EU ‘Farm to Fork’ Strategy: Guidance towards more sustainable and resilient farming and food systems

Ensuring sustainable food security is a vital element of Sri Lanka’s
agriculture sector and the country’s economy at large. The COVID-19 pandemic has
highlighted the importance of a robust and resilient food system that can
function in all circumstances and can ensure access to a sufficient supply of affordable
food for all. The current pandemic is just one example. The increasing recurrence
of droughts, floods or new pests are a constant reminder that our food systems
must become more sustainable and resilient.

The European Union (EU) has developed its ‘Farm to Fork’ (FtF) Strategy to
support sustainable food systems in Europe and its partner countries. This
initiative maps a new sustainable, inclusive growth trajectory for the
development of fair, healthy, and environmentally friendly food systems. The
Farm to Fork Strategy is part of the EU’s ambitious Green Deal that lays out a vision
for a sustainable climate-neutral and resource-efficient future by 2050.

As Sri Lanka gears up for its participation to the United Nations (UN)
Food Systems Summit scheduled to be held in September 2021, the EU’s Farm to
Fork Strategy provides useful guidance for improved food systems considering all
sustainability dimensions.

The ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy as well as the agricultural challenges and
opportunities faced by Sri Lanka, were the subjects of the webinar ‘Farm to
Fork: How EU and Sri Lanka are moving towards a more sustainable food system?’

organised by the EU Delegation in Sri Lanka and the EU-funded “Technical
Assistance to the Modernisation of Agriculture” programme (TAMAP). The event
brought together a panel of experts that discussed the new strategic approach
towards food system sustainability, the EU’s role in contributing to more
resilient and sustainable food systems, and challenges and opportunities faced
by Sri Lanka in moving towards sustainable farming.

Launching the webinar, the Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to
Sri Lanka and the Maldives Frank Hess stated that “agriculture and rural development are among key priorities of the EU’s
partnership with Sri Lanka. For nearly a decade, the EU has been supporting the
national authorities, local communities and farmers to move towards a more
inclusive, modernized and sustainable agriculture.”
Dr Olaf Heidelbach, lead
speaker on behalf of the European Commission, explained the ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy
by highlighting that “when it comes to
integrating environmental, social and economic sustainability in agriculture
policy developments, there are many similarities between the EU’s and the Sri
Lankan food systems”.
For these reasons, the EU would like to collaborate
with the Sri Lankan government to further enhance the global impact of the EU’s
‘Farm to Fork’ strategy.

Ms Champa Magamage (Horticultural Crop Research and Development
Institute, HORDI), Dr Sumith (Registrar of Pesticides), Ms Disna Rathnasinghe (Department
of Agriculture), and Ms Ranmalee Gamage (GIZ Sri Lanka) addressed the current
issues faced by Sri Lanka’s agriculture and food industry, including practical concerns
and regulatory efforts related to the use of chemicals in food, food labeling
and certifications, and promotion of organic agriculture practices.

The presentations and the subsequent discussion highlighted that, while
many efforts have been already made, Sri Lanka is still facing several challenges
in guaranteeing sustainable food security to its people. Better access to and affordability
of safe, nutritious and high-quality food, capacity in implementing solutions
identified, or better consumer awareness are just few areas in which Sri Lanka could
strengthen its strategy framework for sustainable food system development.

The World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in coordination with Sri
Lanka’s Ministry of Agriculture, will soon be launching a series of national
consultations to prepare for Sri Lanka’s participation to the UN Food Systems
Summit to be held in September 2021. In a recent policy brief on ‘Sustainable
Food Systems’, WFP Sri Lanka provides policy recommendations to deliver
sustainable food systems, noting that the agricultural sector needs to
transform and adapt its existing policies and practices in order to move
towards a sustainable food system which delivers economic, environmental and
social benefits. The ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy serves as a powerful example for such
a transition towards a more sustainable agriculture sector.



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