition interventions, it is important to understand the social and gender dynamics that could help or hinder their effectiveness. A gender analysis will help answer questions such as:

      • What are the demographics of the affected group, disaggregated by sex and age?
      • What decisions do women and men make that affect family nutrition?
      • Who makes the decisions about breastfeeding - whether or not to breastfeed, when to start, how long to continue? This could be a mother herself, but might be her mother-in-law or husband.

      Lastly, integrated agriculture and nutrition programs have great potential to improve nutrition outcomes, but evidence so far is scarce due to weaknesses in program targeting, design and implementation and equally importantly, poor evaluation designs.  Using an agricultural platform to improve nutrition is also useful in sustainable development initiatives.

    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)

      Dear Ms Maria Helena Semedo and Mr Ibrahim Thiaw,

      Warm greetings from the S. N. D. T. Women's University (SNDTWU), Mumbai, India

      I am submitting herewith my contribution for e-discussion on: Towards the Development of the Programme on Sustainable Food Systems (SFSP) in the form provided by you.

      I hope you will find my inputs useful. I am confident that the FAO and the UNEP will be able to develop a more effective programme on sustainable food systems (SFSP) in the years to come. Kindly acknowledge receipt of this email as well as enclosed contribution.

      With best regards,

      Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra (Ph. D.),
      Technical Assistant,
      Population Education Resource Centre (PERC),
      Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work,
      S. N. D. T. Women's University,

    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)

      1)     What are the main issues for policy-makers to consider when linking climate change on the one hand and food security and nutrition on the other, in particular when designing, formulating and implementing policies and programmes?

      1.1   Main issues for policy-makers while considering climate change: Environmental policies have sweeping implications for business, citizens and the environment. Building policy is a complex process and there are numerous opportunities for things to go well – or poorly. Societies have a long record of managing the impacts of weather- and climate-related events. Nevertheless, additional adaptation measures will be required to reduce the adverse impacts of projected climate change and variability, regardless of the scale of mitigation undertaken over the next two to three decades. Moreover, vulnerability to climate change can be exacerbated by other stresses. These arise from, for example, current climate hazards, poverty and unequal access to resources, food insecurity, trends in economic globalization, conflict and incidence of diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Further, some planned adaptation to climate change is already occurring on a limited basis. Adaptation can reduce vulnerability, especially when it is embedded within broader sectoral initiatives. There is high confidence that there are viable adaptation options that can be implemented in some sectors at low cost, and/or with high benefit-cost ratios. However, comprehensive estimates of global costs and benefits of adaptation are limited.

      1.2   Main issues for policy-makers while considering food security and nutrition: Underlying the food and nutrition situation are multiple challenges in achieving sustainable food production. A rapidly growing population is increasing the demand for food. Climate change is adding to the challenge of achieving sustainable food production and meeting the demands of a growing population. Events related to climate change are likely to intensify in the coming years. There is no magic bullet that can eliminate hunger and under-nutrition, given the complex nature of these problems. There are many inter-related issues, some of which are related to poverty and lack of empowerment. These include gender issues, discrimination against ethnic groups, land use, rights and ownership, war, the HIV pandemic, and environmental issues. Food solutions need to be integrated and multifaceted. Efforts to realize the “right to adequate food” must go beyond improving the production and distribution of nutritious food. “Safety nets” should systematically include or be accompanied by measures to promote sustainable livelihoods for households with malnourished children. Adequate feeding and care should be an integral part of national strategies and programs to reduce hunger and under-nutrition. This includes promoting exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and appropriate complementary feeding, basic requirements for nutritional well being.

      2)     What are the key institutional and governance challenges to the delivery of cross-sectoral and comprehensive policies that protect and promote nutrition of the most vulnerable, and contribute to sustainable and resilient food systems? Production systems and the policies and institutions that underpin global food security are increasingly inadequate. Sustainable agriculture must nurture healthy ecosystems and support the sustainable management of land, water and natural resources, while ensuring world food security. In order to be sustainable, agriculture must meet the needs of present and future generations for its products and services, while ensuring profitability, environmental health and social and economic equity. The global transition to sustainable food and agriculture will require major improvements in the efficiency of resource use, in environmental protection and in systems resilience. Sustainable agriculture requires a system of global governance that promotes food security concerns in trade regimes and trade policies, and revisits agricultural policies to promote local and regional agricultural markets.

      The current trajectory of growth in agricultural production is unsustainable because of its negative impacts on natural resources and the environment. The overarching challenges being faced are the growing scarcity and fast degradation of natural resources, at a time when the demand for food, feed, fibre and goods and services from agriculture (including crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture) is increasing rapidly. Some of the highest population growth is predicted in areas which are dependent on agriculture and already have high rates of food insecurity. Additional factors - many interrelated - complicate the situation:

      §  Competition over natural resources will continue to intensify. This may come from urban expansion, competition among various agricultural sectors, expansion of agriculture at the expense of forests, industrial use of water, or recreational use of land. In many places this is leading to exclusion of traditional users from access to resources and markets;

      §  While agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, it is also a victim of its effects. Climate change reduces the resilience of production systems and contributes to natural resource degradation. Temperature increases, modified precipitation regimes and extreme weather events are expected to become significantly more severe in the future;

      §  Increasing movement of people and goods, environmental changes, and changes in production practices give rise to new threats from diseases (such as highly pathogenic avian influenza) or invasive species (such as tephritid fruit flies), which can affect food safety, human health and the effectiveness and sustainability of production systems. Threats are compounded by inadequate policies and technical capacities, which can put whole food chains at risk; and

      §  The policy agenda and mechanisms for production and resource conservation are mostly disjointed. There is no clear integrated management of ecosystems and/or landscapes.

      The challenges outlined above give rise to five key principles for guiding the strategic development of new approaches and the transition to sustainability:

      o   Principle 1: Improving efficiency in the use of resources is crucial to sustainable agriculture;

      o   Principle 2: Sustainability requires direct action to conserve, protect and enhance natural resources;

      o   Principle 3: Agriculture that fails to protect and improve rural livelihoods and social well-being is unsustainable;

      o   Principle 4: Sustainable agriculture must enhance the resilience of people, communities and ecosystems, especially to climate change and market volatility; and

      o   Principle 5: Good governance is essential for the sustainability of both the natural and human systems.

      In order to cope with the rapid pace of change and increased uncertainty, sustainability must be seen as a process, rather than a singularly defined end point to be achieved. This, in turn, requires the development of technical, policy, governance and financing frameworks that support agricultural producers and resource managers engaged in a dynamic process of innovation. In particular:

      §  Policies and institutions are needed that provide incentives for the adoption of sustainable practices, to impose regulations and costs for actions that deplete or degrade natural resources, and to facilitate access to the knowledge and resources required;

      §  Sustainable agricultural practices must make full use of technology, research and development, though with much greater integration of local knowledge than in the past. This will require new and more robust partnerships between technical and investment-oriented organizations;

      §  Evidence-based planning and management of the agricultural sectors requires suitable statistics, geospatial information and maps, qualitative information and knowledge. Analysis should focus on both production systems and the underlying natural and socio-economic resources; and

      §  The challenges relating to stocks and utilization rates of natural resources often transcend national boundaries. International governance mechanisms and processes must support sustainable growth (and the equitable sharing of benefits) in all agriculture sectors, protecting natural resources and discouraging collateral damage.

