Preservation, Water, Food Safety: The Week in AgribusinessBy Sofía Hanna | Thu, 08/26/2021 - 15:30
This week, Mexico and the US strengthened their commitment to food safety. The prices of food decreased globally, which is good news as world hunger increased due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, emphasis was placed on the need to innovate in food production to generate future benefits for producers. Finally, a new FAO report shows a growing demand for water and the need for water-related ecosystem services.
Interested in more? Here are the week’s major headlines in Agribusiness & Food!
- Mexico and the US reiterated their commitment to undertake preventive actions to strengthen food safety through science and good practices, which would allow both countries to achieve better production of foodstuffs. During the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Alliance for Food Safety, representatives from both countries met to set goals and strategies that would reduce physical, chemical and microbiological contamination in food production. Part of the goals of this year’s meeting was for the FDA and SENASICA, with COFEPRIS’s support, to work together to improve communication and supervision at all stages of the food production chain, as well as to share their experience with new approaches. FDA and SENASICA are basing their objectives on the New Era Plan for Smarter Food Safety, “which has as its central elements traceability enabled by smarter technology, tools and approaches for prevention and response to outbreaks.” The alliance will focus on four strategic priorities: preventing food-borne diseases, improving coordination for the response to food safety outbreaks, harmonizing and coordinating the tasks of the official laboratories of regulatory entities and training the food industry to apply preventive controls that promote safety.
- The price of food worldwide decreased in June, which is a good opportunity to level off the “hunger pandemic” caused by COVID-19. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) benchmark report shows that food prices are decreasing. In June 2021, the food price index averaged at 123 points, 1.2 percent less than in the previous month but still 31 percent above its level in the same period of 2020. According to OXFAM, since the pandemic began, poor communities around the world have repeatedly been sending a clear and urgent message: “We will die sooner from hunger than from COVID-19.” Deaths from hunger are exceeding those caused by the virus and it is becoming increasingly worse. By the end of 2021, the number of people in extreme poverty is expected to reach 745 million, 100 million more since the pandemic began. Among the regions and countries where the food crisis has worsened due to the pandemic, there are some places where the situation is particularly alarming: Yemen, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Venezuela, the Sahel region in West Africa, Ethiopia, Sudan, Sudan of the South and Syria. Hunger has also intensified in new COVID-19 hotspots like Brazil, India and South Africa.
- The Walmart Foundation and the International Corn and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) promoted the project Strengthening Market Access for Small Producers of Corn and Legumes in Oaxaca, Chiapas and Campeche, which supports the diversification of crops. The program is linked with others in the region and has been useful to disseminate the benefits of the diversification of crops and is being undertaken alongside technicians from the Sembrando Vida program. The Walmart Foundation and CIMMYT stated that crop diversification is the beginning of a process of social transformation that transcends the land plots.
- A new FAO-led report launched at World Water Week provided guidance on integrated forest and water management. Forests and trees play a key role in meeting the world’s growing demand for water and must be managed for water-related ecosystem services, according to the new guide jointly published by the FAO, the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), the Joint Research Center of the European Commission, the US Forest Service and other partners. “Water security is a major global challenge, which has implications for agriculture, energy production, the basic needs of the population and supporting ecosystems,” said FAO Deputy Director-General, María Helena Semedo.