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Building resilience into our food systems

Building resilience into our food systems

Over the next few months and years, significant thought will be given to the lessons we need to learn from the coronavirus pandemic, its impact on the global economy, the rapid way in which it spread across the global population and the impact it is having on our daily lives. One aspect to consider will surely be how to build greater resilience into our food systems, so they have the ability to better endure a crisis in the future.

Many countries, the UK amongst them, have come to depend heavily on imported food and therefore on the resilience of food systems in other countries as well as our own. Food chains have become extremely long, with consumers and producers kept far apart. This creates an inherent vulnerability in the system. One break in the chain and the whole thing falls apart. SFT chief executive, Patrick Holden, wrote about this in his recent blog on the coronavirus outbreak.

Resilience is the cornerstone of a sustainable food system. The FAO defines resilience as: ‘The ability to prevent disasters and crises as well as to anticipate, absorb, accommodate or recover from them in a timely, efficient and sustainable manner. This includes protecting, restoring and improving livelihood systems in the face of threats that impact agriculture, nutrition, food security and food safety.’

Concern about the food system has been growing for a number of years now, as the impact of climate change has become unavoidably apparent. As instances of extreme weather events and global temperatures have risen, farmers have been increasingly focused on how to adapt food systems to improve resilience and help address those challenges. For many, agroecology has proven itself to be the answer. Agroecological systems are more resilient since they have a greater capacity to recover from drought, floods or hurricanes.

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