      3)     In your experience, what are key best-practices and lessons-learned in fostering cross-sectoral linkages to protect and improve nutrition while preventing, adapting to climate change and reducing and removing greenhouse gas emissions in projects?

      1.1   Key Best-Practices in Improving Nutrition and Climate Change Adaptation: The agricultural sector both affects and is affected by climate change. While it contributes to mitigating it, agriculture affects climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from croplands and animals. It is affected by loss of agricultural land, salt water intrusion, changes in temperature and rainfall regimes and increasingly severe weather hazards. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in partnership with Procasur Africa, CARE  (relief agency) in Kenya and the Cgiar Research Program on Climate Change & Food Security (CCAFS), organized a learning route titled “Natural Resource Management and Climate Change Adaptation best practices: The Experience in Kenya,” that took place between the 7th and the 13th of July 2014. Seventeen participants from various IFAD-supported projects, implementing partners and civil society organizations in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Lesotho and Kenya all met together on an 8-day journey across the districts and rural communities of Kenya.

      A Learning Route is an experience that transforms its participants, leading them to become agents of change in their own organizations. It is a capacity-building procedure with a proven track record of successfully combining local knowledge and experiences. The Learning Route is based on the idea that successful solutions to existing problems are already present within rural areas, and that those solutions might be adapted and spread to other contexts. This journey gets participants to understand these changes through peer learning, discussing directly with rural communities who are the promoters of the identified best practices and successful innovations (, accessed on March 31, 2015).

      1.2   Lessons-Learned in Improving Nutrition and Climate Change Adaptation: Only by implementing real changes across the global food system will we be able to achieve food security and a stable climate for the long term. This will require a break from business as usual and a significant shared commitment by policy makers, investors, agricultural producers, consumers, food companies and researchers. Followings are lessons learned in improving nutrition and climate change adaptation initiatives:

      §  Integrate food security and sustainable agriculture into global and national policies:

      o   Establish a work program on mitigation and adaptation in agriculture in accordance with the principles and provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), based on Article 2, as a first step to inclusion of agriculture in the mainstream of international climate change policy.

      o   Make sustainable, climate-friendly agriculture central to Green Growth44 and the Rio+20 Earth Summit.

      o   Develop common platforms at global, regional and national levels for coherent dialogue and policy action related to climate change, agriculture, crisis response and food security, at global, regional and national levels. These include fostering country-level coalitions for food security and building resilience, particularly in countries most vulnerable to climate shocks.

      §  Significantly raise the level of global investment in sustainable agriculture and food systems in the next decade:

      o   Implement and strengthen the existing G8 L'Aquila programs and commitments to sustainable agriculture and food security, including long-term commitments for financial and technical assistance in food production and to empower smallholder farmers.

      o   Adjust national research and development budgets, and build integrated scientific capacity, to reflect the significance of sustainable agriculture in economic growth, poverty reduction and long-term environmental sustainability, and focus on key food security issues (for example, developing nutritious non-grain crops and reducing post-harvest losses).

      o   Increase knowledge of best practices and access to innovation by supporting revitalized extension services, technology transfer and communities of practice (for example, North-South, South-South, cross-commodity and farmer-to-farmer exchanges), with emphasis on low-to high-income countries and on women farmers.

      §  Sustainably intensify agricultural production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other negative environmental impacts of agriculture:

      o   Develop, facilitate and reward multi-benefit farming systems that enable more productive and resilient livelihoods and ecosystems, with emphasis on closing yield gaps and improving nutrition.

      o   Introduce strategies for minimizing ecosystem degradation and rehabilitating degraded environments, with emphasis on community-designed programs.

      o   Empower marginalized food producers (particularly women) to increase productivity of a range of appropriate crops by strengthening land and water rights, increasing access to markets, finance and insurance, and enhancing local capacity (for example through farmer and community-based organizations).

      o   Identify and modify subsidies (such as for water and electricity) that provide incentives for farmers to continue agricultural practices that deplete water supplies or destroy native ecosystems. Introduce compensation schemes that target the poor.

      o   Couple economic incentives for sustainable intensification of agriculture with strengthening governance of land tenure and land zoning to prevent further loss of forests, wetlands and grasslands.

      §  Develop specific programs and policies to assist populations and sectors that are most vulnerable to climate changes and food insecurity:

      o   Develop funds that respond to climate shocks, such as 'index-linked funds ' that provide rapid relief when extreme weather events affect communities, through public-private partnerships based on agreed principles.

      o   Moderate excessive food price fluctuations by sharing country information on production forecasts and stocks, strengthening market databases, promoting open and responsive trade systems, establishing early warning systems and allowing tax-free export and import for humanitarian assistance. This includes embedding safeguards related to import surges and trade distortions in trade agreements.

      o   Create and support safety nets and other programs to help vulnerable populations in all countries become food secure (for example, cash and in-kind transfers, employment guarantee schemes, programs to build resilience, health and nutrition, delivery of education and seeds of quick growing foods in times of famine).

      o   Establish robust emergency food reserves and financing capacity that can deliver rapid humanitarian responses to vulnerable populations threatened by food crises.

      o   Create and support platforms for harmonizing and coordinating global donor programs, policies and activities, paying particular attention to systematically integrating climate change risk management, adaptation and mitigation co-benefits, and improved local nutritional outcomes.

      §  Reshape food access and consumption patterns to ensure basic nutritional needs are met and to foster healthy and sustainable eating patterns worldwide:

      o   Address chronic under-nutrition and hunger by harmonizing development policy and coordinating regional programs to improve livelihoods and access to services among food-insecure rural and urban communities.

      o   Promote positive changes in the variety and quantity of diets through innovative education campaigns, which target young consumers especially, and through economic incentives that align the marketing practices of retailers and processors with public health and environmental goals.

      o   Promote and support a coherent set of evidence-based sustainability metrics and standards to monitor and evaluate food security, nutrition and health, practices and technologies across supply chains, agricultural productivity and efficiency, resource use and environmental impacts, and food system costs and benefits. This should include providing consumers with clear labelling.

      §  Reduce loss and waste in food systems, targeting infrastructure, farming practices, processing, distribution and household habits:

      o   In all sustainable agriculture development programs, include research and investment components focusing on reducing waste, from production to consumption, by improving harvest and postharvest management and food storage and transport.

      o   Develop integrated policies and programs that reduce waste in food supply chains, such as economic innovation to enable low-income producers to store food during periods of excess supply and obligations for distributors to separate and reduce food waste.

      o   Promote dialogue and convene working partnerships across food supply chains to ensure that interventions to reduce waste are effective and efficient (for example, redirecting food waste to other purposes), and do not create perverse incentives.

      §  Create comprehensive, shared, integrated information systems that encompass human and ecological dimensions:

      o   Sustain and increase investment in regular monitoring, on the ground and by public domain remote sensing networks, to track changes in land use, food production, climate, the environment, human health and well-being worldwide.

      o   Support improved transparency and access to information in global food markets and invest in interlinked information systems with common protocols that build on existing institutions.

      o   Develop, validate and implement spatially explicit data and decision-support systems that integrate biophysical and socioeconomic information and that enable policy makers to navigate trade-offs among agricultural intensification, nutritional security and environmental consequences.

