Building our food systems back better

What is required to make food systems provide sufficient, healthy food while not harming the planet? How should food security be maintained given the threat posed by climate change? Our authors look at some aspects of tomorrow’s food systems against the backdrop of the corona crisis.

 

A woman in Burkina Faso is selling food. Photo: Aude Rossignol, GIZ
A woman in Burkina Faso is selling food. Photo: Aude Rossignol, GIZ

By TMG – ThinkTankforSustainabilty

The Töpfer Müller Gaßner GmbH (TMG) as a "Think Tank for Sustainability" supports the implementation of sustainable development targets and the Paris Climate Agreement.

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This article first appeared in Rural21 Vol. 54 No. 2/2020 on: Employment for rural Africa and is part of a media cooperation between weltohnehunger.org and Rural 21.

 

Writing about a crisis that is still unfolding, can only be premature. Uncertainty abounds. Reflections on both the impacts of and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic therefore benefit from modesty. At the same time, significant investment volumes are being made available to soften the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the responses to it. Actions are necessary now and are being taken. So, in the below, we would like to offer our reading of how to make food systems more resilient while building back better. Trying to strike a balance between modesty and clarity, we wish to ask our readers to please understand these considerations as the beginning and not the end of the story. We would like to extend an invitation to contribute to a discussion on how to make the food system work for both people and the planet. Today, it is failing to provide healthy food for all while at the same time degrading the planet.

 

By now, it is a well-established fact that COVID-19 is not only a health crisis but also an economic and food security crisis.

 

This brief article focuses on building our food system back better. By now, it is a well-established fact that COVID-19 is not only a health crisis but also an economic and food security crisis. The pandemic left rural producers without a market. Export-oriented agricultural businesses quickly dismissed agricultural labourers. The Kenyan flower industry is but one example.

 

Lake Victoria: GIZ supports women's groups in hygienic processing and marketing of the fish. Photo: Dirk Ostermeier, GIZ
Lake Victoria: GIZ supports women's groups in hygienic processing and marketing of fish. Photo: Dirk Ostermeier, GIZ

Responses to curb the further spread of the pandemic have undermined food access by already poor and food insecure people. The World Food Programme warns that 265 million people will be threatened by acute hunger by the end of this year; that is twice as much as estimated prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. The pandemic, as some observers have commented, has laid open some of the structural flaws of the food system.

 

So, building back the food system needs to be done in a way that existing flaws in or threats to the system are addressed. Building back better also means preparing the food system for the next crisis on the horizon, the impact of the climate crisis. At the same time, building back better must not mean to continue business as usual with more resources being made available by governments!

 

Our skewed food systems

A cursory look at the food systems shows both internal shortcomings and massive external threats:

  • The way agriculture is being conducted is leading to a loss of biodiversity and resource degradation.
  • More than 800 million people are food insecure, a figure that has kept rising since 2015. Obesity and malnutrition are omnipresent in so called developing and developed countries.
  • The inequalities in the food system are striking. Gender inequalities in access to assets and frequent violation of migrant workers’ rights are only two examples in this regard.
  • Even at the current roughly 0.8 °C increase in global mean temperature, the temperature increase over land is 1.27 °C. Climate change is already leading to yield depressions of major crops.

Building back cannot mean going back to before, it must mean building back better for a new normal.

 

Building back better – elements of a strategy

Current investments to combat the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures to curb it must address the needs of the food insecure and the vulnerable. They must also be done in a way that they increase the adaptive capacity of those suffering from food insecurity and enhance the resilience of the food system as a whole. The responses to curb the further spread of the pandemic have highlighted some elements of particular importance to achieve urban and rural food security in the future:

 

One Health. As an immediate conclusion from the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of One Health is receiving renewed attention. One Health denotes efforts to achieve public health by paying attention to the transmission of diseases from animals to humans and the impact of environmental factors on human health. In short, human health is to be achieved by making sure that animals and the broader environment are healthy as well. In the further development of One Health, it will be important to live up to the integrative nature of the concept. To provide a – potentially simplistic – example, it is of only little value to ensure proper vaccination of livestock against some well-known diseases if the conditions for keeping them, such as high density of animals, create new breeding grounds for diseases. These conditions are not conducive to animal wellbeing in the long run and often rely on the massive application of antibiotics. In conditions such as these, new threats are likely to emerge for human and animal health.

 

Although this is a well-established fact, it is not triggering the necessary action! One Health needs to be designed and implemented in broad terms of human and animal health, within the broader production system, which in turn is embedded in a sustainably managed environment. To apply a concept that is typically used in a different context, truly achieving One Health requires a landscape approach – a landscape approach that is based on cooperation among different actors and openness for new solutions.

 

A Kenyan dairy goat farmer doing milking. Photo: Dirk Ostermeier, GIZ
A Kenyan dairy goat farmer doing milking. Photo: Dirk Ostermeier, GIZ

The informal sector in urban food systems. The informal sector is of outmost importance as a way for poor people to access food. Yet, this has been one of the sectors particularly hard hit by lockdown measures. Open air markets were closed, and informal food trading was prohibited. This has further undermined food access by the poor. In addition, as they could more easily implement physical distancing regulations, supermarkets often remained open. It is yet too early to see whether this exacerbates inequalities in food systems. It is not too early to conclude, however, that food security policies need to embrace the pivotal role of both the formal and
informal sectors to achieve urban food security. Even in highly industrialised countries, the informal food sector has to solve the problems of the highly commercialised food sector. For example, the formal food sector in the USA would never have managed to feed millions of unemployed people. Acknowledging the continued higher prevalence of food insecurity in rural areas and taking into account the high urbanisation rates in developing countries, food security policies need to learn from the impact of COVID-19 and question its productionist and rural biases. As urban geographer Jane Battersby observes: “While the urban has been largely absent in the global discourse on food and nutrition security, food has been equally absent from the global discourses on urban development.” To brace food systems for the next crises, these productionist and rural biases need to be rectified.

