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Agri-Food Chains: A key to sustainable food systems: By Mary Asanga

The Agri-food chain is a complex system that includes providers of inputs and services, processing, transportation, industrialization, and other support services (technology). The concept of value chain is to help create a broader perspective of value added in product as it travels along the supply chain via an efficient economic process and dependable networks.

The Agri-food supply chain typically starts with farmers, then moves to processors, and ends with distributors (retailers and wholesalers) and ultimately to end consumers. There are relatively fewer actors in processing and retailing, but this phase is where the potential for highest value addition thrives.

A sustainable food chain centers around three-dimensional spheres: environment, social, and economic. Environment accounts for the use of natural resources, pollution prevention and environmental management. Social accounts for standard of living, education, community, inclusiveness, and equality. Economic accounts for profits, cost, savings, economic growth, research and development.

To make the food chain more sustainable, adequate infrastructures must be put in place and the interests of all stakeholders must be considered in the production process. This means not just product innovation, but also organizational innovations should be considered.

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