    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)

      1. From your knowledge and experience how have trade agreements and rules affected the four dimensions of food security (availability, access, utilization, stability)?             

      As a necessary element to human survival, food is a human right. Small, local family farms are the bedrock of traditional rural communities and global food security- the ability of countries to produce the food they need to survive. Yet the global food supply is increasingly falling under the control of giant multinational corporations. Large agribusinesses have rewritten the rules of the global agricultural economy, using “free trade” agreements to turn food into a commodity for profit rather than a human right. The global corporatization of agriculture has had disastrous effects on farmers, food security, and the environment.

      Global agricultural policy used to be geared towards maintaining stability in global markets. Supply management programs, also called commodities agreements, helped maintain production around the same as demand, so that farmers didn’t produce an oversupply that would cause prices to collapse. These programs helped keep market prices above a price floor, which is a minimum price over the cost of production that farmers need to survive. In addition, countries have historically promoted their local economies by protecting domestic production from foreign competition. Most countries maintain taxes on foreign imports, called tariffs, as well as outright limits on the quantities of foreign imports, called quotas, in order to favor local economic development. This has especially been true in the agricultural sector, where local food production is key to food sovereignty.

      Feeding the world in 2050 when our global population is expected to reach over 9 billion is one of the most daunting challenges of our time. In the face of climate change, and with scarce land and water resources, we must rapidly address this challenge and lay in place the right frameworks to boost food production and freeze the environmental footprint of agriculture all along the food value chain. We must also unlock the potential of millions of small producers who could be part of the solution to feed the planet.

      Trade is an integral aspect of increased productivity and food security. All farmers, regardless of size, will only produce more when they see an available market. These decisions are no longer as local as they once were. With agricultural value chains becoming more complex, actions taken in far off capitals – and regional and international institutions as well – will have an impact on the rural small farmer more than ever before. The laws and regulations governing the different aspects of value chain development, many of which are part of trade agreements and institutions, also directly tie into market opportunity and productivity.

      The potential gains associated with increased trade and easier movement of goods and services are becoming increasingly clear. Trade has now become a significant component of food security efforts and the broader agricultural development agenda. A strong enabling environment – with transparent and well-implemented laws, regulations, and trade policy – is central to value chain development. One of the biggest challenges in creating this enabling environment will be closing the gap between the system on the books and the realities in the market. This applies to domestic and regional laws and regulations, implementation of trade agreements, and transparent regulatory systems alike.

      There are positive developments taking place at the intersection of trade, agriculture, and food security. But trade needs to be further integrated and better used as a tool for market development and productivity enhancement. In order to open markets effectively and to the benefit of all, innovation from both the public and private sectors will be increasingly important.

      Overall, the 21st century will require a trade policy that is forward-looking and innovative in order to take advantage of future market opportunities. Trade can and should impact individuals positively, add value economy-wide, and deliver broader food security and development benefits. The new vision for agriculture should focuses on three strategic areas:

      §  Facilitating leadership commitment to action by facilitating dialogue, commitment building and collaboration among diverse stakeholders;

      §  Supporting country transformation by catalyzing and supporting action-oriented, multi-stakeholder partnerships at regional and country levels; and

      §  Promoting innovation and best practice by facilitating exchange of innovation, experiences and best practices among stakeholders and regions, and monitoring partnership impact to track progress.

      2.    What is your knowledge and experience with creating coherence between food security measures and trade rules?  Can rights-based approaches play a role?

      Trade in agriculture is a vital part of international development. Ensuring that developing countries can have food security and benefit from international trade should be a priority for developed and developing countries alike. The right to food is a fundamental human right. Global commitments to make food security a reality for all people recognize that fair rules for international trade within a multilateral trade system are essential to achieve this goal. In developing countries, on average almost 60% of people are involved in food production. Trading food at fair prices is essential for their short and long term development. The link between trade and food security becomes clear through an examination of the basic principles, specific policies, and implications of international agreements for people who cannot take food security for granted. Basic principles and specific policies are both important in the debate about food security and trade liberalization:

      • First, the points of intersection between food security and the agreement should be clarified.
      • Second, the relationship between international commitments to food security and commitments to trade liberalization must be assessed in order to have coherence.
      • Third, ways to broaden the definition of food security and its application within trade agreements should be explored.

      Agricultural production is about our human need for food, not simply about markets. It is true that not all regions of the world can or should attempt to be competitive in the area of agriculture exports. Households and countries may be able to rely on the international supply of food to satisfy their needs, but only if the rules for trade are fair and give priority to the need for food security. In short, developed and developing countries must work together to ensure that more liberalized trade agreements are compatible with food security.

      3.    How can a food security strategy, including components that explicitly support small-scale farmers in agro-biodiverse settings, be implemented in ways that might be compatible with a global market-based approach to food security? 

      Food security is recognized world-wide as a fundamental dimension of national development, good governance and basic human rights. The generally accepted definition of food security is: “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food, enabling them to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. Food security is recognized as a basic human right under international law. However, the global food system today is beset by serious challenges and risks:

      • production and prices have become more volatile; 
      • hunger and poverty levels remain high, particularly among farming communities; and
      • unsustainable practices exacerbate environmental challenges. 

      By the year 2050, the world’s population will have risen to 9 billion. Feeding this population will require substantial changes to ensure the production, distribution and consumption of sufficient nutritious and sustainably produced food. As the economy grows and markets develop for a variety of products, subsistence production is gradually replaced by production for the market. This tendency is further strengthened when an economy opens up to the outside world. If this happens at an advanced stage, when the population has already crossed the threshold of hunger, as has been the case in the Western world, the shift from subsistence food production to market production does not pose a serious problem to food security. In fact, it may even enrich the diet of the population by enabling it to obtain a wide variety of food from all over the world. But if market orientation occurs at an early stage, when a large section of the population has yet to secure access to sufficient food to guarantee a minimum required diet, questions are bound to arise regarding its impact on food security.

      Questions have indeed arisen in recent years in the context of the macroeconomic reforms currently sweeping the Developing World. Markets are opening up both internally and externally, thus providing incentives to farmers to shift towards cash crops. Structural adjustment programs are strengthening these incentives by making production for export more profitable than before. Partly as a result of these policy reforms and also because of increasing urbanization, agriculture can be expected to become increasingly diversified and commercialized in coming years.

      In order to gain further insight into the importance of subsistence income on the ‘down’ side, it is necessary to consider the forces that are responsible for reducing subsistence income. Two kinds of forces need to be distinguished here. They may be referred to as ‘push’ forces and ‘pull’ forces. Pull forces are those that divert household resources from subsistence production to potentially more attractive market-oriented activities. Push forces operate when the loss of resources (such as land, labour and capital) compel households to cut down on subsistence activities. These two forces must be distinguished because the loss of subsistence income is arguably more likely to entail losses in food security when it is caused by push forces rather than by pull forces. Most importantly, pro-poor transformation of rural economies requires increasing agricultural productivity and efficiency along value chains, diversifying economic activity, and integrating the rural economy into the broader economy through sound market systems. And for the rural and urban poor alike food security is rooted in sufficient, sustainable income. Through value chain and market system analysis, it is possible to:

      a)    identify constraints in agricultural markets, including input and output markets; and

      b)    develop solutions that change the structure of incentives so that market interactions benefit the poor.

