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Mishra, D.; Muduli, K.; Sevcik, L.; Jana, S.K.; Ray, M. Sustainable Agri-Food. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 30 November 2023).
Mishra D, Muduli K, Sevcik L, Jana SK, Ray M. Sustainable Agri-Food. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed November 30, 2023.
Mishra, Debesh, Kamalakanta Muduli, Lukas Sevcik, Sujoy Kumar Jana, Manidatta Ray. "Sustainable Agri-Food" Encyclopedia, (accessed November 30, 2023).
Mishra, D., Muduli, K., Sevcik, L., Jana, S.K., & Ray, M.(2023, July 06). Sustainable Agri-Food. In Encyclopedia.
Mishra, Debesh, et al. "Sustainable Agri-Food." Encyclopedia. Web. 06 July, 2023.
Sustainable Agri-Food

Because of growing populations, more people living in cities, and higher incomes, the demand for food has changed in both quantity and quality. This has sped up the growth of different agricultural production and distribution chains. The necessary transition processes in the agri-food sectors, however, can often take a very long time to complete and have negative social and environmental effects, which puts the traditional development paradigm into question.

agriculture agri-food sustainable development fuzzy

1. Introduction

The intensification of expanding agricultural production has had a sizable impact on the agri-food sector. As far as agribusiness is concerned, it entails collective commercial operations, including the supply of agricultural inputs, the manufacture of agriproducts, and their transformation and delivery to end consumers. It has been a significant source of revenue and employment all over the world. Inadequate education, inadequate training, and ineffective technological development have all been caused by the confluence of a range of regional and worldwide reasons, in addition to progressive and unanticipated changes in the responsibilities and structures of the agri-food sectors [1]. Despite the fact that many developing countries have taken steps to embrace fiscal austerity policies and are also expanding antipoverty techniques for increasing economic growth through the availability of goods, this has resulted in the development of quasi-agriculture as a result of the participation of a significant number of small-scale farmers in such countries [2]. The agricultural industries in certain rural locations confront new difficulties in locating markets for the efficient sale of their goods. Around the world, there has been significant concern regarding these agricultural marketing difficulties [3].
The “Green Revolution”, which began in the 1960s and was particularly influential in Indian agriculture, is often credited with the country’s substantial advancements in domestic food production as well as other related fields. It changed India from a food-deficit country to an export-focused nation with a surplus of food. The nation is currently dealing with second-generation issues, particularly those relating to sustainability, nourishment, the adoption of advanced farming techniques, and, probably most significantly, the economic status of the population that depends on agriculture. Agriculture is dealing with brand-new, unheard-of difficulties and diverse agri-based issues. The government is continually working to find solutions to these issues, and the appropriate agencies are active in running the programs and regulations that are already in operation. However, it is acknowledged that food, agricultural, and farm policies need to be reoriented toward a more long-term perspective. India is renowned for the variety of farming techniques it employs. Finding appropriate measures for the future requires engaging different types of perspectives in the agri-food sectors. Additionally, in order for the agricultural community to get benefits from the global markets, the obstacles and possibilities presented by the global markets under the liberalized trade regime must be handled.
Both optimism and concern may be found in the trends and issues examined in this paper. There has been significant success in lowering poverty and hunger as well as enhancing nutrition and food security. Yet, increasing demands on environmental assets and climate change, which both undermine the sustainability of food systems generally, might put the nation’s food security at risk. If prevailing patterns continue, global constraints may very well be exceeded. This paper’s goal is to encourage the coordinated and practical measures needed to carry out these goals. Based on the report by the FAO [1], when agriculture’s contribution to overall output and employment decreases, different difficulties and issues arise in different locations at varying rates. Although technical advancements and investments in agriculture are increasing productivity, yield growth has stalled at unacceptably low rates. Reducing food waste and losses would minimize the need for production to increase, which consumes a sizeable amount of agriculture’s output. However, the deterioration of natural resources, the loss of biodiversity, and the spread of transboundary parasites and diseases in both animals and plants—some of which are developing antimicrobial resistance—delay the desired increase in productivity development.
These tendencies present a number of difficulties for agriculture and food. Agriculture and food production cannot be sustained by high-input, resource-intensive farming practices that have led to extensive deforestation, water shortages, soil degradation, and significant greenhouse gas emissions. Innovative solutions that boost production while safeguarding and enhancing the natural resource base are required. A transformational process for “holistic” strategies that also draw on indigenous and traditional knowledge is required, such as organic agriculture, re-vegetation, climate-smart agriculture, and crop management. Technology advancements would aid in addressing climate change and the increase in natural catastrophes, which touch all organisms as well as every element of human life, together with substantial reductions in economic growth and farming consumption of fossil fuels. For the prevention of rising transboundary concerns in agriculture and the food chain, such as diseases and pests, enhanced openness and cooperation are required. To meet present and future difficulties, food systems, including management, must be rethought. These must, however, be complemented by ethical investments that take into account the welfare of small farmers, the ecological costs of expanding food supply chains, and the effects on ecosystems. Farming practices need to be made more effective, diverse, and resilient in order to solve these issues. As all civilizations must fundamentally alter the way they create and consume goods, sustainable development is a worldwide issue and the collective duty of all nations. Moreover, on the pathway to sustainable development, all nations are dependent on one another. Achieving cogent, efficient national and global management with defined initiatives and a commitment to accomplishing them is one of the main issues. Yet, pervasive malnutrition and hunger are still major problems in many regions of the world. By 2030, and certainly not by 2050, hunger will not be completely eradicated at the prevailing development rate [1]. The elongation of food chains and modifications to eating habits have made the food sector even more intensive in terms of energy, resources, and emissions. These developments put the nation’s ability to satisfy its food demands at risk and jeopardize the viability of the food sector.
This provokes additional queries. Can agriculture supply the enormous demand for food while ensuring the sustainable use of the earth’s resources, limiting greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing the effects of climate change? Can the country ensure that everyone has access to enough food? Can rural economies and agricultural sectors be altered to offer more employment and income-generating possibilities? Can government policies support farming practices that eradicate micronutrient shortages, provide cheap food access for everyone, and address food overabundance? Can the enormous issue of food waste and food losses be solved? As a result, the intention of this research is not to list all the issues that the Indian agri-food sectors must deal with but rather to foster better knowledge of the issues that agribusiness, rural development, and food systems face today and in the future. The assessment of the agri-food sectors’ issues that is addressed in this study sheds additional light on the issues involved as well as what can be done to make these sectors more sustainable

