We would like to seek your valuable insight on the critical and emerging trends for rural development, food systems and alleviating hunger. Please answer the questions below:

Please include the question number that you are responding to, in your comment.

A. What do you think are critical long term, future shifts that are transforming how we think about rural development, food systems and hunger alleviation Especially in light of:

  1. Impact of COVID 19
  2. Climate and the Environment
  3. Gender Equality 
  4. Strengthening Data and Innovation
  5. Equity and inclusion, leaving no one behind.

B. What are the key challenges you are facing in rural development, food systems and alleviating hunger?

C. In that future, what role should organizations like FAO and WFP play, together?

  1. What outcome should WFP and FAO achieve together to make an impact in this future?
  2. What would contribute positively to achieving that outcome?
  3. What events and responses would stand in the way of such an outcome?”


Photo ©FAO/Olivier Asselin, European Union Food Facility and Purchase for Progress Project
29 June 2011, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo - Women selling vegetables at the Luwowoshi Market.

Comments (37)

Guillaume Foliot (WFP) Moderator

Good morning and a warm welcome to this FAO-WFP consultation!

My name is Guillaume Foliot and I am working on the formulation of WFP next Strategic Plan. I will be your moderator during this week before handing over to colleagues from FAO. 

We very much look forward to hearing your thoughts and solutions to the above list of questions and hope that we can extract some valuable recommendations together.

When commenting, please let us know which particular question(s) you are responding to. The floor is yours!

Warm regards,


Tomo Uno (FAO) Moderator

Dear All! I am Tomo from FAO. I am working on strategic planning at FAO, and very pleased to be the backup moderator for the week. 

A quick clarification on the climate and environment- would be good to hear about how to adapt and improve smallholder production sustainably, build climate resilience of rural communities’ livelihoods and ensure environmental sustainability of agriculture and food systems. Any other areas are of course welcome! 

Takeshi Takama

Hi I am Takeshi, CEO of su-re.co based in Bali, Indonesia. I will be working on blockchain technology connecting our biogas digesters, which produce clean energy and organic fertilizers, to remove the cost of certification of transaction. 

So, regarding "4. Strengthening Data and Innovation", blockchain can remove similar certification cost such as fairtrade, organic, etc.  The cutting middleman's cost will be beneficial to society and the trend will be unstoppable.  One think FAO/WFP may work is the allocation of the benefit from the costcut.   I hope farmers will also receive some benefit from this system rather than just making the product price down.  


Tomo Uno (FAO) Moderator

Takeshi Takama 

Thanks for your comment and for highlighting the role that blockchain technology plays and may play in agriculture.

FAO supports the 2030 Agenda through the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable, agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind, and the implementation of international standards for food safety and quality and for plant health that are science-based and developed within the remits of instruments such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures.

Pilot initiatives of blockchain technology include those in agricultural value chains to track products based on geographic indictors (GI) and other markers to empower consumers and to provide a way to encourage and reward good practices, and penalize illegal and unsustainable businesses.

The increased transparency and traceability that blockchain technologies can potentially bring about could benefit several agricultural sectors, including reducing transaction costs, and may be applied in conjunction with current electronic certification systems like the IPPC ePhyto Solution.

In particular, it is observed that blockchain has the potential to improve financial management, provenance, traceability and transparency in food chains and to enable the creation of new markets and products, particularly for smallholder farmers in developing countries.

Blockchain-based solutions also find use in providing traceability in bringing more transparency and efficiency to agriculture value chains.

Blockchain and other Distributed ledger technology (DLT) have the potential to bring about a change in traditional processes if key building blocks needed to sustain the solutions are implemented. One of the key issues observed in a wider application of blockchain technology in agriculture is the lack of regulatory environment, which builds transparency and trust in the solution, as well as lack of infrastructure, digital literacy and connectivity.

Regulators around the world are actively trying to define guidelines for a possible wider blockchain application, recognizing that the process of designing, verifying, implementing and enforcing smart contracts in traditional agricultural value chains is still a work in progress.

According to FAO, all Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems must be conceived, designed and implemented to serve and protect human beings and the environment in which they live. In relation to these principles, and in the context of the use of AI in agriculture, FAO recognizes the need to protect the rights of farmers and the knowledge that they possess, particularly those in developing countries.

In conclusion, FAO welcomes exploring the use of DLT including blockchain technology in agriculture within enabling ecosystems, as well as the role of relevant stakeholders including the public and private sector to further expand the transparent use of blockchain technology in agriculture, and seek innovative solutions to increase the efficiency and quality of food production, certification and distribution, while reducing transaction costs.