    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)
      Dear Stefano Marras,
      Warm greetings from the S. N. D. T. Women’s University (SNDTWU), Mumbai, India. I am sending herewith (as email attachment) my contribution/inputs toFSN discussion online on Street food and urban and periurban agriculture and horticulture: perspectives for a strategic coalition towards food security. It runs in 29 pages. I hope you will find my contribution interesting from research and academic point of view. I look forward to collaborating with you in your future projects. Kindly acknowledge receipt of this email and enclosed attachment. With best regards.
      Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra (Ph. D.),
      Technical Assistant,
      Population Education Resource Centre (PERC),
      Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work,
      S. N. D. T. Women's University,
    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)

      1.     What role can schools and universities play in promoting agricultural careers to youth? Please share any relevant programs you are aware of.

      Youth development, the process of growing up and developing one’s capacities, happens no matter what we do. The challenge is to promote ‘positive’ youth development and plan ‘quality’ experiences with young people. Degrees in agricultural education can be used to teach agriculture or obtain a job in an agricultural related work field. This degree can give students the qualifications and knowledge necessary to teach agricultural classes such as the courses offered at the high school level. Students will be required to complete agriculture classes as well as education classes in order to become qualified to teach. A bachelor’s degree in agricultural education will qualify a person to teach classes all the way up to the high school level. A Masters degree is required in order to teach on the college level. An agricultural education degree also gives the qualifications to do extension work for universities and agriculture related companies and organizations.

      Agriculure’s image among young people is changing where youth are now turning to farming and the food system as a viable career path. Increased access to education and new forms of agriculture-based enterprise mean that young people can be a vital force for innovation in family farming, increasing incomes and well-being for both farmers and local communities. Young people can transform the agricultural sector by applying new technologies and new thinking.

      Today, several universities, colleges, schools and research institutions, across the regions of the globe, are promoting agricultural career among youth population, both men and women. The Future Farmers of America (FFA, located in Virginia in the USA, is one such organization. The FFA, officially called the National FFA Organization, is an educational organization for high school and college students who are interested in agriculture. The National FFA Organization works in conjunction with the National FFA Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that seeks partnerships with corporations, foundations, and government agencies to help provide funding for FFA programs. The FFA's main objective is to develop in its members qualities of leadership, character, scholarship, cooperation, and citizenship through agricultural education. The FFA is an integral part of many high school agriculture programs. The organization operates in cooperation with the Office of Vocational and Adult Education in the U.S. Department of Education, as well as with state and local boards for vocational and agricultural education.

      The FFA’s many programs include the New Century Farmer Program, which helps young people become aware of new opportunities in twenty-first century agriculture. New Century farmers are sent on traveling seminars to meet with and learn from innovative professional farmers and agriculture educators around the country. FFA Global Programs send members to foreign countries where they can learn the value, traditions, and role of agriculture in other cultures.

      Because the majority of FFA members hope to pursue careers related to agriculture, the FFA sponsors numerous career development events at the chapter, state, and national level. These events help members explore the hundreds of career options available in the modern agriculture industry, from agronomy to food technology, forestry, floriculture, agricultural communications, and environmental and natural resources management. The FFA also provides information, incentives, and financial aid to members who wish to become college and high school teachers of agriculture.

      Another career development program, Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE), offers members an opportunity for “hands on application of the agricultural skills and principles” they learned in the classroom. A student involved in SAE may be placed in an agriculture-related job or may start his or her own agriculture-related business under the guidance of an adult mentor.

      The FFA operates on local, state and national levels and its agricultural education program provides students with a well-rounded, practical approach to learning through classroom education. It focuses on agricultural topics, hands-on supervised career experience, as well as provides leadership opportunities, and challenges students' agricultural skills. Further, the FFA helps students develop their leadership skills by participating in public speaking, skill contests, chapter meetings, award and recognition programs, committees and community projects. Moreover, FFA also motivates young people to make positive contributions to their schools, homes, communities and ultimately, their country. The FFA helps students develop their leadership skills by participating in public speaking, skill contests, chapter meetings, award and recognition programs, committees and community projects. Moreover, the FFA also motivates young people to make positive contributions to their:

      §  schools,

      §  homes,

      §  communities, and

      §  ultimately, their country.

      Any boy or girl aged twelve to twenty-one who is enrolled in an agriculture course or program is eligible to become a member of FFA. The FFA also includes honorary and alumni members.

      2.     What approaches are most successful in promoting the equality of female farmers?

      Women are a critical component of agriculture in developing countries, contributing to ensuring food security and nutrition. They are farmers, unpaid workers on family farms, paid or unpaid agricultural laborers on other farms and agricultural enterprises, food processors and vendors, home gardeners, cooks, and carers for children and the elderly. Further, due to their specific roles in food production, many women are the repositories of knowledge about cultivation, processing, and preservation of nutritious and locally adapted crop varieties.

      Given the right possibilities, such knowledge can allow women to be innovation leaders in sustainable agriculture. Unfortunately, despite their wealth of knowledge and capacity, women farmers are neglected by policy makers, often not being recognized as “productive farmers”. Their farm work is frequently unpaid or under-valued; they tend to be excluded from decision-making; and they do not have equal access to land and other resources, credit, markets, education, extension services and inputs.

      Collective action is a powerful means for women to increase productivity and access to markets whilst sharing knowledge, information and productive assets including land, livestock, and credit. Supportive collective structures help smallholders through:

      §  economies of scale,

      §  greater bargaining power,

      §  facilitating access to agricultural services, and

      §  strengthening political voice.

      Such supportive collective structures include:

      o   producer organizations,

      o   farmer field schools,

      o   community - managed savings and credit groups,

      o   enterprise and marketing cooperatives,

      o   cow banks, and

      o   water sharing committees.

      They also reap additional social benefits by creating a safe environment for women to meet, share information and tackle social problems such as “gender-based violence”. Groups can be especially empowering for women, providing opportunities to participate in decision-making and take on leadership roles. In order to maximize the benefit of women’s collective action, it is important to understand what strategies are most effective in different contexts and for different groups of women.

      In some contexts, “women - only groups” can provide “enabling spaces” where marginalized women can gain self - esteem, confidence and skills by creating a space for them to identify their needs, understand their rights and begin to articulate their demands. “Women - only groups” can also provide a step towards wider participation in mixed groups and other “decision - making forums”. For example, in Northeastern Brazil, women farmers have created a forum through which they exchange their knowledge and experiences on agro-ecological farming, while strengthening their identity as rural women and building their ‘self – confidence’. For many, this forum helped to demystify the common notion that women are ‘helpers’, whose labor is of less value than that of men.

      Involvement in mixed groups can also be empowering, although work is required to raise equity within the groups. Activities pursued by many cooperatives are generally skewed towards men. For example, in many countries, land is usually required as collateral for some activities, but women are not usually the registered owners of the land they farm. Some approaches that have helped address this gender imbalance include:

      o   working directly with individual cooperatives to raise awareness of the issue of women’s participation and empowerment,

      o   supporting cooperatives in drafting gender - sensitive by-laws,

      o   making their activities and benefits relevant and accessible to women, and

      o   training model cooperatives on gender-sensitive business plan development.

