Resilient Food Systems

So5eng

 

View from the Field: Challenges in international agriculture

For decades international agriculture research and development (R&D) programs have delivered science, know-how, and practices. The fundamental goal has been to help millions of people in the developing world increase food production, reduce rural poverty, improve nutrition and health, and strengthen food security. And while agriculture R&D practitioners and policymakers typically see these issues as interrelated, food security alone is multidimensional, and the interplay of food availability, access, utilization, and stability/ vulnerability has not always been well understood and supported by policies focused on poverty reduction and sustainable livelihoods. This has hindered the creation of long-term solutions to strengthening food security.
The challenge of food vulnerability looms particularly large in one type of agro-ecology widely distributed in Latin America, Africa, and Asia: tropical mountain agricultural systems. Such areas are often associated with ethnic minority populations who are highly dependent on root and tuber crops (RTC) and who struggle with economic marginality, difficult terrain, extreme weather events, and limited access to markets. Other areas facing this development challenge are the disaster-prone lowlands in South and Southeast Asia and certain island populations in Southeast Asia, the Pacific, and the Caribbean where RTC make up a large part of food security and livelihood strategies in coastal communities. As a whole, these are some of the most intense poverty hotspots on Earth, with high levels of malnutrition and debilitating levels of migration. Moreover, data show that increasing economic prosperity has not filtered down to the rural poor and economic prosperity of society alone is not sufficient to accelerate reduction of hunger and malnutrition of vulnerable populations.

 

Applying a resilient food systems approach to strengthening smallholder food security

 

CIP’s strategic program of Resilient Food Systems seeks to better understand the dynamics of food vulnerability and how to reduce it in order to strengthen food security. The program examines ways to operationalize the dynamic concept of food vulnerability as part of agricultural R&D so as to develop a framework for its analysis and design resilience interventions. In this program our work analyzes food vulnerability issues in different contexts in areas of the Andes and Asia that are both unique and common among the diverse sweetpotato and potato agro-ecologies and those who depend on them. CIP assesses and designs intervention research to reduce vulnerability in specific vulnerable areas where it has already gained experience in food security innovation. Out of this work come R&D models oriented toward greater impact and sensitive to experiential feedback. In turn, the refinements of food security approaches, research interventions with partners and improved operationalization will contribute to a research agenda that is more focused and sensitive to food security, one that CIP can integrate into its other programs. The Resilient Food Systems program also responds to the need for flexibility to take projects to scale, measure their impacts, and use their lessons to adjust and enrich research activities and priorities.

 

 

Stronger alliances and partnerships to enrich and sustain impact

 

Two recently completed projects highlight the effectiveness of the Resilient Food Systems program. In Asia, the 4-year FoodSTART project gave prominent attention to food vulnerability at different levels of the food security hierarchy: individual, household, community, provincial, and national. The framework has guided application of the General Assessment Methodology for characterizing the role of RTC in food security in the Asia region. It has also made major progress in translating research findings into usable products for largescale development. CIP has moved from a science-driven paradigm that generates research outputs and hands them over to partners, to a more targeted and balanced approach driven by demand and supply. This process model offers an excellent basis for addressing the new focus on food security and, especially, the dynamic aspects of vulnerability and resilience of food availability, access, and utilization. The IssAndes project, completed in 2014, promoted the interaction between agriculture, nutrition, and health as a key factor in rural areas. The project worked to generate results according to the five dimensions of the food security problem: availability (native potato varieties with higher yield and quality); access (income improvements for the quality of production); use (native potatoes with higher micronutrients); stability (better responses to pests and diseases and climate change); and institutions (committed public spaces and support laws). The project explored the relationships between agricultural production characteristics and nutrition of young children of families in the Andes and contributed to develop composite vulnerability indexes, spatial correlations, and drivers of risk to food insecurity and nutrition in the Andes. Most of these research areas have involved interdisciplinary collaboration; many have included innovation in participatory methods that fostered intellectual capital and made important contributions to innovation systems thinking. The project developed, supported, and monitored networks and partnerships drawn from diverse public and private sectors, particularly for value chain development.

