The more globalisation moves forward, the more complex the interplay between different stakeholders becomes. But what does this mean for the agricultural and food sector in rural areas in particular? A food system comprises not only traditional value chains, but also consumption and the environment. This calls for concerted action among governments, the private sector and civil society to achieve a sustainable and healthy food system, including its value chains, while considering the different conflicts of interest among the parties involved. In order to understand each other, a common language should be created. This can be achieved through standards and certifications, but also through clearly formulated agreements such as in contract farming. Over the last decades, products produced under labour and social standards or certified by sustainability standards such as Fairtrade or organic standards have come into play and are more popular with the consumer side. But who benefits from this? Is it the small-scale farmers, who have to adapt their production, increase their income and yields, reduce health and environmental risks caused by inappropriate farming practices and enhance nutrition diversity on their own plate while creating traceability and transparency at the same time?
So far, global food and agricultural policies have not succeeded support agri-food systems benefiting the many and taking threats to ecosystems into account. What we need is not only a mobilisation of resources, but, above all, a transformation of our food finance architecture.
Our current agricultural and food systems are not capable of providing the global population with sufficient and healthy food within the planetary boundaries. Worse still, with their high freshwater consumption, their greenhouse gas emissions and their representing a threat to biodiversity, they destroy their very own ecological basis. The multiple crises of the last few years have added to all this, with the consequence that Sustainable Development Goal 2 – ending hunger by 2030 – will definitely not be reached. A profound transformation of our agri-food systems is necessary – towards sustainability, resilience, health, equity and inclusiveness.