      Presented below is brief description of case study on “Promoting Gender-Sensitive Cooperatives in Ethiopia”:

      As Africa’s largest producer of honey and beeswax, and the world’s fourth largest beeswax producer, smallholders in Ethiopia have a ready market. Yet, low productivity, poor quality, and limited market access force smallholders to sell locally at lower prices.

      “An Ethiopian woman sells her seed and grain products at a women-run store at the Becho-Woliso Farmers Cooperative Union”

      Through formation of the Zembaba Bee Products Development and Marketing Cooperative Union, small - scale producers were provided training in production techniques and the use of new technology that was more socially acceptable for women. The cooperatives and project partners encouraged local government to expand extension services and help the cooperatives to build capacity, ensuring that training was available at times when women could attend.

      New village honey collection centers allowed women to engage in processing and marketing and gave them better access to information. Women also began making the specialist overalls, gloves, and veils required to handle bees. These measures have helped to increase women’s confidence and overcome the gender specific barriers to women’s participation in honey production. Women have organized themselves into self-help groups and are negotiating with cooperatives to revise the by-laws on women's membership and introduce a functional adult literacy intervention. Gradually through this collective action, they are becoming involved in the management of the union and cooperatives.

      3.     What measures can development organizations and governments take to make rural areas more appealing for future farmers?

      Young people in rural areas have often found themselves marginalized both by decisions on the formulation and development of rural policy and by decision-making processes related to youth policy. However, young people in the countryside are more profoundly affected than other young people by the transitions taking place in contemporary society. A number of serious problems confront young people in rural areas: relatively high unemployment, marginalization, a lack of appropriate resources, a level of education below that available in towns and cities and poor career prospects. Jobs in farming (formerly the main source of employment in the countryside) are becoming fewer and young farmers who want to take over a farm face many hurdles. Given these difficulties, the question young people face is whether to stay in the countryside or to go in search of opportunities elsewhere. The changes lying ahead in rural areas, in particular in central and eastern European countries, will have a fundamental impact on the opportunities available to young people continuing to live in the countryside. Society must provide the resources necessary to enable young people in rural areas to take responsibility for their own future. Developmental organizations and national governments, across the regions of the globe, should envisage strengthening following efforts for the purpose of making rural areas more appealing for future farmers:

      §  Add agriculture to the curriculum,

      §  Offer young farmers a voice, and

      §  Innovation.

      Also, the governments should:

      o   consult rural youth organizations on the drafting of rural and youth policies, particularly where the setting up and implementation of education and training programs are concerned;

      o   pay particular attention to the problems of young farmers, make it easier for them to set up in farming, provide training appropriate to their needs, help to improve the public image of farming and introduce increased tax relief for acquiring or developing farms;

      o   ensure that educational and training opportunities in rural areas are maintained and developed and that opportunities for further study are not found only in urban areas. Priority must be given to keeping rural primary and secondary schools open;

      o   take steps to develop distance learning in rural areas, promote access to the latest technology and encourage the establishment of businesses in the countryside;

      o   train teachers specializing in educational fields adapted to the needs of rural areas;

      o   introduce a training program for young managers of small and medium-sized businesses in the countryside;

      o   provide support, including financial support, for the development of rural youth organizations, with particular emphasis on youth organization programs and projects to promote rural development;

      o   instruct local authorities in rural areas and their associations to set up pilot development projects (i. e., involving businesspeople in the provision of training and mentoring for the young, setting up youth business centers providing equipment for a given period (seedbeds for rural enterprises) and offering grants to companies that employ young people, etc);

      o   encourage young people to participate in local political life in rural areas (through consultation, encouragement to participate in decisions concerning them, youth councils, etc);

      o   encourage job creation in rural areas by means of support programs for people wishing to retire, making it easier to transmit skills and transfer operations and ownership;

      o   promote new activities and help young people to find alternative employment in the countryside;

      o   encourage the development of communications, transport and new information technologies in rural areas, especially the most remote ones; and

      o   promote sustainable agriculture and rural development and encourage local initiatives for a better protection of nature and the environment.

      Furthermore, strengthening the technical and entrepreneurial skills of young people is of paramount importance in rural areas, where literacy and training rates are often lower than elsewhere. Farmer field schools are platforms for training and experience-sharing between farmers and have proven effective in knowledge, technology and innovation dissemination.

      Agriculture is currently a source of growth, and its development is essential to ensure global food security. Young people are needed to meet these challenges. However, as is the case with their elders, constraints will have to be overcome, mainly regarding access to land and funding, while also improving training. The necessary transformation and modernization of agriculture also requires the increased appeal of agriculture for young people and greater productivity, but it will also reduce labor requirements. Rapid urbanization will also lead to the development of medium-sized cities and could generate new jobs for young people in rural areas.

      4.     Please share any relevant case studies about empowering women and youth in agriculture to achieve better food security.

      Presented below is description of selected case studies about empowering women and youth in agriculture to achieve better food security:

      Case Study – I: Tanzania: Women’s Empowerment: Improving Resilience, Income and Food Security (WE-RISE):

      Funded by the Australian Government (AusAID) through CARE Australia, this project is improving food security, income and resilience for chronically food-insecure rural women in Tanzania through their social and economic empowerment. The Lindi and Mtwara regions of Tanzania face issues of poverty, food insecurity, variable climate and poor infrastructure. Agriculture, the main occupation, is subject to many constraints such as crops vulnerable to disease and extreme weather fluctuations. In recent years inconsistent and unreliable rainfall, in addition to floods and droughts, has made this even more difficult. Cultural and religious norms shape negative attitudes towards women. For instance, many husbands assume absolute control over their wives when they marry, and decide whether or not their wives can join groups. Gender inequality is rooted within local communities and gender-based violence is common. These norms make it difficult for women to access land, education and markets. The most vulnerable women in the community often have to sell their labor to others, in order to earn enough money for food. This prevents them from being able to work their own plots.

      Case Study – II: Vietnam: Women in Aquaculture - Success Story in Vietnam's Northern Uplands:

      Poverty and food insecurity are common conditions among the ethnic minority communities of Vietnam's remote northern upland regions. This is especially true in the northwestern provinces of Son La, Lai Chau, and Hoa Binh. While the area is rich in water resources such as reservoirs and rivers, many families typically earn only a subsistence livelihood through small fish- and rice-farming activities. The full potential of the area has never been fully realized, and until recently, many households lived below the poverty line. Gender roles and division of labor among these ethnic groups have become defined and structured over the years. The task of fish farming has traditionally been the domain and responsibility of men. Women have had little if any involvement, particularly in matters that require decisions about which technologies to use, what investments to make, or how revenues could be increased. Though women are the linchpins of their families, tradition has limited their influence in these matters. Some of achievements of the project are discussed below:

      §  Empowering Local Women:  Social and economic change came to the provinces in 1999 after they were selected to participate in a three-year pilot project aimed at alleviating poverty and malnutrition among ethnic households. The objective was to develop and promote community-based aquaculture activities as a viable livelihood. The strategy, however, departed from traditional norms by placing a high priority on engaging and empowering local women as key players. This progressive concept and its subsequent design were the result of collaborative efforts of the Vietnam Ministry of Fisheries, provincial authorities, Research Institute for Aquaculture No. 1, and the U.N. Development Program and Food and Agriculture Organization.

