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Seeds of good anthropocenes: fostering food-system transformation in Africa

Africa is expected to change considerably over the coming decades, with doubling population, increased urbanization rates, major investments, infrastructural shifts and increasing political volatility. The substantial changes already under way, linked to, for instance, population growth and climate change, and the great need for both societal development and ecological protection on the continent point to the opportunity to learn from exploring a wide variety of potential positive futures for the continent in this, the Anthropocene era (the geological era dominated by humans).

This small applied research project will adopt a place-based case study approach that leverages existing work and partnerships across the African continent related to seed projects. A “seed” is an emerging innovative idea, way of living, or transformational initiative that can change whole systems. This project will focus specifically on food systems because of their interconnections with many other key systems, including energy, water and climate, and their critical links to human well-being.

The aim of this project is to explore and support potential pathways for transformation of African food systems towards more just, sustainable and resilient futures. It will involve examination of the vision, synergies, enabling environments and global context within which African food systems operate. Researchers will identify opportunities, barriers and strategies and regional workshops between key stakeholders will enhance coherence and increase collaboration towards transformational change. Improved knowledge about how to identify seeds with transformative potential will be shared and the potential for collaboration and conflict between different projects will be explored. Finally, the project will strengthen understanding about how to better support the emergence, development and scaling of seed projects.

This knowledge will be shared through a series of papers led by researchers (primarily from Africa) that will be part of a special feature on how seeds (or small initiatives currently underway) might help transform food systems in Africa; a scientific paper led by the project leads on seed scaling and interaction syndromes; and a booklet or set of videos of interviews of a selected subset of seeds. Each chapter or video will feature the story of one seed and explore what helped that seed lead to transformation.

Project ID
Project Status
36 months
IDRC Officer
Georgina Kemp
Total Funding
CA$ 302,500.00
South Africa
Institution Country
South Africa
University of Stellenbosch

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