Takeshi Takama

Thank you for your response!   I will start implementing the blockchain for biogas data, but I will also use the system for tracing coffee and cacao products, which come from farmers we will work with.   I will let you know how things will go with the transparency issues.

Guillaume Foliot (WFP) Moderator

A calm start and a wide range of topics for this first few days. Interesting points around food production, access and availability - in a crisis context  - but also a discussion on the role of blockchain technology can play and may play in agriculture.

Important topics that show the breadth of issues we have to look into and the need to balance perspectives. 



I am Bigambia Bitimi Charles Lebon, from Cameroon, junior projet manager consultant. 

I am happy to be part of this group, and contribute to strategic planning.



COVID 19, has created both a positive and negative impacts to the world population. But mostly negative impacts. 

COVID 19, negative impacts created were: a reduction in the supply of food,

-Reduction of food production,

-Reduction in the accessibility of fertilizer's and etc.

-Reduction in the development exchange rate of goods


Justin Chisenga (FAO) Moderator

Good morning,

I am Justin Chisenga, Capacity Development Officer and team leader for the Partnerships with Academia and Research Institutions team in the Partnerships and UN Collaboration Division at FAO. I will be your moderator during this week, and I am looking forward to your contributions to the questions guiding the consultation. 
Kindly, when you make your contribution(s) remember to let us know the question(s) you are responding to.  

Best regards,



Challenges faced in rural development, food system are manyr and the varied and this may take long way in developping countries to bring up solutions to these challenges and the attainment of SDG in 2030.

Rural development are places where education is not pushed forward and they are very reluctant to use modern technology for either the development of their food system or development.

These rural areas population in their development firstly faces problem of energy acces. I actually in a rural area of Cameroon, it's almost 3 days we have done without electricity.

Secondly road accessibility, I have noticed that hight quantity of food, especially plantain are being produced in the locality, but the means by these products are being transported doesn't facilitate the arrival of these products in the market in good conditions.

Thirdly, acces to education, it's equally important for the development of the population, this education facilitate the rapid adaptation and growth in the use of modern technology.

Gender equality is also another problem. Where ladies are not following up studies up to a certain level they wish.

Hemant Nitturkar

Hi all.

My comment is related to the point 5. Equity and inclusion, leaving no one behind.

While I believe a short window was available to the development practitioners to achieve SDGs, COVID not only set us back, but also shortened the window. So all decks on hand are required to address the issue of food, nutrition. livelihood and environment security, and digital agriculture along with social agripreneurship are two potent ways to go. I have the following concerns to flag to be addressed along the way:

 1. While use of digital tools in agriculture, be it simple data sharing to bid data to drone to sensors to AI and block chain, is great and needs to be pursued, how to ensure we do not exacerbate the digital-agriculture divide in rural areas? A lot of people may get left behind if we do not address this issue proactively as the well heeled and the aware will corner the cream. The ballooning of wealth of the IT czars during the pandemic while hordes of people thrown back into poverty is an ongoing example. 

The following two points refer to section B as well

2. While finding scalable, sustainable and inclusive ways to deliver the discoveries in agriculture for development us key, one aspect of small farmer capacitating which I feel is most important and is not getting enough attention is building their financial literacy. Once this is done, their adoption of improved technologies will improve and small farming as a business will materialize, thus even bringing down agricultural carbon footprint while ensuring development.

3. This one is a complicated human issue - how to collaborate, co-create, supplement and complement the efforts? Development of leadership skills of leaders of various organisations, public, private and civil society is a dire need, as there are very few around who can be called leaders. Many leaders only know the way to grow is to concentrate power and stepping on others in a mad zero sum game instead of co-expanding the pie. This wastes donor and public money, wastes time, and makes the world miss an opportunity to serve the poor nd marginalised in whose name the money is raised in the first place. May be the incentive structure needs to change - for example, if number of publications gets rewarded, there is tendency in scientific managers to corner all credit and a blind race to publish without application for real impact. What if leaders are measured and assessed in terms of how many leaders they produced? I have met NGOs and development leaders who proudly say they have been serving a community for nearly 20 or 30 years. My first question to them is why? and what happened? If they are trained to be real leaders, they will aim to make their beneficiaries self-sufficient, self-reliant and resilient, and not dependent on them just to secure more and continued funding for their own organization. We need to identify and support such local champions across Africa, Asia and other places for inclusive development. 


Hermant great insight.  Do you mean we have see over our management system of our leaders?!

