Agro-industry, agribusiness and food security

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The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted vulnerabilities in the world’s food supply chains. Border closures, trade restrictions and confinement measures have prevented farmers from accessing markets, and agricultural workers from harvesting crops, thus disrupting domestic and global food supply chains and reducing access to healthy, safe and diverse diets. ILO reports that the economic and social disruption caused by the pandemic could cause an increase by up to 132 million undernourished people. The impact of the crisis highlighted the need for greater action to make food production and consumption resilient and aligned to sustainable and inclusive development.

The enhancement of agricultural value chains and food systems is a central aspect of inclusive and sustainable industrialization. Through its technical cooperation activities, UNIDO supports the development of sustainable food value chains and inclusive market systems, promotes business opportunities for the rural populations and strengthens markets to enhance industrial linkages and economic transformations.

Food systems touch every aspect of human existence. The health of our food systems profoundly affects human health, environmental health, our economies and our cultures - UNIDO’s work in this area promotes employment and income opportunities, while reinforcing sustainable livelihoods.

Research & articles

  • COVID-19: Long-term support for biotech yields vaccine promise in Cuba
    UNIDO activities on agro-value chains

    Transforming food systems to make them more inclusive, sustainable and resilient is key to making progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UNIDO’s approach generates substantial economic, social, environmental and resilience impact

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  • COVID-19: Long-term support for biotech yields vaccine promise in Cuba
    UNIDO activities in the fisheries sector

    UNIDO is leading the thematic work on blue economy growth, which aims to develop fisheries and aquaculture value chains.

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  • COVID-19: Long-term support for biotech yields vaccine promise in Cuba
    UNIDO activities on food safety

    Developing and promoting best practices in food safety for the benefit of food and agri-food businesses as well as consumers is an essential element of UNIDO’s mandate to accelerate and promote ISID.

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  • COVID-19: Long-term support for biotech yields vaccine promise in Cuba
    UNIDO activities on on integrated agro-industrial parks

    UNIDO spearheads the development of agro-industrial parks, which are considered a vehicle for the structural transformation of the economy through the commercialization of the agricultural sector.

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Related publications

Examples of activities

In the framework of the UNIDO Country Programme in Bangladesh for the period 2018 - 2020, the 3ADI+ (Accelerator for Agriculture and Agroindustry Development and Innovation) development programme for value chain and market systems is being implemented, spearheaded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and UNIDO. In Bangladesh, the 3ADI+ is developing the dairy and beef sector to (a) improve nutrition and food safety; (b) increase incomes and market access for businesses in the sector at a very large scale; and (c) reduce the environmental impact of milk and beef production and processing.(here)

In Mozambique, UNIDO aims at increasing the smallholder’s livelihood and income generation opportunities. The specific objective is to improve targeted agro-value chains, including the specialized coffee value chain of Mozambique, through a wide range of activities. The project targets smallholder farmers as the main direct beneficiaries of the project, with a particular attention to youth and women. This project in Mozambique builds on the successful partnership established with Illycaffé and Ernesto Illy Foundation within the framework of the technical assistance project for improving the Ethiopian coffee value chain.

Find out more on the OpenData platform.

In Uganda, UNIDO is supporting vulnerable farming communities to better adapt to the effects of climate change through banana value added activities, thereby providing greater opportunities for income generation, poverty reduction and food security, while also reducing deforestation. The activities focus on changing practices in banana cultivation, and on adding value to this important crop. The project also promotes investment and access to finance to support the development of cottage industries.

Find out more on the OpenData platform.

In Ethiopia, UNIDO is supporting the development of a value chain for one of the economic lifelines of the Ethiopian economy - the production and export of coffee. The Ethiopian coffee sector is very important for the country and for its economic development as it is (a) a major source of cash income and provider of employment; and (b) the first item in terms of revenue generated from export with a share of about 25 per cent. The project in Ethiopia focuses on the quality of the coffee production, rather than the quantity of coffee beans produced. The specific objective is to increase the coffee export revenue.

Find out more on the OpenData platform.


  • September 2021: UNIDO at the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS)
  • July 2021: Vienna Energy Forum Virtual Series - Accelerating energy transition for food system transformation
  • June 2021: UNIDO participation in a webinar hosted by WHO - “A SDG indicator for food safety
  • February 2021: Vienna Energy Forum Virtual Series - Accelerating energy transition for food system transformation
  • UNFSSIn September 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will convene a Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) as part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

    The Summit will awaken the world to the fact that we all must work together to transform the way the world produces, consumes and thinks about food. It is a summit for everyone everywhere – a people’s summit. It is also a solutions summit that will require everyone to take action to transform the world’s food systems. The UNFSS will launch bold new actions to deliver progress on all 17 SDGs, each of which relies to some degree on healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems.

    UNIDO, particularly through its Department of Agri-business, supports the Secretary-General’s call for action.

    Find out more information here

  • VEF

    Sustainable energy can play a substantive role in supporting the transformation of food systems so that production, sustainability, and gender equality are simultaneously improved. A lack of coordination and inefficient use of data impedes planning, hindering efforts to target investments and identify interventions for user needs. This High-Level Plenary on ‘Food Systems Transformation’ will explore action-oriented solutions to integrate renewable energy solutions into food systems and highlight the potential for multiple wins at all stages of the value chain. At the same time, this High-Level Plenary will discuss how this transformation and decentralized renewable energy systems can enhance gender equality and empower women and youth.

    Although food systems have been transforming, driven by ever increasing efficiency and productivity, they still fail to provide sufficient and reliable food supplies, whilst concurrently contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation. Panel 1 on ‘Scaling Up Food Productivity’ will examine how the integration of renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements can make a significant contribution to a sustainable and inclusive transformation of food systems. The panel will explore the measures that can trigger productivity improvements while creating market demand for energy services and examine options for affordable commercial financing. The panel will also discuss how food system transformation can maximize the leadership, participation in and benefits for women and youth.

    Recent developments in digital applications provide a means to accelerate the integration of sustainable energy into food systems. Panel 2 on ‘Smart Food Systems’ will examine how digitalization and improved access to data can accelerate the speed and scale of energy-food system transformation and improve energy access, making it practically and economically viable, whilst ensuring that the gender digital divide is not further exacerbated.

    Although digitalization provides opportunities to attract youth and women to the energy sector, there is a need to ensure equitable access and build capacities to tackle the digital divide.

    Find out more information here

    Watch the recording here.

  • Find out more information here.

    Watch the video recording here.

  • VEFWatch the video recording here.