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News & Events Land and food systems in times of crisis: towards fair and sustainable transformations
Land and food systems in times of crisis: towards fair and sustainable transformations
Land and food systems in times of crisis: towards fair and sustainable transformations
Land and food systems
Land and food systems

This session focussed on the transition towards more sustainable food systems in light of the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit. Four presenters shared their work, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, and their recommendations towards more fair and sustainable production of food, as well as recommendation to change the way we think about food.


Key Takeaways

  • Any intervention that aims to increase food production or address food security should be rooted in the community.
  • Current framing of Africa and farmers has helped to legitimate global hierarchies and Western, expert-led interventions.
  • Policies and interventions that address women should be based on locality-specific knowledge, that includes nuances such as the interactions between women and men in that locality as well as women’s interactions with each other.
  • ‘Bold actions’ as announced by the food systems summit raise questions. Should we not intervene less and ensure more anti-colonial action that allows for farmers to lead the development process?


Mapping Farmer-led irrigation development (FLID) in Africa, examining FLID through a Remote Sensing Lens and how this influences interpretation and engagement
Wouter Beekman, Wageningen University and Resilience BV

  • Technology-driven interventions and policy interventionsoften undermine farmer-led innovations in the global South – disregarding farmer-led initiatives. Remote sensing is often used to map irrigation, but is also often contested. This raises more fundamental questions: what is a good development trajectory?

“We should focus on what kind of systems farmers like to develop.” 

- Wouter Beekman (Wageningen University / Resilience)


Landing a better deal? Women negotiating access to land and water for farming in the context of a Dutch-supported gender-inclusive water-productivity project in Mozambique

Isabella Schultz – Utrecht University

  • Old discourse and framing of women as farmers (being vulnerable and marginalised) still shape many developmental projects today. Women are not a heterogenous group and interventions should better fit local contexts.

“We should better understand the nuances of gender.”

– Bella Schultz, arguing for a more explicit recognition of women’s strategies to access land and other natural resources.


Decolonising communication in food security interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa? Towards sustainable and fair policies and interventions

Janwillem Liebrand, Utrecht University

We should decolonise framing of farmers as ‘primitive’ and ‘marginalised’, as is often done in policy-research debates as a remnant of colonialism.


“Instead of problematizing farmer-led innovation, we should start to problematise expert-led innovation and build on existing innovation of farmers”

– Janwillem Liebrand.


Inclusive Agribusiness and local food security findings from the Follow the Food project

Guus van Westen, LANDac / Utrecht University

  • Interventions aimed at inclusive business models tend to favour the better-off farmers and are not inclusive of the poor and smaller farmers. Furthermore, they often clash with local realities.

“Business-led development strategies are not supported by our findings”

– Guus van Westen.