Hemant Nitturkar

Thanks Bigambia. Leaders of various projects, programs, initiatives have the power to make or mar things. With enormous powers comes enormous responsibility. 

The system gives them the power. But the system often lets the same leaders down by not supporting them, training them, equipping them with real leadership skills. Leadership is a lonely journey, and so the leaders bumble along, by the very nature of their job, protecting their chair, but harming the cause along the way. 

In the business world they have realized this issue and there are platforms like the CEOs clubs where the leaders feel safe, they share their vulnerabilities without being judged, without the usual fear of consequences, and they are better off for it. There is a dire need for something on those lines in the agriculture for development world. Otherwise the projects will continue to lose due to such effectiveness- and efficiency-leakages due to leadership failures. FAO-WFP are global thought leaders, and can do a lot in this space. I would even go as far as to say they have an obligation to do something in this space. A significant relook at the parameters of judging leadership performance may be a good area to look at. 




Great insight. Hemant I agree with you on the fact that a relook has to been done on the parameters of judging leadership performance, not equally forgetting the cultural perspectives. 

This is because the way each leader manages a project differs from different cultural région, at time causes the failure or slowness in project evolution or it may also be of great advantages.

I have noticed that many program launched by international organizations like the FAO do not reach maturation or goals in certain parts of the world mostly developping countries due poor quality in leaders in charge of piloting such projects. 

Regards to all these, equality arises because not everyone in the community benefits from those programs due to poor canvas in selection of beneficiary, network favourism, poor communication and embezzlement.

International organizations such as FAO and WFP have been developing strategies for a while  now and why has such an organizational not succeed to reach SDG since?! 

What are the reasons?! Infact we are still waiting for our leaders to respond.



Hemant Nitturkar

A thought - WFP has a pioneering accelerator for agribusinesses. May be a WFP-FAO A4D Leadership Academy that caters to all layers of leaders and champions in the governments, organisations, projects, businesses may help in hastening the global recovery and move towards achieving SDGs, especially in view of pandemic-led setback.    

I am sure many peers would have thoughts and contributions to make, I will be happy to contribute if such an initiative is planned. 

Justin Chisenga (FAO) Moderator

A very quiet second week of the consultations. However, good points raised on the challenges faced in rural development; and the issues around equity and inclusion and leaving no one behind, especially in the face of digital technologies that could potentially exacerbate the digital agriculture divide in rural areas. Also pointed out is the need to develop capacities of small-scale farmers in financial literacy, and strengthening leadership skills of leaders of various organisations, public, private, and civil society, to ensure inclusive development process.

Marisa Muraskiewicz (WFP) Moderator

Hello everyone! It's nice to meet you.  My name is Marisa Muraskiewicz and I work with the Research, Assessment and Monitoring (RAM) Division at WFP Headquarters in Rome, Italy.  I'm currently collaborating with a team to develop WFP's new Strategic Plan (2022-2026). 

I'll be moderating this week's discussions and look forward to hearing your experiences and ideas around the consultation topics. Please don't forget to indicate which question you are responding to when you leave a comment. 

Thank you for your engagement and valuable insights - speak to you soon!

Best regards, 



Strengthening data and innovation is where research and development department of most rural areas in collaboration with organizations and enterprises must focus. 

But how farmers and rural areas are able to affought agricultural machinery mostly in developping countries?! We can count them. This is there is not an effective technology transfert. This causes leveraging homegrown agriculture problems and mostly production.

Marisa Muraskiewicz (WFP) Moderator

Thanks Bigambia for your comment.  Innovation and digitilization is definitely an important cross-cutting theme for WFP's and FAO's work, and as you mention it is especially important to ensure that farmers have access to technologies and innovative solutions that can improve food systems.  Are you familiar with WFP’s Innovation Accelerator, which helps to identify, support and scale-up high-potential innovations to end hunger?  One of the solutions from this initiative has been hydroponics, a soiless cultivation technique that enables plant growth in arid or peri-urban areas.


Thanks Marisa for the insights concerning the WFP's  innovation program. It is really interesting. We came up with a small prototype call AGMS have the function of measuring and controlling the growth of plants by farmers. This is a means for us to help our local farmers to have a good monitoring, control and evaluation of plants being closer or far.

For the hydroponics, I have not yet seen this technic in my country. Hoping this technic or technology is going to be part in Cameroon. 

