News

Food systems e-course provides policy makers with practical insights

Published on
February 4, 2021

This week, 115 policymakers from the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) will be following WUR’s Food Systems e-course. The course has been developed and is facilitated by the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI) and provides practical guidance for the effective analysis of food systems in low and middle-income countries.

Whereas such analyses used to focus on value chains and food security, the new food systems approach takes a much broader view of what is needed to provide sufficient, healthy, sustainable and fair food. However, this does make policymaking in the area of food security and healthy nutrition more complex and this course has been designed to make this complexity more manageable.

Course structure

The course comprises five modules:

  1. The value of the food system approach for the SDGs and Dutch policy
  2. Conducting an effective food system analysis
  3. Food system transformation processes: how do food systems change and how can you steer this change?
  4. Governance of food system transformation: shaping decision-making processes related to agriculture and food
  5. In-depth module: tailored to the participants’ specific learning requirements

“The term ‘food systems’ is heard more and more frequently, particularly now that the UN Food Systems Summit of this autumn is approaching,” says Herman Brouwer, a senior advisor with the WCDI.

“The summit will have a major impact on international politics. Many policymakers are not yet used to considering all aspects of a food system in policy implementation. Food systems do not only concern food production, but also the consumption and use of residual streams and all the other interactions that exist in such a system. This course will provide policymakers with practical tools for carrying out effective food system analyses, either by themselves or by third parties. During the course, we will answer questions like: What should a food system analysis achieve? What questions do you need to ask in order to make an accurate analysis? How can you apply the insights gained in your work as member of a policymaking team or agricultural council?”

During the course, we will answer questions like: What should a food system analysis achieve? What questions do you need to ask in order to make an accurate analysis? How can you apply the insights gained in your work as member of a policymaking team or agricultural council?
Herman Brouwer

Development of the course

The course content was compiled in consultation with a sounding board consisting of policymakers of the two ministries and embassies in the Netherlands and abroad. Experts of the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation and Wageningen Economic Research subsequently developed modules that tie in with the issues faced by the staff in the field.

“The transformation of food systems is a major challenge for policymakers, both in terms of the cooperation with their partners in low and middle-income countries and the formulation and implementation of Dutch policy aimed at contributing to this transition,” says Brouwer. “This is why we have devoted two modules to these processes to ensure that political and power factors are taken into account, alongside the change processes themselves. We have also ensured that there are ample opportunities to share practical experiences and learn from the challenges others have faced and the solutions they have found.”

The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided funding for the development of the course through the Netherlands Food Partnership.

The course starts 5 februari

The e-course will start on 5 February 2021 and runs until mid-March. The five modules each have a study load of four hours. Each module consists of a short e-learning programme and a weekly online meeting. Dr Shenggen Fan, CGIAR board member and former Director-General of IFPRI, will officially open the e-course series on 5 February.