Local, agricultural and nutritional diversity in Africa
The FOODLAND project is celebrating its kick-off meeting online, due to the health emergency, from 30 September to 2 October, 2020
Twenty-eight interdisciplinary partners will be coming together on the above-mentioned dates for the kick-off meeting of the FoodLAND project. Due to the current global health situation (Covid-19), it will take place online. The FoodLAND project, funded to the tune of 7 million euros by the European Commission within the Horizon 2020 programme, and led by Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna (Italy), is committed to developing a range of innovations for local agriculture and aquaculture development, as well as to nudging consumers towards healthier eating behaviour in six African countries: Morocco, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. That way, it is aiming to strengthen agro-biodiversity and food diversity, along with diversity of healthy diets to combat the major forms of malnutrition in Africa.
The project will create a network of 14 local Food Hubs—paired with 14 separate cities in these countries—that will mobilise relevant actors in rural, urban and peri-urban communities and serve as injection points for testing and introducing the innovations. Indeed, the 28 partners that comprise the FoodLAND consortium (18 of them are African institutions while the other 10 are European) will work together to develop, implement and validate 12 technological innovations; they include organizational innovations and technological innovations for both vegetable and fish farming and food processing systems, together with 17 novel local food products, ranging from fresh, dried and processed vegetables and fish to composite flours and therapeutic foods.
FoodLAND is adopting a bottom-up approach by basing the initiatives on producers’ and consumers’ motivations, needs and choices. The project will draw a comprehensive picture of the nutritional needs of urban and rural populations, understanding the socio-economic, production conditions, and individual factors that determine the decisions of smallholder producers and processors. Smallholder farmers and food operators will then receive assistance to foster nutrition-responsive and sustainable agro-biodiversity, while consumers will participate in a specific awareness raising and communication campaign. “By bridging the gap between food production and consumption, the project will reinforce the productivity and resilience of food supply chains, and will create new market opportunities on both the local and global scales,” said the project coordinator Marco Setti, Professor of the Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences of the University of Bologna.
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