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Food Systems From Farm to Plate – Episode 21

This month’s episode is all about food systems. We first speak with Martin Frick, Deputy Special Envoy for the Food Systems Summit, to learn more about what food systems are. We then check in with Associate Vice-President Meike van Ginneken to get IFAD’s perspectives on the upcoming Food Systems Summit and hear more about what IFAD will bring to the debate. Then the talk turns to all things food and gender equality with Brazilian chef Bela Gil. She also tells us how chefs can use their influence to encourage sustainable consumption.

We then hear more about the Karen people of Thailand and about what indigenous food systems can teach us. Plus, we have news on plastics and packaging and how they relate to agriculture, along with a special report on “food miles.” Finally, we get to hear from the farmers themselves as they talk to us about today’s food systems, and we close with an update on Asia Climate Week.



Introducing the Food Systems Summit, with Martin Frick

Martin Frick, Deputy to the Special Envoy for the Food Systems Summit

The 2021 Food Systems Summit is being organized as part of the UN’s Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals. The Summit will launch bold new actions to deliver progress on all 17 of the Goals, each of which relies on healthier, more equitable and more sustainable food systems.

The full Summit will be held in September, but the all-important groundwork is being laid at the Pre-Summit in Rome, set to take place 19–21 July.

We caught up with Martin Frick, Deputy to the UN’s Special Envoy for the Food Systems Summit, to learn more about the event and what it will bring to the table.

You can follow Martin Frick on Twitter at @CMFRICK.


Meike van Ginneken on the Advancing Equitable Livelihoods report

Meike van Ginneken, Associate Vice-President for IFAD

IFAD is the anchor organization for the Food Systems Summit’s Action Track 4: “Advance equitable livelihoods.” As part of its contribution, IFAD will present a report focused on this topic.

The document, based on IFAD’s long-standing Rural Development Report series, will advocate for the elimination of poverty by promoting full and productive employment and decent work for all actors along the food value chain. It also aims to reduce risks for the world’s poorest, enabling entrepreneurship and addressing the inequitable access to resources and distribution of value.

IFAD’s Associate Vice-President Meike van Ginneken offers us a sneak peek at what the report will be headlining.


Chef Bela Gil on creating gender equity

Chef Bela Gil

In the culinary world, most of the best-known chefs are men – yet traditionally, it’s women who are associated with cooking.

Chef Bela Gil spoke with us about the gender inequity she’s seen in professional kitchens and about the ways gender inequality affects women in all fields, along with how to change it.

She also spoke about the role of chefs in changing and improving our food systems.


Protecting indigenous food systems, with Prasert Trakansuphakon

Prasert Trakansuphakon, a member of IFAD’s Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility

Indigenous peoples have unique food systems, adapted to the specific ecosystems they inhabit. Through the use of local crop species and specialized techniques, they can keep soil quality high while also maintaining a nutrient-rich diet.

IFAD’s Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility supports local organizations dedicated to preserving traditional indigenous knowledge. Thailand’s Pgakenyaw Association for Sustainable Development is just one example. This project aims to mobilize the traditional techniques of the Karen people and pass them on to the younger generation.

We spoke with Prasert Trakansuphakon about the dangers faced by indigenous food systems and the resilience of the Karen people of Thailand.


How to cut down on plastics and packaging

Our reporter Ryan Weicht spoke with two experts about the different roles that plastics can play in our food systems and our lives.Wrappers, shopping bags, containers and more – we’ve probably all noticed that plastics and disposable packaging are an unavoidable part of the way we purchase and consume food. But what we may not know is how to cut down on this packaging.

Food miles: Another way to think about impact

If you’re wondering what to eat, maybe we’ll be able to help. Your dietary decisions can have a positive impact on the environment, and there are many ways to start eating more sustainably.

One factor to consider is “food miles,” or how far your food travels before it gets to your plate – and the amount of resources it takes to get there.

In this segment, find out more about food miles and how to properly factor them into your meals.


Rural Voices: Ethiopia, Bhutan, Peru

Temesgen Tchane

As we begin talking about food systems, it’s more important than ever to listen to those on the front lines of agriculture: the small-scale farmers and producers themselves.

Over the next few episodes, we’ll be hearing directly from farmers all over the world as they share their day-to-day lives, their worries about the future, and their ideas on what IFAD and the world can do to help them improve their livelihoods.

Our first three farmers and producers are Temesgen Tchane, a wheat farmer from Ethiopia; Kinley Penjor, a baker from Bhutan; and Shirley Casachagua of Peru, President of the Generación Llanac Artisans Association, an organization helping to empower women by promoting local handicraft businesses.

We asked each of them about the challenges they’re facing and what would help them most as we confront the changing climate.

Kinley Penjor
Shirley Casachagua

Kisa Mfalila on the Asia-Pacific Climate Week

Kisa Mfalila, IFAD’s Regional Climate and Environment Specialist for the Asia-Pacific Region

July will see the third of the UN’s regional climate weeks. This month, it’s the Asia-Pacific region’s turn.

These climate weeks are intended to take the pulse of climate action occurring in each region, explore challenges and opportunities, and showcase ambitious solutions. It’s all in service of building momentum towards the big COP26 climate summit, to be held this November in Glasgow.

We spoke with Kisa Mfalila, IFAD’s Regional Climate and Environment Specialist for the Asia-Pacific Region, about the focus of this month’s climate week.


Summing Up

Thanks to our producer Francesco Manetti, our reporters Ryan Weicht and Michelle Porter, and everyone else who’s worked on this programme. But most of all, thanks to you for listening to this episode of Farms. Food. Future., brought to you by the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Remember, we want to hear from you – what you think about our stories and issues discussed, and who you want us to be talking to – so please get in touch with Brian or Keyla at podcasts@ifad.org.

Send us your voice or text messages to that address and we’ll be happy to play you out in the next show.

Also, don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast via your favourite podcast platform – and please rate us!

We’ll be back at the end of July with more news fresh from the farm. And as we head towards the Food Systems Summit main event in September, we’ll have more on the big issues that are up for discussion.

And as always, we’ll be trying to be Good for You, Good for the Planet and Good for the Farmers.

From Brian Thomson, Keyla Carvalho and the team here at IFAD – thanks for listening.