Money Flows: What is holding back investment in agroecological research for Africa?
This report (PDF) by Biovision, IPES-Food and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), zooms in on the all-important financial flows in food systems, with a view to understanding more about how the industrial model is perpetuated and where the opportunities lie for sparking agroecological transition. With unsustainable forms of intensification and COVID-19 revealing vulnerabilities in food supply chains, agroecology emerges as a viable pathway for building sustainable and resilient food systems. Agroecology combines different plants and animals, uses natural syngergies, keeps traditional food cultures alive and improves farmers’ livelihoods. Approximately 30% of farms around the world have redesigned around agroecological principles. Developing and disseminating knowledge on agroecology is crucial to sustain this process. Only a handful of donors have recognised agroecology as a key solution. Behind money flows, obstacles to agroecological research are deep-rooted; it does not fit existing investment modalities, does not deliver quick results on investment, low awareness, and concerns about profitability and scalability. Bringing evidence to the attention of donors on the climate resilience of agroecological systems is a major opportunity to change the research agenda. Gender equity, biodiversity conservation, resource efficiency and soil health also transcend the boundaries between different actors, and could provide additional entry points for agroecology. Recommendations to those seeking to promote agroecology are: 1) Focus on operational elements of agroecology as first steps in a well-sequenced strategy for transformation; 2) Capture the benefits of agroecology by measuring food system outcomes holistically; 3) Build bridges between different parts of the research world; 4) Change must begin in training and education; 5) Shift towards long-term funding models; 6) Give primacy to African research institutions and support bottom-up alliances.