This project aims to create greater policy awareness of the future issues and a greater collaboration between policy and research on using new approaches to support transformation of food systems.
This project builds upon two earlier projects. The first one, completed in March 2020, mapped the food systems in the EGP and explored the major trends, drivers of change, and uncertainties in the system in a series of 9 Status Reports for the Bangladesh, India and Nepal with a focus on the EGP region. It also created a coalition of national partners who are interested in the foresight process and organized participatory learning workshops to generate interest in and ideas for foresight for food activities at local and regional levels. The ongoing second project is focused on carrying out participatory foresight activities with farming communities in Bangladesh, West Bengal, and Nepal Terai and modeling exercises to identify potential ways to build a more sustainable food-energy-water nexus in India.
The project will prepare a regional report on foresight for food systems in the EGP region that synthesizes the big picture analysis and the inputs from local level participatory foresight exercises, to share the findings with the policymakers, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders from the region, and connect the work done on foresight for food under the Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP) with similar work by other national and international organizations. Planning and envisioning how food systems cope with big expected and unexpected shocks (black swan events) is an important part of foresight for food exercises. The project will also use the COVID-19 experience to explore the impact of a major disruption in the food system.
- Analyzing the role of some of the key aspects of the food systems in the EGP that have been ignored in most of the existing academic and policy analysis.
- Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on farm households in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal with a focus on understanding the impact of the lockdown on i) Rabi harvests and price realization for Rabi crops and ii) the sowing/transplantation of Kharif crops. We will try to answer the following questions:
- What were the main challenges farmers faced in harvesting, selling their produce, and the sowing of new crops?
- What formal and informal institutions helped farmers overcome these challenges and
- What were the differences in the experience and coping mechanisms of large and small farmers and women and men farmers?
- Preparing a report on the regional food system in the EGP that will highlight similarities and differences in the opportunities and challenges faced by smallholders across the three countries and highlighting opportunities for regional cooperation to build a more resilient and sustainable food system.
- Organizing a high-level forum on the outlook for sustainable, healthy, and profitable food systems in the Eastern Gangetic Plains and the linkages with water and energy security. The event will bring together senior decision-makers from across government, business, farmer organizations, research, and civil society. Drawing on three years of applied research and foresight analysis at community and sub-national, national, and regional levels, the forum will provide an outlook on the challenges and opportunities facing food systems across the region in the context of growing, food, water and energy demands. It will engage participants in dialogue on practical transformation strategies to avoid risks and leverage opportunities for sustainable and healthy food production, improved livelihoods, and business innovation.