Growing together…….lifting others

Sustainable food systems in Africa: Is it achievable

Nutrition feeds 12 out of 17 SDGs and hence transdisciplinary food-nutrition research should be strategically exploited as an input and output tool for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals - Larry Umunna


MALNUTRITION is a pervasive problem, while good nutrition builds human capital and shared prosperity and improve health outcomes. Hence investing in nutrition makes huge economic sense.

** The greatest contributor to economic growth is not physical infrastructure but brain power which is referred to as ‘Gray matter infrastructure’. By Dr Akin Adesina President of the African Development Bank.

6 out of the top 10 risk factors for global disease are Diet related, there is need to invest in ensuring food and nutrition security

Opportunities abound for Africans to tap into, in order to ensure food and nutrition security. Some Identified Opportunities for agro-transformation includes the following

-increase intra-regional trade

-Africa supply for African consumption

-Intra-continental production /processing for exports of semi-finished goods to raw

-Prevent illegal cross border trade

– African have a strong future consumer base

**Africa population is projected to increase to greater millions in 2050, which gives a greater opportunity for trade.

It is important to note that our food system affects the quality of our diet. Agriculture food chain should maximize nutrition entering the food supply chain and minimize nutrition loss/exiting the food supply chain. We need to identify and know the important stakeholders that can help. The private sector is the primary source of consumers food supply.

The key actors are Government, development partners, private sector, research/thought leaders and Civil Society.

Private sector can help

  1. Repurpose public investment and policies pathway by using a collective and powerful voice to advocate and actively support ecosystem building
  2. Develop business model innovation pathway by engaging in building prototype new business models and technology that deliver triple bottom line results, invest in scaling existing model. Invest in share/open data solutions and supply chain wide traceability. Share key lessons learned with the global community
  3. Develop institutional  investment pathway; by creating profitable investment opportunities, provide investors with data on social and environmental performance of investments
  4. Consumer behavior change pathway: by developing pre-competitive alliances for behavioral changes in consumers. Investing in new products and identity preservation. Encourage consumers to purchase healthy and sustainable foods through the experiences acquired over the years.

Research /thought leaders can help with the following

1) Repurpose public investment and policies pathway by developing innovative policy solutions, support analysis of reactions and related trade-offs at global and country level

2) Develop business model innovation pathway through research and creation of new ideas for business model, promote and enable transfer of knowledge and evidenced based solutions

3) Develop institutional investment pathway by researching ways to create appropriate market guidelines, promote collaborations in spheres of influence to create investment vehicles.

4) Consumer behavior change pathway; researchers should contribute knowledge of powerful and cost effective ways to influence consumer behavior based on real-world examples, build interdisciplinary research and learning coalition to share best practice approach and lesson learned

The relationship/ partnership between the academia and industry cannot be over emphasized. The academia generates ideas, creates innovations and develop people while industry employ people and turn ideas into reality to create resources. Industry also provide funds for academia in form of grants and other support.

Specifics roles of academia and industry that will yield a fruitful partnership are as highlighted below

  -Promote multi-disciplinary approach to research and learning within it communities.   -Identify promising opportunities for collaboration with industries.   -Develop a framework for long term and short term strategic partnership.   -Address the broad arching framework agreement on intellectual property to avoid conflict on ownership.   -Ensure regular dialogue in the form of seminars, lectures etc that will bring both sides together for cordial relationships.-Support the creation of the knowledge relevant to its growth and survival through provision of resources for targeted research.   -Frequent engagement with the academia to provide insights into the needs of the industry and their vision and expectation.   – Partnership will help industry overcome limitations of its internal research and development (R&D)

Major role of the university based research institutes include the following

  1. Research development (market driven research)
  2. Development of agribusiness entrepreneurship and circular Economy focused programs: Universities should be knowledge transmitters and entrepreneur developer.
  3. Develop incubation and innovation centers.
  4. Mentoring and leadership management development programs
  5. Support for modern E-agriculture


 A strong point was established on the need for transformation of food system for effective food and Nutrition security

Understanding the gaps in the perspectives of both stakeholder groups (academia and industry) is a pathway to finding mutual beneficial solution

AfREN can provide the leadership and demonstrate that academia/researchers can add significant value to the development and implementation of the roadmap to sustainable development and food and nutrition security in Africa and the world.


Question were asked on home grown gardening as a way of ensuring family food and nutrition security

Mr Larry stated that home grown garden is part of the solution but not the major solution to the problem facing Africa.  Food and Nutrition security solution is multi-faceted. Several solutions will have to be employed for effective solution to African long standing food and nutrition security problem

-A question was asked on what actionable steps can be taken to enforce utilization of indigenous crops rather than the exotic crops that are imported into the country


Food professionals are encouraged to provide education to the masses on how to obtain good nutrition from basic fresh and local food produces, from processing, preparation and storage  that will discourage nutrient loss.


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