Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Facilitating Anticipatory Action with Improved Early Warning

26 September 2023Seminar, Facilitating Anticipatory Action with Improved Early Warning

This seminar took stock of existing early warning, early action systems (EWEAs) and examined whether they provide sufficient guidance to policymakers and decisionmakers keen to enhance anticipatory action and is featured under the IFPRI-AMIS policy seminar series on Making Sense of Food and Agricultural Markets.
  • Opening Remarks Johan Swinnen, Managing Director, Systems Transformation, CGIAR; Director General, IFPRI
  • Global Food Crisis: Where do we Stand and How is the GRFC Servicing Early Warning Systems? Sara McHattie, Global Coordinator of Food Security Information Network (FSIN) (Presentation)
  • How to Identify Food Crisis Risks? Early Warning Systems for Global Market Shocks and for acute Food Insecurity Rob Vos, Director, Markets, Trade and Institutions (MTI), IFPRI (Presentation)
  • What Works and What Does not Work with Existing Early Warning Systems to Inform Preventative Action? Arif Husain, Chief Economist, World Food Programme (WFP)
  • Agricultural Market Early Warning Mechanisms for Identifying Global Risks to Food Security Joseph Glauber, Senior Research Fellow IFPRI and Secretary of AMIS (Presentation)
  • How can Improvements/Integration of EWEAs better Facilitate Anticipatory Action? Sandra Ruckstuhl, Senior Researcher at International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and co-lead CGIAR initiative on Fragility, Conflict and Migration (FCM)
  • Global Network Against Food Crises and Early Warning, Early Action to Address Food Crises Leonard Mizzi, Head, Sustainable Agri-Food Systems and Fisheries, European Commission
  • Moderator Charlotte Hebebrand, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, IFPRI

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Financialisation, dematerialisation, digitalisation & distancing of Africa’s agriculture

ACB (2023) Financialisation, dematerialisation, digitalisation & distancing of Africa’s agriculture. What future for small-scale farmers and their food and seed systems? #25 p.

Following on from part one, The rise of digital agriculture and dispossession in Africa: implications for smallholder farmers, part two looks at how private-sector interests and motives are driving the financialisation of Africa’s food and farming systems.

This paper explores the consequences of financialisation, which include the marginalisation of human rights, particularly as relating to land access and ownership. It looks into financialisation related to seed breeding and seed-related research and development finding that seeds are increasingly viewed as digital commodities.

The consequences of financialisation are growing corporate dominance in all elements of the food chain, reduced funding into the real economy and an increased focus on delivering short-term returns. Real-world systems are ruptured.
This paper describes key financial instruments like futures and derivatives trading markets, and index funds. It also explores the financialisation of climate change and the role of public private partnerships. Significant financialisation actors are identified, such as banks, asset management funds, large institutional investors and philanthropic organisations. Agricultural commodity trading companies are engaged with financialisation instruments like derivatives, as are global energy traders. Digitalisation is an enabler of financialisation. See more on digitalisation of Africa's agricultural systems in part one.

There is a 'distancing' that happens in the process of financialisation - distancing of revenue generation far from the place of production, distancing of accountability as the entry of many stakeholders unrelated to food and farming obscures responsibility, and distancing (almost erasing) of the physical form of food production, including of those who produce it and their related knowledge.

You can read the briefing paper here and the associated fact sheet here.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Gender-Mainstreaming Action Plan for Inclusive and Sustainable Food Systems in Africa

FARA (2023) Gender-Mainstreaming Action Plan for Inclusive and Sustainable Food Systems in Africa #52 p.

The production of this document was supported by NORAD, through AUDA-NEPAD in collaboration with FARA. 

Inclusive sustainable food systems in Africa require a gender-transformative approach to address gender inequalities that women and girls face in accessing and controlling resources and decision-making in the food systems. Gender mainstreaming is a crucial step towards achieving inclusive and sustainable food systems that are gender-responsive, equitable, and socially just. This action plan provides a step-by-step guide for gender mainstreaming in inclusive sustainable food systems in Africa. 

The Action plan for gender mainstreaming for inclusive and responsive food system in Africa springs from four (4) different perspectives: 
  1. The various global, continental, and regional frameworks on gender responsiveness/ inclusiveness and equality 
  2. The existing literature on the current state of gender gaps affecting the drivers of the food systems in Africa
  3. The outcomes of the Round Table Discussions by multi-stakeholders and partners on gender issues and food systems in Nairobi 2022. 
  4. The collated results and outcomes of the online/computer knowledge-based assessment by multistakeholders and partners on gender issues and the food system in the continent.

This action plan also contains measurable expected indicators of change and timeline that is in tandem with FARA Strategic Plan (2024-2028). This action plan should be read with other action plans, gender documents, policies and strategies associated with FARA and the CAADPXP4 consortium. 

New multi-donor fund Financing Agricultural Small-and-Medium Enterprises in Africa

18 September 2023.  
Agricultural small and medium enterprises (agri-SMEs), as Africa's largest employer and economic engine, are the key to fighting hunger. Yet three out of four agri-SMEs can’t access bank loans, and are too large for microfinance, creating an estimated $100 billion gap in unmet demand for financing. Bridging this gap is critical to feeding the future.

At the 2023 U.N. General Assembly, USAID and Norway announced the Financing for Agricultural Small-and-Medium Enterprises in Africa (FASA) Fund to spur investment in Africa’s agricultural growth. 

Working with Congress, USAID and Norway will each provide an initial commitment of $35 million. With these commitments, Norway and the U.S. aim to reach $200 million through additional donor contributions to catalyze hundreds of millions more in commercial financing by reducing investment risk. This fund has the potential to support 500 agri-SMEs and 1.5 million smallholder farmers, ultimately benefiting nearly 7.5 million people. The fund will also support nearly 60,000 private sector jobs.

