Questions: Refilwe Mashigo
Responses: Dr Huub Löffler, Niina Pitkänen
What is the goal of PROIntensAfrica?
PROIntensAfrica has the long-term objective to improve the food and nutrition security, and livelihoods, of African farmers by exploring the rich diversity of pathways leading to sustainable intensification of African agri-food systems. These pathways may include methods ranging from organic farming to high-input farming, and everything between. PROIntensAfrica also aims to develop a proposal for a long-term research and innovation partnership between Europe and Africa, with support from the relevant policy environments.
How will PROIntensAfrica differ from its predecessor project, IntensAfrica?
IntensAfrica was conceived as an initiative with three phases: an exploratory phase, a development phase, and an implementing phase. The first phase, launched in 2013 at the policy and institutional level, revealed a high level of commitment and interest from many, and led interested stakeholders into the second phase, which is named PROIntensAfrica. The PROIntensAfrica consortium currently consists of 23 members from different European and African countries, representing research as well as platform organisations. The partners’ specific ambition is to build a partnership proposal and a stable collaboration within the consortium as well as its relevant policy environment. The name PROIntensAfrica intends to illustrate that this is a phase that comes before the implementation phase. We ultimately hope that IntensAfrica will flourish to its full potential, for example, in the form of an ERA-Net co-fund or another set of mechanisms.
How will PROIntensAfrica contribute to an end to hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture?
We will focus on promoting sustainable intensification of African agriculture. Sustainable intensification should reduce dependency on inputs, provide for innovative sources of energy, and contribute to adaptation to, and mitigation of climate change. Sustainable intensification in agriculture should also foster social and economic impacts, such as poverty reduction, employment opportunities in agriculture and agro-industry, and the empowerment of women.
We will assess ongoing and emerging intensification pathways and compare them with the appropriate tools and metrics in order to evaluate their multi-criteria performance, based on agronomic, economic and social indicators. The resource efficiency, sustainability, and the social acceptance and conditions for adoption of these pathways will also be considered.
Ultimately, PROIntensAfrica’s research and innovation agenda will enable stakeholders to develop and compare ongoing and emerging agricultural intensification pathways in important agro-food chains in Africa. As intensification is a transformative process involving various stakeholders, pathways must also be considered in their social, economic and policy dimensions. We need to scrutinise the changes required in the enabling environment, appreciate the interactions between all stakeholders in the concerned agro-food chains, and identify effective drivers for change.
How will the project support the implementation process of the Roadmap Towards the EU-Africa Research and Innovation Partnership on Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (‘the Roadmap’)?
The roadmap, as proposed by the HLPD (see previous page) and by its appointed panel of European and Africa experts, makes explicit reference to PROIntensAfrica. PROIntensAfrica is the tool currently in place to develop the research and innovation proposal for one of the three thematic components of the roadmap. The component in question is dedicated to sustainable intensification and as such PROIntensAfrica already has strong policy support. PROIntensAfrica will also provide direct insights on cross-cutting issues listed in the roadmap — like capacity strengthening, modalities of funding joint activities, monitoring and evaluation — and indirectly within the other two thematic priorities (nutrition and trade) as they connect with sustainable intensification.
For more info about PROIntensAfrica, go to www.intensafrica.org.
*This interview first appeared in the CAAST-Net Plus Magazine of December 2015.
[Image credit: Dady Demby/FARA]
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