Global food systems can no longer rely on “business as usual”, according to a leading international economist.
Dr Shenggen Fan, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute, was speaking ahead of presenting a seminar at the University of Queensland School of Economics on the increasing challenge of feeding the world at a time of rising food demand and global interconnectedness.
Food price volatility, natural resource constraints, rising agriculture and food diseases, food-fuel competition and climate change were just some of the problems facing the global food industry, Dr Fan said.
“A rethinking of the global food system is imperative to build resilience and sustainability into the system,” he said.
“Moreover, the coexistence of hunger and under-nutrition alongside the increasing problem of too many people who are overweight and obese signifies the widening gap between food systems and best-practice nutrition and health.”
Dr Fan said his seminar would encourage a focus on nutrition and on a transformation of smallholder agriculture by linking small farmers to markets and value chains.
“Now is the time to plan for the future,” he said.
“Investing in resource-efficient agricultural technologies; facilitating open, transparent and fair agricultural trade; supporting resource rights; addressing food loss and waste; and promoting healthy diets will promote a global food system that improves food security and nutrition and ensures environmental sustainability.”
Dr Fan has been IFPRI Director General since 2009 and also serves as Vice-Chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Food and Nutrition Security.
This year, he received the Hunger Hero Award from the World Food Programme in recognition of his commitment to and leadership in fighting hunger worldwide.