‘Changing Food Systems in Africa’ – Conference

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) in collaboration with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM – Organics International), the Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative for Africa (EOA-I), AfrONet, Mekelle University and others is planning to hold an international conference on the “Changing Food Systems in Africa: Agroecology and Food Sovereignty and their Role in Nutrition and Health”.

The concept of the conference was brought to table by AFSA Secretariat on which members of AFSA first deliberated on at the General Assembly held in Accra, Ghana in August 2015. With inputs from members the concept note was enriched at a strategy meeting held in Bishoftu, Ethiopia in December 2015. The strategy meeting was a follow-up of FAO’s Regional Agroecology Symposium in Dakar where AFSA played a leading role in scaling up agroecology. Extended deliberations were also made by IFOAM – Organics International, EOA-I and AfroNet in Nairobi, Kenya. The final version of the concept note has been produced and agreed upon by all stakeholders.

Accordingly, the conference is programmed to be held from 24-26, November 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It will be a three-day event on the changing trends in food systems in Africa in the context of agroecology and nutrition. Presentations, plenary discussions and group work sessions and seed/food fairs by farmers groups will be key components of the conference. The purpose of holding the conference is to provide a compelling narrative to industrial food system in order to get stakeholders, including government actors, support alternative food systems for better health and nutrition.

The conference will bring together research and development networks, key experts, farmers, consumer associations, research institutions, governments, and nongovernmental organizations working at Global, Regional and National level on the linkages between food production, nutrition and health, including the following relevant thematic areas: 1. Food systems (production and process) and policies; 2. Ecological organic agriculture and African challenges (climate change adaptation, biodiversity, soil health, soil and water conservation, poverty reduction etc.); 3. Seed systems and food sovereignty: 4. Access and rights, knowledge and investment capital for smallholder farmers; 5. Agriculture, nutrition and health.

The objectives of the conference include 1. Changing the narrative of focusing on industrial agriculture to truly sustainable production systems by contributing to the knowledge on impact of food system policies (agricultural investments, subsidies, trade and tariffs policies, etc.) on nutrition; 2. Developing a framework for deriving policies conducive to healthy and sustainable food systems in Africa; 3. Sharing information on major elements including innovations of practices and systems to achieve a sustainable food production and nutrition system; 4. Creating awareness and knowledge with sharing good practice for nutrition sensitive agriculture for the agriculture and public health sectors; 5. Leveraging and strengthening opportunities to engage women in initiatives for improved household diets; 6. identifying areas for collaboration among actors for a future coordinated advocacy to support smallholder agroecological food systems.

It is envisaged to have about a hundred participants.