Hemant Nitturkar

Dear All,

Digital agriculture, be it simple use of internet, telephony or the use of drones, sensors, big data, AI and IoT,  is going to play a big part in future. But a challenge I see, in response to the questions C7 and C8 above, is to see how such interventions can be made successful and sustainable. Enormous amounts of money, effort and time gets wasted if they did not succeed. I have done extensive research in this field and developed a "A practical tool to enhance the chances of success of digital agriculture interventions for sustainable development in Africa and India". Please see my paper below. May be someone can further develop the idea and the tool so greater success can be achieved in digital agriculture efforts 







Well said Hemant. 

Looking Over to bring an imput to your paper.

Athula Dissanayake

This is my proposal for wholesome agricultural development in any prospective society. 


Athula. Thanks for sharing the diagram illustrating agricultural development

Athula Dissanayake

Bigambia I proposed this process to our Agriculture technical committee in our country, Sri Lanka. Actually I proposed this program after lots of learning from EU agricultural development, Agriculture development in Thailand, Japan etc. But it didn't pick up well due to unlimited bureaucracy existing within and around.


Athula Dissanayake Great. We just have to be patient. And continue developing strategies for the development of our societies. 

Bureaucracy is also part of our challenges we face through out the développement of activities.



Tomomi Ishida

Dear All, 

My comment is related to question B with a focus on equity, inclusion, and leaving no one left behind. 

While both of FAO and WFP have a certain institutional memories and experiences to provide workable policy advice to governments and to implement project to pilot the approach in LDCs or lower middle income countries, both agencies have less experiences to deal with these challenges in middle income countries and mobilizing fund to pilot approaches in middle income countries is also a challenge.  Inclusion and equity remains as serious problem in middle income countries and left behind population falls far behind unless access to these populations are not prioritized.

In many development projects in LDCs, support to the most vulnerable, in particular youth, woman, and person with disability operationalize under " inclusion" policy however in middle income countries, prioritization of these vulnerable is one of the most important factors for hunger alleviation. On the other hand, most likely case host governments would prefer to focus on " poor" farmers despite of social vulnerabilities which might be more familiar way for both of FAO and WFP since both organizations have similar experiences in lower income countries.

Having said this, the challenge remains within organizations on how organizations can change our operations or shift way to move forward despite of relying on successful experience in other countries or existing institutional memories.    

Ruba Daghmish

Hi every one I am Ruba Daghmish from Jordan I work as CEO at Jordan Olive Products Exporters Association

great topic first of all In Jordan we have a wealth of knowledgeable and talented people  who have been the focus of many local and foreign organizations keen on help development and empowerment. Whilst these programmes have been paramount in upgrading skills and raising hopes, what remains lacking is how to get the products sold. So we need to do here to focus  on the whole value chain so need to work with both wealth and poor people by establish sectoral cooperative societies that include all groups of society so that they help each other, it is win win situation.


Ruba Daghmish 

Sally Berman (FAO) Moderator

Ruba Daghmish 


Dear Ruba 

Thanks so much for your ideas and input.  Your suggestion to focus on inclusive value chains is very insightful.


Tomomi as well discussed issues of inclusion especially in middle income countries. How can we ensure inclusion of all stakeholders in value chains so that producers can reach market?

Thanks, Sally


Sally Berman (FAO) Moderator

Dear All! I am Sally from FAO, working on partnerships with UN agencies. I am excited to join as moderator for this week.  

Tomomi has added a very relevant entry on the challenges of including vulnerable people in middle income countries. Can anyone add their thoughts on how best to ensure equity, inclusion and LNOB in middle income countries?

Thanks, Sally


Vulnerable people in middle income countries faces many challenges, caused by political instability, war, malnutrition etc.

To ensure equity and inclusion of middle income countries can be done through resilient programs (which are to save lifes, educate, boosting agriculture etc.). This permit middle income countries to manage and included. Also, international organizations have to work with local organizations within these middle income countries and  private enterprises to facilitating the tackling of problems in an easy rapid manner. This is because, these local organizations are well placed to identified the real need of vulnerable people. These vulnerabale peoples are mostly found in regions of war causing a high risk of manultrition.


Ashwini Sathnur

Question A:

  • Impact of covid-19

The covid-19 impact seeks to transform the socio - economic models to the format of the digital technologies and information and communication technologies based product solutions. Thus the product solutions based on the conceptual frameworks of the blockchain and the digital financial services could feature as the necessary requirements of the public markets.


  • Climate and environment

The effects of the climate change could be interlinked to the emerging technologies and the latest frontier markets of the regenerative agriculture. The study of the environment and the sector of agriculture could utilise new innovative ideologies product solutions based on the subject areas of the digital technologies and the artificial intelligence. Thus creating new versions of the business models and markets.


