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Need for systematic approach to food crisis as climate change looms: Report

There is a need to develop systematic and long-term approaches to food crisis response as climate change threatens to make 72 million more people undernourished by 2050, said report

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Press Trust of India Kathmandu
There is a need to develop systematic and long-term approaches to food crisis response as climate change threatens to make 72 million more people undernourished by 2050, said a global report launched here on Monday.
The "Global Food Policy Report (GFPR)" released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) called for a proactive approach to developing social protection systems that are highly adaptive, flexible, and inclusive, and can be quickly expanded when crises strike.
There is a need to develop more systematic and long-term approaches to food crisis response that will be sustainable and help build greater resilience to similar and new shocks in the future, said the GFPR report.
This approach should focus on three key areas: crisis prediction and preparation; building resilience before and during crises; and making crisis response supportive and inclusive of women, forced migrants, and other vulnerable groups, the GFPR authors said.
According to the "Global Report on Food Crises (2022)" produced by the Food Security Information Network (FSIN), as many as 205 million people in 45 countries experienced crisis-level acute food insecurity or worse due to these compounding crises.
The rise in food insecurity during 2020-2022 is attributable to the protracted COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, civil unrest, political instability, growing impacts of climate change, and the global repercussions of the Russia-Ukraine war, the GFPR report suggested.
Commenting on the importance of building a resilient food system in South Asia, Shahidur Rashid, Director-South Asia, IFPRI, said that climate extremes have become the norm across South Asia and 2022 saw the highest temperatures recorded in the region in nearly a hundred years.
"So, South Asia's success in building resilient crisis response systems has implications for global development agenda and the sustainability of global food systems as well, Rashid said during the launch event.
The Global Food Policy Report 2023, IFPRI's flagship publication, draws on a wealth of evidence built over many years by IFPRI and partners on policy recommendations that can contribute to preparing for detecting, averting, mitigating, and responding to crises.
Climate change, along with poor agricultural practices, can increase the risk of plant diseases, pests, and zoonotic diseases.
Projections from IFPRI's IMPACT model find that with climate change as many as 72 million more people will be undernourished by 2050, as compared to a scenario without climate change, the authors said, quoting figures from a 2022 report by Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Johan Swinnen, Director General of IFPRI and Managing Director of the CGIAR Systems Transformation Science Group noted that all these crises are coming together, one after another, and we are also witnessing a strong increase in the volatility and shocks to our systems.
Crises, shocks, and volatility are no longer exceptions and may become the new normal. Thus, the report is focused on rethinking food crisis responses in such a world and features concrete strategies and recommendations for crisis response with a focus on different regions and countries, said Swinnen.
IFPRI, in the report, also advocated for strengthening agrifood value chains to support livelihoods and food security during crises. It advised governments to maintain a business environment that fosters flexibility, technical and financial innovation.
The report noted that South Asia had maintained a strong economic and social performance for two decades, but the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a serious blow to maintain.
However, as the regional economy struggled to recover from the pandemic, further shocks contributed to higher prices and disrupted the food production and distribution systems.
South Asia has also been affected by the global rise in food, fuel, and fertiliser prices.
In September 2022, the year-on-year consumer inflation rate for food was 66 per cent in Sri Lanka, 36 per cent in Pakistan, and about 8 per cent in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
Inflation in Pakistan and Sri Lanka is attributed mainly to macroeconomic instability and mismanagement, especially the sharp devaluation of their currencies, and the fertiliser ban in the island nation.
The Covid-19 pandemic along with other crises has exacerbated the existing vulnerabilities and exposed the fragility of our food systems, said Tenzin Lekphell, Secretary General, Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).
It has highlighted the urgent need for collective action, innovative solutions, and resilient policies. So, the focus of this report is not only timely but critical and it calls for a comprehensive and inclusive approach to address rising food prices and promote long-term resilience in our food systems, Lekphell added during the launch event that included discussion sessions on different aspects of Building Resilient Food Crisis Response in South Asia'.
The call for modifying the food crises response system has never been stronger. The system that worked previously no longer works efficiently in this 21st century, said Jamal Uddin Ahmed, Director, Agriculture, Rural Development and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Development Fund (SDF).
The report thus is quite useful in indicating the action areas we need to concentrate on, especially for issues like early warning systems, anticipatory action, social protection, forced migration, agrifood value chains, finance mechanisms, and effective governance, Ahmed added.
Policymakers and key stakeholders from countries across the region during the discussion sessions shared their thoughts and experiences and deliberated on how diverse policy responses can help reduce the immediate and longer-term impacts of food crises and improve livelihoods, incomes, and food and nutrition security.
The IFPRI's South Asia Regional Office (IFPRISAO) is organising the regional launch event of the 2023 GFPR on June 19-20 in partnership with the Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS), the BIMSTEC, the SAARC, and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). PTI SAR PY

(Disclaimer: This PTI journalist was in Nepal for the launch of Global Food Policy Report 2023 at the invitation of International Food Policy Research Institute.

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First Published: Jun 19 2023 | 5:50 PM IST

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