Theme 2 - Multifunctional landscapes for increased food security

Last changed: 15 November 2021
A hand holds in rice grains outdoors, photo.

This theme is interdisciplinary and covers all cross-cutting issues of the programme; sustainable intensification of agriculture, the central role of women and young people in agriculture, and access to markets and value chains.

Smallholder farmers are vulnerable and have many times difficulty in achieving sustainable food production, structural agricultural development and economic growth, particularly in the extensive dry areas where rain-fed system are dominating.

Policies for sustainable development

These systems are often integrated with a mixture of trees, crops and animals. Policies for these regions need to increasingly be up-scaled from the field level to science-based understanding of multifunctional landscapes to include trade-offs and synergies with other goals. This is central to achieve i) sustainable intensification and development, and ii) enhanced resilience in times of disturbances, and especially to climate change and its unreliable rainfall (reduced quantity, increased intensity) and higher temperatures (especially medium and maximum).

Theme 2 is interdisciplinary and covers all cross-cutting issues of the programme (sustainable intensification of agriculture, the central role of women and young people in agriculture, and access to markets and value chains).

Read about some of our projects below.

Piloting edible urban landscapes in cape coast, Ghana

This study seeks to pilot the possibility of mobilizing stakeholders, regulations, policies and incentives for the productive use and active management of unused or underutilized spaces in urban areas from a multi-functional land use perspective. Specifically, the project aims at demonstrating the potential of greening, actively managing and using urban spaces that are currently unmanaged or unused to produce food and green landscapes in Cape Coast in the Central Region of Ghana. The project will install two greenhouses and support four young women and men to produce high value vegetable crops for sale and maintain an aesthetic landscape in the designated areas. In addition, at least, four farmers will be supported to produce vegetables in similar spaces without greenhouses and maintain an aesthetic scenery in the immediate surroundings of their designated areas.

The urban landscapes in Ghana have several pockets of underutilized and idle spaces due to poor land use and physical planning. These spaces offer opportunities for intensification and improvement in urban greenery and aesthetics, food production and livelihoods. Multifunctional land use or landscapes for improved food security, livelihoods, and environmental sustainability is core to the AgriFose2030 program. The ‘piloting edible landscapes’ pilot addresses the cross-cutting themes on women and youth and sustainable intensification of the AgriFose2030 program. Further, this pilot directly addresses the cross-disciplinary themes: socio-economic dimensions of smallholder agriculture and multifunctional landscapes in agriculture. This study will be used to demonstrate the potential contributions of multifunctional urban land use management to food security, livelihoods and landscape management and as a basis for mobilizing stakeholder consensus on supportive regulations and policies for out-scaling.

Principle investigator: David Oscar Yawson

Host institution: Directorate of Research, Innovation and Consultancy, Cape Coast, Ghana

Promoting best management practices in agroforestry parkland systems to improve food security in the Sahel

Parklands are multifunctional landscapes that play a key role in the livelihood of rural people in the Sahel. Indeed, most of the food crops are produced on parklands’ fields, in particularcereals (maize, sorghum, millet), roots and tubers (yam, sweet potatoes, cassava); leguminous (cowpea, peanut, vouandzu) and vegetables (sorrel, okra, chili pepper, eggplant). Trees of parklands provide food, fodder, medicine, wood and several ecosystem services (soil conservation and fertility, biodiversity conservation, climate, water regulation etc.).

Despite the key role of parklands in the rural economy and food security, there is a general trend of a decrease in tree density due to changing circumstances (e.g., climatic, political, agricultural practices). The decrease in tree density results in a reduction of the efficacy (low soil fertility, reduction of crops and trees yields) and sustainability of these agroforestry systems. Much research efforts have focused on reversing the trend of reduced efficacy and sustainability of the Sahelian parkland systems. These scientific works have proposed different practices for improving crop, tree and livestock production in parklands. Unfortunately, most of them are still unknown by farmers or are difficult to implement due to national legislation.

The main objective of this pilot study is to enhance food security and alleviate poverty of Sahelian small-holder farmers through the adoption of best practices in agroforestry parkland management based on local and scientific knowledge. We aim to demonstrate the potential improvement in food production and incomes generation resulting from good agroforestry parklands management. To achieve this goal, a participatory evaluation (with research institute, universities, NGOs and farmers’ organization) of three cropping systems will be done in 90 fields of three sites in Burkina Faso: (1) parkland with tested best practices management, (2) parkland with traditional practices, and (3) a sole cropping system (without trees).

