Researchers Partner On New African opportunities for sustainable food systems

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Twenty-three (23) African and European research partners are presently collaborating on a long term research and innovation towards a sustainable improvement of food and nutrition security and the livelihoods of African farmers.

A report by the Natural Resources Institute in Finland says that the focus of the research is on sustainable intensification of the agrofood system in Africa.

“The research will understudy the consequences of sustainable intensification of food production to the environment, economy and society.”

It observed that farming practices have impacted negatively on the environment as a result of which many people still do not have enough to eat and cannot escape poverty.

“Although the current food production systems have enabled a substantial increase in food production, the farming practices have also impacted the environment. In addition, many people still do not have enough to eat and cannot escape poverty,” the report stated.

The 23 research and innovation institutes from 21 countries will partner in the new initiative, PROIntensAfrica to explore the whole effects of African Agrofood system.

“It is projected that the expected growth in the world population from 7 to 9 billion and the changing diets will require 70% more food by 2050. There is no single solution to production increase, so a diversity of pathways for sustainable intensification needs to be explored and exploited,” says the coordinator of the initiative, Huub Löffler from Wageningen University and Research centre (WUR), explained.

He added that the initiative starts off in a situation where many tailor-made routes towards sustainable food systems have already been advocated in literature.

“The difficulty of sustainable intensification lies in each food system’s requirement to meet their specific supply and demand. As such, high input farming might be suitable for a specific region while organic farming is more suitable for another region,” he further said.

The PROIntensAfrica initiative, according to will go beyond the debate of best systems for sustainable intensification in Africa. We will combine elements of different systems, yielding into innovative systems to optimally meet specific requirements, says Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director of the from Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

While observing that pooling African and European research resources was perceived as the best way to align existing research and instigate new research initiatives, the statement also stated that “joint programming is one of the main instruments of the European Commission to accomplish more synergy and increase the effectiveness of resources.”

The resources pool for ProintensAfrica therefore, is not only about science, but also about policy and funding. More so, the philosophy of the future IntensAfrica programme is that there is no one model is better than another.

Philippe Petithuguenin from CIRAD says: “There are controversies and we will take them on board but our role will not be to act as a judge. However, the research questions and knowledge generated will serve as fuel to the debate.”

While communication is considered crucial to develop and enhance the interactive dialogue between all stakeholders,
ProIntensAfrica also considers consultation, case studies, stakeholder panel workshops as major parts of its activities.

African partners in the project are: FARA (Ghana); CORAF/WECARD (Senegal); CCARDESA (Botswana); ASARECA (Uganda); AFAAS (Uganda); ARC (South Africa); CSRI-CRI (Ghana) and INERA (Burkina Faso).

European partners are: Wageningen UR (The Netherlands); CIRAD (France); UCL (Belgium); SLU (Sweden); IICT (Portugal); Luke (Finland); University of Copenhagen (Denmark); ZEF (Germany); INIA (Spain); NRI (England); Teagasc (Ireland); BOKU (Austria); University of Life Sciences (Czech Republic); University Szent Istvan (Hungary) and Bioforsk (Norway).

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