On World Food Day FAO, WFP and the Government of Cambodia call for investment in food systems transformation to build resilience to shock and crises
Soaring food prices and transport costs, disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts across the globe including the war in Ukraine, and the rise of climate-related disasters such as floods and drought are driving an increase in food and nutrition insecurity. The hardest hit are those most vulnerable and dependent on agriculture for their livelihood.
Globally, farmers tried to offset this year’s higher input costs by planting less and scaling back their fertilizer use, which can hurt yields. They struggled with higher feed costs to sustain livestock production. Developing countries are most at risk of seeing their production shrink as farmers have fewer financial resources to compensate for rising input prices, which are growing at a faster rate than the prices for their produce.
“Because our agrifood systems are interlinked to so many different areas of our lives and economy – from agriculture to natural resources to energy to health – they hold great potential as vehicles for a more equitable and prosperous future. Sustainable food systems will benefit everyone, including the most vulnerable. Most vulnerable and small-scale producers need to be empowered, because they can be at the centre of food systems transformation and become active and equal agents of sustainable development,” explained Antonio Schiavone, Officer in Charge of FAO Representation in Cambodia.
According to WFP’s recent market update, the price of rice, the staple of the Cambodian diet, has remained relatively stable so far. However, the prices of widely consumed nutritious foods like duck eggs and morning glory have already increased by 20.8 percent and 30.7 percent respectively year-on-year. There have also been considerable increases in the prices of imported foods. The price of vegetable oil rose by 39.7 per cent in May this year compared to May 2021 – with the bulk of the price increase - 13.5 per cent – only since February. The production of paddy is expected to remain at an above-average level, which means that Cambodia will not face critical food shortage; however, the current lack of food, feed, fuel, fertilizer and finance (Five ‘Fs’ crisis) poses new threats to food systems.
“The world is now in the midst of a global food crisis fuelled by the economic downturn of the pandemic, climate shocks and the impact of the war in Ukraine. To date, Cambodia remains shielded more than others from the global food crisis. This does not mean that we should not continue to strengthen our efforts to reduce food insecurity and make sure that people are able to feed themselves with heathy diets,” said Anne-Laure Duval, Officer in Charge and Deputy Country Director of WFP in Cambodia.
Following the United Nations Food Systems Summit last year, where leaders from countries around the world made bold commitments to transform agrifood systems, Cambodia has put in place the National Roadmap for Food Systems for Sustainable Development 2030. The roadmap includes four priorities: promoting a healthy diet for all; empowering young people and the most vulnerable to take part in transformation of food systems; strengthening the resilience of smallholder farmers; and strengthening governance for a more inclusive food system through improving coordination and dialogues with stakeholders to ensure responsiveness to the need of consumers, the marginalized and indigenous people.
“As a nation, we need to transform food supply chains to ensure the system can deliver quality and nutritious food for all Cambodians through investment in innovation, technology and digital systems,” emphasized H.E. Om Kimsir, Secretary of State of the MAFF.
“FAO stands ready to support the Royal Government of Cambodia in implementation of national pathways for transformation of Cambodia’s food system, and will work closely with different stakeholders, including private sector, academia, development partners to help empower smallholder farmers by transforming the ways in which our food is produced, delivered and consumed. Boosting local safe and nutritious food production and ensuring smallholders’ access to agricultural inputs, technical assistance, innovation and technologies, working capital, and markets are crucial for this transformation,” added Mr Schiavone.
“WFP stands behind the Royal Government of Cambodia with its proactive response to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – supporting those left behind. Investing in resilient national food systems and supply chains is crucial today to ensure a sustainable and resilient tomorrow,” said Ms. Duval.