The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting food value chains across South Asia. It is now recognized that food systems are at the nexus of food security, nutritional health, ecosystems, climate change, and rural prosperity. With countries in South Asia closing down their economies almost overnight to fight this pandemic, the strains are showing in agriculture, farming communities, and entire food supply chains.
Policy makers need to take urgent measures to avoid hunger and economic ruin. However, the action taken cannot be to reinstate business-as-usual given the unprecedented impact of this global crisis. Transformation of food systems in order to deliver nutritious and sustainable diets for all will be imperative, especially when incomes across the region are likely to fall over the next year.
In his timely policy brief, IRRI Regional Representative for South Asia Nafees Meah synthesizes outputs from an expert panel discussion on “Creating Sustainable Value Chains for Transforming Food Systems”. This was conducted last February 2020 with specialists in the fields of agriculture, nutrition, environment, research and development, and policy deliberating on how to achieve food systems transformation in India and South Asia sooner rather than later.