Recover, Regenerate, Act: Food Systems Transformation in Africa
Earlier this month, I represented Glimmer at the Africa Food Systems Forum (formerly AGRF). The forum, the largest to date, saw hundreds of stakeholders gathered in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, under this year’s theme: Recover, Regenerate, Act.
As a global community, we discussed the critical need to invest now in food systems transformation—where communities have access to plentiful, nutritious food, can sustainably cultivate their land, and earn a living wage. In Ethiopia, the compounding challenges of the past few years—high inflation, conflict, and the worst drought in 40 years—leave rural communities more vulnerable and in need of support to ensure stability when crisis strikes.
At Glimmer, we’re applying these learnings as we expand our work regenerative agriculture, design programs with community feedback at the center, and constantly look to evolve. Here are my key takeaways and how they relate to our work at Glimmer:
- Investing in women leads to more resilient food systems.
To transform food systems, we must not only listen to women, but put women at the center of our strategies. Equipping women with resources, knowledge, and support creates a ripple effect of impact on their families, communities, and entire systems.
Read about how women participants in Glimmer’s work are driving greater impact: www.glimmer.org/blog/women-lead-regenerative-ag.
- Opportunities for young people are key to a sustainable future.
The median age across Africa is just under 20 years old. Investing in young people is critical to developing a more healthy, sustainable future and leveraging Africa’s vast arable land—60% of which remains uncultivated. Embracing technology and innovation in agriculture, with an eye toward youth and women, is key to transforming the continent’s food systems and increasing opportunity for future generations.
At Glimmer, our work with girls’ clubs equips young girls to take hold of new opportunities. Compost preparation workshops, held for Glimmer’s girls’ clubs, empower girls with knowledge around regenerative practices that extend to their families and communities.
- For systems change to occur, people must be at the center of our solutions.
For true progress in transitioning to regenerative agriculture and resilient food systems, we must prioritize local knowledge and listening. The real stakeholders—the farmers, small business owners, innovators, and community members—need to be invited to the table for transformational change to occur. Deep listening and partnership yields solutions that bring the sustainable change we’re working toward. As Melissa Pinfield, executive director of the Just Rural Transition said, “We need to put people at the center of this food system transformation.”
At Glimmer, locally-led solutions define our work. Our strategy hinges on upfront listening to implement projects that create buy-in and ownership from communities.
- Healthy soil builds a healthy future.
Renowned soil scientist Dr. Rattan Lal said, “Soil is like our bank account. We can’t keep withdrawing from it, you need to give back.” Regenerating soil not only allows crops to thrive, but contributes to healthier ecosystems and communities, ensuring benefits for generations to come.
Read how one farmer echoed this sentiment when he noticed the quality of his crops improve after transitioning to organic fertilizer: www.glimmer.org/blog/healthysoilhealthypeople.
- We’re on the right track with regenerative agriculture.
Marilla Bezerra, chief programmes officer at the IKEA Foundation shared that, “We know what regenerative practices will solve for today, but we’re not yet sure what regenerative practices will solve for in the future. It takes time and investment, but we have all the evidence that we’re on the right track.”
We see the impact of regenerative agriculture in our work, and our farmers are seeing it, too. News is spreading that these practices work: creating denser, more nutritious yields; increasing efficiency; and offering an alternative to expensive chemical fertilizers in the face of scarcity and inflation. Read how women farmers in one community are encouraging others to adopt regenerative practices: www.glimmer.org/blog/compost-winning-solution.