It is within this context that the World Food Programme (WFP) won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize “for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict”. While the work of the WFP is much needed, additional and massive long-term support for increased food production in the many food-insecure regions of the world is equally needed.
Transforming small-scale farmers
Smallholders provide much of the food consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). However, they face many challenges to producing more and better-quality food, including low farm productivity and profitability, climate change, labour shortages, rapid social change, weak tenure rights and inadequate access to markets, credits and extension services.
To reach Sustainable Development Goal 2 of Zero Hunger (and also many other SDG targets), smallholders in SSA, South Asia and part of Southeast Asia can play a big role. Yet, it will require transformation towards greater productivity, profitability and environmental and social sustainability. This transformation is complex and may have both negative and positive outcomes for large groups of the rural poor. A transformation agenda based on the best available science and tailored to country-specific conditions is therefore needed to be fully effective. Scientists with an ability to analyze, synthesize and communicate their research findings are pivotal in assisting in this transformation.
AgriFoSe2030 and improving local capacity
The AgriFoSe2030 programme has since its start in 2016 filled an important gap in building the capacity of researchers and their home institutions in Africa and Asia to translate research results in support of productive and sustainable small-scale farming in the countries in which they operate.
“Empowering small-scale farmers through science-based polices and practices is central to reach SDG2 targets and is also at the heart of the AgriFoSe2030 programme.”
— Ivar Virgin, senior research fellow at SEI and expert in the AgriFoSe2030 programme
AgriFoSe2030 is working with partners at universities and other research institutes in target regions and using their networks to reach out to farmers, advisers and people who work on agricultural policies and on improving agricultural practices at various levels. The programme has developed an innovative approach to translating research into policy and practice. This has been done through systematic evaluations, researcher exchanges and trainings, which have led to strengthened analytical capacity and communication skills at both the individual and institutional levels in target countries.
The programme has also been active in tailoring policy and practice engagement. One such example of this is the work with edible insects for food security in southern parts of Africa. An AgriFoSe2030 project worked with scientists in the region to co-create communication strategies and translate scientific findings into messages that were tailored to local and regional policy- and decision-makers, private sector actors and others. The project has resulted in buy-in from key stakeholders, which has translated into growth for the sector. For example, one city in Zimbabwe donated land for an insect market to be built, and local traders have formed associations around insect farming and trading. You can read more about this project here.
Building on lessons learned from the first phase, the programme continues to work towards the following outcomes:
- Increased capacity of scientists to synthesize, analyze, and communicate science with different stakeholders
- Increased use of science-based knowledge in policies and practices in support of smallholder farming
- Improved connections between science, policy, and practice.
Launching a new phase
A new phase of AgriFoSe2030 will run until 2024. You can learn more about the launch event here. In this new phase, the programme will build on the work done in the first phase, strengthen interdisciplinary activities, and foster more co-creation of knowledge. In brief, the programme will be structured into four challenges that represent key areas in the agricultural field:
- Improving access to safe and nutritious food
- Agriculture productivity and ecosystem functions
- Science-based innovation and extension
- Smallholder agriculture in transforming food systems
These challenges constitute the core of the second phase and were developed together with stakeholders in our target regions. They will provide the context for upcoming activities in support of science-based policies and practices to end hunger and promote sustainable agriculture.
More about AgriFoSe2030
SEI supports AgriFoSe2030 researchers in communication and engagement. We link researchers with policymakers and practitioners, through dialogues, joint projects and platforms for mutual learning. We also give tailored support to individual projects in communication and engagement strategies.