FASA Fund’s Impact

Over the next 10 years, FASA Fund aims to support 500 agri-SMEs and 1.5 million smallholder farmers, ultimately benefiting 7.5 million people while bolstering nearly 60,000 jobs. The Fund will actively invest in climate adaptation; gender equality; crop diversity to better withstand shocks from pests, weather, and disease; and regenerative agriculture practices that integrate conservation efforts and restore soil health. Through FASA Fund, agri-SMEs will:
  • Increase food and nutrition security: Boost agricultural productivity; strengthen supply chains; connect small-scale farmers to markets, innovation and technology; and improve access to food for local communities.
  • Reduce poverty: Generate growth in agriculture, the most effective sector at poverty reduction in Africa.
  • Combat climate change: Deliver the tools and skills that farmers and businesses need to adapt to climate change and invest in climate-smart practices.
  • Close gender gaps: Break down barriers for women business owners and farmers to access the tools and services they need to be more productive. One-third of agri-SMEs are women-owned and sixty percent of women in Sub-Saharan Africa work in agriculture.
  • Spur economic growth: Enable businesses to scale, create employment opportunities and grow into larger markets at home and abroad.



19 September 2023. At an event hosted by the World Economic Forum, USAID Administrator Samantha Power and Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, the Norwegian Minister of International Development, launched a new multi-donor fund designed to unlock hundreds of millions in financing for small-and medium-sized agricultural businesses (agri-SMEs) in Africa.


Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Political Economy of Food System Transformation - Pathways to Progress in a Polarized World

Danielle Resnick and Johan Swinnen (2023) The Political Economy of Food System Transformation - Pathways to Progress in a Polarized World. #401 p.
  • Offers an interdisciplinary perspective on the political economy of nutrition, biotechnology, trade, and agricultural policies 
  • Adopts diverse methodologies including economic modelling, qualitative case studies, and discourse analysis 
  • Identifies which political economy issues are cross-cutting and which are context-specific
An open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC 4.0 International licence

  1. Introduction: Political Economy of Food System Transformation, Danielle Resnick and Johan Swinnen
  2. Facts, Interests, and Values: Identifying Points of Convergence and Divergence for Food Systems, Koen Deconinck
  3. The Political Economy of Reforming Agricultural Support Policies, Rob Vos, Will Martin, and Danielle Resnick
  4. From Re-instrumenting to Re-purposing Farm Support Policies, Kym Anderson and Anna Strutt
  5. Policy Coalitions in Food Systems Transformation, Johan Swinnen and Danielle Resnick
  6. Government Response to Ultra-Processed and Sugar Beverages Industries in Developing Nations: The Need to Build Coalitions Across Policy Sectors Eduardo J. Gómez
  7. Ultra-processed Food Environments: Aligning Policy Beliefs from the State, Market, and Civil Society, Jonathan Mockshell and Thea Nielsen Ritter
  8. Asymmetric Power in Global Food System Advocacy, Jody Harris
  9. The Political Economy of Bundling Socio-Technical Innovations to Transform Agri-Food Systems, Christopher B. Barrett
  10. Sustainable Food and Farming: When Public Perceptions Depart from Science, Robert Paarlberg
  11. Enabling Positive Tipping Points in Public Support for Food System Transformation: The Case of Meat Consumption, Lukas Paul Fesenfeld and Yixian Sun
  12. Urban Food Systems Governance in Africa: Towards a Realistic Model for Transformation, Gareth Haysom and Jane Battersby
  13. The Political Economy of Food System Transformation in the European Union, Alan Matthews, Jeroen Candel, Nel de Mûelenaere, and Pauline Scheelbeek
  14. Tracking Progress and Generating Accountability for Global Food System Commitments, Stella Nordhagen and Jessica Fanzo
  15. Conclusions, Danielle Resnick and Johan Swinnen

Extracts Policy coalitions p. 111 - 128

This chapter provides greater nuance about contemporary coalitions for food systems transformation, focusing on three broad types of coalitions. The chapter underscores that while coalitions are widely viewed as essential for policy change, the diversity of such coalitions for food systems is rarely examined, nor are the ways in which the goals of disparate coalitions may complement or contradict
each other.

Coalitions—or a set of individuals and groups with shared policy preferences—lie at the heart of political economy. They are also often considered central to policy change. (...) Coalitions matter for at least two reasons. First, interest groups that share similar goals often exert more influence on policymakers and greater visibility to the public when they combine to forge a larger partnership. (...) Second, coalition members can benefit from the consolidation of their different types of resources and legitimacy.

In some cases, the same agent is involved in multiple elements of the value chain, such as the four dominant global agricultural trading firms, Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, Cargill, and Louis-Dreyfus. (page 132)

Interests of food processing companies involved in early-stage processing will often be aligned with those of farmers, while those of further processing may be opposite. In this case, coalitions will emerge that include farm organizations and early-stage processors, which may lobby for import tariffs,
while retailers, traders, and final consumers may oppose such tariffs. Such coalitions not only organize around tariffs but also on product standards or other type of regulations. 

For example, an interesting current discussion relates to names of plant-based alternatives to meat products, and whether the word “burger” can be used for them—a discussion where the meat industry and livestock farmers are joint in a coalition trying to restrict such broad use of names. (...) The EU’s beverage and confection industries and sweetener companies lobbied the EU decision-makers against the extension of the EU sugar quota, which kept production low and prices high; by contrast, the sugar processing companies were lobbying to keep the system and its higher sugar prices.(page 133)

