Blog Post

Global Food Policy Report 2022 Nepal launch: Accelerating innovation and investments to transform food systems

Climate change poses a growing threat to efforts to build sustainable food systems. The COVID-19 pandemic and the current Ukraine crisis have further exacerbated global food and nutrition insecurity, leading to significant increases in poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. A July 18 launch event for IFPRI’s 2022 Global Food Policy Report (GFPR) in Kathmandu, Nepal, explored the potential for more effective policies and programs focused on climate impacts and food systems. The launch was co-sponsored by the Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

“Our policies and regulations must accelerate innovation, reset market incentives and increase the overall financing to meet the sustainable food systems,” said IIDS Chair Swarnim Wagle. “In Nepal, the issues highlighted in the report have the potential to increase the richness of our policy discourse on how we adapt these global learnings and messages to our national context.”

Channing Arndt, Director of IFPRI’s Environment and Production Technology Division, noted: “Globally, food systems contribute more than one third of the total greenhouse emissions. About one fifth of total emissions come specifically from agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU).”

In South Asia, the report finds that groundwater depletion is rising at rates exceeding 2 cm per year in the Indo-Gangetic plain, which could lead to increasing food and nutrition insecurity in the region. Climate change, meanwhile, is projected to reduce the region’s rate of agricultural productivity growth. The increased frequency and intensity of extreme events such as heat waves, extended droughts, and floods are likely to have rising impacts on productivity and production.

For example, in Nepal, flood damage to rice-producing areas has become a significant problem in recent years and is projected to rise further. Total land lost to rice cultivation is likely to reach 50% by the end of the century under a scenario with little emissions mitigation.

Agricultural subsidies for fertilizer and fuel in South Asian countries are leading to rising impacts on soil health and groundwater depletion, said IFPRI South Asia Director Shahidur Rashid. In addition, he noted, the average temperature increase in the region has been a little less than the global figure due to the cooling effect of aerosols, including short-lived air pollutants. But he also emphasized that this has adverse impact on health and agriculture.

In a panel discussion, policymakers, development partners, and representatives of civil society organizations discussed ways to increase agricultural productivity, green financing, carbon trading and social protection. Here are some key remarks from the panel:

Sabnam Shivakoti, Joint Secretary at the Nepal Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development: “To tackle climate change, the government of Nepal has been focusing on sustainable production, ensuring that the distribution system is more resilient, reduction of food loss and increasing the investment from development partners, private and public sector, for research and development”.

Jason Seuc, Director, Economic Growth Office, US Agency for International Development (USAID), Nepal: “Climate change is an issue that has confounded the global population. It is important we rely on local government and their knowledge to overcome these challenges. We also need to engage women, youth, and work with the marginalized communities.” He added that USAID can extend support to convene different parties to encourage the private sector to provide financing.

Moushumi Shrestha, Director, Shreenagar Agro Pvt. Ltd.: “Nepal’s food production can be increased through improving inputs and investing in human capital. As the food system is the world's largest employment generation platform, while keeping traditional approaches of farming into consideration, we must develop their skills and knowledge. Green financing and insurance can play a vital role to access the technology available for climate-smart agriculture.”

Concluding remarks

Madhu Kumar Marasini, Secretary, Nepal Ministry of Finance: “Considering the looming global uncertainties and increasing impact of climate change, we must enhance the coping ability of vulnerable communities—most importantly, small and marginalized farmers. In Nepal two thirds of the population is dependent on agriculture. Yet, we import billions of rupees worth of food grains from third world countries. We have to change this course and for that we need policy inputs from experts, development partners and active participation from private sector.”

Rebika Laishram is a former Senior Communications Specialist with IFPRI-South Asia.