      §  Education and Training: In preparation for their new role, women were given priority under the Aquaculture Techniques Training program to learn methodologies of pond, cage, and rice/fish culture. They were also trained in resource assessment, planning, and implementation. "I learned that fish culture was easy and brought many advantages”, said Vi Thi Mung, who is now a commune project farmer. Vi Thi Mung further said: "Our rice fields were not enough and our income was very low. After starting rice/fish farming, we earned money for daily marketing, medicine, and the children’s school fees”. Throughout the training process, the women also acquired practical information pertaining to nutrition, money matters, and community activism. These tools greatly strengthened their self-esteem by providing opportunities to increase their financial status and elevate their social standing within their families, local communities, and culture as a whole.

      §  Grass Roots Involvement:  Participation at the commune, district, and provincial levels was integral to the success of the project. Its roots, however, were firmly set at the local commune level to ensure local responsibility, ownership, and sustainability beyond the term of the project. Each of 50 communes was spearheaded by a six-member committee called the Commune Action Group, which consisted of the commune extension worker, the best-performing local aquaculture farmer, and representatives from the local units of the Farmers' Association, Women's Union, Youth Union, and People's Committee. At least two of these representatives had to be women. The committees' task was to formulate a plan to develop aquaculture as a viable livelihood in their respective communes. This included facilitating and coordinating activities and mobilizing the local communities and organizations to assist in this effort. The Commune Action Group plans were reviewed and further refined by action groups at six district and three provincial levels. These groups also provided additional technical assistance, as well as ongoing leadership and support with implementation and assessment.

      §  Communities Strengthened: This system created a ripple effect of success throughout the region. A total of 151 "result demonstration" farmers and more than 5,900 ethnic minority "fellow" farmers were involved as a result of the extension of this model. Over half the beneficiaries were women. Working together, women and men created and successfully managed grow out ponds, nurseries, hatcheries, rice/fish and cage culture, and integrated agriculture/aquaculture farms under this project. Financing for these activities was made available through a micro credit and savings scheme established to provide direct financial support to the farmers. Many took advantage of the opportunity, and most communes fulfilled the responsibility for 100% repayment of their loans.

      Additionally, the skills of extension personnel and field staff at the province, district, and commune levels were strengthened, and local organizations such as the Women’s Union and Farmers' Association became active in advocating for their communities. Partnerships were forged between aquaculture organizations and institutions from other agricultural sectors. And the women in whom so much had been invested had the opportunity to become active partners in raising their communities' standards of living.
      The project ended in 2002, but gained recognition as a viable and sustainable model for promoting development and reducing poverty in rural areas. In particular, the Commune Action Groups’ role in mobilizing local communities and organizing participatory extension and credit support services is being considered for replication under the Hunger Eradication and Poverty Reduction Program in Vietnam.

    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)

      Warm greetings from the S. N. D. T. Women's University (SNDTWU), Mumbai, India and thanks for your mail. I am sending (see attachment below) my comments / contribution on how to improve the uptake and relevance of FSN information for decision making.
      It runs in 12 pages. I hope you will find it interesting and relevant.

      With best regards.



      Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra (Ph. D.),
      Technical Assistant,
      Population Education Resource Centre (PERC),
      Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work,
      S. N. D. T. Women's University,
      Mumbai - 400020, Maharashtra, India.

    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)

      1. Were the first ten years of implementation of the Right to Food Guidelines a success? Or were you disappointed? Is the glass half full or have empty?

      The food industry has made highly visible pledges to curtail children's food marketing, sell fewer unhealthy products in schools, and label foods in responsible ways. Ceding regulation to industry carries opportunities but is highly risky. In some industries (e.g., tobacco), self-regulation has been an abject failure, but in others (e.g., forestry and marine fisheries), it has been more successful.

      2. Looking at the last ten years, what are success stories of the progressive realization of the right to food? And what are the biggest challenges?

      • (a) Success stories of the progressive realization of the right to food: I find following success story on right to food from Brazil:

      Four out of ten Brazilian Indians live in extreme poverty, and more than half of indigenous children are anemic. The goal of the Joint Programme (entitled “MDGs beyond averages: Promoting Food Security and Nutrition for Indigenous Children in Brazil”) was to support the government in its efforts to improve the food security and nutritional status of indigenous children in the regions of Dourados and Alto Rio Solimões. The programme focused on two objectives:

      • Promoting access to public programmes and services, with the aim of reducing cases of malnutrition and the infant mortality rate; and
      • Promoting the sustainability of production and access to food by strengthening local productive systems that rely on and respect the food and economic culture of the target communities.

      The initiatives focused on children; however, emphasis was also placed on women, since child malnutrition can only be addressed effectively if the mother-child unit is taken into account. All initiatives relied on full participation from the communities and public agents. Crosscutting actions were undertaken to empower indigenous communities, leaders and organizations and to strengthen public capacities. Some of the achievements of the Programme were:

      • Activities with the potential to become pilot programmes were carried out to support breastfeeding and supplementary feeding.
      • Knowledge was shared among indigenous and non-indigenous peoples regarding health rights and culture.
      • The nutrition surveillance system was strengthened.
      1. Challenges: Soaring world food prices, the increasing competition of biofuel production with food production, and the growing awareness of the impacts of climate change have put the world food problem squarely back on the global development agenda. This is therefore a rare opportunity to mobilize human rights, and the right to adequate food in particular, as the guiding framework for policies and action. Nonetheless political leadership all over the world is still locked in patterns of action that have led to persistent and growing world hunger, with too much emphasis on technological fixes, on “breadbasket” areas to feed the poor, and treating food as a commodity little different from other traded commodities.

      3. How can the Right to Food Guidelines be used better to accelerate the realization of the right to food? What would be the role of the Committee on World Food Security?

      National governments, as appropriate and in consultation with relevant stakeholders and pursuant to their national laws, should consider adopting a national human-rights based strategy for the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security as part of an overarching national development strategy, including poverty reduction strategies, where they exist. The elaboration of these strategies should begin with a careful assessment of:

      • existing national legislation, policy and administrative measures;
      • current programmes;
      • existing constraints; and
      • availability of existing resources.

      Furthermore, the national governments should formulate the measures necessary to remedy any weakness, and propose an agenda for change and the means for its implementation and evaluation. These strategies could include objectives, targets, benchmarks and time frames; and actions to formulate policies, identify and mobilize resources, define institutional mechanisms, allocate responsibilities, coordinate the activities of different actors, and provide for monitoring mechanisms. As appropriate, such strategies could address all aspects of the food system, including the production, processing, distribution, marketing and consumption of safe food. They could also address access to resources and to markets as well as parallel measures in other fields. These strategies should, in particular, address the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, as well as special situations such as natural disasters and emergencies.

      4. We are often criticized for doing advocacy only: Where is the evidence that human rights based approach leads to better outcomes? What’s your answer to this challenging question?

      Food security is a part of the human right obligations by the states. From this angle, it means for instance the adoption of a national strategy to ensure food and nutrition security for all, without any discrimination, and the formulation of policies and corresponding benchmarks. It should also identify the resources available to meet the objectives and the most cost-effective way of using them.

      The right to food offers a coherent framework with which to address critical dimensions in the fight against hunger. It emphasizes human rights principles such as participation, non-discrimination, transparency and empowerment, and provides mechanisms for increased accountability and the rule of law. It is States’ primary obligation, individually and through international co-operation, to take necessary measures to meet the vital food needs of their people, especially of vulnerable groups and households. In this respect, a peaceful, stable and enabling political, social and economic environment at national and international levels is fundamental for states to ensure adequate priority for food security and poverty eradication.