2. Combating of Associated Issues for Sustainable Agri-Food Sectors

Due to weaker organizations and worse facilities, the farming sub-sectors are known for having greater overhead costs and ubiquitous market inefficiencies [3]. Additionally, through partially implementing policy initiatives and re-emergences, the benefits of liberalization for the state advertising companies in agrarian segments of the market were dampened [4]. With agriculture extension, larger knowledge systems that incorporate both agricultural education and research are in operation. While the OECD nations refer to these as “Agricultural-Knowledge Systems”, the FAO and the World Bank refer to them as “Agricultural-Knowledge and Information-Systems for Rural-Development” [5]. According to Olesen and Bindi [6], the current yield gaps for the earlier “Soviet countries” in Europe are 4.5 times greater than the output-growth that would likely result from climate change by 2050. In order to pursue agribusiness strategies, agricultural organizations must adhere strictly to business principles and meet converging expectations for social engagement [7]. Dolan and Humphrey [8] investigated fresh foods exported from Africa and discovered that UK supermarkets had developed an influence over the fresh vegetable trade, playing a crucial role in determining production and processing patterns. According to Chen et al. [9], hypermarkets and supermarkets accounted for more than two-thirds of all retail businesses in “Western European and North American” nations. These outlets are also common in “South Asia and Latin America”. For the agri-food system, the retail revolution has offered both new possibilities and challenges. The “Ministry of Commerce and Industry of India” commissioned “ICRIER” to conduct a study on the effects of organized retailing on unorganized retail, farmers, and middlemen, and the results showed that both could coexist by establishing contemporary supply chains in organized retails that would increase productivity for both agriculture and industries [10]. In order to create and provide value to end users, a successful fresh food business must first understand the “consumer’s value” drivers for the target market. Suppliers who are knowledgeable about their products, including how consumers use them, and who are attentive to market needs can react more swiftly to changing consumer preferences and maintain their competitive edge [11]. Due to their inability to implement “technical breakthroughs”, the developing nation’s poorer farmers are likely to be excluded from trade since they have less access to knowledge and markets and fewer resources [12]. A thorough examination of the “trade-system and trade-environment” is necessary to comprehend the supply chain, exchange levels, and forces that have an influence on business operations. This can aid in identifying and defining the roles of potential members of the supply chain in an agro-based supply chain. In order to increase quality assurance and reduce expenses, supply chain actors must develop collaboration in the event of food safety issues. Leat and Reoldo-Giha [13] have recognized five elements that impact the supply chains’ connections in their research of the “malting barley to beer agri-food industry”. These factors include communication, goal compatibility, commercial advantages, contractual partnerships focused on ties to both individual and professional networks, greater trust levels, and readiness to resolve issues, respectively.
Food processing often requires a lot of labor and takes a long time; hence, the yields and returns on investment are lower. Therefore, recognizing these obstacles and helping to overcome them is crucial for future capacity growth, improvement in quality, and the creation of sustainable and profitable firms [14]. The extension service’s responsibilities include giving guidance, updating agricultural technology or practices, and applying practical research knowledge [15]. It is possible to track the spread of improved agricultural technology and management methods. The Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Chinese, and even American civilizations all have a long history dating back thousands of years. Both the United Kingdom and Ireland are where extension service systems have their roots. During the years from 1845 to 1851, agricultural extension consultants assisted Irish potato farmers in diversifying into other food crops [16]. According to reports, the U.S. Extension covers six key areas in both rural and urban settings, including youth empowerment, agriculture and leadership development, development of resources, consumer and family sciences, and community and economic development [17]. Concern over the environmental and social viability of the food industry has grown [18]. If the current trends of population growth and consumption hold true, our world’s food production system may not be able to maintain patterns of resource-intensive consumption that are on the rise. By 2030, civilization will require the equivalent of approximately two Earths to feed itself [19]. The reformation and development of marketing infrastructures are both aided by agricultural marketing. Therefore, it becomes crucial to enhance all services to promote agricultural business connected to market system improvement, marketing infrastructure strengthening, investment needs, potential funding sources, marketing information system improvement using human resource developments, ICTs, and export-related endorsements [20]. Numerous empirical