Wageningen University & Research and the KIT Royal Tropical Institute have developed the Food Systems Decision-Support Tool. This tool helps policy makers map out the dynamics of complex food systems in low- and middle-income countries, enabling them to determine the policies needed to make the transition to a more sustainable food system.
Informal sector plays important role
According to Dengerink, it is often difficult to get to grips with the dynamics of food systems in these countries because of the limited availability of reliable data and the complexity of the underlying political processes, economic interests and power relationships involved. The informal sector often plays an important role in bringing together the different parts of the economy. Speaking at length with local experts can provide users of the tool with a wealth of information
No two countries the same
Working through the tool helps authorities to prioritise policy options. In one context, the most benefit may be gained by focusing on water management, for example, while in another situation, access to good seed or improving land rights is paramount.
The tool was recently applied to Nigeria for the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Agriculture, Nature and Food Safety, resulting in a number of concrete recommendations being made for Dutch involvement in food security in the country. To increase access to healthy food, for example, it is recommended to invest in value chains of nutritious products such as vegetables, fish, milk and poultry.
Tool also suitable for other clients
The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has shown interest to extend this research to other countries because the tool provides an effective overview and a properly substantiated focus. The choices made also receive broader support because a range of stakeholders are included in the process. The team of WUR and KIT researchers is working hard to further develop the tool to enable parties other than public authorities, such as NGOs and businesses, to use it in the future.