Agrifood Lithuania, together with BIAC, is organizing the largest Baltic AgriFood Forum on the theme of “Peace for Food” in response to the global, multi-faceted agri-food crisis. The event also supports the Business at OECD initiative Peace for Food.

Agri-food accounts for around 7% of the GDP in each Baltic state. Ukraine is a major importer of food for companies in the sector, and Ukraine has one of the highest inflation rates in the EU. If agrifood companies stagnate, it will negatively impact other sectors and the unemployment rate. To ensure the availability of affordable and high-quality food for all without compromising sustainability obligations, this Forum will encourage discussion among national and international stakeholders and encourage the development of an action plan. Commitments like these will be based upon more sustainable, resilient, and healthier food systems.

Relevant and interesting themes related to agriculture will be discussed at the Forum, as well as possible answers and solutions to current agricultural challenges. A number of topics will include agriculture’s importance in urban areas, smart farming, and the vision of the future consumer. There will also be a discussion on the vital importance of transforming agriculture into a digital one.

The Future Consumer

People living in developed countries often take food for granted, since it is such a basic part of their lives. By doing so, we put ourselves at risk. As a result of our inefficient food distribution and production system, widespread hunger continues to spread, even though the environmental impact is tremendous. Rich countries, however, suffer from an epidemic of diseases caused by a diet of affluence and abundance. For the planet to be fed in an equitable, healthy, and sustainable way, we must transform the food system.

Fortunately, consumers are becoming aware of the relationship between food and health and are modifying their purchasing behavior. In turn, this results in new eating habits and a shift toward fruits and vegetables, less meat, and less sugar. In European grocery shopping, affordability remains a top priority, but health has gained a greater influence, with 57% saying health is more significant. The number of people who choose sustainability over affordability is only 26%. There is no doubt that consumers expect regulators to play a more significant role in promoting sustainability and health in food retail. In addition to promoting healthier, more sustainably sourced foods, over 40% of EU citizens want government intervention to discourage unhealthy, unsustainably sourced foods.

Urban Agriculture

Many cities lack space for urban agriculture and are competing with other land uses, limiting its ability to play a central role in local and regional food sovereignty. It has been shown through observational studies that urban home, community, and market gardens in the developed world are highly productive – though often they aren’t.

Big urban agglomerations are key to mankind’s future. Approximately half of the world’s population lives in towns and cities. Hence, global population growth and urbanization levels are particularly high, as well as environmental degradation. From food processing to industrial technologies and architecture, ecology has become a fast-growing branch of science.

There has been an increase in urban agriculture in recent years. Urban agriculture has many benefits, including the ability to produce vegetables, fruits, and herbs without using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Additionally, city fields influence the growth of biological diversity, improve microclimates, produce oxygen, and, most importantly, absorb carbon dioxide. In urban areas, agricultural areas are used to cultivate, process, and distribute food. Aside from breeding animals, urban farming also includes apiculture, aquaculture, and gardening. For example, during the war, urban food processing was a necessity. The goal of society today is to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle. Urban farming is considered a promising human activity that can contribute to the economic and social development of developing countries.

Change Towards Climate-Smart Agriculture

Around 75% of the world’s poor live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. As a key element and driver of economic transformation and growth, and within the broader context of urbanization and development of the non-farm sector, increasing agricultural productivity and incomes in smallholder production sectors is crucial to reducing poverty and achieving food security.

Despite this, climate change has already hampered agricultural growth. In several regions of the world, climate change affects crop production, with negative effects more common than positive, and developing countries are particularly vulnerable.

To support food security under the new realities of climate change, we need to pay attention to climate-smart agriculture as an approach to transforming and reorienting agricultural systems. Climate change threatens agricultural production and increase the vulnerability of those whose livelihoods are dependent on agriculture. This includes most of the world’s poor. Climate change disrupts food markets, putting the food supply at risk for the entire population. It is possible to reduce threats by increasing farmers’ adaptive capacities as well as by increasing agricultural systems’ resilience and resource efficiency.

Enhancing Innovation and Moving Towards Digitalization in Agriculture

As the digital economy develops rapidly and integrates into all sectors of our lives, the entire modern life of society is closely linked to it. As of now, no sector of the economy operates completely independently of the digital economy. Electronic resources need to be introduced in more innovative ways in agriculture in order to improve efficiency. For the management of an agribusiness, this is a necessary condition.

As a result of digitalization, various advanced business areas are developing at an accelerated pace, new working specialties are being created, professional computer equipment is being traded over the Internet, and animal husbandry is being taught the basics of using intelligent systems. A wide range of technological advances are used in agriculture today, including robots, temperature and moisture sensors, aerial images, and GPS systems. Businesses can be more profitable, efficient, safer, and environmentally friendly by using these advanced devices and precision agriculture and robotic systems.

In this way, agriculture producers can enhance productivity while improving resource management. By minimizing pollution and waste, this ensures long-term viability and reduces negative environmental impacts.