Encourage the development of sustainable food and agricultural systems in Africa through scientific and socio-economic innovation strategies and through collaboration with local institutions and governments
This is the objective of the Food Systems and Sustainable Development project. A consortium project between ECDPM, the European Centre for Development Policy Management in Maastricht and four Italian universities (Università di Milano-Bicocca, l’Università Cattolica, l’Università di Pavia, l’Università di Scienze Gastronomiche di Pollenzo). The consortium also benefits from the key collaboration with Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli and the Milan Center for Food Policy and Law. Important institutions and investors such as FAO, Bioversity International, and a number of local Kenyan and Tanzanian institutions including Naivasha Basin Sustainability Initiative, Oikos, the Nelson Mandela University together with a number of local government structures will also be involved
SASS defines sustainability in three different main areas: environmental, economic and social. Every focus has its own set of specific objectives.
In the context of agricultural systems the goal is to work from local biodiversity or rather from those marginal species still consumed in local diets because they are rich in nutrients. The activities will be directed towards discovering these Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS) and in defining sustainable productive agricultural systems, capable of preserving soil/land and resources and at the same time produce a source of food and wealth.
An interdisciplinary team will deal not only with the agrobiological aspects but also with the social, economic and political ones. The molecular characterization of the species will allow then to enhance the value of the NUS and create, if it were, a unique “biological passport”. This is particularly important for the enhancement of agrobiodiversity and bioprospecting, but also in order to prevent phenomena such as biopiracy, a problem many African states are potentially or indeed subject to.
As far as food system governance is concerned, food system management models will be identified bearing in mind the differences and characteristics of socio-economic contexts with different degrees of development. Strategies will be put forward aimed at streamlining supply chains, create wealth and safeguard typical local products.
At a macroscale level the project aims to promote the strengthening of African and EU-African processes, focussing on “CAADP”, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme with the collaboration of UN specialized agencies in Rome, “the Committee on World Food Security” and the “Global Alliance on Climate-Smart Agriculture”.
The project therefore interprets the guidelines developed thanks to the international discussion and debate carried out during Expo 2015 and is in line with the Horizon 2020 strategies as the research is seen as responsible innovation shared with the stakeholders. The actions of SASS are also a link to the challenges of Human Technopole 2040 in which food safety and quality of life are central to technological research and where the university Milano-Bicocca has already provided for the development of joint workshops.