On the World Food Day, on October 16th, WFO SG Arianna Giuliodori joined the side event “COVID-19 and farmer livelihoods: where are the opportunities to future-proof our agri-food systems?”, organised by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) within the framework the World Food Prize Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium, to discuss with other food systems experts urgent actions and collaborations to ensure global resilient food systems in the post-COVID-19 world.

Opening her speech, Arianna Giuliodori didn’t miss to thank the farmers of the world who kept ensuring that their communities accessed nutritious, healthy and affordable food, also under COVID-19 outbreak emergency conditions.

She underlined the main impacts COVID-19 have had on farmers’ daily activity around the world, as well as the solutions farmers’ organisations implemented to support their members in facing these challenges: from ensuring food went to consumers’ tables, and farmers could sell their products avoiding produce losses, to protecting farmers’ health and ensuring safety measures on the farm, until to donating food to desperately hungry families.

She emphasized how COVID-19 made food so high in the public debate, and everybody is now concerned about food production. “It is imperative to leverage the momentum and make the most out of the current situation to shift to MORE sustainable food systems. We cannot go back to business as usual, but we must build on lessons learnt amidst this pandemic and forge bridges that will last for the next decades,” she said.

She reminded us that there is a pressing need to find new business models that support access to food and healthy diets at affordable prices. And Innovation, not only technological but social and economic, represents a huge opportunity to enable a sustainable transformation of food systems.

Closing her speech, she reiterated that food is a valuable product and ensuring a fair share of the value across the different actors of the food chain is crucial, as “there cannot be a Healthy Planet for Healthy People without a lively agricultural sector”.