      Food is globally mostly produced by private producers and delivered in market economy. States don´t have any obligation to deliver food free of charge, but it must create a judicial and policy environment that enables right to adequate food without any discrimination and using all available resources. The land rights itself are a civil law issue, but equal access to land of men and women and all minorities is a human rights affair.

      Food security is a complex issue and cannot be tackled without a holistic approach. Several policies such as trade, agriculture, environment and energy have an influence on food security, and this underlines the importance of policy coherence: These policies should be in compliance and support the objectives of development policy or at least not work against it.

      Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra (Ph. D.), Technical Assistant, Population Education Resource Centre (PERC), Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work, S. N. D. T. Women's University, Patkar Hall Building, First Floor, Room. No.: 03, 1, Nathibai Thackerey Road, Mumbai - 400020, Maharashtra, India ( Email: [email protected]   Tel.: +91-022-22066892 (O) +91–022–28090363 (R) +09224380445 (M)


    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)

      1. What issues should be addressed by the Committee in the biennium 2016-2017?

      • Women are the central drivers of change: Subsistence farming is often an immediate means to food security at the household level.
      • National and regional capacity to address food insecurity must be strengthened: Governance constraints and continuing challenges at the national and regional levels can undermine efforts to respond to food insecurity. The level of institutional capacity is considered a key determinant for the attainment of food security objectives in many countries. Specific governance issues related to food insecurity vary enormously within countries and regions. Lack of integration between national policies and implementation mechanisms at the local level, such as investments in infrastructure to support “farm – to – market” transportation and “access – to – market” information, and limited extension services to ensure appropriation by farmers of new agricultural practices that could boost sustainable agricultural productivity are examples of important factors limiting improvements to food security.

      2. Explain the issue and describe why you are proposing it:

      1. Achieving food security is a significant and growing challenge in the developing world and highly critical to alleviating poverty. People’s health and education and their ability to work, assert their rights, and achieve equality are compromised by not having food security. In developing countries, women and girls are the most susceptible to the impacts of food insecurity because they have less access to and control over resources than men.
      2. There are numerous causes of food insecurity. These include population growth and rising food, transportation, and agricultural costs. As well, the recent economic downturn has resulted in reduced global investment in food and agricultural development.

      3. What kind of activity do you propose to address this issue? Which kind of CFS workstream should be put in place to address it?

      While improved ‘green water’ management will contribute to meeting the increased food demand, investments in ‘blue water’ infrastructure, such as dams and irrigation systems, are still needed. These investments need to ensure optimal returns to society at large, including more ‘jobs per drop’. A large proportion of the world’s food production is based on un-sustainable exploitation of groundwater that at the same time are threatened by increasing pollution by agro-chemicals.

    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)
      1. Details about the service providers (organizational form, agricultural activities, type of service offered, motivation of the provision of such services):

      a. Organizational form:

      Community-Based, Resource-Orientated Farmer Organizations: This type could be a village-level cooperative or association dealing with inputs needed by the members, the resource owners, to enhance the productivity of their businesses based on land, water, or animals. These organizations are generally small, have well-defined geographical areas, and are predominantly concerned about inputs. However, the client group is highly diversified in terms of crops and commodities.

      Farmer Organizations: These organizations specialize in a single commodity and opt for value-added products which have expanded markets. They are designated as output-dominated organizations. Not specific to any single community, they can obtain members from among the regional growers of that commodity who are interested in investing some share capital to acquire the most recent processing technology and professional manpower.

      b. Agricultural activities:

      Social farming also represents a new opportunity for farmers to deliver alternative services to broaden and diversify the scope of their activities and multi-functional role in society. This integration between agricultural and social activities can also provide farmers with new sources of income and enhance the image of agriculture in the ‘public eye’.

      c. Type of service offered:

      Social Farming adopts a multifunctional view of agriculture. The main products, in addition to saleable produce, are health and employment, education or therapy. Agriculture offers opportunities for people to participate in the varied rhythms of the day and the year, be it in growing food or working with domestic animals. Social farming includes agricultural enterprises and market gardens that integrate people with physical, mental or emotional disabilities; farms which offer openings for the socially disadvantaged, for young offenders or those with learning difficulties, people with drug dependencies, the long-term unemployed; active senior citizens; school and kindergarten farms  and many more. Prevention of illness, inclusion and a better quality of life are features of social agriculture. The special added value of social farming is the possibility for disadvantaged people to be integrated into a living context, where their personal capabilities are valued and enhanced. The presence of the farmers, the contact and relationship with other living beings (animals and plants, the assumption of specific responsibilities) are some of the key features of the rehabilitative practices generated by social farming.

      d. Motivation of the provision of such services:

      Motivation factors in the provision of such services are: (a) employed in social care & horticulture, and (b) securing tenancy. Further, the integration between agricultural practices and social services may also allow new sources of income for farmers, sharpening up the image of agriculture in society at the same time, and favouring the development of new relations between rural and urban citizens.

      1. Users (who they are, what is the main benefit for them):
      • Farm families,
      • Statutory service providers, and
      • Final beneficiaries, end users
      1. Financing methods or business model:
      • Putting investment decision into the hands of entrepreneurs: Collective decision-making among groups of business owners has been a key success of micro-finance.
      • Putting investment decision into the hands of entrepreneurs: Collective decision-making among groups of business owners has been a key success of micro-finance.
      1. Main challenges:

      Economic and social concerns present significant challenges to sustainable agriculture. Specific issues include:

      • farm profitability,
      • economic comparisons among conventional and non-conventional farming components,
      • viability of rural communities,
      • fair trade, and
      • agricultural labor.
      1. Who else is involved (public health sector, private sector, professional organizations etc.):
      • Private companies,
      • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs),
      • Community representatives,
      • Farmers associations, and
      • Research and extension agencies
      1. Related regulatory or policy frameworks:

      The special added value of social/care farming is the possibility for disadvantaged people to being integrated in a living context, where their personal potential may be valued and enhanced. The presence and the relationship with the farmers, the contact with other living beings – animal and vegetal ones – the assumption of specific responsibilities are some of the key-features of the rehabilitative practices generated by social farming.

      1. Any other relevant information:

      Care farming as a development strategy could be a good alternative to give a farm future prospective. Care farms use the whole or part of a farm, provide health, social or educational care services for one or a range of vulnerable groups of people and provide a supervised, structured programme of farming-related activities. The purpose of care farming is to promote mental and physical health by giving people the opportunity to spend time working on the land. Care farms can provide supervised, structured programs of farming-related activities, including animal husbandry, crop and vegetable production and woodland management.


      Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra (Ph. D.)
      Technical Assistant
      Population Education Resource Centre


    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)

      What do you think are the main drivers of and obstacles to development for Viet Nam in the next 30 years?

      1. Drivers of development: All players and stakeholders should be given fair and ample opportunity to be part of the programme (particularly those with the least resources or the greatest economic disenfranchisement).
      2. Obstacles to development: Techniques for restoring degraded areas and sequestering soil carbon to enhance future productivity should increase or stabilize food production. Where the path to long-term sustainability means reducing productivity in the short term, economic incentives and transitional programmes will be required. Specific actions must be taken to assist those most vulnerable to long- and short-term increases in the price of food rather than relying on trickledown economic effects. Appropriate targeting of a portfolio of interventions at key points of vulnerability, such as meeting the food and nutritional needs of mothers and young children, will have disproportionately positive payoffs in future productivity and development.