 

Tapping the potential

 

By 2018, CIP’s goal is to develop a set of systems- and social science-based frameworks, methods, and tools under the Resilient Food SO5Systems strategic program. This program seeks to better understand and overcome the vulnerability to food insecurity issues unique to each and common across, diverse sweetpotato and potato agroecologies. Although the program first will be active in Latin America and Asia, system research sites could be added in Africa in the coming years. IssAndes and FoodStart combined applied research with research focusing on use of complex systems science in agricultural and natural resource contexts, climateagriculture interactions, predictive modeling, participatory geographic information systems, and in-situ conservation of crop genetic resources. This combined project experience will help to develop CIP’s overall food security and gender-sensitive research agenda. We anticipate that key proof of concepts will provide rich experiential data to improve the analysis and deeper understanding of food vulnerability in stressed environments where RTC are key system components. Resilient Food Systems will continue to identify hotspots of food vulnerability in RTC farming and food systems and analyze sources of uncertainty. Through learning sites the program will validate a research framework, design methods, and implement interventions with partners to reduce food vulnerability and strengthen the resilience of these systems. Using capacity building and partnership with diverse stakeholders, particularly those that contribute to decision-making, the methods developed by this program will contribute to enhance the design and implementation of R&D interventions addressing the existing and emerging challenges of RTC food systems.

tab resilient food systems

Pro-poor RandD Cycle.aiStrengthening food security is the most recent addition to CGIAR’s new set of high level objectives, an emphasis that stems largely from recent crises in both food prices and global food security. Yet the dimension that has been least explored or operationalized is stability or vulnerability—that is, changes in food availability, food access, and food utilization caused by socioeconomic or environmental stresses and shocks. This SO seeks to operationalize the dynamic concept of food vulnerability in the context of agricultural R&D, develop a framework for its analysis, and design resilience interventions. The SO analyzes food vulnerability and assesses and designs intervention research to reduce vulnerability through the five stages of the pro-poor R&D cycle (seen in the graphic to the right). The model also includes crosscutting products related to gender, partnerships, capacity development, M&E, and learning. Initially, SO 5 will focus interventions in the Andes and in Asia. In the midterm, and following advances in the PoC, these system-level approaches will be applied to the many vulnerable systems confronted by CIP’s region-wide programs in Africa.

By 2018, a set of systems- and social science-based frameworks, methods, and tools will have been developed and PoCs concluded for the analysis and mitigation of food vulnerability (i.e., uncertainty of food security) in stressed environments where roots and tuber crops (RTCs) are key system components. This SO will seek to identify “hotspots” of food vulnerability in RTC farming and food systems, analyze sources of uncertainty, identify the current responses by agricultural populations, and design and implement interventions to reduce food vulnerability and strengthen the resilience of these systems. 

The newly reformed CGIAR aims to tackle four major development challenges: reducing rural poverty, managing natural resources sustainably, improving nutrition and health, and improving food security. Of these four, however, CGIAR has included the explicit goal of improving food security as a major challenge only recently.

This goal also follows changing trends among national governments in prioritizing food security, and for the same reason: the increasing instability of food prices in world markets that is affecting countries’ capacity to ensure adequate food supplies for their populations. China, which has introduced food security into its 12th five-year plan, may not reach that goal. CIP’s collaborative program with the Chinese government, the CCCAP, is developing its strategy to support this national effort.

A widely accepted definition of food security[1] states, “When all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” The concept includes four dimensions: food availability, access, utilization, and stability/vulnerability. This last aspect of food security is probably the least elaborated of the four dimensions in how the concept is generally understood. Traditionally, it has been most closely associated with forecasting possible supply shocks (dealing with availability); but vulnerability related to food access and utilization has been sidelined.[2] It is also the weakest area in CGIAR’s treatment of the food security concept, although vulnerability has been studied in relation to poverty and as part of the sustainable livelihoods approach (SLA).[3]

Yet a fuller understanding of the vulnerability of food availability, access, and utilization is crucial. A vulnerability focus is explicitly dynamic and forward-looking, recognizing the essentially uncertain condition of food security. More than a snapshot of current food security outcomes, it looks at their future incidence and  enables us to examine food insecurity ex ante, rather than as an ex-post outcome.[4] The concept of resilience and how it can be strengthened in practical terms through enhancing the absorptive, adaptive, and transformative capacity strengthening of the poor is key for reducing vulnerability.[5] 

The challenge of food vulnerability looms particularly large in one type of agro-ecology widely distributed in Latin America, Africa, and Asia: tropical mountain agricultural systems. Such areas are often associated with ethnic minority populations who are highly dependent on RTCs and who struggle with economic marginality, difficult terrain, extreme weather events, and, in some cases, difficult access to markets.[6] These locations represent some of the most intense poverty hotspots on Earth, with high levels of malnutrition and debilitating levels of migration. The need is urgent to better understand the dynamics of food vulnerability in such systems in order to strengthen food security. They will be a priority geographical focus of this SO.

There are other environments that we will examine with a food vulnerability lens, including disaster-prone lowlands in South and Southeast Asia, typically with a rich resource base but subject to flooding or cyclones or both. Also included are certain island populations in Southeast Asia, the Pacific, and the Caribbean, which harness RTCs as part of coastal food security and livelihood strategies in coastal communities. These environments are often more highly dependent on RTCs, but also are vulnerable to extreme climate and the future effects of climate change.