Researchers: Josias Sanou, Hugues R. Bazié, Martin Karlson and Jules Bayala

Host institution: Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA), Burkina Faso

Vermi-composting for increased agricultural productivity, women empowerment and environmental sanitation in north-Ethiopia

Agriculture in Ethiopia is characterized by low soil fertility, high soil degradation, rain-fed and fragmented land holding, extremely low external inputs such as fertilizer and agro-chemicals, and the use of traditional farming techniques. Women headed households are the most vulnerable to the consequence of the above challenges. Hence, a special focus should be given to empowering women heading households through training and provision of technologies which can boost agricultural production. The provision of training and new agricultural technologies such as vermi-composting (composting with the use of worms) are thought to be the answer to empower poor input access societies, boost agricultural production and achieve food and nutrition security (SDG2). It is believed that women who are economically strong and neat are socially respected.

As a strategy, in the last few years, the use of earthworms as composting technique known as vermi-compost was introduced to farmers in few areas of the country. Researches from within and outside Ethiopia proved that vermicomposting technology provide the following benefits among many: I) it contains plenty of ‘beneficial soil microbes’ which help in ‘soil regeneration’ and ‘fertility improvement’ and protect them from degradation while also promoting food production and environmental sanitation; ii) it can be made by any member of a household (especially women) at any time and place.

Therefore, this pilot study aims at: 1) Scaling up the vermi-composting technology, that exist to some extent, to the entire region so as to contribute for increased agricultural productivity and environmental sanitation; 2) training women headed households so as to empower them economically and socially; 3) determining vermi-compost application rates for different soil types and crops under different agro-ecologies as compared to the blended chemical fertilizer.

The pilot will be implemented in three villages representing three agro-ecologies (highland, midland and lowland) in the Tigray regional state (Northern Ethiopia). The pilot project contains six major activities: 1) Initial Vermi-Worms Culturing; 2) Women headed household Training; 3) Worm Culturing by women headed households; 4) Experimental site setup for Vermi-compost application rate and their economic significance determination (Designing experimental plots, soil and agronomic data collection, and soil and plant attributes laboratory analysis); 5) Women headed households’ Social and Economic Survey; 6) Organizing meeting and site visits with stakeholders (including planners and decision makers).

Researchers: Kassa Teka, Eunice Githae

Host institution: Mekelle University, Mekelle, Ethiopia

Sustainable aquaculture development for food security and livelihoods in western and central Kenya

With a high and growing demand for fish, Kenya has a high potential for aquaculture development. However, this potential will remain largely untapped under the prevailing policy framework which puts emphasis on smallholder systems. With government subsidies no longer available, small-holder farmers need to achieve self-sustainable aquaculture which requires the adoption of integrated aquaculture-agriculture systems as a measure against negative consequences on livelihoods Although the fastest growing food production sector, gains from aquaculture can easily be lost due to pollution, habitat destruction, disease, lack of quality seed and feed. Therefore, there is need to optimize aquaculture development while enhancing environmental sustainability through combined sustainable multifunctional landscapes that involve fish. To minimize the impacts of threats such as climatic conditions and changes in land use, an understanding of rural livelihoods, coping strategies adaptation and mitigation measures is equally important for aquaculture.

The pilot aims to establish key social, environmental and technological issues associated with aquaculture production in Kenya. A multidisciplinary approach will be adopted to carry out gender for determination of the level of technology uptake and management practices. This approach will give detail to the gender issues relating to challenges and opportunities in aquaculture to women, men and youth as well as determine delivery of sustainable intensification systems at household and landscape levels; thus contributing to gender inclusive strategies for policy. Along with this, experimental trials will be conducted at University of Eldoret’s fish farm for production of suitable fish feeds, fish seed and development of disease management protocols and will be used for development of policy guidelines for sustainable aquaculture in Kenya.

Researcher: Geraldine Matolla

Host institution: University of Eldoret, Eldoret, Kenya

The theme has four components in focus:

  1. Land, trees and water
  2. Drivers and trends
  3. Up-scaling and markets
  4. Food security from the landscape perspective

The work will be conducted through science-based syntheses and analyzes, and aims at making better use of the opportunities for knowledge exchange between Sweden and the countries of the South and between low-income countries. In addition, two intensive courses for young researchers will be given. This theme will be conducted in close collaboration with the other three themes in the programme.

"Many products and services can come from the same piece of land”

Watch interview with Theme leader Madelene Ostwald about the UN Sustainable Development Goal number 2: Zero hunger.

Exchange scholars

An important part of AgriFoSe2030s activities is to transfer knowledge with exchange scholars. Here, you can read interviews with scholars, and find more information on researchers from Theme 2 that has taken part in an exchange:



Outputs from Theme 2:



Scientific articles

Food security solutions in Africa

Blogs and conference material