 

Building back cannot mean going back to before, it must mean building back better for a new normal.

 

Urban agriculture. Measures to curb the further spread of the pandemic have interrupted or inhibited the marketing of fresh produce in cities. In effect, the price for vegetables in cities increased considerably with the advent of the lockdown. Partners from Burkina Faso reported threefold increases on the markets in Ouagadougou. Agriculture in urban and peri-urban areas offers the opportunity to create employment and produce vegetables and fruits closer to urban centres. This potential is increased by emerging low-tech solutions for hydroponics. Not only does urban agriculture have nutritional and income benefits, it also offers social benefits. Analyses from the Cape Flats in Cape Town, South Africa, show that women practising urban agriculture perceive this to increase their “social image”.

 

Moving horticultural production to controlled environments in peri-urban and urban areas is also advantageous from the point of view of adapting to climate change. The number of extreme weather events is projected to increase significantly. Production in controlled environments can contribute to reducing the vulnerability of production. Clearly, to succeed in densely populated peri-urban and urban areas, agriculture requires corresponding investments in urban land use planning and securing long-term land use rights for urban and peri-urban production sites. Securing the natural resource base of agricultural production. If enhancing resilience of the food systems partly means shorter value chains, it also implies protecting the natural resource base for agriculture. Protecting freshwater resources and soils is an inherently local activity. Measures to implement national plans to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN) are therefore key to achieving resilient food systems. However, this requires that they do not threaten food security by undermining the legitimate rights to land of small urban and rural agricultural producers, a risk that parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) have begun to address by their landmark decision emphasising the importance of the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Land Governance. In their responses to the pandemic, it seems to be a good point in time for parties to start implementing them.

 

Sustainable agriculture in Burkina Faso. Photo: Aude Rossignol, GIZ
Sustainable agriculture in Burkina Faso. Photo: Aude Rossignol, GIZ

Securing the natural resource base of agricultural production. If enhancing resilience of the food systems partly means shorter value chains, it also implies protecting the natural resource base for agriculture. Protecting freshwater resources and soils is an inherently local activity. Measures to implement national plans to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN) are therefore key to achieving resilient food systems. However, this requires that they do not threaten food security by undermining
the legitimate rights to land of small urban and rural agricultural producers, a risk that parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) have begun to address by their landmark decision emphasising the importance of the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Land Governance. In their responses
to the pandemic, it seems to be a good point in time for parties to start implementing them.

 

For some regions and crops, we are only ten harvests away from meeting or failing to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Agroecological approaches for food security. There is overwhelming evidence that the current way of producing food more often than not undermines the very ecological basis of its own existence. Estimates of the negative externalities of the food system amount to 12 trillion US dollars annually. A resilient food system maintains and enhances the ecosystem services on which it relies. Diversification of production and reducing the reliance on external inputs have demonstrably increased the adaptive capacity of households. In short, agroecological practices enhance food system resilience. Yet, systemic approaches to food and nutrition security do often not find an enabling environment. Building our food system back better implies a revision of the agricultural and food and nutrition security policies along the four dimensions of food security: availability, access, utilisation and stability.

 

A marketing stall with forest products and fruits in Kpalimé/Togo. Photo: Stella Marraccini, GIZ
A marketing stall with forest products and fruits in Kpalimé/Togo. Photo: Stella Marraccini, GIZ

Rural governance for an enabling environment for food security and sustainable natural resource management. We have elaborated earlier on the importance of an enabling environment for rural development. Rural service delivery systems, the responsible design of rights to land and natural resources, and creating linkages between producers and consumers are all key to sustaining investments in sustainable land management, ecosystem-based adaptation, and other measures to protect and sustainably manage terrestrial ecosystems for food security.

 

Securing women’s land rights is particularly important in this context, as their investments in soil fertility affect household food and nutrition security disproportionately strongly. Investing in such an enabling environment means securing the investments to achieve food security and sustainable resource use.

 

The time is now

This list of strategy elements is a contribution to the on-going discussions on building back better. It is unlikely to be comprehensive. Yet, we have derived these elements from the reports by partners and colleagues from ten African countries which are presenting their impressions on the daily struggle for food on our Twitter platform @CovidFoodFuture. And we have collated this list with a view to address trends that undermine the resilience of food systems and with the next upcoming crisis in mind, the impact of climate change on all four dimensions of food security. So, while the list might seem eclectic, the overarching message is rather straightforward: For some regions and crops, we are only ten harvests away from meeting or failing to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. As it stands, the odds are not in the SDGs’ favour. Given the level of investments currently mobilised to soften the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be a huge opportunity lost, if they were not invested in a way to make our food systems more resilient, if they were not invested to increase the adaptive capacity of those whom we have committed “to not leave behind”.

 

This article first appeared in Rural21 Vol. 54 No. 2/2020 on: Employment for rural Africa and is part of a media cooperation between weltohnehunger.org and Rural 21.

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Statement from GAFSP Co-Chairs: GAFSP and COVID-19 Pandemic

A contribution by GAFSP

COVID-19 has unprecedented effects on the world. As always, the most vulnerable are the hardest hit, both at home and - especially - abroad. A joint appeal by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) and the Department for International Development (DFID).

