Newsletter Feature: Empowering Communities and Enhancing Food Security – The INCiTiS-FOOD project has started

INCiTiS-FOOD is a 4-year Horizon Europe project aimed at improving food and nutrition security (FNS) in African city regions and reducing the environmental footprint of the food system while promoting circularity. This interdisciplinary project will strengthen communities by opening up opportunities for them in the agrifood value chain and achieving environmental empowerment through transformative food policies. The project will use innovative tech-systems thinking and application, integrated best-fit technologies, stakeholder-led action, capacity-building, research-practitioner-policy collaborative engagement, and essentially Europe-Africa partnership. The agri-food technologies utilized in the project include soilless crop farming (hydroponics and aquaponics), recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), and insect farming, which do not require significant access to land, water, or wealth, perfectly fitting the African context. The project will follow an iterative learning and design process to achieve minimum viable products (MVPs) and validate them through a demonstration phase involving start-ups and scalable small and medium-sized enterprises through the Open Calls. The resulting empirical evidence will guide urban food policy roadmaps for African cities. The project involves eight Living Labs (LLs) in six countries from three African regions (East: Kenya; West: Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone; Central: Cameroon, Gabon).

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The project kicked off with a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya where representatives from all 23 partners involved in the project were present. The consortium behind the project includes key players in the agri-food supply and value chain, as well as partners with expertise in business development, social inclusion and capacity building. During the meeting, the partners discussed their plans for the project and the key steps they will need to take in order to achieve their goals, including the methodology needed for the realization of all Living Labs in Africa. Overall, the meeting was a success and everyone is now looking forward to moving forward with the project.

INCiTiS-FOOD at events

European Startup Village Alliance event

Mladen Radišić, CEO of Foodscale Hub, highlighted that INCiTiS-FOOD will co-finance the participation of marginalized and vulnerable groups to attend mutual learning and capacity-building events through the financial support to third parties (FSTP) mechanism. Applicants of the Open Calls are expected to replicate and advance solutions developed in the Living Labs thus active participation and learning is expected.

Munich Security Conference

Food security is crucial for social peace. At a side event of the Munich Security Conference in February 2023, INCiTiS-FOOD project coordinator, Gertrud Buchenrieder talked about the importance of listening to stakeholders in African city regions to co-develop best-fit agri-food technologies and business models at the world’s leading forum for debate on international security policy. Such approaches will help improve African stakeholders’ food and nutrition security, their WEFE Nexus and provide co-benefits such as new and attractive jobs.

Food 2030 Workshop “Future Research & Innovation Needs”

Along with Magdalena Gajdzinska, research policy officer at European Commission and other key players in agrifood, our project coordinator, Gertrud Buchenrieder, discussed the transition to sustainable, healthy, and inclusive food systems.

INCiTiS-FOOD Living Labs in the making

Currently, the Living Labs (LLs) are developing general and context-specific implementation plans and activities. Creating concrete timings of activities, onboarding procedures and of course, technical innovation development are the foci in this phase of the project. The frequent communication with technical and research partners, the Living Labs have access to real-time support and are able to develop the needed solutions. As the project and activities develop our YouTube channel will become more vibrant and engaging and will feature video blogs about the progress of the Living Labs. Once the first iteration of the Living Labs is installed, the two week initial trainings (Training of Trainers, ToT) will take place. The current schedule is, that the first ToT will take place in Ghana (July), followed by Kenya (September) and Gabon (November).

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