studies in “Africa, Asia, and Latin America” have demonstrated the importance of producer organizations in enabling smallholder farmers to access value markets that are higher [21][22][23]. Farmers’ adoption intensity for improved maize varieties in Tanzania was found to be impacted by their involvement in farmer groups [24]. A variety of cropping patterns, reduced tillage, and investments in soil and water conservation are all examples of sustainable agricultural techniques that have been suggested by studies [25]. Production, processing, marketing, and consumption are value-adding activities that are included in the conceptual framework of agricultural value chains. The phrases “supply chain and value chain”, according to the “Food and Agricultural Organization”, are sometimes used interchangeably [26]. The value chain, which includes “processing, packing, storing, transporting, and distributing”, can be a network or vertical connection between numerous separate corporate organizations. The agricultural value chains in South Asian nations are frequently broken, with missing connections between markets and farmers [27]. According to the World Bank [28], 75% of the poorest people live in rural regions and rely mostly on agriculture as a source of income. In South Asia, the percentage of people living in poverty is likewise larger and more persistent. Similar to how other sectors of the economy have grown, the significant expansion of agriculture may be a useful instrument for reducing poverty in rural regions. Shiferaw et al. [29] recommended democratic-based governance, continuity and helpful group composition, accountability, and competitiveness to improve the performance of agrarian manufacturers. According to Callon and Muniesa [30], markets can be seen as unified systems allowing a give-and-take philosophy that is limited not only to commodities and dissemination but also offers essential values. These values are shaped by societal norms, public legislation, private entities, and social customs [31]. Additionally, the agri-food markets are crucial in aggregating needs and supplies across the whole food system, from the input side to agriculture, collecting, processing, as well as packing, transportation, and ultimate consumers’ consumption of commercial food items [32]. As a result, it creates the potential for products to be consumed in the end [33], in addition to economic development initiatives. The agri-food markets have seen rapid worldwide development, with some meta-trends created by global forces having a significant impact on the agri-food sectors globally [34]. Currently, a number of stressors have been identified in the agri-food markets and systems [35], which deal critically with a number of sustainability issues, including changing climate, rising population, undernourishment and hunger, depletion of resources, degradation of ecosystems, and biodiversity. They are at the intersection of global social, environmental, and economic crises [35][36][37]. Various scholars have suggested that globalization benefits food security by lowering the risk of international supply disruptions [38], foodstuff inflation [39], and associated instability [40]. The previous decades have seen a significant transformation in the worldwide agro-based supply networks due to the adoption of food quality and safety standards [41].
The primary difficulty posed by supplying local, national, and worldwide markets is the agricultural value chains’ globalization. The majority of businesses were found to be unwilling to work with neighboring farmers as a result of ‘structural flaws’, such as lower dependability and a lack of high-quality produce, according to the “United Nations Conference on Trade and Development” [42]. Brazil processed 70% of its fruits as compared to China’s 23%, Indonesia’s 50%, and India’s 4% [43]. With an understanding of the challenges involved with such a firm, Sundar [44] investigated more than fifty prospects linked to agribusiness in India. With 75% to 80% of total marketing shares in developed markets compared to emerging nations, the digital market is the most established and significant platform for the progress of the global economy [45]. By 2050, when there will likely be 9.7 billion people on the planet, precision farming will likely be adopted as a result of digitalization, making it a primary demand for food production [46]. Currently, the four agricultural sectors of “web designing, marketing through social media, mobile applications, and digital marketing” are where the majority of internet technology is utilized [47]. The resources and environmental outcomes of these continuously expanding agro-based products have come under increased pressure from both corporations and governments. By adhering to strict food safety management rules, producers such as small-scale farmers may contribute to sustainable development through institutional efforts and active engagement in procurement channels [48]. According to Borsellino et al. [49], research should be expanded in order to advance fundamental knowledge and identify the potential for developing meaningful measures that might nudge the agro-based industries toward sustainability.
