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Farmers the ‘lifeblood of our food systems’, deputy UN chief highlights, ahead of key summit

Dozens of stalls were set up in the vicinity of the UN event’s venue, where heads of state and delegates will gather from Monday to discuss ways to transform food systems to tackle hunger, poverty, climate change and inequality.

UN and government officials toured the market to meet with farmers before paying tribute to producers, particularly women, for their central role in food systems.

Farmers are the lifeblood of our food systems”, said Ms. Mohammed. “Understanding their needs and the challenges they face helps ensure that emerging solutions are fit for purpose”, she added.

Unnoticed contributions

The Deputy Secretary General, joined by Agnes Kalibata, the Special Envoy for the Food Systems Summit, visited the stalls of women producers. They also addressed the market and welcomed two Food Systems Heroes on stage to share their stories.

The visit aimed to raise awareness of the essential, yet often unnoticed, contribution that women producers make and to highlight the urgent need to support greater resilience against shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Women farmers and ‘agripreneurs’ are often held back through a lack of resources and access to information. Supporting women with the same skills, tools and training is a failsafe way to improve food systems”, said Elizabeth Nsimadala, President of the Pan-African Farmers Organizations (PAFO).

The Food Systems Pre-Summit

The three-day Pre-Summit will begin on Monday, bringing together delegates from more than 100 countries in a hybrid event to deliver the latest evidence-based and scientific approaches from around the world, launch a set of new commitments through coalitions of action and mobilize new financing and partnerships.

The event will bring together youth, farmers, Indigenous Peoples, civil society, researchers, the private sector, policy leaders and ministers of agriculture, environment, health, nutrition and finance, among other key players.

The meeting will set the stage for the culminating global event in September by bringing together diverse actors from around the world to leverage the power of food systems to deliver progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A mother and her two daughters use logbooks to record what they consume, sell, donate or exchange from their farm in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

UN Women/Lianne Milton
A mother and her two daughters use logbooks to record what they consume, sell, donate or exchange from their farm in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Key facts to be addressed at the meeting


  • As many as 811 million people went hungry in 2020, with an estimated 118 million joining the food insecure
  • Around 660 million people may still face hunger in 2030 – 30 million more than had the pandemic not occurred
  • In 2020, around one in five children under five were affected by stunting caused by malnutrition
  • Around three billion people are unable to afford healthy diets

Climate change and biodiversity loss

  • Food systems contribute an estimated one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions
  • Deforestation and climate change means the Amazon rainforest now emits more carbon than it stores
  • Food systems are the greatest driver of biodiversity loss, responsible for up to 80% of losses and around 25% of species under threat of extinction


  • Almost 100 million people found themselves in poverty as a result of the pandemic
  • Global unemployment is expected to reach 205 million in 2022, from 187 million in 2019
  • Shortcomings in food systems account for an estimated $12 trillion in hidden costs

Food loss and waste

  • Around a third of all food produced is lost or wasted every year
  • If food loss and waste were a country, it would be the third most emitting nation in the world
  • Reducing food waste would cost an estimated $30 billion but the potential return could be as much as $455 billion

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