Food production, consumption patterns need changing

April 26, 2023 - 14:47
Developing a transparent, responsible and sustainable food system requires the participation of relevant departments, domestic and international organisations, and non-governmental organisations.


Experts at a discussion about changing consumption and production patterns of the Conference on Sustainable Food Systems in Hà Nội on Tuesday. VNS Photo 

HÀ NỘI – Developing a transparent, responsible and sustainable food system requires the participation of relevant departments, domestic and international organisations, and non-governmental organisations, Dr. Đào Thế Anh, vice director of the Việt Nam Agriculture Institute said at a discussion session on Changing Production and Consumption Patterns at the Conference on Sustainable Food Systems in Hà Nội on Tuesday.

An inclusive approach to sustainable food systems is a very important goal. Việt Nam has held a number of consultations to be able to mobilise stakeholder contributions, Anh said.

Recently, the Vietnamese Government issued an action plan to create a transparent, accountable and sustainable food system, he said.

According to the vice director, Việt Nam is a country exporting agricultural products and importing a lot of raw materials for processing but its intensive agriculture has caused certain effects such as soil and water pollution.

The country is also facing challenges with high rates of malnutrition in mountainous regions and obesity in cities.

Anh said that it is necessary to support small farmers by providing them with advice on scientific models as well as inputs.

Therefore, Việt Nam urgently needs the support of all international organisations to share experiences on this issue, said Anh.

Facing the trend of large-scale agricultural production applying mechanisation, science and technology, and the effective use of pesticides, Robert Cole, expert from Mekong Region Land Governance, said that large-scale farming plays an important role but also causes major environmental damage such as greenhouse gas emissions.

In that context, the role of small-scale farmer models is equally important.

Small-scale farmers also want sustainable production practices because they are associated with long-term livelihoods. We need to pay more attention to this force, one of the first important links in the food supply chain, he said.

In the discussion session, Rebecca Shaw, senior vice president of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said that recent biodiversity indicators are showing signs of decline while biodiversity is the most important factor in ecosystems such as livestock, fisheries, wood production and carbon.

WWF research shows that the food system has a notable impact on climate and biodiversity, and is responsible for 27 to 30 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and 70 per cent of freshwater exploited.

The food industry is also one of the main causes of deforestation and biodiversity loss as well as the increasing trend of pandemics, she said.

The pieces of the food production and consumption system need to be chained and integrated among each community to solve problems related to climate change, biodiversity loss and human health. It is a global challenge, the WWF representative said.

To provide solutions to the puzzle pieces of the food system at the grassroots level, Shaw introduced a thinking model of 5i of Information, Institutions, Integration, Inclusion and Inspiration.

From Cambodia's experience in solving the problems of building a sustainable food system, Sok Silo, Secretary-General of the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), told the meeting that the biggest challenges have been managing major State policies and national strategies as well as restructuring the agricultural sector. New thinking on transforming food systems requires transformation from other systems in society.

Cambodia has action plans among ministries and sectors to implement a national strategy to transform the food system. From there, it is possible to make the most of resources to ensure a healthy source of nutrition for the people, he said.

To be able to solve the big challenges in transforming the current food consumption system, countries and organisations need to call for the participation of businesses to optimise costs and improve quality, and in particular, it is necessary to focus on changing social thinking, enhancing the modernisation of the agricultural sector, ensuring nutrition security and adapting to climate change, he added. VNS