  • Gender equality



  • Strengthening data and Innovation

New Innovative ideologies product solutions based on the subject areas of artificial intelligence and it's interlinkages to the science of the climate change and the technological tools and techniques of the regenerative agriculture, could be created. This would lead to the creation of new job opportunities and employment generation.


  • Equity and inclusion: leaving noone behind

Creation of new innovations built in the subject areas and conceptual frameworks of accessibility and inclusive development and it's interlinkages to the agricultural sector.


Question B:

  • No challenges being faced.


Question C:

  • FAO and WFP would aim to contribute innovative ideologies research articles and product solutions based on the subject areas and conceptual frameworks of the regenerative agricultural sector.


  • Creation of new Innovative ideologies product solutions based on the subject areas and conceptual frameworks of the regenerative agriculture would lead to a positive outcome.


  • There would be no obstacles.


An example Innovative ideology product solution titled "Artificial intelligence and the food value chains" is created by myself, Ashwini Sathnur, which illustrates the objective of integrating the subject areas of the climate change and the food systems and food value chains. This innovative ideology product solution's definition documentation material is attached here, along with this post.





Tomo Uno (FAO) Moderator

Thank you for your comments. It's good to see positive views about technology, especially your conviction that AI could increase jobs- where many have opposing views. I agree FAO and WFP should continue to pursue innovative technologies with the aim of achieving the SDGs, whilst being aware of the inherent risks.

Cheers Tomo


A.  Impact of COVID 19.  

The impact of Covid 19 will also impact the climate and environment, gender equality and equity and inclusion.  Access to nutritious, sustainable food systems are key.


Now more than ever people need access to safe, nutritious, sustainable food and because of the impact of Covid, this is harder to achieve.  Additionally, funds available to support existing projects and implement new ones are at increased demand.  We must do more with less and because of this have to re-think what the MOST sustainable solutions are.

C6, 7 & 8.

There are over 32,000 edible plants in the world, with every country having hundreds (at least) of edible plants known to grow in them.  Yet, on a country level and world-wide, we only regularly consume a fraction of these.  Nutrition, particularly of young women and children must be a priority because if we reduce malnutrition and stunting, and all the disadvantages that these bring, then every intervention after that point will have far greater impact and require less resources.

Food Plant Solutions uses the worlds largest database of edible plants to identify the most nutritious food plants to grow in a country or region.  Many of these are Neglected and Underutilised Species (NUS) and most of them will have far superior nutritional profiles than commercially grown crops.

WFP and FAO should together recognise this resource and investigate how it can be used to strengthen and improve their existing programs and future nutrition based programs. 

Hand-outs, supplements etc. must only be a short-term answer for immediately dire situations.  The risk with these is that they can create dependency. Self-help projects that focus on empowering people with information about their local food plant resources need to be prioritised and driven by local communities.

Given the fraction of edible plants that every country regularly consumes and the potential in the thousands of food plants that we know so little about (for some it's as little as what country they grow in and their botanical name), WFP and FAO should implement programs that help to start to identify the nutritional profiles on these many thousands of plants.  Who knows how many 'superfoods' are yet to be discovered?

This is a far more cost effective approach than current methods of breeding new plants to fill dietary / nutritional imbalances.  First look at ALL the plants known to grow in a country to determine if there are already suitable plants.  Given the thousands that we know little about, it is highly likely that a suitable local plant can be identified.

This type of information must be in plain English for all (in the appropriate language), as per Food Plant Solutions work.

What can prevent such things from occurring are ideological opposing views that usually have vested interests, specifically a career based on plant breeding, etc. 


Tomo Uno (FAO) Moderator

Thank you for highlighting this interesting approach. I am not a nutrition expert, but there are many in FAO and WFP to whom I will pass on the message. In the meantime, I'm curious how this approach relates to initiatives such as edible insects/insect agriculture, Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)- where edible plants may be known through local wisdom but not the wider community, and the various initiatives aiming to conserve crop genetic diversity. Any views most welcome. 

Cheers Tomo

Mark Singleton

Dear group members,

Very pleased to be part of this group and to read all the interesting contributions made thus far. I'm particularly interested in the ways in which FAO and WFP seek to strengthen their partnership, given their complementary mandates, roles and actions. Establishing this SparkBlue joint consultation platform is an excellent way to identify synergies and build that partnership from the ground up - after all, sharing insights and knowledge is a very effective part of networking and partnering. The 2030 Agenda can only be achieved when people and agencies join hands, virtually and literally, so not just in boardroom meetings to discuss MoUs, but especially through intercollegiate dialogue and exchange.  

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