Food systems encompass the totality of actors and interactions within the value chain and with consumers. To successfully transform food systems an enabling infrastructure and policy environment is necessary. Current African food systems are struggling to deliver healthy nutritious food outcomes for the population, the relationship with energy, water and land use is strained and food waste reduction strategies are scares. The InCiTiS-FOOD project intends to address exactly these challenges, but where to begin on a local level?
This question has been addressed in the first meeting of the food systems actor panel on March 27, 2023. More than 87 practitioners and experts discussed the relevance of food systems topics to be addressed within the African urban context. The meeting was held in a hybrid Pan-African/Pan-European meeting with local communities on the ground in 5 African Cities and an international community online.
The main takeaways include a need to include cultural and regional views in the food systems analysis as well as to account for the urban environment. With food we are usually thinking about rural communities; however, that view should be expanded to include urban areas. A focus on urban areas needs to include tailored educational programs, a pragmatic understanding of local food systems accounting for informal infrastructures and in particular, a good understanding of the status quo:
Why are food producers not adjusting to new urban food technologies or circular ways of producing?
Some barriers to adjustment to new technologies can include high cultural barriers and the need for redefinition of gender work habits in new technologies like aquaponics from female-dominated vegetable production and male dominance in fisheries. Additionally, there is an issue of space, water and energy in urban areas, as fish production is usually not done in cities but in rural areas where more of these resources are readily available. Finally, cities need to develop and adopt new food policies to support local urban food production.
INCiTiS-FOOD gathered valuable feedback points in break-out rooms that will help improve data collection and ensure that the right questions are asked for the local urban context. Additionally, INCiTiS-FOOD is preparing a rapid assessment survey based on the outcome of this meeting that is available HERE for everyone who has relevant knowledge on urban food systems in Nairobi, Nakuru, Tamale, Lagos, Ibadan, Moyamba, Bamenda and Franceville or general knowledge on food systems transformation through aquaponics, hydroponics, insect farming and RAS.
FS actors can directly reach out to email@example.com in case of additional resources are required/if needed.