During the international symposium Food Systems Transformation, experts advocated for a more strategic and long-term vision on providing food security and the need for transformation of current food systems.
The symposium was a collaboration between Agrico and SeedNL and aimed to provide insight into the issues of providing food security worldwide.
Food has great strategic influence worldwide. Wars, import restrictions and failure to share knowledge disrupt food security. For food security, inclusive and sustainable food systems are essential. This includes not only the development of the entire value chain up to consumer demand and appropriate to local conditions, including such essentials as sustainable production, storage facilities, processing, market development and distribution.
But it also requires a well-functioning environment, innovations, investments and the cooperation of multiple and diverse stakeholders. Focusing on what is needed locally and having a good understanding of the (in)formal market is crucial to successfully realizing and scaling up sustainable food systems.
Rob de Wijk, founder of HCSS, spoke, among other things, about how everyone can benefit from food as a strategic asset and what policy shifts are needed to do so. “Elections are coming up. I have read all the party manifestos and in almost all of them there is no attention to the geopolitical dimension of food,” he said. “While it is of enormous importance and a very complex matter.”
Bart de Steenhuijsen Piters, from Wageningen University, spoke about the building blocks of sustainable food systems. “The food system is a human made thing. We are the food system,” he said.
Ms. M. Shava, Kenya’s ambassador to the Netherlands (one of many visitors) argued that the transformation of the African food system and the strategic value of food cannot be separated from the broader context.
“The money needed to transform African food systems is not going fairly to Africa. Value is not being added at the place of production (Africa). The trade laws force us to add the value on the Western side of the world. That is one of the critical factors affecting food systems.”
After the speakers, the panel discussion with Wijnand van IJssel (Senior Advisor Food Security at Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Myrtille Danse (head of corporate engagement & partnerships at Solidaridad) and Roger Martini (Policy analyst in agriculture at OECD) discussed what policies are needed to bring change in this.
The panel indicated that it is a complex issue and that attention to the urgency is growing. Answers are not simple, but require a long-term vision rather than the short-term focus often seen in elections.
The day ended with networking drinks at the Variety and Seedling Show at Agrico Research. Agrico looks back on a successful and inspiring symposium.