During the AgriFood Forum 2022 a panel discussion “Climate-Energy-Skills-Food: Future-Proofing Resilience in food value chain on regional scale” was organized. An introduction to the topic was made by Kristina Simonaitytė, Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Lithuania. To provide an overview and discuss future directions on a national and international scale, she presented the current situation in the food industry.

A growing amount of attention is being paid to climate change and agriculture in today’s world. Globally, food systems are responsible for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Identifying solutions and reducing them cannot be overstated. 3 of the 5 most effective measures to reduce greenhouse gases are related to agriculture, forestry, and land use.

“At present, COP27 is taking place and discussions on agriculture are becoming important as well. Another even more important aspect is that when decisions are made it is highly important that not only farmers, but also other stakeholders take part.  We try to do this in Lithuania as well. As many as 13 meetings of the working group of agriculture and decarbonization have been held this year and we have discussed various measures where we have encouraged participants to engage in the creation of these measures. Certain goals have been already achieved via certain measures.” – Kristina Simonaitytė.

As well in her speech, “energy” has been mentioned as a keyword for this year. The production of energy and its efficient use should be coordinated so they don’t compete. Kristina reported that the production of biomethane would increase tenfold by 2030, which is very encouraging. It is highly relevant that agriculture plays a role here, as it can provide a large portion of the raw materials needed.

Climate-Energy-Skills-Food: Future-Proofing Resilience in food value chain on regional scale

Over the past two years, newsrooms and boardrooms have become increasingly interested in the plumbing of global commerce. Today’s global supply chains are vulnerable due to the COVID-19 crisis, post-pandemic economic effects, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Therefore, during the panel discussion at the AgriFood Forum 2022, the primary question was resilience and how we should think about it.

Chairman of the Economic Committee of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania – Kazys Starkevičius, talked about the first feeling of resilience after the invasion of Ukraine started. “Challenges make us think, not only about the amounts that we produce, but also about how much we have in our reserves,” said Kazys Starkevičius. The concern was whether or not there would be enough food if the war continued. A good thing is that the Lithuanian industry is considering production and short chain in a broader sense. In terms of GDP, this year’s most significant sectors for us were agriculture, crop yields, and IT.

Agnė Bagočiūtė, Advisor at Lithuanian Energy Agency also talked the situation after the beginning of the war. “War made us think about how energy, security, and independence are important. And thankfully, Lithuania did a lot in diversifying its energy resources. There are challenges that make us think and plan. We also talk about electricity production. Lithuania imports about 70 % and produces only 30 % of electricity, so we have big ambitious goals in renewable energy.”

CEO of the Lithuanian Food Exporters Association, Giedrius Bagušinskas highlighted that skills are part of the value chain. And Dr. Agnė Kudarauskienė, Vice-minister of the Education, Science, and Sport of the Republic of Lithuania agreed with his words, saying that the system needs to react faster since education is an evolutionary system. According to her, employers need to take responsibility for the need for skills.

Grzegorz Brodziak, President at GoodValley Agro S.A. Lithuania underlined that we need to see resilience as a whole system without separating agriculture and food. The resilience of agrifood system would be one that is capable of keeping the desired expected safety food in delivery terms even if exposed to shocks and stresses like a pandemic or anything else. Resilience is really needed with education, knowledge, and cooperation of all the stakeholders starting from suppliers, farmers, producers, and consumers, but also the academic researchers, and politicians at the end, taking the right decisions and right policies.

Kristina Simonaitytė finished the discussion with her thoughts about the necessity to remember fundamental Agronomy principles and think not only about technological breakthroughs but also about what we might have forgotten.