Overall, SO 5 seeks to better understand and overcome the vulnerability issues unique to each, and common across, diverse sweetpotato and potato agro-ecologies. And although the focus will be in Latin America and Asia, further intervention sites could be added in Africa in the midterm, following advances in the PoC of the approaches.



[1] World Food Summit. 1996. http://www.fao.org/wfs/index_en.htm

[2] Løvendal, Christian Romer, Marco Knowles, and Naoko Horii. 2004. Understanding Vulnerability to Food Insecurity. Lessons from Vulnerable Livelihood Profiling. ESA Working Paper No. 04-18. Agricultural and Development Economics Division, FAO.

[3] For example, Adato, Michelle, Meinzen-Dick, and Ruth Suseela. 2003. Assessing the impact of agricultural research on poverty and livelihoods. Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture 42(2): 149–167.

[4] Scaramozzino, Pasquale. 2006. Measuring Vulnerability to Food Insecurity. ESA Working Paper No. 06-12, FAO, Rome. http://www.fao.org/es/esa

[5] Von Grebmer, K., D. Headey, T. Olofinbiyi, D. Wiesmann, H. Fritschel, S. Yin, and Y. Yohannes (eds.). 2013. Global Hunger Index, the challenge of hunger: building resilience to achieve food and nutrition security. Welt Hunger Hilfe, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Concern Worldwide, Bonn/Washington/Dublin.

[6] Jodha, N.S. 1997. Mountain Agriculture. In Mountains of the world: a global priority, B. Messerli and J.D. Ives, eds. Wallingford, UK: Parthenon Publishing Group

The major challenge of SO 5 is to operationalize the reduction of food vulnerability and ultimately help to improve food security. We will undertake meta-research on different phases of the R&D  cycle with a food vulnerability lens—a model that is impact oriented and feedback sensitive. The refinements and improved operationalization will contribute to a more focused, food security-sensitive research agenda in the other SOs. This SO also recognizes the need for flexibility to take projects to scale, measure their impacts, and use their lessons to adjust and enrich research activities and priorities.

The Andes and FoodSTART (CIP’s project) sites in Asia are ideal learning spaces for generating lessons on food vulnerability and resilience. FoodSTART’s food security framework gives prominent attention to food vulnerability at different levels of the food security hierarchy: individual, household, community, provincial, and national. The framework has guided application of the General Assessment Methodology (GAM) for characterizing the role of RTCs in food security in the Asia region. It has also made major progress in translating research findings into usable products for large-scale development. With the pro-poor R&D cycle, CIP has moved from a science-driven paradigm that generates research outputs and hands them over to partners, to a more targeted and balanced paradigm driven by demand and supply. This process model offers an excellent basis for addressing the new focus on food security and, especially, the dynamic aspects of vulnerability and resilience of food availability, access, and utilization.

In the Andes, CIP has a solid track record of both biophysical and social research in the region with a strong focus on systems. These include use of complex systems science in agricultural and natural resource contexts, climate-agriculture interactions, predictive modeling, participatory geographic information systems, evaluation of biofortified crops and food-based solutions to nutrition, and in-situ conservation of crop genetic resources. Most of these research areas have involved interdisciplinary collaboration; many have included innovation in participatory methods. This intellectual capital also includes important contributions to innovation systems thinking; the development, maintenance, and monitoring of multi-actor networks and partnerships with diverse sectors (health, education, agriculture, private sector), particularly for value chain development; and social learning through South–South knowledge sharing. This work has led to the generation of rich regional databases. Such intellectual capital constitutes the basis for understanding trends in the region and for sharing experiences with other regions. 

The framework for food vulnerability analysis and resilience interventions, following the pro poor R&D cycle, in RTB-significant farming and food systems is the flagship of SO 5 (Fig. 1).

Linked productsSO#5_FIG 2

The linked products elaborate methods, tools, and approaches for food vulnerability analysis and interventions leading to increased food resilience at different steps in the pro-poor R&D cycle. The development of each linked product reflects CIP’s current assessments of a product’s state of the art and its critical gaps.

1.   Methods for targeting at multiple scales. At the macro-scale, we will explore the use and limits of national data for a range of indicators contributing to a Food Security Index, with particular attention to indicators for food vulnerability. At subnational level we will adopt a dual approach, using existing data and country priorities for food vulnerability targeting and applying a modeling approach for developing future scenarios under climate change. Within each of the target countries, a fine-grained subnational targeting will be conducted and focus sites identified within each country. Targeting will identify areas where a high incidence of food insecurity overlaps with RTC production and consumption as well as with social and economic marginality. Targeting will also be refined through modeling of future scenarios under climate change, which will generate predictions of the impact of trends and shocks on agro-ecosystems and food supply and on food systems and access. Intelligence provided by models will be downscaled and validated, which will help to inform different kinds of communities.

