Woman with seeds

Transforming Agrifood Systems in South Asia


Home to one-quarter of humanity — one-fifth of whom are youth — South Asia has the world’s largest concentration of poverty and malnutrition. The Green Revolution positioned South Asia to produce one-quarter of the world’s consumed food, but the region’s agrifood systems today face formidable poverty reduction, climate change and environmental challenges. Significant hurdles remain to securing an adequate and affordable supply of diverse foods necessary for sustainable healthy diets. Social, economic and geographic inequalities create barriers from production to consumption, disproportionately affecting the poor. Unhealthy food consumption is rising, with many nutritious foods too costly for the poor.

South Asia’s predominantly rice-based farming systems are threatened by unsustainable groundwater withdrawal. Natural resource degradation, low resource use efficiency, and agriculture-based air pollution undermine sustainability and human health. These issues contribute to rural out-migration — particularly of youth — resulting in rising labor scarcity and increased production costs. Many farmers suffer from weak markets, poor access to extension, limited access to irrigation, and insufficient policy support. These issues contribute to nearly 22 million hectares being fallowed across South Asia following the monsoon-season rice harvest.


This Initiative aims to propel evidence into impact through engagement with public and private partners across the production-to-consumption continuum, to achieve productive, environmentally-sound South Asian agrifood systems that support equitable access to sustainable healthy diets.