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(c) Michael Bruentrup/DIE

News from the starting block: Changeover

A contribution by Michael Brüntrup (DIE)

The region of Sub-Saharan Africa is on the decisive verge of a great development boost in farming: it could skip entire generations of technological development. But how? About possible roles and potentials of digital services.

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An investment in Africa's future

A contritbution by Essa Chanie Mussa (University of Gondar)

Rural youth need viable livelihood opportunities to escape out of poverty and realize their aspirations. How could they be helped to fully unleash their potential? This is an aloud call that needs novel strategies among governments, policy makers, and international development partners and donors.

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Borderless food security

A contribution by Christine Wieck

Enabling smallholders to trade across regions and borders promotes food security and economic growth. Although everyone is calling for exactly that, implementation is still difficult

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JOERG BOETHLING / GIZ

Continent in an uptrend

A report by Dr. Agnes Kalibata (AGRA)

Partnering for Africa’s Century: Innovation and Leadership as Drivers of Growth and Productivity in Rural Areas

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© GIZ

Actual Analysis: The locusts came with the crises

A report by Bettina Rudloff and Annette Weber (SWP)

The Corona-Virus exacerbates existing crises through conflict, climate, hunger and locusts in East Africa and the Horn of Africa. What needs to be done in these regions? To face these challenges for many countries, all of these crises need to be captured in their regional context.

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(c) Christof Krackhardt/Brot für die Welt

Together and resourceful against worldwide hunger

A contribution by Brot für die Welt

Climate change disturbs the climate in Ethiopia. The answer from small farmers in the northern region is convincing: diversify!

 

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(c) Christoph Mohr/GIZ

Microinsurance against climate change

A contribution by Claudia Voß

Climate change is destroying development progress in many places. The clever interaction of digitalisation and the insurance industry protects affected small farmers.

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(c) Nina Schroeder/World Food Programme

Hunger is caused by people, not the climate

Interview with Jacob Schewe (PIK)

A study by the World Bank predicts that millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa will have to leave their homelands because of climate change. We have spoken with one of the authors

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What do you expect from this Pre Summit, Mr. Haddad?

Interview with Lawrence Haddad (GAIN)

Nutrition experts from all over the world are coming together in Rome. They are not only distilling 2000 ideas to improve food systems - they are also preparing for the big UN summit in New York in September. An interview. 

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Mr. Campari, how do we create sustainable food systems?

Interview with Joao Campari (WWF)

Journalist Jan Rübel spoke with Joao Campari ahead of the UNFSS Pre-Summit. The Chair of Action Track 3 highlights key challenges in transforming existing food systems towards sustainable production and shares his expectations for the Summit.

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How do you campaign “Food Systems”?

Interview with Paul Newnham, Director of the SDG 2 Advocacy Hub.

The UN Food Systems pre-Summit in Rome dealt with transforming the ways of our nutrition. How do you bring that to a broad public? Questions to Paul Newnham, the Director of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 Advocacy Hub.

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Mr. Marí, what happened at the alternative summit?

An Interview with Francisco Marí (Brot für die Welt)

Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World) did not attend the UNFSS pre-summit. Instead, the organisation took part in a counter-summit that took place at the same time. A conversation with Francisco Marí about the reasons, the process - and an outlook for the future

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What is wrong with our nutrition in Germany, Mr. Plagge ?

An interview with Jan Plagge (Bioland)

Vitamin-poor nutrition must become more expensive, in-vitro meat is not a panacea, and agricultural systems should be more decentralised. Bioland President Jan Plagge in an interview about the challenge of (future) world nutrition.

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How Can We Feed The World in Times of Climate Change?

A Contribution by Jan Grossarth

Genetically modified bacteria become edible proteins, cows graze on pasture, and no waste is produced in an industrial circular economy. Journalist Jan Grossarth sees a silver lining for the future of world nutrition

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(c) GIZ

Sustainable Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture in Rural Areas

Fish is important for combating malnutrition and undernourishment. But it is not only notable for its nutritional value, but also secures the livelihoods and employment for 600 million people worldwide.

A Project of GIZ

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(c) GIZ

Land Rights for Secure Livelihoods: My Land is My Life

Three quarters of the world's population do not have secure land rights, which hinders investment and innovation. The project "Improvement of Livelihood and Food Security" supports smallholder farmers in acquiring land.

A project of GIZ

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City, Country, Sea: 6 Innovations in the Fight Against Climate Change

A listicle for climate-neutral agriculture

Vertically growing plants, magnetic cotton. Hairy leftovers fertilizing fields, tractors running on algae? These six innovations could lead agriculture’s next Green Revolution!

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No Food Security Without Climate Protection

A Contribution by Michael Kühn (WHH)

Climate change already affects the daily lives of people in the Global South. What are the challenges they face and what do these imply for negotiations at the climate conference in Glasgow?

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GFFA for New Perspectives on the Planet’s Soils

A Contribution by Journalist Jan Ruebel

For five days, the 2022 Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) in Berlin is all about strategies for a more sustainable land use.

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Engaging the Community to Solve the Bushmeat Crisis

A Contribution by the Forestry Research Institute Nigeria

The 'Domestication of Small Monogastric and Ruminant Animals' (DSMR) project led by a Nigerian research institute works with local communities to solve the bushmeat crisis.

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German G7 Presidency – fighting hunger with all our might

A Contribution by Welthungerhilfe

In the run-up to the G7 summit, experts from politics and civil society discussed sustainable and more effective options for action by the G7 states to combat hunger.

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‘Invite yourself’ – Farmers organisations as key stakeholders of food systems

A Contribution by Andreas-Hermes-Akademie

The Andreas Hermes Academy (AHA) discusses the transformation of food systems with 30 representatives of farmers organisations.

