Study shows that a food systems transformation is possible

Photo from MASIPAG

Six initiatives from across the globe prove that transforming our food systems can be done. And
it’s already happening. That is according to the recent report of TMG Think Tank for Sustainability which specializes in True Cost Accounting, an innovative tool that “assess, measure, and value all externalities – the positive and negative impacts – of food systems.”

The study adds that the TCA methodologies and assessments for the agrifood sector go beyond the usual value metrics, like yield-per-hectare or market profile indicators to get a holistic picture “where relationships between agriculture, food, the environment, and human well-being” are evaluated.

One of the initiatives assessed is from the Philippines. That is, MASIPAG, a farmer-led network of 50,000 small growers in the country. The report describes its model for food systems transformation as de-globalized and re-localized. MASIPAG farmers are able to do this through creative cooperation and genetic diversity through organic agriculture and agroecology. The latter applies natural farming principles and focuses on community-based food production and consumption practices, where there is co-creation of knowledge among stakeholders.

According to the report, the impacts of its food systems transformation model (like the five others in Lagos, Zambia, Malawi, India, and Malawi) is accounted for across these domains: the environment, society, people, and the economy.

The evaluation result? “MASIPAG directly influences sustainable food production and rural
agricultural development through its programs, but the indirect impacts of its approach are even more far-reaching and diverse than what is immediately apparent,” the study said.

MASIPAG is one of the 21 Global Alliance’s Beacons of Hope (BoH) initiatives, which “showcase the groundswell of people and organizations around the world who are addressing food systems challenges in creative and systemic ways,” according to the report.

See the impacts on the environment, society, people, and economy in the image below.

Screencap from MASIPAG

The report also emphasized that it is necessary to understand the conditions that drive the above impacts. These include the following:
● Famine in the 1980s.
● How large agrifood companies, as well as landlessness and agricultural insecurity, disempower small farmers.
● Social and economic imbalances as reflections of conventional food chains.
● The high vulnerability of the Philippine archipelago to climate change.

The above conditions show that the results (both incremental and transformative) don’t happen
overnight, especially that it also addresses systemic issues and continues to do so. Yet, with a strong farmers’ support and network, MASIPAG farmers are able to forge leadership
through cultural, agricultural, economic and political capital. “This ensures genetic diversification which is crucial to food security, climate change adaptation, and economic opportunities,” according to the study.

The study added that “there are thousands more that are producing most of the world’s food,
acting as stewards of nature by preserving biodiversity, sharing traditional knowledge,
contributing to the resilience of people and nature, and more.”  TCA can be used in assessing
the positive impacts on food systems of these initiatives, both monetary and beyond.

This study was funded by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food


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