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Follow the Food – Dutch agribusiness and local food security in Africa

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Project description

Aim: There is considerable foreign investments in African food production for world markets. This may serve global food security, but can have negative consequences when external agribusiness displace local smallholders without alternative income sources. The aim of this study is to investigate which different business models manage to achieve inclusive growth in Ethiopia, Kenya and Ghana.

Objective: The overall objective of this project is to enhance food security in Ghana, Ethiopia and Kenya through targeted advice for (Dutch) agribusiness investors, policy makers and other stakeholders in the three countries on the possible impact pathways from global agribusiness investments to local food security, and the risks and opportunities involved. The knowledge objective is to assess the effects of private agribusiness investments in African agriculture on local food security.

Method: The project uses a value chain approach to compare investments in different business models engaged in the production of a variety of food crops along the local – export market continuum. It generates in-depth and comparative knowledge on the global-local nexus of different foreign-induced business models, their level of inclusiveness and how and to what extent they can contribute to local food security. This is done by comparing a variety of Dutch investment cases in Ethiopia, Kenya and Ghana.
In kick-off meetings clusters of Dutch agro-investment are identified from which a selection is made of 1 or 2 companies per crop. These companies are analyzed in terms of linkages, value chain dynamics, business strategies and CSR performance. In each cluster, some 50 production workers (employees, smallholders) are selected by random sampling for a survey of changes resulting from the investment projects – consumption patterns, crop changes, food access etc. By bringing quantitative and GIS mapping data together on an online platform (e.g. Akvo), researchers compare data from the three regions and countries directly.

Summary of first year progress: Since the start of the project, the consortium group has made solid progress in engaging with (local) stakeholders, fine-tuning the set-up of the research project, as well as initiating field research by local PhD and UU MSc students. This has been a joint consortium effort, which has taught us valuable first lessons: (1) a clear emphasis on nutrition security is needed, and not only on food security; (2) agribusiness investments in Africa come in a wide variety of business models, which are very much shaped by local conditions; and (3) the team should also be aware of local food security dynamics that are not directly connected with (foreign) agribusiness investments. The consortium group has incorporated these insights into their research design, allowing to properly analyse local business models and impact pathways that may be even more ambiguous than anticipated, showcasing the complexity of local food systems and their dynamics.

Countries: Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya.

Dutch policy goal: Inclusive business models for food security.

Duration: October 1, 2015 – October 14, 2019

 

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