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The lessons learned from the last food crisis - A solution?

A Contribution by Agnes Kalibata

Inadequacy and fragility of food systems becomes more apparent with every food crisis. The question we must answer is “Where do we go from here?”

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From shared conviction to global response

A Contribution by Jan Rübel

The G7 is responding to the worsening global hunger crisis by mobilizing an additional $4.5 billion for this year alone. A key milestone for this in the run-up was the international conference on global food security "Uniting for Global Food Security".

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‘Preserving and restoring fertile soils is a global responsibility.’

An Interview with Jochen Flasbarth (BMZ)

Healthy, productive soils are a prerequisite for global food security – one of the priorities of German development cooperation. State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth on Germany’s efforts to support sustainable land management and why the VGGT are more important than ever today.

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Scaling up Food Security

An Artikel by Jan Rübel

How can we reach more people with successful approaches to food security? In Berlin, an international conference organized by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationaler Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) addressed this issue.

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Five tips to reduce food waste

A listicle against food waste

Whether it's banana bread made from brown bananas, conscious shopping plans or foodsharing, we give you five tips on how to reduce your everyday food waste.

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What does it take to truly shift the paradigm on food systems?

An Interview by GDPRD

Why are short- and long-term responses important to address current and future global crises? Sebastian Lesch, Head of the Agriculture Division at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), provides answers to these and other questions in an interview with the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development (GDPRD) and explains how much Germany welcomes all donors pulling together and acting in concert.

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Strengthening food markets across the rural-urban continuum

A Contribution by Thomas Forster

How to maintain functioning food markets in global food supply chains in the face of vulnerability and disruption? Markets that support local and territorial food systems are part of the solution. Thomas Forster presents proposals for these markets to cope with future shocks.

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A dashboard as a key tool for global food security

A Contribution by BMZ

The Global Alliance for Food Security (GAFS), jointly launched by the German G7 Presidency and the World Bank, released the Global Food and Nutrition Security Dashboard during COP27: A Rapid Response Tool for Coordinating Global Action for Food Security.

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The importance of water for sustainable rural development

A contribtion by WE4F

How can the challenges related to water, rural development and climate resilient agriculture be addressed? What innovations need to be promoted? The Water and Energy for Food (WE4F) initiative presents strategies and innovations for sustainable, integrated water management in German and international cooperation.

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From reaction to action

A contribtion by GIZ

A Year of Multiple Crises: Russian war against Ukraine, extreme weather events, high prices for energy and fertilizer, food crisis had severe implications for food security and agriculture globally and especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. A Transformation of the food systems is needed.

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How the War against Ukraine Destabilizes Global Grain Markets

A Contribution by GIZ

Since early February 2022, two of the biggest grain and oilseed exporters have been at war. An overview, which countries are affected most severely by the destabilized grain markets, and what comes next.

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Five Questions for Dirk Meyer

An Interview with Dirk Meyer (BMZ)

Development cooperation needs to place good governance and a sustainable agri-food systems transformation at its center: After the first 100 days in office have passed, Dirk Meyer from the German Development Ministry (BMZ) spells out the goals, guidelines and priorities of the Ministry’s new lead.

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The Black Sea Breadbasket in Crisis: Facts and Figures

An infographic by ONEWORLD no Hunger

Rising food and gas prices, physical destruction and supply chain disruptions: Why the Black Sea region matters and how the war in Ukraine affects global food security.

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Fair Trade and Climate Justice: Everything is Conntected

A Contribution of the 'Initiative for Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chains' (INA)

Fair Trade organisations and the Initiative for Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chains (INA) have launched the #ichwillfair campaign during COP26 to highlight the link between global supply chains and climate change.

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The Rice Sector in West Africa: A Political Challenge

New insights on trade and value addition in the rice sector in West Africa

Low import tariffs, smuggling activities, unpredictable tax exemptions and weak enforcement of food safety standards: The potential of local rice value chains is undermined in West African countries.

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Sustainable, feminist and socially just: The new Africa strategy of the BMZ

A contribution by Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge

In the video format "#99SecondsWith" of the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS), Prof. Dr Anna - Katharina Hornidge talks about the new Africa-Strategy of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

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The goals of transformation should leave no one behind

An Interview with Mareike Haase and Stig Tanzmann

Four interviews kick off the relaunch under the new name „Food4Transformation“, asking the same questions from different perspectives. Mareike Haase and Stig Tanzmann from Brot für die Welt explain why the right to food, inclusivity, agroecology and food sovereignty are the central levers for a successful transformation.

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Agricultural policy belongs in prime time

An interview with Dr. Julia Köhn

Four interviews kick off the relaunch under the new name „Food4Transformation“, asking the same questions from different perspectives. Dr Julia Köhn, Chair of the German AgriFood Society, points out in the interview: Only if innovation and transformation are profitable in the medium term can they close the food gap in the long term.

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BMZ releases video on the transformation of agricultural and food systems

A contribution by GIZ

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has released a video on the transformation of agricultural and food systems. In the video, Federal Minister Svenja Schulze also speaks about the urgent need to combat global hunger and contribute to resilient agricultural and food systems.

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“More of the same is not enough - we need to rethink”

An interview with Dirk Meyer

Four interviews kick off the relaunch under the new name „Food4Transformation“, asking the same questions from different perspectives. Dirk Meyer, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, thinks: less individual solutions are needed, but more systemic approaches. Because in addition to the goals for food security, the issues of climate and biodiversity must also be taken into account.

