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Tonight, as many as 828 million people will go to bed hungry – despite there being more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet.

Today, small farmers, herders, and fishermen produce about 70 percent of the global food supply, yet they are especially vulnerable to food insecurity – with poverty and hunger most acute among rural populations. 

At the centre of this challenge is a fragile food system that fails to provide people with the diets and nutrition they need to live healthy lives. Supporting the transition to sustainable and resilient agri-food systems is key to working towards food security and ensuring adequate nutrition for people in all their diversity. 

What are agri-food systems? 

Food systems encompass the entire range of actors and their interlinked value-adding activities involved in the production, aggregation, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal of food products that originate from agriculture, forestry or fisheries, and parts of the broader economic, societal and natural environments in which they are embedded (FAO).

Why are global agri-food systems disrupted? 

Several factors are contributing to disrupted and fragile agri-food systems: 

  • Conflict, instability, and displacement – Whether war, pandemics or political change – these shocks are affecting food prices and people’s ability to produce, trade and access food.  
     
  • Climate change – The climate crisis is reversing decades of progress made so far in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. Changes in rainfall patterns and water temperatures and more frequent and intense extreme weather events all affect how and where we produce food. The intensification of food production over the last century has also significantly contributed to the degradation of natural resources such as soil and water.
     
  • Economic slowdowns and downturns – Loss of purchasing power, economic shocks, and high food prices combined with high levels of poverty and inequality are reducing people's access to healthy diets.
     

These challenges are complex and intricately interlinked – what affects one, impacts many. Meeting these challenges requires a transformation of our agri-food systems – an overhaul that demands substantial investment, and an enabling environment that fosters and embraces innovation.

How can we support agri-food systems to become more sustainable, equitable and resilient? 

Sustainability starts with equal opportunities. Contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – in particular SDG 2, Zero Hunger – SNV’s Agri-Food sector works to support the transition of sustainable and resilient agri-food systems that deliver food security and adequate nutrition for people in all their diversity. We do this in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases are safeguarded for future generations.  

Within this overarching goal, we identify three specific impact goals:  

Food security and healthy diets

Sustainable production in a healthy ecosystem

Economic participation and social inclusion

  1. Food security and healthy diets – The health of our agri-food systems profoundly affects the health of our bodies, as well as the health of our environment, our economies, and our cultures. We want to create a conducive food environment, stimulate responsible consumption, and ensure food sovereignty and food price resilience.
     

  2. Sustainable production in a healthy ecosystem –  Agri-food systems are both affected by and drivers of climate change, resource scarcity, pollution and waste, environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity. We want to increase responsible and conflict-aware agri-food production, orientating markets and investments towards sustainable practices. We support climate resilience by focusing on climate adaptation, mitigation and sustainable use of natural resources.
     

  3. Economic participation and social inclusion – We want to build resilient livelihoods and improved incomes for all people living in poverty including young people, women, smallholder farmers, pastoralists and marginalised groups. We shift mindsets around harmful social norms and values, improve inclusiveness of related policies, and increase the participation of everyone in their socio-economic context.
     

The need to transform the agri-food system is now central to the strategies and plans of key global agriculture organisations, governments and financiers. Based on our long-term presence and deep knowledge of local agri-food systems, we are equipped to address the issues that challenge each system – wherever they are in the world.