The cross-issues section (page 138 - 149) first focuses on coalitions that coalesce around food quality and nutrition and how the contours of those coalitions may vary based on a country’s or region’s level of economic development. 
  • Generating coalitions for food safety can be more challenging in parts of the Global South, such as sub-Saharan Africa, where a large share of the poor depends on the informal sector, including wet markets or street vendors, for affordable food.
  • The combination of costs to adhere to such standards among informal retailers, combined with inadequate regulatory and enforcement capacity in such settings, creates few domestic constituencies for reform despite recurrent cholera outbreaks and food-borne illnesses.
  • Poorer consumers, including those who do understand health risks, also cannot effectively use boycotts as a tool to enforce shifts in regulation in the same way that wealthier consumers can in developed countries. (page 138)
  • The spread of global value chains has implications for the political economy of agricultural and food policies because it changes the incentives of various agents in the value chains to lobby for, or against, import protection and integration in international trade agreements. (...) Trade protection is lower when the domestic content of foreign produced final goods is higher and (vice versa) for foreign content of domestically produced goods. (page 143)
  • Other types of coalitions reveal attempts to rectify asymmetric power dynamics between developing country agricultural producers and multinational corporations. For instance, in 2018, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire—who produce 63 percent of the world’s cocoa—teamed up to create the Ivory Coast-Ghana Cocoa Initiative (ICCIG). (page 143)

Extracts Government Response to Ultra-Processed and Sugar Beverages Industries in Developing Nations (Mexico, India, South-Africa)  p. 133 - 149

This chapter asks:
  • Why were governments in Mexico, India, and South Africa unwilling to demonstrate equal political resolve across all public health prevention and regulatory policy efforts in response to NCDs?
  • Why focus mainly on a soda tax when other regulatory policies were just, if not more, important?
To better understand the differences in the political economy of reform between the soda tax, advertising, and food labeling regulations, a multiple streams analytical framework was adopted. Applying this framework to the cases of Mexico, India, and South Africa revealed that in addition
to all three countries confronting rising NCD challenges (problems stream), a change in political context (political stream), and policy solutions (policy stream), policy entrepreneurs at the domestic and international level were important for coupling these three streams together to build consensus for reform.

It has been in select emerging economies, not wealthier nations, where we have seen the boldest attempts to introduce national policy innovations in response to these healthcare challenges. (...) For example, Mexico’s Congress passed a national soda tax in 2014, India adopted a national sin tax on sugary drinks and other unhealthy products in 2017, and South Africa’s government created its own tax on sugary beverages in 2018.
(page 150)

When it came to regulating the marketing and sale of soda and ultra-processed foods, as well as the introduction of more effective food labels, however, each of these nations were far less successful,
though in varying degrees. (page 151)

Because the tax posed an immediate economic threat to industry and generated resistance among industry actors, it further increased the visibility of the policy debate for governments and among the
public; the same could not be said for industry regulations. (page 151)

Several opportunities exist for international organizations, government, and civil societal actors to build strong coalitions in support of marketing and sales regulatory policies while holding governments accountable for their enforcement. Furthermore, the emergence of soda and snack food taxes has
revealed that developing nations can eventually overcome the powerful resistance of food industries.

KO, the Indian subsidiary of Coca-Cola, stated that if the sin tax passed, it would consider shutting down several of its bottling plants in India. Coca-Cola India was of the view that this tax would lead to a reduction in the sale of its products. By 2017, the food industry and trade groups were working together to determine how they could effectively lobby against the tax proposal. (page 159)

Industries engage in a form of self-regulation, which is monitored by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) (...) There was no concerted international effort, either from multilateral organizations or the scientific community, to recommend and impress onto India’s government the idea of pursuing industry regulations. (...) Compared to the sin tax, there is no immediate and substantial financial threat to industries being regulated. In fact, industries may decide to simply ignore regulations, perhaps even willing to pay a small, one-off fine. (page 161)

The Beverage Association of South Africa (BEVSA)’s—which represents companies like Coca-Cola and PespiCo — used“ anti-tax advertisements” in newspapers, as well as BEVSA’s meetings with national health officials to emphasize the reformulation of sugary beverages, which analysts claim is often perceived as a proposed alternative to a tax. (...) Considerable concessions were made to industry prior do the tax’s adoption, leading to a reduced taxation rate from 20 percent to 10–11 percent. (page 163)

The government of South Africa was less successful when it attempted to introduce industry regulations. For instance, when it comes to advertising unhealthy products, especially toward children, to this day the government has not enacted any legislation. (...) Instead, and similar to what we saw in Mexico, industries have opted to engage in self-regulatory practices, such as through the 2009 South Africa Pledge on Marketing to Children, which was released by the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa.

In general, proactive civil societal activism and influence in the area of nutrition policy has been delayed for many years in South Africa. Nevertheless, more recently, NGOs, such as HEALA, have done a commendable job of raising awareness about industries’ ongoing violation of the government’s
marketing policies toward children. HEALA in general has also been vocal about the importance of front-of-package warning labels while, as mentioned earlier, being fully supportive of an SSB tax. (page 164).

Regulatory restrictions on industry do not provide additional government revenue in South Africa. It is instead an entirely public health matter. In a context where the national government does not seem fully committed to enforcing existing regulations, there is little additional economic incentive to focus on them by nutrition and health advocates. Consequently, efforts to introduce improved labeling and advertising restrictions continue to be delayed. (page 165)

Extracts Ultra-processed Food Environments: Aligning Policy Beliefs from the State, Market, and Civil Society p. 155 - 177

This chapter focuses on advancing our understanding of the role of policy beliefs and coalitions in ultra-processed food environments in low- and middle-income countries and presenting strategies to reduce the persistent state, market, and civil society organization (CSO) failures. This analysis aims to advance our understanding of the role of policy beliefs and coalitions in ultra-processed food environments, using Ghana as a case study.

In sub-Saharan Africa where increasing food prices and low incomes play a critical role in determining the food basket, the growing trend of increasing ultra-processed food consumption raises a fundamental concern related to food choices and the increasing prevalence of obesity, stunting, and wasting.

In Ghana, between 2007/08 and 2014/15, the prevalence of obesity and overweight increased by 47
percent and 25 percent, respectively, reaching rates of 15 percent and 24.5 percent, respectively. Diet-related diseases are also on the rise in Ghana. This increasing trend in obesity and overweight is associated with the consumption of ultra-processed foods.

Government efforts to regulate and civil society strategies to reduce access to affordable ultra-processed foods have been largely unsuccessful due to limited state capacity, lobbying, and cultural norms. (...) 

