Agri-food systems and how new threats affect them

Bad agricultural and food systems They are faced with new threats such as large forest fires, extreme weather, unusually large swarms of desert locusts and new biological threats such as the coronavirus disease pandemic.

According to the report of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)the annual frequency of disasters is now more than triple that recorded in the 1970s and 1980s Agriculture, industry, trade and tourism, agriculture alone faces a disproportionate 63% of the impact of disasters.

The report states that these hazards not only cost lives, but also destroy agricultural livelihoods and have indirect negative consequences in households, communities, and at national and regional levels that can last for generations.

Threats to agricultural and food systems

According to FAO reports, drought is the main phenomenon responsible for agricultural production losses, followed by floods, storms, pests and diseases, and forest fires. And the drought almost exclusively affects agriculture. This sector bears 82% of the total impact of the drought compared to 18% for other sectors.

On the other hand, pests, diseases and infections in agriculture and animal husbandry They have also become a major stress factor for the sector.

The potential threat of such disasters became apparent in 2020 when massive swarms of desert locusts ravaged the Great Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and southwest Asia, destroying crops and threatening food safety.

Industry resilience in the face of disaster

Investing in resilience and mitigation disaster risksespecially data collection and analysis for evidence-based action, is essential to ensure agriculture’s key role in achieving a sustainable future.

Innovations such as remote sensing, collection geospatial informationdrones and disaster-focused robotics, as well as machine learning, are powerful new data collection and assessment tools that have much to offer in the fight to reduce disaster risk in agriculture.

It is necessary that strategies integrate not only natural risksbut also man-made threats and biological threats such as the Covid-19 pandemic, and these must be based on an understanding of the systemic nature and interdependence of risks.

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