Tailoring Food Sciences to Endogenous Patterns of Local Food Supply for Future Nutrition (TELFUN)

The model of the vertically integrated and centrally commanded global food chains is presently dominating in development oriented policies. This research proposal is focussing on the potentials of horizontally integrated and interconnected local food networks. Our hypothesis is that these local food networks are important in enhancing food sovereignty, defined as ability of a population within a geographic region to control food production while simultaneously providing sufficient food of good quality for a healthy nutrition.

Research will be conducted in three regions in India, in Ghana/Benin, and in Ecuador. The research is multi-disciplinary. The multi-disciplinary teams include a plant breeder, a food-technologist, a human nutritionist and a social scientist. In each of the regions the multi-disciplinary team will analyze a crop-food -product combination that is of particular importance in a regional local food-network.


The aim of the research program is to contribute to a better food supply and availability of food by improving simultaneously the quality of crop production and the nutritional quality of the processed food products. The research is intended to contribute to:

A better understanding of the role of local food networks in food sovereignty;

The scientific support for improving crop-food combinations as means to enhance food sovereignty


The research will be conducted by 12 PhD students organized in three multi-disciplinary teams, each team composed of a plant breeder, food technologist, human nutritionist and social scientist. The PhD researchers are expected to identify the common grounds of their work. For example, the plant breeder has to take into consideration nutritional aspects of the cultivars used, as well as the effects of the cultivars on the food preservation methods. Therefore exchange of results with the food-technologist and human nutritionist is necessary to fully apprehend nutritional aspects and processing requirements. The contribution of the social scientist is an analysis of knowledge systems and their appraisal in technology development.

The TELFUN program also aims to contribute to a paradigm shift from the institutional top-down approach of “science for society” and the participatory approach of “science with society” towards a new critical-constructivist approach of “science in society”-“society in science”. In this approach, knowledge and technology are produced from within social collectives, in our case the food-networks. The PhD students will have to develop a close cooperation and collaboration with the local food networks while exploring products, techniques and processes to develop the food sovereignty of a region.


In Wageningen the research schools PE&RC and VLAG are involved in the TELFUN program. The chairs and research groups Plant Breeding, Product Design and Quality Management, Food Microbiology, Human Nutrition and Critical Technology Construction are responsible for supervising the program and students. Prof. dr. Tiny van Boekel is the TELFUN programme leader and dr. ir. Joost Jongerden the programme manager. In India prof. dr. Neelam Khetarpaul (dean at the Hisar University) is the regional coordinator, in Ghana dr. Godfred Frempong (STEPRI) and in Ecuador Angela Machacilla (Preduza).


For more information about the program please visit our website.