Sustainable food systems through diversification and indigenous vegetables: An analysis of the Arusha area
This report (PDF) by ECDPM aims at filling the knowledge gap on the factors and actors that are currently hindering the benefits of indigenous vegetables to materialise, and how governance and policy can support indigenous vegetables in diverse contexts in Arusha, Tanzania. One pathway to more sustainability is to support diversified agroecological systems. One way to diversify is to better integrate indigenous vegetables, which are generally highly nutritious, potentially require fewer natural resources, and can lead to higher profit margins. Despite their potential, indigenous vegetables are routinely neglected by policymakers. The food system is central to Arusha’s social, environmental, and economic sustainability, contributing to both positive (lower level of poverty compared to the rest of Tanzania) and negative outcomes (high levels of malnourishment and declining soil fertility). Diversification can alleviate some of these factors and contribute to long-term sustainability in Arusha. The governance of Arusha’s food system is marked by fragmented and incoherent policies. While indigenous vegetables are present in the plot, market, and on the plate, they are largely absent from policy. However, several factors constrain a stronger integration of indigenous vegetables in Arusha, pertaining to production, distribution, consumption and governance domains. Although the indigenous vegetables value chain is relatively short, many actors are involved or connected to it. There are several entry points for stronger integration of indigenous vegetables in Arusha: 1) Stronger value chain governance through a multi-stakeholder platform, to facilitate stronger governance; 2) Better informed farmers’ choices by including indigenous vegetables in extension officers’ curricula, to strengthen etension services support; 3) Improved food safety and reduced loss along the chain; 4) Greater food knowledge about indigenous vegetables through information campaigns. Interdisciplinary research using a politically sensitive food system approach can help develop pathways that make trade-offs more explicit and take into account the interests and incentives of the different actors involved.