New models needed to radically change the food system
According to the article titled Adopt theories of change for the transformation of food systems in the context of climate change, Posted in Global food security, food systems are responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, and agricultural yields are threatened due to the impacts of climate change. And yet, there is not a clear picture of the different elements of the agricultural research and food production ecosystem.
To help address this issue, the authors of the article surveyed 262 participants at the 2019 Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) in Bali, Indonesia, among researchers, donors. of funds and end users, to assess the key leverage points needed to address to radically move the food system to a new location.
Dhanush Dinesh, head of partnerships and outreach at CGIAR’s Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and researcher at CIAT, said one of the main conclusions was that to achieve the climate and sustainability goals, farmers must be seen as partners. in research and contributing as well as being beneficiaries.
Change of thought
Dinesh says that traditionally farmers have been “policy makers” and not “policy makers”.
“Researchers can design new tools for research, but to help farmers we need to know what their financial and political needs are,” he said. farmers and researchers, everyone is equal and shapes it fairly… It is not happening now, but we recognize that it has to change. “
Bruce Campbell, director of CCAFS and CIAT researcher, says that much of the research effort has to shift to a mode of action – participatory action research or to put it more simply “learning by doing”.
“By working closely with farmers to test the things they want to test, researchers can present a basket of testing possibilities and farmers can select what they want to test and also contribute their own knowledge of what should. be tested, ”he said.
Campbell says experience indicates that research can then go in unexpected directions.
For example, the research may have planned to examine the dominant corn crop, but in discussion with the farmer, the research shifted to examining intercrops, with more effort focused on intercropping than on intercropping. corn cultivation. “
Dhanush Dinesh, Head of Partnerships and Outreach, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)
New funding models
Dinesh said another key aspect identified for the success of future food systems were new funding models. He said that the big international bank RaboBank had already designed a new fund called AGRI3 in which the government of the Netherlands has invested funds, thereby reducing the risk for the bank.
“They can then lend to farmers to implement climate smart agriculture, but to deliver at scale they have to develop monitoring systems,” he said.
Laurens Klerkx, professor of agrifood innovation and transition at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and co-author of the article, said some examples of new funding models that improve outcomes for farmers and researchers include models with a common agenda, in which farmers can decide on the direction of the proposal, prioritization and decision-making and induce ownership.
“These include R&D systems funded by royalties, farmers’ juries, etc. Klerkx added that while these are not entirely new, they may be in the context of Agriculture for Development (AR4D).
Campbell argues that blended finance models can support high-impact transformational projects in sectors that are initially unable to attract commercial finance, but have the potential to become commercially viable over time.
“There is a great example in Rwanda with Africa Improved Foods: they have put in place a food processing plan for the production of nutritious foods (eg cereals) with raw materials from smallholders and the first phase of the project costs approximately $ 65 million in capital. expenses and working capital, ”Campbell said,“ It wouldn’t have taken off without a blended finance model, with a mix of funding sources, some concessional… This also included technical support to farmers to meet the challenge of producing high quality products. for the value chain. “
The Bioversity International Alliance and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture
Dinesh, D., et al. (2021) Adopting theories of change for transforming food systems in the context of climate change. Global food security. doi.org/10.1016/j.gfs.2021.100583.