The Future of Food and Agriculture — Drivers and Triggers for Transformation

The report titled “The Future of Food and Agriculture — Drivers and triggers for transformation” was released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on December 2. This report analysed the current and emerging drivers of agrifood systems and their possible future trends.

What are the key findings of the report?

  • The world is expected to witness persistent food insecurity, degradation of resources, and unsustainable economic growth in the future if the necessary changes are not made in the agrifood system.
  • It is unlikely to meet the 2030 sustainable development goals, including agrifood targets.
  • The report hypothesised four future scenarios for agrifood systems that would bring diverse outcomes in terms of food security, nutritional security and overall sustainability. These scenarios are:
  1. ‘More of the same’ – the scenario that considers the continuation of piecemeal solutions and reactions to crises.
  2. ‘Adjusted future’ – a scenario where some steps are taken to ensure sustainable agrifood systems at a slow pace.
  3. ‘Race to the bottom’ – the scenario that depicts the world in disarray in the worst version of itself.
  4. ‘Trading off for sustainability’ – short-term GPD growth is sacrificed to make agrifood, socioeconomic and environmental systems more inclusive, resilient and sustainable.
  • The report identified 18 interconnected socio-economic and environmental forces called drivers. These drivers have been analysed to study their role in shaping various activities occurring within the agrifood systems, including farming, food processing and food consumptions.
  • The main drivers are poverty and inequalities; geopolitical instability; scarcity; the degradation of resources and climate change. Their management will influence the future of agrifood systems.
  • Four key “triggers of transformation” was recommended by this report. These triggers are:
  1. Strong governance
  2. Critical and well-informed consumers
  3. Improved income and wealth distribution
  4. Innovative technologies and approaches
  • The comprehensive transformation of agrifood system comes at a cost and will require a trade-off of different objectives that need to be balanced while resistance to change is addressed.

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