The ultra-processed food industry’s concerns over potential sales and profit losses from regulation lead to financial incentives and market and political actions against reducing ultra-processed foods in the food environment. (...) The global production network, access to international finance, and global intellectual property rights coupled with hyper-local distribution networks provide leverage and a power base for the ultra-processed food industry to pull strings whenever and wherever possible.(...) 

The market size of the ultra-processed food industry plays a significant role in economic development through employment, taxes, infrastructure, technical training, and foreign direct investments in developing economies. For example, policies to regulate or implement a soda tax could lead to revenue losses and counterthreats to governments. For governments aiming to maximize political self-interest for reelection, such policy options are likely not appealing. (page 173).

Due to differences in food prices, affordability, and accessibility, in high income countries, people with low incomes tend to consume more ultra-processed foods, whereas in middle- and low-income countries such as Ghana people with high incomes tend to consume more ultra-processed foods (page 174).

As most ultra-processed foods are imported, the products are considered as western-style convenience foods, which are associated with ideas of “foreign” and “modernity.” The growing middle-class demands ultra-processed foods to establish their social identity. (page 184).

The market coalition discourse highlights inadequate infrastructure for storage, transport, distribution, and processing as challenges affecting the availability of healthy food products. These challenges are attributed to the high cost of establishing the relevant infrastructure for healthy foods compared to that for ultra-processed foods. (page 185).

A respondent highlighted, “Frankly, it is quite difficult but, first, looking at the political will and interest, you will be surprised to know that powerful people are behind the importation of such foods in the country. So, if you have such powerful people who are behind these foods getting into the country, the question is how do you stop them from doing their business? … it is quite difficult” (page 186).

In Africa, there are only seven countries that have national food-based dietary guidelines. Ghana began the process of developing these guidelines in 2016 but has not yet made them public. (...) Some government agencies also hold the belief that their main responsibility is to ensure that “food is safe and thus the nutritional content is of less priority. (...) These beliefs limit the scope of their work and enforcement mechanisms—with implications on the increasing prevalence of ultra-processed foods. As the evidence suggests for the food environment in Ghana, without strong regulations in the free market, the market is left to supply and demand, and self-interests can potentially lead to serious market failures. (page 188).

The MEALS4NCDs project seeks to measure and support policy actions to create healthy food environments for children in Ghana. (page 192).

To make self-regulation effective and not self-serving, a set of basic standards that include: (page 191).
  • multi-stakeholder engagements (involving scientists, nongovernmental organizations, global governance, and industry) with no single party given disproportionate power;
  • setting relevant aims and targets with codes of acceptable behaviors;
  • and undertaking external and objective evaluations, including mandatory public reporting of adherence to regulations, such as on labeling, and oversight by a global regulatory or health authority.

Extracts Urban Food Systems Governance in Africa p. 288 - 305

This chapter focuses on African cities and problematizes emerging food system and urban system trends and actions in these cities. 

Ensuring that the urban food system guarantees the attainment of optimal developmental and health outcomes is therefore essential, both to ensure the youth dividend and for society at large. (...) The predominantly rural and production bias framing of food insecurity has meant that many African cities lack a holistic mandate over food systems governance.  (page 305)

The production orientation has created a rural bias in food security programming and policy. This bias has its origins in earlier framings of the role of cities in development, specifically the urban bias theory.
Under the urban bias framing, it was argued that urban consumers and industry were able to exert political pressure on government to ensure cheap food to the cities, at the expense of appropriate prices for rural farmers.(...) The resultant focus on rural areas and production has meant that both food
security research and policy responses in Africa have disregarded urban areas beyond being viewed as sites of consumption. The focus has instead been on rural household food insecurity or mechanisms to improve national food security through production (page 307)

In the African context, food governance has remained largely confined to the state and government. Many cities govern urban food markets, approve development plans for new food-oriented developments, like supermarkets, collect license fees and permits from market food vendors, regulate informal food traders, manage market infrastructure, and build and regulate local transportation infrastructure. (page 308-309)

City-led processes offer great promise, particularly when policies and actions can align to fiscal allocations to ensure effective programmatic resourcing. Activities led by external actors, often from global governance or development organizations offer prestige, may bring additional funding and can draw on lessons from other cities and engagements. Some of these externally driven processes also promote and advocate for food policy council approaches. Pluralistic multistakeholder approaches can offer different benefits, such as potentially increasing agency and enhancing the influence of non-state actors on the food system. (page 312)

There are at least five reasons why urban food governance processes that originated in the Global North may not be fully effective for transforming urban food systems in African cities(page 317)

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Tropentag 2023

20 – 22 September 2023
. Tropentag 2023 - Competing Pathways for Equitable Food Systems Transformation: Trade-Offs and Synergies

The Tropentag is a development-oriented and interdisciplinary conference. It addresses issues of resource management, environment, agriculture, forestry, livestock, food, nutrition and related sciences in the context of rural development, sustainable resource use and poverty alleviation worldwide.

The annual interdisciplinary conference on research in tropical and subtropical agriculture, natural resource management and rural development (Tropentag) is jointly organised by the universities of Berlin, Bonn, Göttingen, Hohenheim, Kassel-Witzenhausen, ZALF e.V. (all Germany), Ghent University (Belgium), Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (Czech Republic), BOKU Vienna (Austria), and the Council for Tropical and Subtropical Research (ATSAF e.V) in co-operation with the GIZ Fund International Agricultural Research (FIA).

Tropentag 2023 was organised as a hybrid conference by Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Recearch (ZALF), Germany, in cooperation with the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany.

IFPRI was featured as the CGIAR center of focus at this year’s Tropentag, an annual interdisciplinary conference on research in tropical and subtropical agriculture, natural resource management and rural development.

