Impacts of agri-food systems: the transition to a fairer, more inclusive and sustainable system

Jun 13, 2024 | GATE Analysis, Publications |

Jesús A.Quintana García

Food is a fundamental part of people’s well-being and it is an obligatory mission to guarantee its access and availability in all parts of the world. The agri-food industry has great relevance in the organization of the system, so the concentration of power in the hands of a few companies in the sector has profound implications for this basic human need. In this paper, Jesús A. Quintero García reviews the structure and dynamics of the system and its impact on basic development issues, such as environmental costs, the eradication of hunger and health, among others.

Globalization has provided a niche of advantages and facilities for trade, creating a worldwide food exchange network. This has meant easy access to a huge variety of foods from almost anywhere and at any time. However, this experience is very different in other parts of the world and, despite globalization and extensive participation, the reality is that the system is controlled by a very small number of companies and oligopolies in the sector that have access to cutting-edge technology and data management. This places the less industrialized national economies of the Global South in a very delicate position, as they are deeply dependent on the global supply chain. In this way, the paper goes beyond the already known environmental effects and analyzes the impact of the agrifood system on the world economy, which had been very timidly estimated until now and which, however, is very sensitive to current events in the international arena and to speculation.

Despite the progress made by the Millennium Development Goals and the current 2030 Agenda, food insecurity continues to be one of the greatest challenges worldwide. In this way, Jesús A. Quintero García argues that the global agroindustrial system needs a radical transformation, adopting measures that promote agroecology, foster food sovereignty, empower small producers, effectively control large corporations and make agri-food chains fairer, more responsible and transparent.

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