Food Tank, in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, recently hosted the first in a series of seven panel discussions with the Champions Network for the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit. Each event’s theme is inspired by one of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food’s Seven Calls to Action towards transforming the world’s food systems.
The discussion, moderated by Food Tank President Danielle Nierenberg and Ruth Richardson, Chair of the Champions Network and Executive Director of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, focused on Addressing Power Imbalances Through Shared Power and Inclusivity. Food Systems Champions on this panel included: Mamadou Goita from the Institute for Research and Promotion of Alternatives in Development (IRPAD), Ajay Vir Jakhar from Bharat Krishak Samaj (Farmers’ Forum India), Michelle Nunn from CARE USA, and Jessica Vega Ortega from the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus. The conversation also featured special guest Christine Ciccone from IFAD.
Their conversation addressed transformational changes needed within the food system in order to challenge deeply rooted power structures. This discussion, along with others in the series, will help set the stage for the upcoming 2021 UN Food Systems Summit.
Vega Ortega spoke about the essential role of Indigenous peoples in the processes of food systems transformation. She outlined several challenges faced by these groups, such as internet access, language barriers, and meaningful opportunities to participate in food and agriculture initiatives spearheaded by national and international agencies. “It’s necessary to continue raising Indigenous voices, and also to value traditional food systems,” Vega Ortega tells Food Tank, “because I am sure traditional food systems are the way to have healthier systems in place for the next pandemic.”
Ciccone and Nunn spoke to the interconnected roles of IFAD and CARE in facilitating Action Track 4 of the UN Food Systems Summit, which is focused on advancing equitable livelihoods and promoting decent work for actors throughout the food value chain. “What is extremely important to IFAD in this process,” Ciccone tells Food Tank, “is to ensure that the voice of the rural, poor, smallholder is heard, and make sure it’s addressed throughout the entire summit process.”
Vir Jakhar talked about restructuring financial subsidies in the interest of promoting equity. Creating awareness that farmers themselves can and should create food and agriculture policy, he tells Food Tank, is essential to the restructuring process.
Goita added that participatory research engaging smallholder farmers can lead us to reorganize financing systems to better redistribute wealth. “Some of the key players in the food system – I’m talking about smallholder farmers, I’m talking about CSO’s – have been completely left aside in this dynamic,” he tells Food Tank. “More than 70 percent of food that is consumed in the world is coming from these players.”
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Photo courtesy of Henry & Co. via Unsplash.