With debate ranging from trade and nutrition, to the conversations forming around food and the upcoming United Nations (UN) Food Summit, panelists at the recent Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) Bitesize webinar looked at how people can enable a food system based on production for need, rather than greed.

The series of webinars run during the pandemic have focused on themes from the OFC’s 75-year history.

This Bitesize adopted the 1974 Conference theme “The World, Its Food and My Farm” and the debate highlighted that many of the concerns facing farmers in the 1970s aren’t far removed from the worries of farmers today.

Barbara Bray, OFC Director and webinar chair, said:

“During the 1970s, farmers were concerned about falling profits, upcoming trade deals, and about potential food shortages – these concerns are not dissimilar from the conversations we are having now.

But what has actually changed since then? The UK is the world’s fifth richest nation and we have approximately one in five people living in poverty and more frequent droughts and flooding.

“And now as we enter a recession with rises in unemployment, maybe we can look back on the 1970s for some of its wisdom.”

Robynne Anderson, president and CEO of Emerging Ag Inc; Terri Sarch, UK Ambassador to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome; and Caroline Drummond, chief executive of Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) also joined the webinar.

They discussed the importance of managing issues of hunger and malnutrition, and how farmers can play a part in crafting a sustainable system.

“Up until 2015, around the world we had been making progress with the number of hungry and malnourished people decreasing year-on-year,” said Terri Sarch.

However, since 2016, the number of people who don’t get enough to eat has risen each year.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how much we depend on each other for our health, for our economic system, as well as for our food systems with a particular focus on how we produce food and the supply chains that bring it into our homes,” concluded Sarch.