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Enabling Sustainable Food Systems: Innovators' Handbook

  • Published on February 8, 2021
This handbook aims to help those actors – people we call food system innovators – who are actively experimenting in (re)valuing agriculture in sustainable food systems, i.e. changing the way we produce, transform, transport, store, sell, and consume our food and agricultural products. In the authors' experiences, these actors can be farmers, researchers, traders, consumer groups, committed individual consumers, NGOs, local-level officials, among many others. This handbook provides advice in the form of tips, checklists, and matrices that will help local food system innovators to think more strategically about the opportunities that may exist around them. It uses examples written by food systems innovators who have assessed each approach. They aim to inspire the reader to test (or to avoid, or to adapt) a solution to the problem they are facing. Written in easily accessible, informal language, it provides hints on identifying opportunities to innovate while emphasizing low-cost, feasible solutions for developing countries.
Transformative system change. Those who use this handbook will have tools and be inspired by others' experiences in attempting food system change. I am most proud of the collaboration and participatory approach used to develop this handbook. We would not have been able to create such a high quality product without the collective intelligence that was used to write the book. We have received feedback from users who have told us that the scenario helped them to prioritize the value that they want to produce in their food system and to build an action plan for their initiative. The fact that the Government of Himachal Pradesh, India has decided to adopt the handbook as a key training guide for the roll out of their sustainable food system mechanism is very important. We also have commitment from civil society and small businesses that they are using advice they found in the guide to set up innovative markets. Finally, FAO is incorporating the guide into its Farmer Field Schools approach so to better help farmers to collaborate with consumers.

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