Extracts of the programme

20/09 Welcome addresses and opening

  • Cem Özdemir, Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, Germany
  • Julia Von Blumenthal, President of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
  • Frank A. Ewert, Scientific director of ZALF Müncheberg, Germany
  • Dagmar Mithöfer (HU Berlin) and Stefan Sieber (ZALF), heads of organising committee
  • Folkard Asch, ATSAF / University of Hohenheim

20/09 Keynote speeches and discussion

20/09 Advancing a demand-driven research portfolio to improve water, land and food systems in the Global South 

CGIAR/Systems Transformation Action Area
The role of groundwater as an accelerator of agricultural transformation: Insights from the CGIAR initiative on NEXUS Gains
Abstract (ID 994 ):  Web-Version (html)    :   Print Version (pdf) pdf.gif

Leveraging agroecological transitions: Experiences from the CGIAR initiative on agroecology
Abstract (ID 995 ):  Web-Version (html)    :   Print Version (pdf) pdf.gif

Applying a social equity approach to transformative adaptation: Minimising trade-offs between environmental and socio-economic outcomes
Abstract (ID 996 ):  Web-Version (html)    :   Print Version (pdf) pdf.gif

Navigating climate mitigation in global food systems: Insights from CGIAR
Abstract (ID 997 ):  Web-Version (html)    :   Print Version (pdf) pdf.gif

Responsible digital innovation in agri-food systems: ethical and equitable transformation for sustainable agriculture
Abstract (ID 1005 ):  Web-Version (html)    :   Print Version (pdf) pdf.gif

CGIAR initiative on rethinking food markets: An overview and an example of preliminary results from Ethiopia
Abstract (ID 1006 ):  Web-Version (html)    :   Print Version (pdf) pdf.gif

The stability-and-peace accelerator: scaling food, land and water systems innovations in fragile and conflict-affected settings
Abstract (ID 1010 ):  Web-Version (html)    :   Print Version (pdf) pdf.gif

The retail food environment as driver of consumer choices and source of decent livelihoods
Abstract (ID 1009 ):  Web-Version (html)    :   Print Version (pdf) pdf.gif

21/09 Research cooperation for sustainable development 

Federal Ministry of Food and ABMBF/DLR session

Research cooperation for sustainable development (BMBF/DLR session)
Abstract (ID 1007 ):  Web-Version (html)    :   Print Version (pdf) pdf.gif

21/09 Payments for Ecosystem Services: Win-Win Solutions?


  • Johan Swinnen, Director General IFPRI; CGIAR Managing Director Systems Transformation Science Group
  • Claudia Ringler, Director, Natural Resources and Resilience (NRR), IFPRI
Payments for ecosystem services: win-win solutions? 
Abstract (ID 993 ):  Web-Version (html)    :   Print Version (pdf) pdf.gif

Evidence suggests that payments for ecosystem services can diversify smallholder earnings and incentivize more sustainable farming and land management practices. While a number of such smallholder-focused schemes have been implemented around the world, they have not gained enough traction to improve farm incomes or environmental outcomes. This second seminar of the CGIAR Policy Seminar Series on Strengthening Food Systems examines past and current ecosystem service payment schemes targeted at smallholders, evaluates their effectiveness, and impacts, and explores how such schemes could be taken forward in order to help build greater resilience within food systems.

  • The impacts of groundwater development on agriculture food system in Senegal: A general equilibrium assessment (Abstract) - Angga Pradesha, Senior Scientist, IFPRI
  • A conceptual framework of living labs for people: Fostering innovations for low-emissions food systems and social equity (Abstract) - Ryan Nehring, Associate Research Fellow, IFPRI

21/09 Leveraging human rights-based action towards equitable food systems: A panel discussion (BMEL/BLE session)

Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)

Leveraging human rights-based action towards equitable food systems
Abstract (ID 990 ):  Web-Version (html)    :   Print Version (pdf) pdf.gif

In this BMEL-Session, the funding instruments that support a rights-based transformation of food systems were presented and experiences shared by an expert panel. Thus, revealing recommendations to drive systemic change. 
  • Mrs. Patricia Kiprono, German Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture (DITSL)/Center for Research and Development in Drylands (CRDD), project ‘Enhancing women’s agency in navigating changing food environments to improve child nutrition in African drylands (NaviNut)’. 
  • Sarah Luisa Brand, FAO
  • Dang To Kien, Social Policy Ecology Research Institute (SPERI), Vietnam, project ‘Nutrition Intervention Forecasting and Monitoring (NIFAM)’. 
  • Dr. Andreas Gramzow, GFA Consulting Group GmbH.

Pre-conference workshops

19/09 Pre-conference workshops

Humboldt-Universität Berlin +  Leibniz-Institute for Agricultural Landscape Research + Université d’Antananarivo, Madagascar

Workshop 2: Transformative and art-based methods for integrating community voices: from concepts to operationalization
Humboldt-Universität Berlin +  ZALF, Germany

TH Köln-Cologne University of Applied Sciences, Germany + University of Ghana, Ghana 

European project REFFECT AFRICA
ETH-Zurich, Switzerland, IFAD, TMG Research, Swiss TPH, FAO), VdB Consulting 
  • This workshop intended to incentivize the action research into bridging the conceptual framework of agroecology with the one of the food systems. In cities of the global South agroecology can be a crucial concept to foster access to nutritious and diverse food, as well as to reduce the risks associated with the excessive use of pesticides. 
  • As an entry point for the workshop, the conceptual framework of agroecology in a food system approach was presented.
  • Further, it drew from case studies from different cities on how to evaluate the match between needs of city population in terms of nutritious and fresh food and local agriculture capacities to contribute to those needs.
  • Contributions were based on existing projects and networks, like the SDC Nutrition in City Ecosystems (NICE) project (with interventions in 6 secondary cities of Bangladesh, Kenya, and Rwanda), the Green Cities initiative at FAO, TMG’s Urban Food Future programme, and European projects.
World Agroforestry Center + University Hohenheim


