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Food Production and Distribution Systems

This thematic area aims to:

  • Assess equity of access to nutritious and safe foods and develop strategies to overcome barriers.
  • Evaluate approaches to prevent and curtail the spread of pests and diseases of crops, livestock, and fisheries.
  • Identify and develop solutions to market and value chain inefficiencies and constraints in terms of production, equity of food access, and environmental impacts.

The factors and knowledge influencing food production and consumption are important long before a producer touches the soil or water. This thematic area focuses on food supply chains from the pre-production phase via production and distribution but stops before the final step where a consumer decides to consume a specific product. The supply chain might be very short when producers become the consumer and do not market their product. Or the supply chain might be very long with international trade in inputs, intermediary products, and processed foods. As the questions vary with the stage in the supply chain, the key questions are grouped into three main categories.

1. The pre-production stage is the knowledge and technology that is available for a producer directly or embedded in the different inputs that are used. These vary significantly between  regions and production systems. Removing barriers to application or dissemination of knowledge and technology with respect to specific crops and regions is a main avenue for increasing productivity and reducing environmental impact in any food production system. Central questions are:

  • How do we improve crop and livestock breeding and seed systems?
  • How do we improve the quality of additional input factors such as fertilizer, feed, water, and tractors?
  • How do we improve access and availability for these factors?
  • What are appropriate regulations in different production and cultural systems?
  • How do we improve knowledge provision with a focus on the role of Extension and education?
  • How can this be supported by established networks and international organizations?

2. Food production is the key component in any food system and its organization determines what is produced as well as social and environmental impacts. Better functioning foods systems require knowledge about:

  • What characterizes good food production systems in various dimensions such as productivity, social impact and livelihoods and environment?
  • How can we improve function towards desirable objectives such as more nutritious crops, less negative environmental impact, and stable livelihoods for farmers?

3. Distribution is at the core of many of the most important challenges in any food system from the local to the global level. Central questions are:

  • What are the benefits and costs with respect to specialization in production and trade relative to sovereignty?
  • How do we reduce postharvest waste and ensure food safety?
  • How do we get food from those who produce it to those who need it?
  • How do the costs and benefits of long-distance food distribution compare to the costs and benefits of potentially less-efficient local production?

Recent Publications

  • Asche, F., B. Yang, J. A. Gephart, M. D. Smith, J. L. Anderson, E. V. Camp, T. M. Garlock, D. C. Love, A. Oglend & H-M. Straume (2022). China’s seafood imports: Not for domestic consumption? Science. 375(6579), 386-388.
  • Asche, F., H. Eggert, A. Oglend, C. A. Roheim & M. D. Smith (2022). Aquaculture: Externalities and policy options. Reviews in Environmental Economics and Policy. 16(2), 282-305.
  • Garlock, T. M., F. Asche, J. L. Anderson, A. Ceballos, D. C. Love, T. C. Osmundsen, R. B. Pincinato (2022). Aquaculture: The missing contributor in the food security agenda. Global Food Security, 32, 100620.

GFSI Leads for the Food Production and Distribution Systems thematic area are Frank Asche and Karen Garrett