International project funded by FACCE-JPI and the Belmont forum builds community to meet future food challenges

Interview with Professor Katrien Termeer and Dr Kasper Kok (Wageningen UR)

"Improving the food system is not only a technical issue, but also a demanding matter of governance. Governance is key for dealing with all current and future challenges", said Katrien Termeer at the first workshop of the Food System Governance, Food Security and Land Use in Southern Africa (SAFGOV) project. This project is set up to build a community of researchers closely linked to stakeholders across public and private organisations to tackle future food challenges. It is funded in the frame of FACCE-JPI / Belmont Forum.

The role of private companies and other institutions is of growing importance in food security and land use issues. These include major 'up-stream' actors in the food system, including those engaged in food processing, marketing, intra-regional trading, and the food aid sectors. All are ultimately influenced by consumers, and therefore largely controlling demand. The SAFGOV project aims to improve the Southern African food system activities and enterprises to enhance food security and land use outcomes in the face of future challenges.

Wageningen University contribution

'My research contrives of developing cognitive models with stakeholders, to get a better insight into complex systems, like the Food System', says Kasper Kok, assistant professor at Wageningen University, who is also involved in this two-year community building project. 'The SAFGOV project makes an interesting case study, not specifically for Africa, as it can be applied to other places in the world as well.'

‘The Wageningen University contribution in this project is very small, as there is no funding available for our work in this project. What we offer therefore is an in-kind contribution to the project, but without any funds, it is never easy to participate in an interesting project. What it does yield, however, is a large amount of new and useful contacts, who can help further this topic and my research’, according to Kok. Termeer adds: ’We see this as a forerunner project and an investment for future collaborations and projects on this topic in which we hope to play a bigger part as a paid participant’.

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