20/09 Pre-conference workshops

Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT

IDOS (German Institute of Development and Sustainability), Bonn

University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart

This workshop clarified the potential and limitations of co-existing dominant narratives for sustainable agriculture in Africa. On the one hand, addressing challenges facing crop and livestock production on the continent has led to a proliferation of paradigms and practices for which a cohesive pathway of action is unclear. On the other hand, there are many proven, successful concepts. The workshop interrogated and deliberate on questions including: \
  • Under what conditions do agroecological practices compliment sustainable production without undermining socio-economic and cultural dynamics? 
  • Under what circumstances do holistic farming approaches provide synergies between human - nature interactions while increasing productivity? 
  • What examples exist of effective institutions and policies for agricultural production in complex environments? 
  • How can digitalisation promote agricultural production where high levels of illiteracy exist and to what extent is indigenous knowledge leveraged? T
Workshop 19: Making research transparent and reproducible – Creating a paradigm shift in Open Science!
OSIRIS – Open Science to Improve Reproducibility in Science + CZU – Czech University of Life Sciences Prague + YPARD

Workshop 20: Integrating stakeholders‘ perspectives into scientific communication
TH Köln – University of Applied Sciences, Institute for Technology and Resources Management in Tropics and Subtropics ITT, Germany

Workshop 21: Shifting the paradigm: Refugees as a solution for tropical landscape restoration
World Agroforestry (ICRAF) + International Water Management Institute (IWMI) + GIZ + Oxford Brookes University + Penn State University

Workshop 22: Technologies and farm to store models to scale up regenerative, climate-Smart Natural Farming in India
SusPoT- Center for sustainability,India + Royal Agriculture University, United Kingdom + Telangana State Agricultural University

Workshop 31: Do the typical ranking criteria for universities mirror the needs for applied sciences?
HSWT Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences, Weidenbach

21/09 Pre-conference workshops

World Agroforestry Center + University Hohenheim

Humboldt-Universität Berlin + Universidad Autónoma de México (UNAM)

Workshop 27: Constructing multidimensional food and nutrition security indices
University of Duisburg-Essen; Faculty of Social Sciences; Institute for Development and Peace (INEF)

Workshop 30: Making better photos of research in and on landscapes and agriculture
NGO Let’s Plant e.V. + IDOS (German Institute of Development and Sustainability), Bonn

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Opportunities for processing millets

19 September 2023
. International Year of Millets Global Webinar Series. 4th Webinar: “Opportunities for processing millets

This online seminar discussed how to establish value chains for millets, from seed to table, including creation of consumer demand, through practical experiences from Italy and India. Burkina Faso shared knowledge on how to reduce crop losses in sorghum value chain.
  • Mr Aggrey Agumya, Executive Director, FARA Opening remarks
  • Ms Ombretta Polenghi, Director of Global Research & Innovation, Dr. Schär, Italy Millets and sorghum value chain developed from seed to table 
  • Mr Souleymane Traore, Agriculture engineer, FAO, Burkina Faso Burkina Faso: case study on losses in sorghum and lessons
  • Ms Shauravi Malik, Co-Founder at Slurrp Farm Successful processing practices of millets in India 
  • Ms Diana Carter, Nutrition and Food Systems officer, FAO Closing remarks

Friday, September 15, 2023

Sustainable Agri-Food Systems Intelligence – Science-Policy Interface

Sustainable Agri-Food Systems Intelligence – Science-Policy Interface (SASi-SPi) is a 5-year € 11.5 million project with the overall objective to contribute to the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of Aquatic and Agri-Food Systems in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

SASi-SPi is a social-sciences, economics in particular, driven project and is primarily open to each of the 35 AGRINATURA member organisations, of which SLU is one. The project management unit is responsible for the coordination and implementation and is led by SLU.

A "sister" project, named SASi (€ 10 m) is coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The two teams, AGRINATURA and FAO, will work in close collaboration and coordination on the overall project and each work stream.

Previous food systems assessments

Further to the Food Systems at Risk report (2019, # 132 p.), to which some 50 researchers contributed, and at the request of the European Union, CIRAD and FAO developed a food system analysis framework and assessment methodology applicable on a national and infranational level.

Under a partnership between the European Union, FAO, and CIRAD, in cooperation with national and food systems stakeholders, a large-scale assessment and consultation on food systems was initiated in more than 50 countries, as a first step towards transforming them.

The food systems assessments (FSA) were based on a systemic approach that took into consideration food systems as a whole and examine the many interactions across four key sectors: nutrition and food security, economic well-being, territorial equity, and environmental protection.
  • The FSA started with 8 pilot countries (Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Madagascar, Malawi, Nepal, and Senegal) and was extending to over 50 countries.
  • The assessments triggered a participatory process involving around 20 researchers from CIRAD, almost 300 FAO consultants and teams of consultants from each of the 50-odd countries, in addition to national institutional focal points and civil society. The approach facilitated knowledge sharing between national and international experts.
  • In the context of the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), the methodology was first applied by the eight candidate countries, and subsequently extended to more than 40 others.
"The aim was to help stakeholders build a shared vision of the issues surrounding food system sustainability and foster systemic, intersectoral debate in order to support public policy building. Our crosscutting analyses in eight countries revealed more similarities - in terms of food system functioning and sustainability challenges - between territories in different countries than between those in a given country. This highlights the need to rethink food system pathways on a territory scale, not just on a national scale. To be able to conduct the usual disciplinary and thematic analyses, pinpoint truly transformative levers for action and progress in terms of building strategies and action plans, these assessments must be continued in a participatory way within territories." Ninon Sirdey, economist at CIRAD and co-coordinator of the Food System Assessment (FSA) project.

The Food Systems assessment in EU partner countries where FNSSA was a sectoral priority, were built on the lessons learned in terms of sectoral inclusiveness (e.g., health, education, social affairs, transport, energy) and interaction needed across regional, national, provincial, municipal, community multiple levels. 

Assessment of the assessments

Evaluation of the EU support to sustainable agri-food systems in partner countries 2014-2020 - Volume II: Case Studies # 166 p.

