The council said the forum was prompted by disruptions in the sector as a result of the pandemic which were severely affecting vulnerable communities and threatening rural livelihoods.
"Due to lockdowns and movement restrictions, small farmers and agribusinesses are often unable to process their fresh produce and/or access markets," it said.
South Africa has been under a lockdown since March 27 in an effort to slow down transmissions of the virus. Initially most business and social activities, except for essential services, was shut down, but the government has since progressively relaxed the restrictions.
The HSRC cited data from the World Food Programme, showing that there were currently 821 million food-insecure people in the world. Of these, some 265 million are on the brink of starvation if countries do not prepare and act now to secure fair access to assistance and avoid funding shortfalls and disruptions to trade.
"While government interventions are usually informed by experts, ministers and parliamentarians, there is a lesser-known story that deserves attention: that of youth rising up to meet these challenges," said the HSRC.
"Additional initiatives that are centred on the experiences of youth, urban and peri-urban farmers, street vendors and informal retailers, and low-income consumers could serve to provide unique and direct insight into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on national and local food systems."
African News Agency (ANA)