The first half of 2020 has been marked with the food market and agri-dealer closures, trade blockages, labor shortages, manufacturing and processing plant closures, shortages of certain food products as buying patterns shifted and bulk buyers such as restaurants or canteens faced closures, and other logistical and tactical issues. As the pandemic has progressed and implications have expanded beyond the immediate healthcare needs to the broader societal, economic and knock-on implications of this crisis, global, regional and local food systems have begun to face immense pressures that threaten to undermine nutrition at a mass scale and provoke food shortages as primary food production is implicated. COVID-19 has also laid bare the food system’s underlying injustices and inequities.
However, the crisis has also brought widespread awareness of tools that are currently underutilized by the food and agriculture sectors, and which – if leveraged intentionally and inclusively – can have a seismic impact on the food system’s ability to respond and rebound in times of crisis. One such tool is data.
This report seeks to advance the actionable understanding of an emerging set of approaches for data-driven food systems across stakeholders. It explores opportunities for data to enable better decision-making, advance business, product and partnership models, and empower stakeholders across the value chain. It highlights examples showcasing these models in practice. And it recognizes that for our food systems to be better prepared and more resilient in the future, we will need to promote a culture of data that allows for success and scale, and which is supported by key enablers, including policy, capacity building, infrastructure and connectivity, and mobilizing leadership.
This report forms part of a series of outcomes stemming from the COVID Action for Food Systems – Africa multistakeholder efforts launched by African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Economic Forum. It was developed as an output of the Data and Information Platforms working group, and was supported by the World Economic Forum’s Food System Initiative (Platform for Global Public Goods) and the Shaping the Future of Digital Economy and New Value Creation platform.