      Keeping in mind that each scenario represents an extreme future, how plausible do you think the scenarios for Viet Nam are? What would you like to add/change in each scenario to make it more plausible from your perspective?

      Viet Nam: The core issue of food security in Vietnam is the problem of poverty. Food supply is pretty full (rice and other food) but there are still large numbers of people who lack income to buy enough food. The rice farmers suffer a major cost in the food security policy of the Government. Growing rice is the most inefficient form of production for poor farmers if they want to increase their income. In some localities, income from rice is so low that farmers abandon fields if they are not allowed to convert land to other purposes. This makes negative impacts on the development of the country, land waste and does not help reduce poverty.

      What solutions would support the drivers of the best scenario and help overcome obstacles encountered on the way? How about overcoming the challenges of the worst scenarios? (all countries)

      Feeding the world in an equitable and sustainable manner must involve food production and the food system assuming a much higher priority in political agendas across the world. Shaping the debate around issues like jobs, economic development and public health rather than about “joint sacrifice” would be most effective. Government departments around the world should consider moving responsibility for water, food and energy into one department to improve effectiveness.

      What are the key first steps needed to get a change process in motion, and who needs to be involved? (all countries)

      There is a growing sense of urgency in establishing an effective and democratic agricultural system, which has in turn slowly given way to the emergence of various social movements and initiatives (such as the IPC) that highlight the importance of creating self-reliant local food systems. Food sovereignty is widely recognized as the right of all individuals to define their own agricultural policies, policies that are socially and economically appropriate in ensuring people’s physical and emotional well-being. This includes the right to food and the right to produce the food that’s necessary to sustain a society. For food security to be existent, it is paramount to ensure physical and economic access to a variety of food products that meet the dietary needs for a healthy living. There is need:

      1. to ensure adequate food supplies both at the national and local level,
      2. to create a reasonable degree of stability in the supply food network, and
      3. to ensure the ability of households to physically and economically access the food that is required.
    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)

      What do you think are the main drivers of and obstacles to development for Malawi in the next 30 years?

      1. Drivers of development: There are three priority areas. Firstly, there need to address the poverty and inequality facing large parts of the population. Secondly, the Malawi government needs to support economic growth and wealth creation to turn the economy around and sustainably help people out of poverty. Thirdly, what is needed is good governance that will actively promote an open society.
      2. Obstacles to development: The poor are vulnerable to a host of shocks and hazards. These include droughts that come in cycles of three to five years, yearly floods and storms, and man-made hazards such as economic shocks, and HIV and AIDS. Malawi's dependence on natural resources and rain-fed agriculture makes the country particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

      Keeping in mind that each scenario represents an extreme future, how plausible do you think the scenarios for Malawi are? What would you like to add/change in each scenario to make it more plausible from your perspective? 

      • Malawi: Main factors contributing to food insecurity include low crop production as a result of earlier dry spells, floods, and input shortages. Secondary factors include low food stocks and unstable maize supply.

      What solutions would support the drivers of the best scenario and help overcome obstacles encountered on the way? How about overcoming the challenges of the worst scenarios? (common to the 3 countries)

      Feeding the world in an equitable and sustainable manner must involve food production and the food system assuming a much higher priority in political agendas across the world. Shaping the debate around issues like jobs, economic development and public health rather than about “joint sacrifice” would be most effective. Government departments around the world should consider moving responsibility for water, food and energy into one department to improve effectiveness.

      What are the key first steps needed to get a change process in motion, and who needs to be involved?(common to the 3 countries)

      There is a growing sense of urgency in establishing an effective and democratic agricultural system, which has in turn slowly given way to the emergence of various social movements and initiatives (such as the IPC) that highlight the importance of creating self-reliant local food systems. Food sovereignty is widely recognized as the right of all individuals to define their own agricultural policies, policies that are socially and economically appropriate in ensuring people’s physical and emotional well-being. This includes the right to food and the right to produce the food that’s necessary to sustain a society. For food security to be existent, it is paramount to ensure physical and economic access to a variety of food products that meet the dietary needs for a healthy living. There is need:

      1. to ensure adequate food supplies both at the national and local level,
      2. to create a reasonable degree of stability in the supply food network, and
      3. to ensure the ability of households to physically and economically access the food that is required.
    • Santosh Kumar Mishra

      Population Education Resource Centre, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension (Previously known as: Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work), S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai (Retired: on June 30, 2020)


      What do you think are the main drivers of and obstacles to development for Zambia in the next 30 years?

      • Drivers of development: The quality of institutions, and of their governance, is a key influenceable factor affecting the achievement of poverty goals. These institutions may be public or private, formal or informal, rural or urban. From a poverty-reduction perspective, the extent to which they meet the priorities of poor people, women and other marginalized groups, will often be important. The role of these institutions, and the impact of any shortcomings, in poverty reduction, may be understood through the effects they have on development strategies. There are different ways in which these strategies may be formulated, but one means of doing so that is applicable in many countries is to categorize them as involving some combination of: (a) sustainable economic growth; (b) empowerment; (c) access to markets, services and assets; and (d) security.
      1. Obstacles to development: A combination of policy distortions and structural characteristics, such as Zambia’s land-locked situation and vulnerability to droughts and flooding, has hindered the further development and diversification of the sector. The sector is characterized by a dual structure, where a small number of large commercial farms, concentrated along the railway line, co-exist with scattered subsistence smallholders and few small commercial farmers who face severe difficulties accessing input and output markets.

      Keeping in mind that each scenario represents an extreme future, how plausible do you think the scenarios for Zambia are? What would you like to add/change in each scenario to make it more plausible from your perspective?

      Zambia: High food prices and high unemployment rates combine to place considerable stresses on the most vulnerable sectors of the population.

      What solutions would support the drivers of the best scenario and help overcome obstacles encountered on the way? How about overcoming the challenges of the worst scenarios? (common to all 3 countries)

      Feeding the world in an equitable and sustainable manner must involve food production and the food system assuming a much higher priority in political agendas across the world. Shaping the debate around issues like jobs, economic development and public health rather than about “joint sacrifice” would be most effective. Government departments around the world should consider moving responsibility for water, food and energy into one department to improve effectiveness.

      What are the key first steps needed to get a change process in motion, and who needs to be involved? (common to all 3 countries)

      There is a growing sense of urgency in establishing an effective and democratic agricultural system, which has in turn slowly given way to the emergence of various social movements and initiatives (such as the IPC) that highlight the importance of creating self-reliant local food systems. Food sovereignty is widely recognized as the right of all individuals to define their own agricultural policies, policies that are socially and economically appropriate in ensuring people’s physical and emotional well-being. This includes the right to food and the right to produce the food that’s necessary to sustain a society. For food security to be existent, it is paramount to ensure physical and economic access to a variety of food products that meet the dietary needs for a healthy living. There is need:

      1. to ensure adequate food supplies both at the national and local level,
      2. to create a reasonable degree of stability in the supply food network, and
      3. to ensure the ability of households to physically and economically access the food that is required.