2. Tools for characterization of targeted farming and food systems and vulnerability trends. We will adapt  the GAM into a tool that characterizes in target sites vulnerability of food availability, access, and utilization over time, and across individual, household, community, regional, and national levels. This framework characterizes the systems based on (1) production and livelihoods systems, including markets, (2) nutrition and health profiles, (3) food intake over time, and (4) knowledge actors/networks and policy and institutional landscapes. Scoping studies will be first conducted for a preliminary understanding of current food availability, food access, food utilization, food vulnerability, gender aspects, and safety networks, followed by more detailed characterization via surveys and focus group discussions.

3. Needs and opportunity assessments (NOAs) for specific thematic areas of the vulnerability context. GAM will identify key thematic areas where more detailed assessments are carried out into aspects of food vulnerability. The needs assessments will focus on the vulnerability dimension of food stability of agricultural systems and food supply, access through entitlements in the food system, and biophysical and cultural use and consumption. The opportunities assessment will be guided by the different dimensions of food security and will examine value chain development, paying attention to food quality and consumer preferences, nutrition improvement, and use of genetic and system diversity for enhanced environmental and economic sustainability. We will examine the interaction between economic opportunities offered by new crop-related value chains and the effect this has on the resilience of cropping systems (increase or reduction of diversity, cultivation in less sustainable locations, etc.). Gender dimensions will be prioritized in the NOAs and the need for different research interventions identified.

4.      Participatory action research to reduce food vulnerability and build system resilience. Methods for participatory trialing of technologies and/or socio-ecological practices as well as the application of new knowledge will be undertaken. Specific interventions will depend on the outcomes of the assessments and  likely will be strongly focused on reducing food vulnerability arising through agro-ecological and/or food system stresses and shocks. We will tailor research agendas to be adaptive and based on bottom-up decision-making processes involving local stakeholders, especially marginalized groups. Research interventions directly into food systems may include training and empowerment of farmer business schools, linkages to new food processing opportunities, participatory evaluation of nutritious varieties, evaluation of nutrition education and promotion approaches, and improved storage options. Action research into agro-ecosystems may include agricultural modeling for alternative climate change scenarios, examining ways to strengthen agro-ecosystem services, and enhancing the contribution of biodiversity management to system resilience.

5. Methods for going to scale through partnerships and dissemination platforms. Building appropriate partnerships is key to increasing food resilience at all stages of the R&D cycle. It is particularly important for going to scale, and means that new types of development partners are involved. This SO will systematize and refine models for these kinds of partnerships and dissemination platforms developed by FoodSTART in Asia, Papa Andina[1] and IssAndes[2] in Latin America, and large, region-wide programs in Africa. These experiences will be tested in Asian locations, and lessons shared with the implementation teams of other SOs. Policy analysis and dialogue will be crucial for going to scale.

6. Refined food security impact assessment tools. We will develop, test, and adapt appropriate methods and metrics to measure the impact of selected interventions on food and nutrition security. This includes case-study research on the HH-level impact of selected policies. Approaches will recognize both direct impacts of interventions aimed at improving nutritional status of targeted populations as well as impacts on food security and health via indirect impact pathways. The impact analysis will follow a well-defined process through which interventions are selected and their impact pathways identified; food security indicators are selected for each of these interventions. Production and nutritional baselines at the HH level are collected and key indicators are monitored as they evolve during interventions. As interventions end, their impacts will be assessed, including intra-household allocation of food security outcomes. Finally, analysis of results and feedback will be used to improve the design of future interventions.



[1] Devaux, A., D. Horton, C. Velasco, G. Thiele, G. Lopez, T. Bernet, I. Reinoso, and M. Ordinola. 2009. Collective action for value chain innovation in the Andes. Food Policy 34: 31–38.

[2] IssAndes, Innovation for Food Security and Sovereignty in the Andes. Lima, Peru. https://cipotato.org/resources/publications/brochure/issandes-brochure-english

SO#5_FIG 3

Resilient Food Systems Last News

New Kawsay Potato Variety Released

December 6, 2013 By admin

Lima, Dec 5, 2013 –The release of a new variety of potato was announced today at the Peruvian National Institute for Agrarian Innovation (INIA) in La Molina, Lima. The new breed named INIA 321 KAWSAY (Kawsay means food of life in Quechua) is the result of years of collaborative research between the International Potato Center (CIP), INIA, and various public and private partners.

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