Food security’s four pillars comprise food availability, accessibility, consumption, and stability across time [50]. Fulfilling the increased demand for food caused by population expansion makes food security a challenge on a worldwide scale. There is a greater need to meet the constantly rising demands for quality foods and food security in order to maintain sustainability by reducing environmental consequences and enhancing societal potential [51]. In order to fulfill the growing needs of the global population, the United Nations “Food and Agriculture Organization” determined the provisional requirements for a sufficient and reasonable food supply through services for sustainable agriculture [1]. Despite the slower population growth rates globally, “South Asia and Africa” will still see considerable expansion in the years to come. This will increase competition for already scarce water and land commodities [52]. In addition, there will probably be more rivalry for resource-based inputs for energy and food production [53] and for governmental “bio-economy plans” [54]. But in addition to the strains on land-based resources, over 40% of the world’s rural populations are affected by water scarcity brought on by industrial, agricultural, and urban needs [55]. The tenets of intensifying sustainability are that the agricultural sectors’ production must be raised to keep up with demanding rates of growth [56]; and according to previous research, the productivity in 2050 must be about 50% higher than in the year 2012 [57]. An expanding food waste scenario, income inequalities, disparities in food distributions, and worsening climatic changes would all necessitate increased agricultural productivity [58]. Climate change not only makes it harder to make a living but also directly threatens food security by lowering work prospects, raising levels of poverty, and restricting access to societal benefits [59].
Moreover, the emergence and dissemination of the “pandemic coronavirus (COVID-19)”, which now has unbalanced a wider range of activities, has gravely affected the world’s financial systems. Due to social marginalization, rigorous travel regulations, and quarantine rules, many industrial sectors have seen major labor shortages as well as job losses. One of the sectors that was completely exposed was the agricultural and food industry. Offering practical solutions that can benefit both market expansion and customer happiness is urgently needed [60]. The agriculture industry is having a very difficult time meeting the rising demand for food due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Since the outbreak, factors such as consuming foods that are high in health and nutrition, reducing poverty, enhancing safety, and maintaining the environment have been crucial [46]. The constraints, including labor scarcity, access to customers, and preferential procurement of commodities, continued to be problems for the agri-food sectors from both supply and demand perspectives [61].
When considering any option, it is imperative that the procedure for making decisions be brought up at all times. Decision making is a complex cognitive process that involves the brain looking for a desirable conclusion while taking into consideration a number of different elements. This process may be logical or illogical, and on the other hand, it may make implicit or explicit presumptions that depend on a variety of factors, including cultural, biological, physiologic, and social impacts. A wide range of factors have an impact on these presumptions. All of these factors, as well as the amount of power involved and the level of risk, can influence the degree of difficulty of the decision-making process. Mathematical equations, a wide range of statistics, algebra, economic theories, and computational resources that automatically calculate and estimate the answers to decision-making questions can all be employed to address complex decision-making difficulties in the modern era. It is possible that multi-criteria decision making (MCDM), one of the most precise methods of making decisions, may be regarded as a revolution in this particular field. The MCDM approach could be used to help humans find solutions to everyday challenges. In contrast, the evaluation of criteria becomes an extremely important issue when a problem is based on a subject that is of greater significance, such as in the agri-food industry or other industries. In light of this, it is imperative that decisions be arrived at by adhering to sound organizational practices and doing comprehensive analyses of each of the relevant aspects using the tools and technologies that are available. Additionally, despite the fact that other MCDM methods have been developed, or the discovery of criteria estimates and picking in light of their tendencies, one of the most popular methods that utilize comparisons was already considered to be the BWM, with even fewer data requirements and more trustworthy comparability [62]. Rezaei et al. [63] found that the BWM is appropriate when there are fewer criteria to be taken into consideration and that it also generates more consistent findings with fewer pair-wise comparisons [64]. The SWARA technique, which is another way of doing MCDM and is capable of handling a range of criteria in any challenging situation, has also proven its unique application for a variety of decision-making procedures [65][66][67]. Additionally, various research has recommended combining MCDM methods to effectively manage more complex problems, such as SWARA and the “complex proportional assessment (COPRAS) method” [66] and SWARA and “VlseKriterijumska Optimizacija I Kompromisno Resenje (VIKOR) analysis” [68]. However, there are not many studies that take complicated problems into account when integrating BWM and SWARA methods


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