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Strengthening the market linkages of smallholders in the face of global supply shocks

A Contribution by Niladri Sekhar Bagchi

The consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine have enabled many countries to open up new export markets for their agricultural goods. However, smallholder farms have been largely left out. Drawing on his experience in India, our author gives a brief overview of how this can be changed.

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Innovative donor approaches and sustainable finance – A Review of UNFSS+2

A contribution by the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development

Two years following the UN Food Systems Summit, the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development and the Shamba Centre for Food & Climate hosted an official side event at the UNFSS+2. The event explored how public donors can increase the impact of their investments.

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New Podcast – Out now!

A Podcast by Food4Transformation

In a world facing crises – from pandemics, armed conflicts, and climate change – how do we ensure everyone has enough food within planetary boundaries? A new podcast by Food4Transformation discover solutions talking to government officials, scientists, NGOs and farmers around the world.

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What the Middle East conflict means for the children in Gaza

An Interview by Jan Rübel

The Gaza Strip depends heavily on humanitarian aid, more than ever with the current war. Gaza population is very young: Half of them are children. What is their situation on the ground? Questions for Lucia Elmi, Unicef Special Representative to the State of Palestine.

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Agricultural Financing – from a broader Perspective

A Contribution by GIZ

In Sub-Saharan Africa, not all financial institutions (FIs) have access to knowledge about how to implement processes to enhance rural financial inclusion. The pan-African Community of Practice (CoP) plays a pivotal role in supporting these institutions along this transformative journey.

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Agriculture is more than Culture or Tradition

A Contribution by Simeon Kambalame

How can agriculture engage more young people in rural areas? Advocacy and education campaigns can play an important role here. Simeon Kambalame, Timveni Child and Youth Media Organisation, has launched such a campaign in Malawi.

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Where can international cooperation in Gaza come in, Ms. Asseburg?

An Interview by Jan Rübel

The armed conflict between Israeli forces and the Hamas is escalating. What does this mean for a Gaza, region that was already heavily dependent on external aid? Questions for Dr. Muriel Asseburg, Senior Fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin.

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Podcast: Fighting world hunger together

Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Podcast of the Federal Government

At the start of World Food Week around World Food Day on 16 October, Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that the fight against global hunger will only be successful with international responsibility and solidarity (german only).

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Nature conservation around the world

A Contribution by WWF

From measures to promote biodiversity in Germany to more sustainable cocoa cultivation methods in Ecuador: WWF works at many different levels. At the Green Week, it will be demonstrated just how multifaceted nature conservation work is and what role each individual's decision plays.

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Together for food security in Zambia

A Contribution by Claudia Jordan (GIZ)

The Agriculture and Food Security Cluster of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in Zambia shows how synergies among different projects and partner organisations can help people to eat healthier, diversified food. A delegation of the Bonn based Division of Agriculture and Rural Development learned this in a field visit in the Eastern Province of the Southern African country.

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Climate Resilience in the Apple Value Chain

A Contribution by Puneet Bansal

In Himachal Pradesh, India, natural disasters are becoming more frequent and climatic conditions are changing – with negative consequences for apple production and farmers' livelihoods. Holistic and multidimensional innovation bundles are required for the entire value chain in order to make the food system more resilient in the future.

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Felix Phiri and two decades of Agriculture

A Conversation with Felix Phiri

Felix Phiri has been Head of the Department of Nutrition, HIV and AIDS at the Ministry of Health in Malawi for almost 20 years. A conversation about constants and change.

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The human finca

Interview with Marvin Antonio Garcia Otero

In Eastern El Salvador, campesinos are cultivating a self-image to encourage rural youth to remain in rural areas. With help from Caritas, they have adjusted the cultivation methods to their soils and traditions - Marvin Antonio Garcia Otero,the deputy director of Caritas of the Diocese of San Miguel believes this is the best way to prevent rural exodus and criminality.

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“Healthy ground brings good and many fruits”

Interview with Ben Sekamatte and Boaz Ogola

Africa's cotton production plays a key role in the fight against poverty. The "Cotton Made in Africa" initiative promotes sustainable cultivation - one element of which is the use of organic pesticides. Entomologist Ben Sekamatte and cotton company manager Boaz Ogola talked with Jan Rübel about soil and yields.

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(c) Privat

A classroom in the Garden of Eden

By Iris Manner

Deforestation harms people and the environment. With nurseries, farmers can earn money and do good. You just have to know how to do it

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How much private investment is the agricultural sector able to bear?

By Pedro Morazán

Small farmers in developing countries must modernise their farming methods, but poorly understood reforms could exacerbate poverty instead of alleviating it.

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Uli Reinhardt/Zeitenspiegel

No dirty dealing

Von Marlis Lindecke

Shit Business is Serious Business: A successful cooperation between research and the private sector.

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Support for sustainable start-ups

Companies in Africa that need financing between $20,000 and $200,000 find relatively few investors, as this sector is too large for microcredit and too small for institutional investors. This creates a "gap in the middle" where companies have limited options. A project of the World Resource Institute provides a remedy with the Landaccelerator 2020.

A World Resources Institute project

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Mr. Samimi, what is environmental change doing to Africa?

Interview with Cyrus Samimi (IAS)

Environmental change is having a particularly strong impact on the African continent. Its landscapes see both negative and positive processes. What is science's view of this? A conversation with Cyrus Samimi about mobility for livelihoods, urban gardening and dealing with nature.

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Pesticides – a blessing or a curse?

A debate between Lena Luig and Ludger Weß

What are the consequences of using synthetic pesticides in agriculture? Where do they help, where do they harm? Lena Luig, expert for the development policy organization INKOTA, and science journalist Ludger Weß discuss this controversial topic of international scope.

