The pandemic has highlighted the importance of making South Asia's food systems more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient, the International Food Policy Research Institute said yesterday.
Disruptions in supply chains and overwhelmed social protections have led to increased food and nutrition insecurity in the region, said a statement.
The need to work towards inclusive food systems have amplified in all countries in the region, it added.
"Food systems provide opportunities to improve food and nutrition security, generate income, and drive inclusive economic growth, but even in prosperous times, too many people are excluded from fully participating in them and securing these benefits," said Johan Swinnen, director general of International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
"In times of crisis like today, inclusion is an even greater imperative for protecting the most vulnerable."
IFPRI South Asia headquartered in New Delhi, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, and New Delhi-based Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences organised a virtual conference yesterday.
"IFPRI-WFP's Transfer Modality Research Initiative in Bangladesh found that providing young mothers with cash transfers, combined with nutrition behavior change communication reduced child stunting by three-times the national average decline," said Akhter Ahmed, senior research fellow and country representative of IFPRI-Bangladesh.
Ramesh Chand, member of a think tank in India, said, "Covid-19 has struck the world at a time when experts were already deliberating on the need for a paradigm shift in the agri-food sector that could address the broader challenges of sustaining humanity. Covid-19 is expected to lead to a significant shift in dietary preferences, adding new dimensions to the food system thinking."