Conference Sub-themes

Sub-theme 1: Production, productivity, scaling up and sustainability of farming systems based on environmentally friendly technologies and methodologies.

It is increasingly recognized that food systems in Eastern Africa, as well as Africa in general, are not sustainable in their status; they contribute to carbon emissions and continue to contribute to the loss of biodiversity. Agroecological systems depend on integrated practices and technologies such as crop rotation, cover crops, water harvesting and conservation, and farmer managed seed systems. Broadly agroecology promotes food systems that conserve the environment, soil health and lead to sustainable agricultural efficiency. The agricultural sector is a key economic and social driver of development goals of most countries and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including direct contribution to the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP), country exports and employment. In Eastern Africa, despite the key role agriculture plays in development, it faces a myriad of challenges including smallholder farmers’ inability to control pests and diseases, high cost of inputs as well as aging farmers. This thematic area invites presentations that show how successful agroecological cases address issues of food systems and how such cases can be promoted and scaled out to reach significant number of producers and consumers.

Sub-theme 2: Best practices towards food security, nutrition, consumption, and health: Soil health and farmer managed seed systems

Best practices in addressing food and nutrition insecurity including policy, systems and environmental change strategies required by diverse stakeholders to implement are urgently needed now than ever to avert large-scale future shortages. Beyond adequate production to ensure calories intake, proper nutrition ensures micronutrient availability and healthy diets. Unhealthy diets and lifestyles are closely linked to various non-communicable diseases associated with increased risk of chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, as well as higher health care costs, decreased academic achievement, lower productivity and widening health disparities. Food and nutrition insecurity came to the forefront of dialogues issues following the COVID-19 pandemic globally. The African Union recently announced the goal of ending hunger and increasing healthy eating by 2025 and declared 2021 the Year of Nutrition so that fewer Africans experience diet-related diseases. This sub-theme invites presentations and opportunities for sessions to discuss best practices in how to address food and nutrition insecurity in order to promote optimal health, reduce risk of chronic disease, and eliminate health inequities and disparities.

Sub-theme 3: Women and Youth in agroecology

Rural women are the backbone of agriculture and food security in most developing countries. Comprising 43 percent of the global agricultural labour force, women play a crucial part in all levels of global food production. Consequently, women being left out of agricultural advancement not only prevents them from progressing and achieving their goals, but also this affects their communities and especially in household food security. FAO estimates that if women were to have the same access to resources as men, agricultural yields could increase by as much as 20-30 percent, with the potential to reduce food insecurity for an astounding 100-150 million people globally. Presentations will be sought to show the contributions of women, their traditional knowledge, consumption patterns and household food security in agroecology and safe and healthy livelihoods

Sub-theme 4: Ecological organic trade, markets, and economy

Organic trade is rapidly growing globally. This demonstrates that organic products are moving from the “niche” space to mainstream markets. The total land under certified organic production worldwide has reached over 72.3 million ha and with Africa having about 2.0 million ha (FiBL and IFOAM Organics International, 2021). However, statistics on organic agriculture in Africa in general are extremely limited, illustrating the still relatively nascent status of the sector, despite its potential and a long tradition of the organic movement across the continent. Presentations on this thematic area will cover areas such as regulatory, business, and consumer environments; standards, certification and accreditation; stimulants and barriers to organic trade amongst others.

Sub-theme 5: Institutional and policy drivers for agroecology transformations

Globally, there is an increasing shift to overhaul and integrate policies affecting food by bringing together different actors to build common long-term goals and strategies around food policies. A key requirement is to review policies with negative consequences for adoption of agroecological practices and those that produce positive effects and stimulate adoption and scales up. Areas such as farmer managed seed systems, organic product identification and marketing, financing and investment environments, research into organic systems require policy and institutional grounding. These policies must be based on reliable, timely and locally relevant data and evidence on the multidimensional performance of agroecology. Presentations will show strategies of bringing together political decision-makers, and other actors involved in the development of policies, strategies and programmes related to food systems and how they contribute to national development goals and SDG goals including food and nutrition security and a healthy environment.

Sub-theme 6: Financing agroecological transformations

Agro-ecological transformations require changes in what is produced and how it is produced, processed, transported and consumed. Since food systems need to be transformed, the current financial architecture also needs to be re-designed and prepared to support such an agroecological transformation. Such changes not only require significant financial resources but also need to compete with conventional agriculture requirements. Presentations under this sub-theme will show funding models for initiatives that encourage a switch to agroecological systems, this includes Farmer Managed Seed Systems (FMSS), business models that promote agroecological value chains, public-private and other types of partnerships, inclusive financial services and products, financial technology solutions, and resource mobilization tools and strategies that facilitate redesigning of agroecosystems and trigger food systems change.

Advancement in ICT provide opportunity for agro-ecology sector to contribute to stable and resilient food systems by addressing information gap. With around 50 percent of the world’s population being youth and more so in the developing countries, the future of the world depends much on what they choose to do in food production. Digital technologies are providing solutions and innovation is imperative for inclusion of young people. Presentations at the conference will show the youth are unlocking the potential of food and agriculture by innovations geared towards reducing poverty, bridging the rural divide, creating employment and giving access to information, technology and market opportunities. 

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