Food Systems and Security: A UN Summit and IFS-SEARCA Advanced Grants

Published: 2021-09-30

The UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) 2021 took place recently and virtually on 23 September during the UN General Assembly in New York. The Summit was an historic opportunity to leverage the power of food systems to drive our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and to get countries and regions back on track to achieving all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Nighisty Ghezae, DirectorNighisty Ghezae, IFS Director

The UNFSS followed an 18-month process in which 148 countries hosted national dialogues with key players at every stage of the food system to develop national strategies for more inclusive, resilient and sustainable food systems for everyone. The Summit was intended to trigger the transformation of food systems around the world with commitments from advocates, businesses, communities and governments. 

The UN Food Systems Summit concluded with “nearly 300 commitments from hundreds of thousands of people from around the world and across all constituencies to accelerate action and to transform food systems. The Summit process gave rise to several multi-stakeholders’ initiatives led by civil society, farmers, women, youth and indigenous groups that Member States commit to in order to deliver on the priorities, needs, and gaps identified in national pathways.” [See a full report on:]

Meanwhile, IFS and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) had already embarked on an initiative in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequent food security issues. IFS and SEARCA launched their Mentorship Program for Advanced Grants with a Call for Research on Accelerating Transformation through Agricultural Innovation (ATTAIN). The Advanced Grant scheme supports promising early-career researchers to enhance their capacities to develop research proposals and conduct research, translate research and scientific outputs into knowledge that could be applied to promote development, and expand their reach in terms of contributing to the body of knowledge within their research areas. The Mentorship Program nurtures relationships between established scientists and early-career researchers (the IFS-SEARCA grantees) that are intended to help the latter to strengthen their research processes, ensure that their projects are of high quality, and produce useful results.

Twenty-four early-career scientists from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam were selected to participate in a Mentoring Workshop in June 2021, following a pre-screening and recommendation for further consideration for funding. The workshop aimed to support the applicants to improve the quality of their research proposals before resubmission. Advanced Grants were subsequently awarded to eight researchers to carry out projects on:

  • Application of closed hybrid Zero Water Discharge–Recirculating Aquaculture System technology along with synbiotic functional feed as alternative to antibiotics for disease biocontrol strategy in whiteleg shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei culture
  • Assessing the fates of glyphosate and its main metabolite, aminomethylphosphonic acid, with the organic matter contribution in surface water of the Red River Delta, Northern Vietnam
  • Experimental and computational NMR in detection, structure elucidation, and kinetic analysis of lipid oxidation products in fried foods in Vietnam
  • Expression, purification, and characterization of CBM50 domains of chitinase B from Bacillus velezensis RB.IBE29 isolated from the Central Highlands, Vietnam
  • Food environment and socio-ecological attributes as drivers of food security before and during enhanced and general COVID-19 quarantines in Cavite, Philippines
  • Moving toward a healthier diet: Consumer intention to eat more vegetables and less meat in Vietnam
  • Potential for using some indigenous medicinal plants as feed additives relating to animal health, growth performance and meat quality of pigs in Northern Vietnam, and
  • Study on damaging potential and diversity of plant-parasitic nematodes associated with vegetables in Vietnam and developing biological control strategies using endophytic bacteria.

Along with other regional and international organisations committed to increasing investment in science, technology and innovation to ensure a sustainable planet, IFS is contributing to the understanding and resolving of national and global problems by enhancing the capacity of early career scientists in LLMICs to ensure that food systems are just and also resilient to our new realities.

With thanks 

Nighisty Ghezae



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