Food System Actors engaged in the cocreation of agroecological innovations - Results of Year 1 engagement in seven countries
CGIAR Initiative on Agroecology
- Impact Area
Authors: Simone Staiger-Rivas and Gabriela Wiederkehr (both Alliance Bioversity-CIAT), based on initiative country reports
The CGIAR initiative “Transformational Agroecology Across Food, Land and Water Systems” is actively engaging with food system actors (FSA) in seven countries (Burkina Faso, India, Kenya, Lao PDR, Peru, Tunisia, and Zimbabwe) to codesign, test, and adapt agroecological innovations, both technological and institutional, from food production to consumption. At the core is the necessity to generate scientific evidence that shows how agroecological principles applied in different socio-ecological systems are better able to provide equity, productivity, economic and environmental benefits than alternatives, including the status quo.
The engagement takes place in Agroecological Living Landscapes (ALLs) that are formed in selected territories of each country with diverse stakeholders, including farmer associations or communities, researchers from multiple disciplines, extensionists, private companies, international and national non-governmental organizations as well as local, regional, and national policymakers. The establishment of ALLs does not follow a standard methodology: Each country’s context leads to a different agroecological transition pathway(s) and multi stakeholder approaches. (Read overall reflections on the Initiative engaging with stakeholders and establishing Agroecological Living Landscapes)
Jointly, people who act along the food value chain assess and demonstrate which agroecological innovations (practices, business models, and institutional arrangements) work best, where, why, and for whom. They identify business opportunities and financial mechanisms for local enterprises to deal with agroecological innovations. They develop strategies and action plans that encourage and support sustainable behavior change oriented to agroecological principles and transitions, and they determine the most suitable policies and mechanisms of policy integration for promoting effective and sustainable agroecological transitions.
At the current stage, FSA are engaged in the creation of the Agroecological Living Landscapes, assessing contexts and envisioning possible agroecological transitions with stakeholders that will allow the codesign of agroecological innovations. The analysis of collected data on the total of 1,346 FSA who have been engaged to date in seven countries reveals valuable insights.
- From the 1,346 FSA engaged to date, 42% are female and 58% are male.
- Tunisia has engaged the most FSA (532), followed by Kenya (299), Zimbabwe (228) and India (123)
- Farmers are the biggest group of FSA (622), followed by NARS (170), Private sector (145) and extensionists (85)
Country-specific analysis show differences, such as Zimbabwe with strong engagement with NARS; Peru with a targeted engagement around a specific value chain that includes policymakers; Kenya, with a majority of female FSA and a first engagement around agroecological business models and financing strategies.
The current engagement process in the seven countries benefits from prior efforts and extensive dialogues with partners, including the private sector, national research centers, farmer cooperatives, and international organizations that led to the creation of the Agroecology initiative. Country teams have been well suited to involve national and local FSA as well as partners for scaling and impact according to their specific contexts focusing not only on technical solutions but also on the socio-political dimensions beyond the farm level that are needed to positively affect food systems.
Progress to date with the engagement of FSA confirms the premise that to be successful, rather than offering prescriptive approaches, agroecology must be flexible with solutions tailored to specific environmental, socio-cultural, economic, and political contexts. It must also combine local and scientific knowledge and build strong local partnerships as a key factor of success for sustainable and scalable innovations.
Creating a Community of Practice at CGIAR for multistakeholder platforms Researchers and policymakers are considering Multistakeholder platforms (MSPs) as the fundamental way of engaging stakeholders in research activities to generate meaningful and long-lasting impact. Simply inviting people to the table is not enough; MSPs have the potential to become a space where participants can begin to address questions of power, equity and buy-in.
Engaging with stakeholders and establishing Agroecological Living Landscapes: Overall reflections Reflections on the early challenges faced with stakeholder engagement and the establishment of Agroecological Living Landscapes (ALLs)
Understanding and influencing agency and behavior change in agroecological transformation processes The initiative’s Work Package 5 supports behavior change research and engagements in the global network of Agroecological Living Landscapes, working from the basic notion that diverse behavioral changes are required to foster an agroecological transformation
Supporting policy and institutional decision making towards agroecological transformations: Initial activities of the Agroecology Initiative The Initiative aims to provide evidence in support of national and local change agents in their pursuit of an agroecological transformation. Because of the critical role that policy and institutional change are expected to play in fostering the transformation, one of the initiative work packages is devoted to this topic.
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Towards agroecological living Landscapes: First experiences from CIMMYT-Zimbabwe With coordination provided by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the CGIAR Initiative on Agroecology builds Agroecological Living Landscapes in two territories with contrasting conditions and landscapes. In this video, farmers and partners in these territories share their expectations about diversifying agricultural production through a mixed farming approach and about enhancing their capacity to adapt to climate change.
Learning how to ‘do engagement’ agroecology style: Insights into CGIAR’s Initiative’s on Agroecology ‘Engagement and Sustainability Planning’ Workshop to guide the implementing teams to be reflexive and self-aware in how they interact with various stakeholders and partners and, by extension, how they implement the initiative on the ground.
Can Agroecological Living Landscapes (ALLs) solve Food, Land and Water system challenges? Agroecology has gained momentum in recent years in India. Site for Agroecological Living Landscapes have been selected based on the presence of two typical soil types (red and black soil), proportion of farmers using natural farming methods, a variety of farmers who are at various stages of converting from conventional to natural farming methods, landless households, and cropping systems, including horticulture and agroforestry.