Solution Cluster 5.2.2

Global & national food supply chains

The COVID-19 pandemic showcased the fragility of global & national food supply chain systems and their vulnerability to sudden shocks. This resulted in an additional 121 million people estimated to fall into acute food insecurity in 2021, pushing the total to 272 million in 79 countries. Against this backdrop, the global spotlight on universal food access to transform food systems must withstand disruption and shocks in the short term and support resilient economies and societies in the long term. 

Several concepts have the potential to transform national systems by building resilient global trade systems, improving value from production to loss and waste reduction, and influencing policies to promote agile supply chain systems. The main areas of focus in this cluster revolve around three thematic areas, inter-alia:

  1. Through improved coordination, technical advice on transport policies to influence the regulatory framework, better crisis management (through the use of strategic food reserve), reducing the environmental impacts, and connecting into digital platforms, this idea will provide a mechanism to balance shocks on the global food supply.
  2. By connecting national stakeholders and the private sector through innovation, knowledge, and capital injections, paving the way for agricultural actors, including smallholder farmers, to improve the efficiency in producing and marketing yields, as well as accessing retailers and end-consumers. This can be achieved by addressing “in the chain” bottlenecks and inefficiencies along the various dimensions (production, mid-stream, buyers/consumers), with the aim of building reliant value/supply chains, where supply side interventions are coordinated with demand led interventions (connections with AT5 2.1) to prevent shocks and stressors to affect the efficient functioning of those systems 
  3. Within the inefficiencies to be addressed in those systems, a particular attention will be given to post harvest losses and food waste management. Adopting an integrated approach to reducing food waste, improving national agricultural policy frameworks and contribute to make food systems more resilient to shocks.

About this Solution Cluster

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, global and national food supply chains demonstrated a remarkable resilience in the face of shocks. While the impacts of COVID-19 are still unfolding, major disruptions of food supply chains due to lockdowns and restrictions triggered by government responses to the pandemic, but also a major global economic slowdown, resulted in lower incomes, and higher prices for some foods, making healthy diets even more unaffordable for many vulnerable groups. Therefore, it is necessary to foment an open and predictable international and regional trade environment to ensure food can move to where it is needed. It is necessary to improve food security through efficient production and reduced losses and wastes, particularly post-harvest losses that affect mainly smallholder farmers. Reduced losses equate to greater opportunities to sell produce, while also increasing the efficiency of environmental resource use. Smallholder farmers are key to local and regional food systems. Reducing losses would result in greater food availability and accessibility for entire communities. These three ideas have the potential to transform national food systems, notably from food production through food supply chains and onto consumers. They seek to strengthen the resilience of individuals, households, and communities, from different sectors, to come together, and create productive, socially, environmentally, economically sustainable, equitable and inclusive food systems, fostering resilience and stability.

Resilient national supply chains would contribute to increase the efficiency of food supply chains, ensure fair distribution of value among different stakeholders along the chain even during shocks, with positive impacts for individuals, households, and communities. By influencing policy and the regulatory framework, these initiatives would increase food security, improve the response and management of sudden shocks, reduce the risk of environmental degradation, increase economic and social stability. Additional benefits include positive effects to food production, smallholder farmers’ livelihoods, food storages and job security. An integrated approach to reducing post-harvest losses – in particular – is based on examples from implementing partners and practices in multiple operational contexts. An integrated approach addresses the multiple barriers that actors face, including knowledge and skills, resources and equipment, and policy. It shifts the thinking of food systems players and incentivizes proper investment into post-harvest loss management (PHLM).

By creating a conducive business environment, with regulations that promote market integration, and the right advocacy and investments, global resilient supply chains can support inclusive trade, reduce poverty, and promote resilience. The ideas brought forward by members states, international organizations and the civil society will transform national systems and the policy architecture. At the systems level, the support to improve both transport policy and the regulatory framework, as well as linking these initiatives to the social safety nets with a focus on access to more efficient and resilient markets, would lead to better prices and availability of staples. At the policy level, additional engagement would bring governments to develop frameworks that encourage civil society and private sector support for smallholder farmers to invest in specific commodities and value addition in logistics and supply chains systems. Value chain analysis will be an important tool to inform the solution about key interventions and what specific policy/regulatory system should be addressed and with what partners (e.g. public-private), etc. Moreover, the solution would address the post-harvest loss issue through (i) renewed policies on wastage, (ii) strengthening the evidence base through supply chain analyses, (iii) ensuring synergies in programming with other food systems solutions and (iv) creating and operationalizing knowledge generation and sharing channels and platforms.


Reducing food loss and waste is in line with SG 12 that aims at ensuring sustainable production and consumption patterns. Goal 12.3 target – by 2030 – to halve per-capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses. Great methods and technologies to reduce post-harvest losses have been developed, particularly those that target smallholder farmers and their aggregation systems. Hermetic storage technologies accompanied by innovative and affordable handling and processing equipment – has proven to help farmers minimize significantly their post-harvest losses thus saving adequate amounts of food commodities for home consumption and for markets. Reducing post-harvest losses for smallholder farmers is a key contributor to sustainable food systems – it offers greater opportunities for farmers to sell produce, while also increasing the efficiency of environmental resource use. Smallholder farmers are key to local and regional food systems. Reducing losses would result in greater availability and accessibility of food for entire communities.

Different efforts are already underway, which though collaboration among stakeholders from different sectors are contributing to build resilient, equitable and sustainable supply chains. These efforts are putting farmers at the center of food systems and empowering most vulnerable groups, thus addressing the SDG agenda of leaving no one behind. Some examples include:

  • The Korean Agricultural Cooperatives (NACF) have a unique business model, extending its business to the retail market with own cooperative supermarket stores in the national value chain. 
  • The Kenya National Farmers’ Federation has developed a strategy to enhance food security and help farmers to provide nutritious food for their families and communities in the context of climate change and COVID 19, via different key activities such as sustainable home gardens, establishment of apiculture projects, promotion of farm forestry, network of Farmer Field Schools, training on climate change and biodiversity, etc. 
  • The Annamrit Farmers As Owners Foundation enables joint partnership and institutional design for investments between Dutch investors and Indian farmer groups, by setting up ICT which enables joint venture of agro-processing enterprises based on solid feasibility studies and business plans. 
  • The Farm Africa’s Market Approaches to Resilience (MAR) project implemented in lowland Ethiopia has applied a system approach to increase communities’ resilience by promoting economic opportunities, stimulating diversification of economic activities and incomes, as well as increasing adaptation capacities to risks. 


Improving inter-regional and international trade conditions is a key element of this game-changing initiative, which will provide tangible and sustainable support to different innovative initiatives that are already underway, such as the introduction of electronic phytosanitary certificates in different countries, and the Digital Standards Initiative launched by the International Chamber of Commerce in 2020 (ADB and WTO) to address longstanding barriers to widespread digitization of cross-border trade processes.

Join Working Group

[wpforms id=”6143″ title=”false”]