Farmers at the Heart of Our Food: Discussions Held on Peacebuilding through Food Security

Farmers at the Heart of Our Food: Discussions Held on Peacebuilding through Food Security

Held at Dubai Exhibition Centre, 'Good Food For All' was a flagship event for Expo 2020 Dubai’s Food, Agriculture & Livelihoods Week (17-23 February).

Through expert discussions on peacebuilding through food security, the core role of small hold farmers, food fortification to address malnutrition and financing to effectively transform agri-food systems globally.

During an initial panel that explored why farmers are at the heart of bringing good food to all, Cristina Bowerman, TedX speaker, author and the chef behind Michelin-star restaurant Glass Hostaria in Rome, said,

"I grew up with this connection to whoever produced my food. I brought with me this connection as I grew up – first as a consumer and then as a chef."

Fellow panellist Dr. Anika Molesworth – a young farmer, environmental scientist, storyteller and author – echoed the importance of this relationship, noting the coworking relationship between chefs and farmers,

"The choices we make when we sit down at the table, what we put on the plate in front of us, does feed back to what the farmer is doing out in the field.

We absolutely need new innovations, new ideas, new technologies being rolled out and made accessible to farmers. And not just farmers in wealthy countries, but all farmers around the globe – especially those who are in more vulnerable situations. We obviously need farmers contributing to those ideas, too. Farmers have these lived experiences, they know their soils, their plants [and] their animals better than anyone else."

Led by celebrity chef, award-winning cookbook author and media personality Lorna Maseko, 'Good Food For All' brought together farmers, indigenous peoples, young people, government leaders, businesses and citizens from across the globe to reimagine ways to produce, transport and market food, while, at the same time, protecting the environment.

The line-up included Mageed Yahia, Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) in the UAE and Representative to the GCC. He joined Thin Lei Win – a renowned climate and food correspondent, journalist and Founder of Thin Ink – on stage to explore how conflict causes major disruption to safe, affordable, accessible food and why investments must be made to ensure good food reaches the most conflict-affected regions.

Yahia explained,

"You said: 'Conflict leads to hunger'. But hunger can also lead to conflict. In any nation, food security is national security. To maintain peace, to maintain a country, the very first thing you need to do is maintain your food security. The world today produces enough to feed everybody, but equal access is not there."

Innovation as a theme transcended numerous discussions, including four-person panel 'Good Food Powers People and Economies – A Conversation', which delved into the role of global corporates to transform food systems to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition by 2030, part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Joining virtually, panellist Yannick Foing, Global Director of Nutrition Improvement, DSM, said,

"The intervention of fortifying staple foods like maize [or rice] with essential nutrients is a very good, inexpensive [and] efficient way to increase the nutrient content of foods that people consume every day.

It’s really a game-changer intervention and we have not yet tapped the full potential of food fortification. The incremental cost per person, per year, for fortifying flour, for instance, with iron and folic acid is only [US$] 12 cents. Fortification should not be seen as a cost – it should be seen as investment in the future."

Attracting investment featured heavily during the event’s final session, comprising Ertharin Cousin, former Executive Director of the WFP and Founder and CEO of Food Systems for the Future; Enock Chikava, Director, Agricultural Development (Interim), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Dr. Claudia Sadoff, Managing Director, Research Delivery and Impact, and Convenor of the CGIAR Executive Management Team, CGIAR System Organisation.

Ertharin Cousin said,

"You can’t get anything done without the money. The reality of it is we have all kinds of incubators, accelerators, XPRIZES [and] grants coming online every single day to start new businesses – to support the transition of the food system by creating [and] by energising the development of new tools. But there’s no capital for growth. Whether you call it the missing middle, the hidden middle [or] the messy middle, that space between start-up and commercial attraction of capital is the space that stops opportunity.

The one thing we should have learnt from this pandemic is we can’t build walls high enough to keep the problems over there from over here. So it’s in all of our interests to invest in the tools that will support the adaptation of our food systems’ transition, that will support mitigation in the areas that are necessary [and] that we provide the opportunity for every child, every family to have access to nutritious food."

Food, Agriculture & Livelihoods Week is the ninth of 10 Theme Weeks held throughout the six months of Expo 2020 Dubai, forming a key part of the Programme for People and Planet, as an exchange of inspiring new perspectives to address the greatest challenges and opportunities of our time.

News Source: Emirates News Agency

- Advertisement -
Dark Light