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The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerability of agri-food systems to tensions and shocks and led to increased global food insecurity and malnutrition. Government attempts to support the agricultural industry with the pacific labour scheme in Australia, have proven to be lengthy and in some cases unobtainable for those that need it most.

Now, countries require to urgently make agri-food systems more resilient, effective, inclusive and sustainable, according to the 2021 State of Food and Agriculture report.

Released by the Food and Farming Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the report provides an evaluation of the ability of nationwide agri-food systems to respond to and recover from shock and stressors, such as extreme weather condition events along with plant and animal illness.

The report supplies over 100 country-level indicators of the strength of agri-food systems by analysing contributing elements, including transport networks, trade movement and the accessibility of healthy and varied diet plans.

The analysis reveals that a country’s primary production sector is more resistant when it produces a varied mix of food and non-food items and offers them to a wide variety of markets, both global and domestic. While this favours higher-income nations, the report notes that in terms of food availability, lower-income nations have a variety that is comparable to that of larger, higher-income countries.

Yet, another important aspect highlighted by the report is that low-income nations face much bigger difficulties in guaranteeing access to food through transportation networks, which are essential to keeping agrifood supply chains active. If primary transportation routes are interrupted, numerous low-income countries would have restricted capacity for food circulation which would see the increasing food expenses and substantial amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables delegated decay in farmers’ fields, according to the report.

For some smaller farms, having the proper documentation and resources in place to ensure they are eligible for support programs is difficult. In countries like Australia, independent organisations like IComply provide horticultural compliance support for farms that may find these aspects difficult or costly. Having support like this allows farmers to shift their focus from maintaining legal requirements to spending their valuable time looking for supply chain solutions.

The report cautions that three billion people can not pay for a healthy diet plan and an additional one billion will join them if a shock lowers their earnings by one-third. The report argues that “these risks are unacceptable in a world that produces enough food to feed its entire population.” The report discovers that diverse, well-connected and redundant agri-food supply chains are required to increase strength, as they offer several paths for producing, sourcing and distributing food.

The report suggests that to remain competitive and safeguard their incomes, small-scale agricultural manufacturers need to be well incorporated into supply chains for food, services and inputs. It likewise recommends that governments make durability in agri-food systems a tactical part of global and nationwide reactions to continuous and future challenges.