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Catalogue of Innovations. Enhancing Smallholder Agriculture and Food System Resilience. East and Southern Africa


The food system challenges require simultaneous action across different sectors and concerted efforts of diverse players in food systems. While past efforts inclined towards boosting gricultural production, today’s focus has shifted to influencing transformative changes to the entire food systems continuum, from production and processing to marketing and distribution, using innovative solutions.

Sub-Saharan Africa has been facing unprecedented challenges that affect the sustainability of food and agriculture systems, putting food and nutrition security at significant risk. The region has experienced alarming levels of natural resources deterioration in addition to the impacts of climate change, such as frequent droughts and floods.
The recent desert locust invasions in some of the East African countries will continue to exert pressure on food systems, threatening food security of more than two million households. The COVID-19 pandemic, which is currently raging across the world, is expected to have widespread impacts on overall global economic growth and disrupt food supply chains in several parts of the world. Border closures, quarantines and disruptions in input and output markets and trade will further restrict access to sufficient and nutritious sources of food for consumers. Already, global hunger and malnutrition are on the rise, with an estimated 821 million people experiencing chronic hunger. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa due to transport restrictions and quarantine measures are likely to impede the access of smallholder farmers to input and output markets, thereby decreasing their productive capacities.

Shortages of labour are also likely, which could disrupt production and processing of food, most notably for labour-intensive crops. Closure of domestic and international transport routes, particularly for fresh food supply chains, may also result in increased levels of food loss and reduced farm incomes.

The food system challenges require simultaneous actions across different sectors and concerted efforts of diverse players in food systems. While past efforts inclined towards boosting agricultural production, today’s focus has shifted towards influencing transformative changes to the entire food systems continuum – from production, to processing, marketing and distribution – using innovative solutions.
In October 2019, the Sustainable Production Markets and Institutions (PMI) Division and the East and Southern Africa (ESA) Division of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) organized the Knowledge Sharing and Learning Event in Nairobi, Kenya, for partners implementing IFADsupported investment projects and grants across the ESA region. The event showcased several innovative interventions, approaches and tools that provide potential solutions to the challenges of smallholder farmers, resilience of foodsystems and inclusive transformation of poor rural people, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the catalogue
Through its investment projects and grants across the regions, IFAD has generated numerous innovative technologies, approaches and tools that provide solutions that contribute to the achievement of food and nutrition security and are targeted to addressing the challenges of climate change, natural resource management, youth unemployment, rural markets, empowerment of rural women, among others, and thereby also contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A set of 23 innovations from more than 10 countries in the ESA region that were shared during the Nairobi event have been documented in this Catalogue of Innovations.

The detailed innovation fact sheets are presented in section 3 of this catalogue, while table 1 gives a quick overview of each innovation. The innovations cover a wide range of thematic topics: crop production, natural resource management, rural finance and markets, in addition to mainstreaming themes, such as youth and gender, climate change and livestock production systems, and food and nutrition. Innovations on crop production include modernizing agri-inputs distribution through an electronic voucher scheme for managing inputs and service subsidies, adoption of social media for effective programme delivery, and coordinating and supporting farmers through mobile plant clinics. The innovations on natural resource management include geospatial tools for tenure security, human-wildlife conflict management, decision dashboards for landscape-level baseline assessment and monitoring, Joint Village Land-Use Planning (JVLUP) for land tenure security, participatory development of Land Degradation Surveillance Framework (LDSF), taking successes in land restoration to scale and enhancing investment flows and governance for integrated natural resources management.

For rural finance and markets, the catalogue sets out innovations in public private- producer partnerships (4Ps) for agribusiness development, trading platforms to improve the competiveness of rural enterprises, a hub model used by cooperatives or privately owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to consolidate farm produce for marketing, and linking community-based financial institutions (CBFIs) to formal financial service providers (FSPs) through mobile money. The climate change and livestock production systems innovations include climate-smart dairy systems in East Africa and incentivebased interventions for reducing the climate impact of livestock production, also in East Africa.

Food and nutrition innovation include interventions on food trees for diversified diets for smallholders in East Africa, fostering sustainability and resilience for food security in sub-Saharan Africa, and methodologies to mainstream nutrition-sensitive programming in rural markets. Finally, youth and gender innovation present initiatives that support the establishment of youth platforms in agribusiness and the creation of microenterprises and employment through incubators, rural youth employment and household methodologies for gender mainstreaming.

The Catalogue offers practical solutions and lessons for use by governments, private sector organizations, and bilateral and multilateral donors in shaping their response to the challenges of small-scale agriculture and food systems generally.

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REG/AFR/707 EREG/AFR/707 EBookmainavailable
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