Despite economic growth and millions of people having been lifted out of poverty, food insecurity and a lack of nutrition remain daunting challenges in many parts of the world. The number of people suffering from hunger is on the rise, and two-thirds of the global extreme poor work hard to earn their livelihoods in agriculture.
The challenges of achieving food and nutrition security are largest in sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia, where smallholder farmers provide around 80% of the food consumed. Hence, transforming smallholder farming in these regions to increase productivity, profitability and environmental and social sustainability will be a key to reaching Sustainable Development Goal 2, as well as and many other SDGs.
This transformation is, however, complex, and may have both negative and positive outcomes for large groups in society. The magnitude of the challenge increases in the face of climate change and loss of ecosystem services (including loss of biodiversity and soil fertility), which seriously threaten food and nutrition security for humanity.
Transforming smallholder systems
To reach SDG2, there is a need for a transformative agenda that includes science-based, well-crafted and, crucially, context-specific government interventions and policies, as well as improved and innovative agricultural practices.
It is therefore critical to assist countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia to develop their capacity to catalyze and govern this transition. Science and scientists have a crucial role to play in this transformation, and in supporting vulnerable and poor people in meeting future food and development demands. Science can offer technical and social solutions and support policy reform and new practices. This means going beyond academic journals and finding ways to collaborate with policymakers and practitioners to jointly frame problems, generate new knowledge, and make that knowledge relevant to specific contexts. This is what AgriFoSe2030 sets out to do.
The work of the programme entails the following:
- Training and capacity building with researchers and other stakeholders through exchanges, courses and workshops to increase their capacity to synthesise, analyse and communicate science.
- High-quality synthesis and analysis on smallholder farming systems that is relevant to policy and practice and tailored for key actors.
- Innovative platforms and knowledge networks that connect scientists, practitioners, policymakers and others for knowledge exchange and action at multiple scales.
Caption: A schematic illustration of how researchers from target countries and Sweden within AgriFoSe2030 collaborate and build capacity to synthesise, communicate and co-create scientific data and research findings in dialogue with various stakeholders, in support of evidence-based decision-making and improved practice, with the end goal of reaching SDG2.