DeSIRA-LIFT: Connecting knowledge, practice and policy in food systems transformation in Africa

The world needs to move towards a more sustainable food system that is more resilient to major shocks such as climate change and biodiversity loss. But how to translate knowledge about what does and does not work into practice and policy? DeSIRA-LIFT (led by Wageningen University & Research), a service facility in support of the EU DeSIRA Initiative, aims to bridge the gap between science, practice and policy.

In many parts of the world, people are less and less assured of sufficient nutritious food. Several crises underlie this, from climate change to degradation of natural resources. Covid-19 also showed how fragile food systems are. With the DeSIRA Initiative, the European Commission supports research and innovation towards more resilient food production and supply chains. DeSIRA-LIFT, a new programme led by Wageningen University & Research, aims to connect this knowledge to the people in food systems that can initiate the necessary changes. The programme focuses on low- and middle-income countries in the Global South.

Putting knowledge into action

DeSIRA-LIFT forms the bridge between this scientific knowledge, practitioners in the food system and policy makers. DeSIRA-LIFT supports the DeSIRA Initiative in three areas: providing meta-support to DeSIRA research & innovation projects; collaboration with regional and continental African network organisation for research and extension; supporting evidence-informed policy for the EU and AU. Under the banner of the DeSIRA Initiative, more than 80 projects are building knowledge around climate-smart and sustainable food systems. The programme provides training, offers joint learning opportunities and supports the application of knowledge through a Community of Practice and a network of experts. In addition, efforts are made to strengthen agricultural innovation systems through collaboration with African partner organisations and informing policy makers on priority themes. In doing so, DeSIRA-LIFT pursues three goals:

  • Make better use of knowledge arising from DeSIRA projects.
  • Support African research organisations, through the AR4D (Agricultural Research for Development) network.
  • Uncover policy issues that pose a risk to food security, such as seed policies and organic fertiliser markets.