Transforming Agrifood Systems in West and Central Africa


Agriculture contributes 30–50% of West and Central Africa’s GDP and provides income and livelihoods to 70–80% of the region’s population. But the sector has not been able to live up to its potential to feed the region’s growing population, due to the disruptive forces of climate change, including rapid land degradation and increasing incidences of invasive pests and diseases.

As a result, consumers often resort to imported and ultra-processed foods, increasing the triple burden of malnutrition. Reduced biodiversity is affecting soil health and crop reproduction, while degraded landscapes are no longer One Health-sensitive. Markets and value chains are at best fragmented due to huge post-harvest losses, dilapidated infrastructure and a non-supportive policy environment. The capacity of youth and women to participate in the transformation of food systems remains low, while increasing conflicts often result in poor governance, further curtailing any potential in the region.


This Initiative aims to improve nutrition and food security within the context of climate change in West and Central Africa through nutritious, climate-adapted and market-driven food systems.


This objective will be achieved through:

  • Sustainable intensification and diversification for nutritious and resilient food production through sustainable seed and management systems: pursuing demand-creation to promote nutritious foods; co-designing cost-effective, diverse and sustainable food production systems; and promoting good agricultural practices.
  • Informed digital agriculture for climate resilience —managing climate risks and accessing services: creating new or improving, contextualizing and complementing existing digital services for small-scale farmers, value chain actors and governments for informed decision-making through data harmonization, governance, analysis and tailored advisories.
  • Inclusive landscape management — pathways for scaling land and water innovations for resilient agrifood systems: Combining participatory tools and citizen science to co-develop and implement inclusive landscapes, owned by communities, that enable sustainable scaling of bundled land, water, aquaculture and climate-smart agronomic and digital innovations.
  • Youth and women entrepreneurship models in food value chains: promoting and preparing youth and women in developing and managing agribusiness models for food value chains while addressing social barriers.
  • Technology, innovation, communication, knowledge and stakeholder management for accelerating impact investments and catalyzing impact at scale: utilizing multiple state-of-the-art evidence-based management solutions to articulate the demand for research and innovations in West and Central Africa; increase impact investments in the Initiative’s research and innovation portfolios, CGIAR and other long-term impact partners; and integrate them into a coherent management system for catalyzing the Initiative’s impact.


Proposed 3-year outcomes include:

  1. At least 80,000 smallholder households will have access to climate resilient, nutrient-dense crop varieties; with at least 16,000 of them using five climate resilient, nutrient-dense crop varieties and six good agricultural practices.
  2. An increase of at least 30% in household dietary diversity scores will be attained.
  3. Three million farmers, 30 value chain actors and three governments will be using timely climate information and early warning systems for improved decision making.
  4. At least four governments will use inclusive approaches towards landscape management, and 100 rural communities have developed informed and inclusive land and water management plans that will diversify income from agriculture and increase production, creating jobs and stability.
  5. At least 20,000 youth and 15,000 women will be engaged in value-added activities related to agriculture, and at least 50% of these will have access to credit. An increase of at least 20% in the Women Empowerment in Agriculture Index will be attained.
  6. At least 10 key partners in the next phase implementation plans (US$25 million investment) are consistently using three validated scaling tools.


Projected impacts and benefits include:


Access to quality, nutrient-dense seed and climate-smart agricultural practices, as well as reduced post-harvest losses, will contribute to food and nutrition and health security for 8.82 million people or 1.76 million households.


The provision of opportunities and tools for women and youth to engage in the labor market, coupled with an increase in their access to finance, will contribute to poverty reduction, livelihoods and job creation for 8.82 million people or 1.76 million households.


Through a gender transformative approach and de-risking agricultural production, 1.28 million youth and 2 million women will be empowered, reducing existing gender gaps and increasing business opportunities. Support for enabling regulatory and policy environments will contribute to creating a socially inclusive platform for public and private partnerships.


The matching of digital supply-demand services will increase productivity and improve adaptation to climate change for 4.41 million people or almost a million households.


Through citizen science, landlessness and disputes among resource users will be mitigated, while issues of poor environmental health and biodiversity loss will be addressed through good governance of natural resources, bringing 3.93 million hectares of land under improved management.


For more details, view the Initiative proposal


Header photo: Salt cured fish is sold at the Grand Marché in Lome, Togo. Photo by M. Cooperman/IFPRI.