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Joerg Boethling/GIZ

"The Green Revolution reaches its limits"

Interview with Stig Tanzmann (BfdW)

Stig Tanzmann is a farmer and adviser on agricultural issues at ‘Bread for the World’. Jan Rübel interviewed him about his reservations about AGRA's strategy.

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(c) Privat

The 'Grey Gold'

A contribution by Maria Schmidt (GIZ)

The Cashew Council is the first international organisation for a raw material stemming from Africa. The industry promises to make progress in processing and refining cashew nuts - and answers to climate change

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Human Rights, Land and Rural Development

A contribution by Michael Windfuhr (German Institute for Human Rights)

Land rights are no longer governed by the law of the strongest. That is what the international community has agreed to. Governments and private companies have a duty to respect human rights and avoid corruption.

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picture-alliance/Zentralbild

Land is Crucial for Development

A contribution by Roselyn Korleh and M. Sahr Nouwah (WHH)

The Liberian town of Kinjor is a picture-book example for what happens, if land rights aren’t protected, and it illustrates how to move forward from there. The keyword: Multi-Actor Partnership

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From Berlin to Yen Bai: 10,000 trees for Vietnam

A contribution by GIZ and BMZ

It began with clicks at a trade fair and ends with concrete reforestation: a campaign at the Green Week in Berlin is now enriching the forests of the Yen Bai Province in Vietnam. A chronicle of an education about climatic relevance to concrete action - and about the short distances on our planet.

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No rainforest for our consumption

A contribution by Jenny Walther-Thoß (WWF)

In the tropics rainforests are still being felled for the production of palm oil, meat and furniture. It is high time to act. Proposals are on the table.

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Biodiversity and agriculture – rivalry or a new friendship?

A contribution by Irene Hoffmann (FAO)

In this article, the author describes what we know about interlinkages, what role agriculture has to play in the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity, and what the necessary changes in agricultural systems might look like, both on small and large-scale farms.

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Nine Harvests Left until 2030: How Will the BMZ Organise Itself in the Future?

An Interview with Dirk Schattschneider (BMZ)

"One World no Hunger" (SEWOH) becomes one of the five core themes of the BMZ. Dirk Schattschneider, SEWOH Commissioner about previous approaches, future areas of action, and the political will to end hunger.

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A Climate of Hunger: How the Climate Crisis Fuels the Hunger

A photo reportage by the Zeitenspiegel agency

Every one degree Celsius rise in temperature increases the risk of conflict by two to ten percent. The climate crisis is a humanitarian crisis, as the photos by Christoph Püschner and Frank Schultze illustrate.

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New legal initiatives towards deforestation-free supply chains as a game changer

A Contribution by Gerhard Langenberger

Regarding deforestation free supply chains, there are challenges and opportunities for smallholder farmers as well as for international forest governance. Also, responsibilities for companies and potential incentives for manufacturers to use materials from fair trade and sustainable sources need to be explored. But what does “deforestation-free” actually mean?

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The fight against illegal fishing

A Report

The oceans are important for our food supply, but they are overfished. To halt this trend the global community is now taking action against illegal fishing. Journalist Jan Rübel spoke with Francesco Marí, a specialist for world food, agricultural trade and maritime policy at "Brot für die Welt," and others.

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Water may offer the only chance

Interview with Caroline Milow and Ramon Brentführer

Groundwater resources remain dormant in the soil of African regions. Where does it make sense to use them – and where does overexploitation of nature begin? Caroline Milow (GIZ) and Ramon Brentführer (BGR) talk about potentials in the future and lessons from the past.

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Sowing change

A Contribution by Brot für die Welt

Roughly 800 million people suffer from hunger worldwide. Change is needed - for people and for the environment. Brot für die Welt reports on the starting points offered by everyone's ecological footprint and handprint.

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From the perennial to the catwalk – banana silk as an alternative

A Contribution by Paul Kadjo

The textile industry contributes significantly to environmental pollution as it produces over 100 billion garments every year, resulting in huge CO2 emissions and water consumption. Fashion designer Paul Kadjo uses banana silk as an environmentally friendly alternative to make textile production more environmentally conscious and socially just.

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Circular Economy: From Innovation to Upscaling

A Contribution by the Project RUNRES

Recycling organic waste into soil amendments and animal feed through a transdisciplinary approach – this is what the RUNRES project, launched in four sub-Saharan African countries four years ago, seeks to achieve. Three of the project's scientists report.

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New campaign for women: "Poverty is sexist"

Interview with Stephan Exo-Kreischer

This is a benchmark for everybody: More rights for women are a very influencing solution in the struggle against extreme poverty and hunger worldwide, says Stephan Exo-Kreischer, Director of ONE Germany. The organisation specialises in political campaigning as a lever for sustainable change.

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(c) Simon Veith

A fresh opportunity

Interview with Lutz Hartmann

By leasing a three hundred hectare fruit plantation in Ethiopia, Lutz Hartmann has realised a long-cherished dream: to run his own business in Africa. Now he has a personal interest in the issue of Africa’s development.

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Africa's face of agriculture is female

A contribution by Beatrice Gakuba (AWAN-AFRIKA)

Africa has a huge opportunity to make agriculture its economic driver. However, the potential for this is far from being made exhaustive use of, one reason being that women face considerable difficulties in their economic activities. The organisation AWAN Afrika seeks to change this state of affairs.

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Soil Restoration Starts with the People

A Contribution by TMG Think Tank for Sustainability

Highlighting how secure tenure rights are key to achieving land degradation neutrality and soil restoration targets..

