11 March 2022, Dhaka, Bangladesh - Maximo Torero, FAO Chief Economist. Ministerial Roundtable on greener and better Agrifood systems after COVID-19 .FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific, 36th Session (APRC 36).
The COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread disruption to the economy and health and agrifood
systems. The socio-economic impacts were wide ranging, spanning income losses and
unemployment, higher health care costs, increased poverty, reverse migration, disruptions to
domestic and international trade, and an increased incidence of food insecurity and malnutrition, especially for the poor and family farmers. Governments implemented substantial short-term and
long-term responses to minimize the impacts of the pandemic on food security and agrifood system
functioning. These responses included stimulus packages, expanded social protection, direct support
to alleviate agrifood system disruptions, and investments in digitalization and digital technologies.
Other proactive government interventions included a range of options from direct input, credit, and
other incentives for the farming sector to investing in alternative market channels, encouraging local
or short value chains including urban food production, and more. Digitalization and investment in
digital infrastructure and alternative market platforms are being mainstreamed into agrifood systems
and rural and village development in order to build more resilient agrifood systems. The private
sector responded with the fast growth of online marketing and distribution and e-commerce.
Rebuilding resilient and inclusive agrifood systems post COVID-19 that serve the needs of family
farmers also requires a green growth paradigm in line with needed climate action. Many governments
are pursuing green agrifood strategies from clean energy to climate-smart agriculture. This
Ministerial Roundtable invites Members to share their experiences, initiatives, strategies and
priorities related to rebuilding inclusive, resilient, and green agrifood systems post COVID-19.