Who is benefitting as food systems and rural economies are transformed and who is at risk of being left behind? Throughout 2022, the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC), UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Foresight4Food (F4F) will be convening a series of e-Dialogues to provide an in-depth exploration of these critical questions.
Drawing on a wide range of perspectives, disciplines and approaches, we will examine pathways for bringing greater equity and inclusivity to how food is produced and consumed. Foresight thinking will be used to explore the impact of differing scenarios of food systems transformation in a variety of contexts worldwide. To look at equity and inclusion issues across the whole food system, we will be building on the content and format of the successful 2020 e-Dialogue series on “What Future for Small-Scale Farming?”.
To kick-off the New Year, three e-Dialogues led by APRA were held in January and February 2022. The aim was to not only draw ideas and insights from APRA research, but also from other complementary initiatives across Sub-Saharan Africa. These events featured new evidence and analyses to highlight the critical political, economic, social, institutional and technical factors that enable or constrain small and medium producers, farm workers and processors to invest in agriculture. They showed how and why agriculture is an important source of food and income for most rural households but needs to be seen in the context of multiple livelihood activities – both on and off the farm – as a large proportion of small and medium producers in Africa live in poverty and fail to achieve a ‘living income’ from farming alone.
- Emerging Challenges and Regional Realities (Thursday, 20 January 2022). This first e-dialogue involved analysis of the dynamics of agricultural commercialisation and agrarian change across East, West and Southern Africa in three parallel regional discussions and led to a continental-level panel involving expert commentators and audience questions.
- COVID-19 and its Effects on Local Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods (Wednesday, 2 February 2022). The second in the series highlighted policy-relevant lessons on the effects of the COVID-19 emerging from two multi-country comparative studies, one analysing household-level livelihood responses and outcomes and the other focusing on the differential effects of COVID on agricultural value chains.
- Transition Pathways and Strategies (Tuesday, 22 February 2022). For this initial series of e-dialogues, this event assessed options and scenarios for creating more equitable and inclusive forms of agricultural commercialisation and rural transformation, with a focus on the specific challenges for different types of farmers, farm workers and processors, given their scale, gender, assets or geographic and market context.
The Hosts and Sponsors
The e-Dialogues were hosted by FAC’s APRA Programme, Foresight4Food, and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). These networks connect to over 2,000 members worldwide. APRA/FAC, Foresight4Food and SDSN are seeking to expand the hosting group and welcome other interested groups to join the partnership hosting the e-Dialogue series.
Support for APRA’s contribution to the e-Dialogue series is provided by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). APRA is funded with UK aid from the UK.