Various interviewees, from the government, the EU delegation and member states as well as other development partners, expressed their appreciation for it. The two-day virtual multi-stakeholder webinar and draft findings are considered useful. With the food systems roadmap having been adopted in 2021, this assessment was considered to help maintain momentum to move on its implementation, and a useful advocacy tool moving forward. (page 58)

The FAO CIRAD food systems assessments were meant to inform the round of programming (2021-2027). Delays and concerns over the quality of some of these assessments prevented the full exploitation in use by the EUDs.  

There were interesting efforts undertaken by the African Forum on Agricultural (AFAAS), funded through the DeSIRA CAADP-XP4 programme, that aim to capitalize on experiences in research and innovation projects through the Country Fora AFAAS has established. 

"While the first 8 reports were based on a participatory process in the respective countries, the following reports were mainly written by consultants: too quickly offered and too readily accepted. There was little effort at strengthening domestic actors’ capacity. Possibly, formulation, capacity development, consultation and dialogue efforts could have been better harmonised " INTPA Anonymus

Aimed at informing dialogues, these assessments analysed interlinked issues related to food security, nutrition, and health; inclusive economic growth; equity and territorial balance. Emerging findings were captured in a synthesis brief released in September 2021 which outlined two key points (see: EC (2021). Food Systems Assessment. Working towards the SDGs. Interim Synthesis Brief. September 2021.): 

  1. the need to better consider the influence of drivers such as political stability, policy, fair governance, demography, education, and infrastructure and 
  2. the need to embrace a broader multi- sectoral approach involving health, education, social affairs, transport, and energy services operating from national to community level. (page 128

The breadth and depth of next assessments are currently fine-tuned to better equip EU Delegations with the information necessary to address SAFS transformation.  (page 129)

European Commission, Directorate-General for International Partnerships, Engel, P., Slob, A., Laanouni, F., et al., EU support to sustainable agri-food systems in partner countries 2014-2020, Publications Office of the European Union, 2022, # 108 p

The drastic reduction – from EUR 1.250 million to EUR 350 million – in SAFS related funding from the last (2014-2020) to the current MFF (2021-2027) has posed a major challenge. The lack of (internal) human resources and continued prioritisation has limited the ability to capitalise on knowledge management and internal lessons learned. Support to and regular knowledge and information exchange with EUDs was also limited by time constraints on both sides. (page 23)

The EU supports and maintains many of the food security organisations as a key donor, but navigation and building coordinated action takes time and capacity. (page 23)

The increased strategic importance of food security on global and European political agendas could help reverse the trend of shrinking European budgets explicitly allocated to food and nutrition security. It has proved difficult, however, to maintain a strong coherent agenda for sustainable and inclusive development in a crisis context. The risk of a loss of political traction for transformation towards agri-food systems is real, as the greening obligations foreseen by the Farm to Fork Strategy are relaxed for a focus on food production unhampered by environmental constraints. Balancing short-term emergency responses with investments in longer-term resilience is a challenging task for policymakers. Nonetheless, the evaluation finds a strong momentum for boosting EU support towards the transformation of agri-food systems in response to unfolding geopolitical and regional food crises outside the EU. (page 8)

Given the complexity and contested nature of agri-food system challenges and the limits of EU leverage, the outcomes and intermediary impacts of EU contributions have been mostly scattered and tentative. Notably, while the EU supported policy changes and institutional reforms, the intensity, inclusiveness and outcomes of the policy dialogue have differed across countries, with government ownership and follow-up emerging as critical determinants for success. (page 8)

European actors insufficiently invested in developing a common approach to sustainable agri-food systems and jointly fostering agri-food knowledge and innovation systems . The EU needs to improve collaboration and alignment amongst European actors and intensify its investment in agri-food knowledge and innovation, if it wishes to achieve lasting system-level changes and meet its transformative ambitions. EU policy frameworks and the powerful financial instruments behind these are a good basis for strategic leadership on transformation towards sustainable agri-food systems. Yet, to harness these, the EU must strengthen linkages within its portfolios and with the support provided by other partners, while respecting national governments’ ownership in defining national food system pathways and tailoring EU interventions to meet the aspirations, ambitions and initiatives of local food system actors. (page 9)

The evaluation finds that EU support to food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture has only, to a limited extent, developed a more integrated, systemic approach to transformation towards  sustainable agri-food systems at the global and country levels. (...) implementation difficulties, such as failing to target common beneficiaries, lack of synchronisation of complementary initiatives, or lack of cooperation between implementing partners, often obstruct the timely realisation of synergies intended in EU country portfolios. (page 10

The Heads of Agriculture and Rural Development (HARD) group could be a forum for policy 
alignment and coordination on sustainable agri-food systems. However, currently, it does not ensure real dialogue or strategic discussion. Additionally, formal consultation mechanisms between the sustainable agri-food systems and fisheries unit at the Directorate-General for International Partnerships (F3) and other Directorates are experienced as rigid and mostly limited to individual consultations of thematic or geographic specialists on specific text proposals and documents. Finally, EU Delegations indicate a lack of capacity and time to upgrade their coordinating role in country partnerships to a more political and strategic one. (page 10

Some recommendations (extract)
  • Maintain a clear strategic focus at country and regional level on the most vulnerable food system actors, namely, small producers, women, youth and small and medium-sized enterprises. This entails combining diverse instruments and support modalities in country portfolios, including social protection measures, to improve community resilience and strengthen support along the entire value chain. 
  • Develop a common understanding of context-specific challenges and opportunities at country and regional level, by supporting joint agri-food systems’ assessments and strengthening the use of foresight and scenario studies and political economy analyses. This would enable the joint identification of the most promising entry points for supporting sustainable agri-food system-level changes.
  • Consolidate mechanisms that allow for learning from experience within the EU and from EU joint efforts to support sustainable agri-food systems at the national, regional and global level (R3 .3), especially to learn from the broad range of bottom-up programming instruments already developed by EU partners both inside and outside Europe. (page 10-11

