Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, March 14, 2024

African Opportunity Crops: nutritious and climate resilient

14 March 2024
. African Opportunity Crops: nutritious and climate resilient.
The Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS) was launched in February 2023, in partnership with the African Union, FAO, and U.S. Department of State, with the goal of advancing more climate-resilient and nutritious food systems in Africa. 
  • A team of researchers from AgMIP, based at the Climate School, participate in VACS, conducting research to better understand how African opportunity crops can be used to address the challenges that African food systems face under climate change.
  • Why and how did nutritionists, plant breeders, climate modelers, soil scientists, economists – 60 global experts – decide on these crops.
AgMIP was chosen to lead the initial phase of crop-climate modeling work, the results of which are visualized on this website. The selection process for crops was informed by scientific data and expert opinions, ensuring a balance of priorities across different scientific disciplines and stakeholder interests. This collaborative approach is critical for developing an inclusive and effective strategy to address the nutritional needs and environmental challenges in Africa.

VACS is part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government's global hunger and food security initiative, and supports the implementation of the U.S. Global Food Security Strategy (2022-2026). It contributes to the President's Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE) and advances the commitments made in the U.S.-AU Joint Statement on Food Security at the 2023 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

To join the community of practice
  • Namukolo Covic, ILRI, President of African Nutrition Society
  • Cynthia Rosenzweig, AgMIP, Co-Founder; Columbia Climate School
  • Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, African Union Special Envoy for Food Systems
  • Lynnette Neufeld, FAO, Director of the Food and Nutrition Division
  • Cary Fowler, U.S. Special Envoy for Global Food Security
  • Roy Steiner, The Rockefeller Foundation, Senior Vice President, Food Initiative
  • Laura Aghilarre, Deputy Director General for Development Cooperation, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs


The Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (or “VACS”) brings together dedicated communities and individuals from research, advocacy, and policy to shine a light on opportunities that opportunity crops provide to build more resilient and food systems. 

Scaling up production and access to more diverse, climate-resilient crop varieties that support good nutrition and better livelihoods is a goal shared across national, regional, and international communities. 

VACS has gained important visibility, including from the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, which has galvanized further international support. 

This report outlines the guiding concepts of the VACS approach, provides an overview of the research conducted as part of VACS through crop-modeling and evidence synthesis approaches, and recommends areas of focus for the movement going forward as well as ways to engage in VACS.

This report is an in-depth crop analysis designed to provide a rigorous evidence base to the global community. By conducting a holistic assessment of a variety of wellresearched crops (e.g., maize, cassava, soybean and tomato), compared to a non-exhaustive list of neglected and underutilized crops (e.g., opportunity crops, such as bambara groundnut and fonio), it aims to provide actionable insights into the crops that are best equipped to provide stable and nutritious diets in the face of climate variability and extreme weather events in geographies across the continent. 

This piece of research is not meant to be exhaustive or exclusionary towards considering a broader set of crops. This process and the findings are a stepping-stone to provide an evidence-based assessment on behalf of a global agenda. 

This report was produced alongside the VACS: Research in Action Report, (also known as the Summary Report) which outlines the guiding concepts of the VACS approach, overviews research conducted to date to expand the evidence base, recommends areas of focus for the movement going forward, and ways to engage in VACS. The Summary Report can be found here

Previous blog posts on VACS:


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