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Strenghtening Farmers' Rights with Soft Laws

A Contribution by Welthungerhilfe

How the UN Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT) contribute to fairer and more secure land access.

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World Soil Conference ends with resolutions on drought management and land restoration

A contribution by GIZ

At the UNCCD COP15, the nearly 200 Parties met in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. A key goal is to halt the loss of fertile soils by 2030.

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For a just transition to a sustainable planet we must secure land rights

A contribution by TMG

At the UNCCD COP15, the Töpfer Müller Gaßner Think Tank (TMG) hosted four side events. The agenda of the kick-off event included discussions for the Human Rights and Land Navigator.

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Priscilla Impraim and her chocolate business

A contribution by Jan Rübel

Priscilla Impraim is one of the first women in Ghana to enter the chocolate business. Despite some hurdles, she founded the company Ab Ovo Confectionery Limited in 2006 with currently six permanent employees and 25 seasonal employees.

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Towards Climate Justice: Securing Women’s Land Rights for a Resilient Tomorrow

A Contribution by TMG

In the midst of global climate discussions, a resounding call emerges: Women's land rights must be the cornerstone of our climate actions. They're not just pieces of the puzzle; they form the foundation for true climate resilience. TMG Think Tank for Sustainability reports from the first African Climate Summit.

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"Climate change is unifying people from the region"

A Contribution by Jan Rübel

In the West Bank, political tensions and increasingly poor weather conditions are making farming more difficult. What needs to be done? Questions for Abbas Milhem, Executive Director of the Palestinian Farmers Union (PFU).

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"The virus does not need visa"

Interview by Dr. Ahmed Ouma (CDC)

Countries across Africa coordinate their efforts in the fight against corona by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) of the African Union in Addis Abeba. Until now, the curve of new infections has been successfully flattened – why? Dr. Ahmed Ouma, Deputy Director, explains the work of CDC in an interview with Tilman Wörtz.

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“We have to prepare for the unexpected”

Interview with Dr Maria Flachsbarth (BMZ)

In August, Germany’s development ministry set up a division concentrating on One Health topics. Parliamentary State Secretary Maria Flachsbarth on knowledge gaps at the human-animal-environmental interface, the link between One Health and food security, and lessons learnt from previous pandemics.

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More than just a seat at the table

A contribution by Welthungerhilfe

Africa is home to the world’s youngest and fastest growing population. For many young people, agriculture could offer a job perspective. But to improve the living conditions and job prospects of young people in rural areas, political reforms and investments are desperately needed, as these people will be at the centre of agriculture and agricultural development in the future.

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Africa's rapid economic transformation

A report by T. S. Jayne, A. Adelaja and R. Mkandawire

Thirty years ago, Africa was synonymous with war, famine and poverty. That narrative is clearly outdated. African living standards are rising remarkably fast. Our authors are convinced that improving education and entrepreneurship will ensure irreversible progress in the region even as it confronts COVID-19.

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MarkIrungu /AGRA

Spiritual mortar for the young generation

A contribution by Jan Rübel

Fred Swaniker is working building a new era of leaders. And what about agriculture? ‘It needs to be more sexy!’

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How much do we actually waste, Mr. McFeely?

An interview with Peter McFeely (WWF)

The WWF has published a sensational study on food waste. The focus: farm-stage food waste. Peter McFeely, Global head of communications and strategic planning at WWF, explains what needs to be done.

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How Smallholders became Commodity Suppliers

Small farmers are often left behind in African agriculture. Access to markets and improved competitiveness can only be achieved if the small farms join forces. But those affected in partner countries are often at a loss as to how to implement cooperative models. Here, the BMZ provides support through the SEWOH ONE World – NO Hunger initiative and the Social Structure Promotion (Sozialstrukturförderung).

A project by Deutscher Genossenschafts- und Raiffeisenverband e. V.

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The Future of Development Politics: Voices from the Parliamentary Groups

A Contribution by Journalist Jan Rübel

Representatives of the six parliamentary groups offer their views on the future of German development cooperation.

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Cooperation and Effective Incentives for Sustainable Land Use

A Contribution by GIZ

The second GFFA expert panel highlights the need for governance action to reverse global trends of land degradation.

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What Needs to Change for Africa’s Youth, Ms Kah Walla?

An Interview with Kah Walla

A conversation with the activist and entrepreneur Kah Walla about what needs to change for young people in rural Africa.

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How to govern food systems transformation

A contribution by Daniel Montas and Jan Rübel

The transformation of food systems is regarded as the new magic code, but effective strategies are lacking. A new group of experts discussed the prerequisites for efficiently managing this process. The experts representing politics, youth, civil society, farmers' organizations, private sector, and academia unanimously concluded: transformation is possible, but it needs a strong drive from within.

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“We want to overcome hunger and poverty”

An interview with Fernanda Machiaveli

After four years of the Bolsonaro administration, the new Brazilian government is trying to restart its engagement in agroecology, fighting deforestation in the Amazon and protecting indigenous communities and poor families from hunger. An interview with the Vice-minister for Rural Development and Family Farming, Fernanda Machiaveli.

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“We have to focus on sustainability”

An interview with Karen Mapusua

Karen Mapusua, President of IFOAM Organics International Network, on the danger of the current fuel crises and inflation to loose track in sustainablity, why organic farmers should be heard and how the word “crisis” has a very different meaning where she lives in Fiji.

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Governor's Day with Farmers – For more discussion with local actors

A contribution by William Onura and Larissa Stiem-Bhatia

In agriculture it is important to include political stakeholders in the discourse. To build the bridge between practical application and political action, the think tank TMG launched the Governor's Day with Farmers in Kakamega County, Kenya. Now it took place for the second time. But what are the goals and benefits of the Governor's Day?

