Global Food Policy Report 2020: Building Inclusive Food Systems


This report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI; a research centre based in USA) was published on April 7, 2020. It’s the ninth such annual report, starting with the first one in 2011.

‘Food systems’, the report says,  are defined as “…the sum of actors and interactions along the food value chain – from input supply and production of crops, livestock, fish, and other agricultural commodities, to transportation, processing, retailing, wholesaling, and preparation of foods, to consumption and disposal.” Such systems also include ‘policy environments’ and cultural norms around food in a specific region.

The 100-page report contains a preface, acknowledgments, and sections on ‘Regional Developments’ (in Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, Central Asia, South Asia, East and Southeast Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean) as well as ‘Food Policy Indicators: Tracking Change’.

Besides these sections, the report contains six chapters: ‘Reshaping Food Systems: The Imperatives of Inclusion’ (Chapter 1); ‘Smallholders and Rural People: Making Food System Value Chains Inclusive’ (Chapter 2); ‘Youth: Including Africa’s Young People in Food Systems’ (Chapter 3); ‘Women: Transforming Food Systems for Empowerment and Equity’ (Chapter 4); ‘Refugees and Conflict-Affected People Integrating Displaced Communities into Food Systems’ (Chapter 5) and ‘National Food Systems: Inclusive Transformation for Healthier Diets’ (Chapter 6).


  1. An ideal food system, the report says, should be driven by concerns of nutrition, health and safety; these systems should be productive, efficient, and able to provide affordable food, and environmentally sustainable and inclusive.

  2. In low-income countries, the ‘agrifood’ sector supports the livelihoods of many people. In 2019, 63 per cent of people in low-income countries were employed in agriculture.

  3. Agriculture accounts for 24 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, the report notes, and while poor people are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, they have little power over ‘mitigation and adaptation actions’.

  4. The report notes that households where women have more power over household income, or more control over the household’s assets, report improvements in agricultural productivity, food security, diet quality, and maternal and child nutrition.

  5. While women are actively involved in food systems in many roles, their contributions are often not formally recognised. The report states that women’s participation in small, household-based enterprises, does not always benefit or ‘empower’ them to make their own life choices.

  6. Globally, many countries have observed growth in small and medium-sized enterprises which are involved in the storage, transportation and retail distribution of food, in order to meet rural and urban demands. The report suggests that policy-makers should focus on such enterprises, where there is “…potential for inclusive value-chain development.”

  7. Among lower-middle-income countries, the ‘off-farm’ components of the ‘agrifood’ sector contribute more to the gross domestic product than farming does. In the ‘agrifood’ sector in high-income countries, there are more jobs off the farm than on it.

  8. The report states that approaches to ‘food system transformation’ – where governments focus on providing healthy, balanced diets to all – must be country-specific, as each country’s food system is unique.

  9. In Africa and South Asia, the report notes, food markets are expanding due to urbanisation, rising incomes and changing diets, creating many job and income opportunities along food supply chains.

  10. In India, traditional diets and eating habits are changing due to rising incomes, and the consumption of ‘snack foods’ has increased. According to a survey – conducted by the IFPRI – of 1,500 people in rural and urban areas in Maharashtra’s Pune district, most children reported eating snack foods 2-3 times a day, adolescents ate such food 1-2 times a day, and adults residing in urban areas snacked more than those in rural areas.

  11. The number of jobs in food processing industries increased from 1.4 million in 2006 to over 1.8 million in 2017 in India, and from 0.8 million to 1.7 million in Pakistan.

  12. Africa’s working-age population is growing by 20 million people a year. It will be growing by 30 million a year by 2050. This, the reports states, will require creating enough jobs for young people in the region.

  13. ‘Labour migration’ has had notable impacts on food systems in Central Asia: remittances tend to improve household welfare and access to food, and since ‘labour migrants’ in Central Asia are usually males from rural areas, there has been a ‘feminisation’ of agricultural labour.

  14. More than half of all undernourished people in the world live in conflict-affected countries. Most of these countries are largely rural, and rural populations are more vulnerable to climate shocks which may “…compound conflict situations.”

  15. School feeding programmes reach roughly 368 million children across the world, and cost about $70 billion a year. Such programmes – the report notes – improve children’s educational levels and cognitive skills, and enhance their physical and psychosocial health. Children from poor families benefit the most from these programmes.

    Focus and Factoids by Shivam Garg.


International Food Policy Research Institute, USA


International Food Policy Research Institute, USA


07 Apr, 2020