Podcast: Seeing food systems through a sustainable lens

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The United Nations Food Summit is taking place in New York in September 2021, with pre-summit events and dialogues having been held since the start of the year. The purpose of the summit is to find new and innovative ways to transform today’s food systems so that they are more sustainable, thus lessening food insecurity.

On this episode of the Farmer’s Inside Track podcast we chat to Prof. Lindiwe Sibanda, director and chair of the Africa Research Universities Alliance Centre of Excellence in sustainable food systems at the University of Pretoria. She defines food systems as every aspect involving food from the farm to the dining table.  

“We call it ‘farm to fork’. Why we say that is because there are many systems that are involved in the input and supply [of food]. The seed, the fertiliser, the genetic breed of the animals. In agriculture, [there is] the production from the land into the harvesting, the harvest management, to the processing, the packaging, the distribution, the purchasing at household level, the cooking, and the consumption. You can imagine the loops of systems that are involved.” 

Sibanda says that before, food research only encompassed farming, where researchers only talked to the agricultural aspect of food production. However, speaking to only agriculture proved insufficient, which is why the entire food system is now under scrutiny. “Most importantly, do not leave out the word ‘sustainable’ out of food systems, because that’s the new cog in the wheel.” 

Sibanda also says that currently, food systems are not sustainable. To unpack sustainability within food systems, she says that we first need to know what the word means. “Sustainability includes economics of food systems, social components of food systems and environmental component of food systems.” 

Industrial methods of farming are taking vital nutrients from the soil faster than it is putting it back, she emphasises. The issue of food inequality, where people are not getting enough nutritious food in their diet, is also a consequence of our current food system. “Sustainability is really about feeding the soil, feeding the pocket and feeding the human body. And our food system needs to talk to that.” 

To join the food system conversation, click here for the list of UN events, or keep on eye on the events calendar on our home page.  

Other farmers podcast highlights: 

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The best agriculture news podcast on the planet also features other highlights for the agricultural sector this week: 

  • The 101 of sugar cane farming: Sugarcane farming is an exciting but challenging industry within the South African agricultural sector. Journalist Nicole Ludolph chats to KwaZulu-Natal farmer Rodney Mbuyazi, a sugar cane farmer with over a decade’s of experience.  
  • Animal Nutrition: Voermol’s Dr Josef van Wyngard takes us through feed conversion methods and animal nutrition.  
  • Farmer Development: FarmSol boss Aron Kole shares his new farmer tips to adapt and innovate to survive and thrive in the agri industry.  
  • Book of the week: Our book of the week is Recipes for Love and Murder by renowned author Sally Andrews. The book follows the adventures of Tannie Maria, the agony aunt in the local paper. It is reviewed by Food For Mzansi’s Sinelizwi citizen journalist Melanie Baumeister.  
  • Farmer’s Tip of the Week: Our farmer tip comes from Chrisjan van Tonder, a Free State cattle farmer. 
  • Soil Sistas: This week’s #SoilSista, powered by Food for Mzansi and Corteva Agriscience, is Gauteng crop farmer Alice Radebe. The farmer left the corporate world of finance and is now following her dream of farming 

How to listen to Farmer’s Inside Track 

Option 1: Click here to listen on YouTube.

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Option 3: Click here to listen on any Apple device

Option 4: Click here to listen on Google Podcasts

Option 4:Click here listen using this player. Just click “play”. 

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