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The Key to Transforming Food Systems Lies in Inclusive Governance

A Contribution by Daniel Montas

Experts from Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya and Malawi came together to discuss inclusive governance in a workshop entitled "Inclusive Governance of Food Systems Transformation". Daniel Montas, TMG Research, on the findings.

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Can we democratize data in the age of digital extraction?

A contribution by Clare Crowe Pettersson & Lena Bassermann

The United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS) recently adopted new policy guidelines on the use of data and digital technologies in the context of food security and nutrition. What comes next?

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(c) Thomas Trutschel/BMEL/photothek

Rethinking funding

By Anna Sophia Rainer

Peasant farmers tend to fail due to bank credit limits. But investment could help them generate a sustainable income. This has given rise to an intense discussion about potential digital solutions.

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Video: 4 Questions to Claudia Makdristo

A video clip by Seedstars

Startups are booming in African agriculture. What are the current trend and challenges – and can other regions benefit from innovative approaches? A Video-Interview with Claudia Makadristo, Regional Manager of Seedstars  

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(c) Katapult/GIZ

The digitised farmyard

An interactive graphic Jan Rübel

Lots of apps are entering the market, but what really makes sense? For African agriculture, some of it seems like a gimmick, some like a real step forward. So this is what a smallholder farm in Africa could look like today - with the help of smartphones, internet and electricity. 

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Africa's digital disruption

Graphics

What Africa is experiencing in the course of digitisation is a disruption. Here three steps are taken in one, there you remain. In any case, the changes are enormous and bring some surprises. A graphic walk.

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“They said: You can do it”

A contribution by Bread for the World

As President of the IABM cooperative in Muhanga, Alphonsine Mukankusi is not simply focused on the figures. She has learned how to deal with people and how to take on responsibility. At the same time, her work helps her to come to terms with the past

 

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Investing in Healthy Soils: Curse or Blessing?

A Contribution by WWF

How investing in healthy soils provides incentives for more sustainable agriculture even as it demonstrates the need for far reaching changes in the agrisector.

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Successful Blueprints for African Agriculture

A Contribution by GIZ

At the 8th German-African Agribusiness Forum (GAAF) representatives from business and politics discussed successful investment models to improve living conditions in Africa.

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Together towards Sustainable Development: Private Sector Cooperation

A Multimedia-Toolbox by GIZ

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through responsible investments in the agri-food sector of emerging countries.

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"Human capital will play a pivotal role in the transformation of African economies"

A contribution by Ben Leyka

The potential the African food sector holds is still far too strongly associated with the continent’s natural resources, Ben Leyka maintains. He seeks to change this with the African Agri Council.

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CompensACTION aims to reward farmers for climate performance

A Contribution of the Initiative

The CompensACTION Initiative for food security and a healthy planet, launched by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in 2022, is gaining momentum. It aims to financially compensate smallholder farmers for their contribution to preserving ecosystems. Initial successes have been achieved in Ethiopia, Lesotho and Brazil.

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Against all Odds

A Contribution by Claudia Huber

Rose Okello is a Matoke farmer and single mother living in a village near Mbarara, a town in southern Uganda. To ensure that she can pay for her family's food, her children's school fees and other expenses on time, Rose uses various financial services. Her story portrays hurdles but also hope for women in agribusiness.

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(c) Christoph Püschner/Brot für die Welt

The North bears the responsibility, the South bears the burden

A report by Susanne Neubert (SLE)

Adaptation to climate change can be achieved by making agriculture more environmentally sustainable – if the rich countries also reduce their emissions

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How to Combat Hunger in Times of Climate Crisis?

An Interview with Martin Frick (WFP)

The climate crisis fuels world hunger. What needs to change in the global fight against hunger, and which role plays humanitarian aid in international development cooperation?

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ICTforAg 2022: Conference

An Initiative by GIZ Fond i4Ag

In March 2022, the virtual conference ICTforAg summons leading actors in the agrartechnology and food sector from low- and middle-income countries to exchange ideas advancing resilience, nutrition and agriculture-led growth.

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Drugs and the Environment

A Contribution by Jorrit Kamminga

This year's United Nations World Drug Report highlights for the first time the nexus between illicit drugs and the environment. In view of climate change, it is time to feed the debate with facts and make drug policy greener

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Our Food Systems are in Urgent Need of Crisis-Proofing: what needs to be done

An Artikel by TMG

Based on a scientific study by TMG Think Tank, the authors highlight various challenges in the fight against the hunger crisis. The findings show that climate change, conflict and covid-19 are increasing food and energy prices.

 

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Farmers' organizations want to be involved in designing agricultural policy

An interview with Kolyang Palebele

Four interviews kick off the relaunch under the new name „Food4Transformation“, asking the same questions from different perspectives. "Women and young people need access to land. And they need financial support to cultivate this land." - says Kolyang Palebele, President of the Pan African Farmers Organisation (PAFO).

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From field to fan shop: how to increase supply

A contribution by Jan Rübel

Organic cotton is extremely popular – but farmers still find it difficult to change their conventional cultivation methods. A new project addresses this dilemma: Bundesliga football teams in Germany are promoting the switch to organic cotton in India. And thereby setting an example.

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Working with nature for diversity in farming, climate protection and empowerment

Ein Beitrag von Friederike Bauer

Germany joins the international Agroecology Coalition, reinforcing its commitment to fair, sustainable agriculture and ensuring the future viability of rural areas. By adopting a holistic approach, agroecology is helping to address the greatest challenges of our time: protecting the climate, combating hunger and preserving biodiversity.

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