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India among countries evolving food systems for bigger gains for farmer-allied SMEs, says WEF study

India figures among the few countries that have been able to evolve their food systems for a broader set of outcomes by unlocking the potential of small and medium-sized enterprises, a new WEF report said on Monday.

The World Economic Forum report, released here on the first day or its Annual Meeting 2023, said the countries that tackle food crisis can boost jobs, health and nature and also meet net zero goals better.

It listed India, Ghana and Vietnam as among the countries that have been able to evolve their food systems by unlocking the potential of SMEs, particularly those that are farmer-allied and operating in local food chains.

Food systems, when transformed, can help solve some of the world's toughest problems, from climate change to resilient livelihoods, the report said.

"Transforming food systems provide healthy and nutritious diets and dignified jobs for farmers and producers. This report shows how economic development with environment protection supports communities in climate adaption and mitigation efforts," Gim Huay Neo, Managing Director of the WEF's Centre for Nature and Climate, said.

The report, prepared in collaboration with Bain & Company, presented repeatable models from seven 'early mover' countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe whose performance has been comparatively strong and whose examples and lessons are widely relevant.

"Depending on the country context, different pathways could be adopted to transform our agri-food systems for improved food security and nutrition and assuring sustainability," Maximo Torero Cullen, Chief Economist at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said.

"When food fails, everything fails," Geraldine Matchett, Co-Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Royal DSM, and Co-Chair of the CEO Alliance on Food, Nature and Health, said.

In India, the report said, a multi-decade programme grounded in support for smallholder farmers and dairy enterprises has helped transform dairy into India's largest agricultural commodity, accounting for roughly one-third of rural incomes and 10 percent of total caloric intake in 2019.

"This transformation began with public programmes supporting the formation of village-level cooperatives, extension services and credit. In time it evolved to cultivate a domestic industry that has a number of successful, tech-enabled, vertically integrated enterprises with farmer-allied sourcing models," it added.


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