Example: Kenya

There is no complete and recent agri-food systems assessment available for Kenya, although several studies have been done at sub-national level. FAO initiated a food-systems analysis in 2021, but the approved report was not yet available for the evaluation team (April-July 2022). The team derived key features of the country’s agri-food systems from the various Government of Kenya (GoK) and international organisation documents.  (page 58)

A striking observation is that most documents do not present a multi-sectoral and multi-dimensional approach in line with a food-systems approach, but rather a more sectoral approach. More comprehensive integrated analyses can sometimes be found, but only at sub-national level. This includes the ECDPM study on Nakuru county. (ECDPM (2021). Understanding and managing trade-offs in food systems interventions: the case of Nakuru county, Kenya. February 2021). (page 58)

While there are many partial assessments of important issues related to sustainable agri-food systems, some overarching issues are not very openly debated yet, such as Kenya’s population growth in relation to carrying capacity (especially in ASAL areas), and the rapidly increasing competition for scarce natural resources with conflicting interests of bigger agro-entreprises and smallholders. In addition, the co-existence of large ranches skived off as Conservancies and the rights of herders to pasture is an emotive subject and has been the trigger for conflict in various parts of Kenya, particularly in Laikipia Country. (page 62)


In collaboration with a sister project led by the FAO Investment Centre (SASI project), a five-year project, the Sustainable Agrifood Systems Intelligence – Science-Policy Interface (SASI-SPI), led by Agrinatura (11.5M euros) currently involves a number of CIRAD researchers, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), the ISA Universidade de Lisboa, Ghent university and iCRA.

They work on three lines of research :
  1. Policy support for the EU (DG-INTPA) through its wide-ranging multidisciplinary scientific expertise in terms of food system inclusiveness and sustainability.
  2. Building new narratives and frames of reference to support the transition to sustainable food systems. Crosscutting studies will be conducted of the priority topics identified by the food system assessments, such as agroecology and pastoralism.
  3. Constructing models to support the transition to more sustainable food systems, based on participatory, scientific decision-making processes. Those models will be tested empirically in several territories in three candidate countries (Sierra Leone, Colombia and Bhutan), on a "transition challenge" pinpointed by the government.
"The SASI-SPI project intends to generate collective intelligence on various scales, to inform and support the transition to more sustainable, more inclusive food systems", Isabelle Vagneron, economist and CIRAD correspondent for the project, stresses.

Interview (20/04/2023) with Professor Kostas Karantininis about SASi-SPi:

"The SASI-SPI project is deeply a policy project. What makes it even more attractive is its direct and engaging nature. We will be providing 'intelligence' in short and long notice, at country level and broad themes, directly to policy makers, primarily in Brussels and in the intervention countries in the South (Africa, Asia and Latin America). Together with our FAO partners we will be one "intelligence" and science support mechanism for the European Commission on issues related to agri-food systems transformation, sustainability and climate change. The activities will be cross-cutting and bring together researchers, policy makers and agri-food system stakeholders to generate applied knowledge, and policy support"
"This is not a research project per se. Yet it is founded on research, and it provides ample room (and funding) for research, especially through the part led by SLU and coordinated by the SLU Department of Plant Breeding. This part is about generating narratives and reference frameworks on key thematic issues, policy options, institutional processes and trade-offs informing the transition to sustainable aquatic and agri- food systems." Professor Rodomiro Ortiz, Department of Plant Breeding, SLU

SASi-SPi work streams

The Project Management Unit is responsible for the coordination and implementation. Led by the Department of People & Society, SLU. Professor Kostas Karantininis, is the project director.

The SASi-SPi has four specific objectives and corresponding work streams
  1. Provides fast-track intelligence within 72 hours upon request – twice per month. Led by the French agricultural research and cooperation organization working for the sustainable development of tropical and Mediterranean regions (CIRAD).
  2. Develops intelligence on four cross-cutting themes and will establish Science-Policy Labs to test and implement policy recommendations. Led by the Department of Plant Breeding, SLU. Professor Rodomiro Ortiz, SLU, is the coordinator.
  3. Works in close collaboration with the FAO team and the corresponding European Commission delegations on three countries. So far, Sierra Leone, Colombia, and probably Bhutan have been selected. Led by CIRAD, France.
  4. Provides communication in site and overall, for the project. Led by iCRA.
The SASI-SPI project was promoted at the UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment, held in Rome from 24 to 26 July 2023. The SASI (Sustainable Agrifood Systems Intelligence) initiative recommends working at the science/policy interface, to build more sustainable, more inclusive food systems.


Additional References

Sirdey Ninon, David-Benz Hélène, Deshons Alice. 2023. Methodological approaches to assess food systems sustainability: A literature review. Global Food Security, 38:100696, 11 p.

David-Benz Hélène, Sirdey Ninon, Deshons Alice, Orbell Claire, Herlant Patrick. 2022. Cadre conceptuel et méthode pour des diagnostics nationaux et territoriaux - Activer la transformation durable et inclusive de nos systèmes alimentaires. Rome : FAO-CIRAD, 70 p. ISBN 978-92-5-135754-5 ; 978-2-87614-773-7

Upcoming event:

3 October (11-12 CET).
EU Case studies on co-creation for sustainable food systems

Examples of how different stakeholders are collaborating in Europe for sustainable food systems. 

This SFSN monthly workshop will host Hugo de Vries, research director at INRAE and task leader in the SCAR Working Group on Sustainable Food Systems. His presentation of the case studies mapped by the EU project FOODPaths will be followed by a networking session where you will be able to interact and pitch case studies that might have gone unnoticed until now. 

More than 70 (so far!) exemplary case studies have been mapped in Europe by partners of FOODPathS, an EU-funded project focused on creating the prototype of a public-private European Partnership for Sustainable Food Systems. These case studies, which are not yet public, will provide an inside look at the various European multi-stakeholder initiatives impacting the sustainability of food systems.