FAO e-conference: “The Role of Small Farms Within a Larger Context of Food Security”

FAO is organizing an email conference on The Role of Small Farms Within a Larger Context of Food Security from 19 March to 9 April 2018.

This e-conference is intended to provide further feedback on what has been learned so far from the work in the EU-funded Horizon 2020 research project on “Small Farms, Small Food Businesses and Sustainable Food Security”, commonly known as SALSA project.

The e-conference will help identifying key knowledge gaps, as well as to share examples that will contribute to build the SALSA empirical base. Using this second e-conference, the SALSA team wants to catalyse and foster an ongoing dialogue with relevant stakeholders.

This is the second e-conference carried out within the SALSA project. The previous e-conference took place in October 2016. 462 participants provided a total of 99 contributions, which result in a significant input to the SALSA project. More information on the first e-conference, the main input and summary can be found here.

Who is expected to participate?

The virtual discussion is intended to draw the attention of researchers, educators, students and a wide spectrum of food chain/food system actors and entrepreneurs, as well as policy makers and administrators at multiple levels, on the role of small farms within a larger context.

The e-conference is also open to all who wish to share their insights and discuss “The Role of Small Farms Within a Larger Context of Food Security”.

While the participation in the e-conference remains free and voluntary, all participants are encouraged to actively contribute with their experiences.

How to participate?

If you wish to join the e-conference, please send an email to AIS@fao.org, specifying:

  • Your email address to be registered on the list.
  • Full name, organisation, institute or company you work for, and your position (or simply note “private” if you want to participate on their own behalf).

Please feel free and encouraged to engage your colleagues or anyone in your professional network to take part in this e-conference.

What? The e-conference’s overarching topics

The e-conference will focus on six specific topics:

#1: Cooperation among small farms

#2: Small farms’ contribution to resilience of the food system

#3: Strategies used by small farms to overcome challenges – a view of the past

#4: How small farms address future challenges?

#5: The importance of food businesses to small farms

#6: How can policies affect small farm activities and their resilience?

When?

The e-conference will run from 19 March to 9 April 2018, with weekly summaries posted by the moderator to recap main points and stimulate further dialogue.

How is the e-conference organized?

The e-conference is a virtual discussion linking up the participants via a central email distribution server. Participants send input and engage in online discussions via email, facilitated by a moderator.

This means participants can provide their input at any time convenient to them during the e-conference period. All contributions will be distributed to the e-conference participants, via the email conference server.

Background document

The full background information and detailed topic questions can be found in this background document.  It will guide you to further contextualize the discussions, and to understand the basic guidelines to contribute to the e-conference.


About the SALSA Project

The project “Small Farms, Small Food Businesses and Sustainable Food Security” (SALSA project) aims to provide a better understanding of the current and potential contribution of small farms and food businesses to sustainable food and nutrition security. Supported by the EU-funded Horizon 2020 program, a coalition of 16 European and African partners are collaborating in assessing the role of small farms and small food businesses in delivering a sustainable and secure supply of affordable, nutritious and culturally adequate food.

The SALSA project began in April 2016 and runs for 48 months. In the project the partners have adopted a novel, transdisciplinary, multi-scale approach across 30 regions in Europe and Africa that builds on and connects relevant theoretical and analytic frameworks within a food system approach. Using this perspective, the project is looking beyond production capacity, and investigating food security in terms of the availability of nutritious and safe food, food access and control (including affordability), food utilisation, and food stability.


 

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World Health Day 2015: Global view of food safety

New data on the harm caused by food borne illnesses underscore the global threats posed by unsafe foods, and the need for coordinated, cross-border action across the entire food supply chain, according to WHO, which next week is dedicating its annual World Health Day to the issue of food safety.

World Health Day will be celebrated on 7 April, with WHO highlighting the challenges and opportunities associated with food safety under the slogan “From farm to plate, make food safe.”

“Food production has been industrialized and its trade and distribution have been globalized,” says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “These changes introduce multiple new opportunities for food to become contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals.”

Dr Chan adds: “A local food safety problem can rapidly become an international emergency. Investigation of an outbreak of foodborne disease is vastly more complicated when a single plate or package of food contains ingredients from multiple countries.”

Unsafe food can contain harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances, and cause more than 200 diseases – ranging from diarrhoea to cancers. Examples of unsafe food include undercooked foods of animal origin, fruits and vegetables contaminated with faeces, and shellfish containing marine biotoxins.

Today, WHO is issuing the first findings from what is a broader ongoing analysis of the global burden of foodborne diseases. The full results of this research, being undertaken by WHO’s Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG), are expected to be released in October 2015.

Some important results are related to enteric infections caused by viruses, bacteria and protozoa that enter the body by ingestion of contaminated food. The initial FERG figures, from 2010, show that:

  • there were an estimated 582 million cases of 22 different foodborne enteric diseases and 351 000 associated deaths;
  • the enteric disease agents responsible for most deaths were Salmonella Typhi (52 000 deaths), enteropathogenic E. coli (37 000) and norovirus (35 000);
  • the African region recorded the highest disease burden for enteric foodborne disease, followed by South-East Asia;
  • over 40% people suffering from enteric diseases caused by contaminated food were children aged under 5 years.

Unsafe food also poses major economic risks, especially in a globalized world. Germany’s 2011 E.coli outbreak reportedly caused US$ 1.3 billion in losses for farmers and industries and US$ 236 million in emergency aid payments to 22 European Union Member States.

Efforts to prevent such emergencies can be strengthened, however, through development of robust food safety systems that drive collective government and public action to safeguard against chemical or microbial contamination of food. Global and national level measures can be taken, including using international platforms, like the joint WHO-FAO International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), to ensure effective and rapid communication during food safety emergencies.

At the consumer end of the food supply chain, the public plays important roles in promoting food safety, from practising safe food hygiene and learning how to take care when cooking specific foods that may be hazardous (like raw chicken), to reading the labels when buying and preparing food. The WHO Five Keys to Safer Food explain the basic principles that each individual should know all over the world to prevent foodborne diseases.

“It often takes a crisis for the collective consciousness on food safety to be stirred and any serious response to be taken,” says Dr Kazuaki Miyagishima, Director of WHO’s Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses. “The impacts on public health and economies can be great. A sustainable response, therefore, is needed that ensures standards, checks and networks are in place to protect against food safety risks.”

WHO is working to ensure access to adequate, safe, nutritious food for everyone. The Organization supports countries to prevent, detect and respond to foodborne disease outbreaks—in line with the Codex Alimentarius, a collection of international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice covering all the main foods.

Food safety is a cross-cutting issue and shared responsibility that requires participation of non-public health sectors (i.e. agriculture, trade and commerce, environment, tourism) and support of major international and regional agencies and organizations active in the fields of food, emergency aid, and education.

Everyone, everywhere needs safe food, free from microbes, viruses and chemicals. But globalization means the food you are eating today may have come from the other side of the world. This video tells how we all have a role to make food safe – from farm to plate.