Challenge – Revealing Food Systems | CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture

Inspire Challenge

Revealing Food Systems

Mapping and monitoring food system flows to inform policy-makers and problem-solvers

In today’s globalized and rapidly urbanizing world the concept of “food systems” is becoming a central, unavoidable component to analyzing and understanding food insecurity and malnutrition. Food systems thinking is critical to being able to better identify key entry points for policies and innovations that address food security, health and nutrition.

While progress is being made around definitions, indicators, and metrics, researchers and analysts are still asking big questions about food systems such as:

  • How do we address the complex, multi-scale nature of food systems?
  • What are the implications of food systems fluidness on capturing, documenting and understanding the flow of products?
  • How do these dynamics inform actors and give feedback related to food systems?

At present, the fragmented and mainly static datasets that exist related to food systems limits our ability to comprehend and properly investigate them. This has consequences not only for nutrition and health but also for the environment, which is greatly impacted by food systems. Because food systems are rapidly evolving – in response to changing diets and other key drivers—new forms of both data collection and analysis are necessary to better understand food systems influences and impacts. There is, therefore, an urgent need to explore innovative, new ways to generate, collect and analyze food systems data at multiple scales in real-time.

A big data approach is needed to address these challenges and devise a solution that will empower new insights and understandings related to food systems. This Inspire project seeks a substantial step forward toward mapping and visualizing food system flows – one that will illuminate the dynamic pathways of food from production to consumption and illustrate the driving factors behind changes in food systems. Building this whole-of-system understanding will support and inform efforts to bring about better outcomes related to nutrition, health, and the environment.

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