FOODLAND and PrAEctiCe are European funded Horizon projects focusing on food production and farming in Africa. FOODLAND began in September 2020 and will run until August 2024 aiming to enhance the diversity of food production and consumption in six African countries displaying different stages of the nutrition transition. To this end, FOODLAND will create a network of 14 local Food Hubs that will aggregate relevant actors and serve as injection points for the introduction of innovations. FOODLAND has identified specific objectives addressing the organizational, technological, and nutritional needs of the local African food systems: 1. To detect behaviour and preferences of consumers and producers, in order to customize innovations to local sensitivities; 2. To develop and implement organizational innovations, aimed at boosting coordination among food operators; 3. To develop, test, and validate (open) technological innovations in the laboratory and in the field; 4. To disseminate knowledge of solutions towards malnutrition reduction and innovations.
PrAEctiCe began in November 2022 and is a 42-month project that will provide a novel agroecology indicator set for East Africa, aimed at helping smallholder farmers in their agroecological transition. The project goes beyond the existing indicator frameworks by putting the “concept into action” with a decision support tool for agroecology advisors supporting the selection of the best suited combination of agroecological farming practices in a local context.
These projects give strong attention to activities pertaining to aquaculture. FOODLAND is developing aquaculture technologies for urban and peri-urban areas to ensure the production is brought closer to the markets resulting in a shorter distribution chain that can be more competitive with imported products. The Aquaculture Working Group, based in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Tunisia, are innovating in several different areas to develop technologies and techniques that will support and develop local aquaculture practices. New feeds are being investigated to reduce the reliance on fishmeal heavy, imported feeds, new and updated protocols for the production of local species are being created, recirculating technologies that can be reproduced by small-scale farmers for fingerling production are being assessed and research on integrated agri-aquaculture production systems, using wastewater from aquaculture to grow crops, is currently ongoing.
The PrAEctiCe project will establish three living labs focusing on circular water-energy-nutrient systems of integrated aqua-agriculture. Living lab one builds on a previous Horizon 2020 project “VicInAqua” and is a recirculating aquaculture system run on municipal wastewater filtered using a membrane bioreactor, the system will be upgraded to include grow-out ponds and wastewater from the fish production systems will be used to irrigate crop production. Living lab two is an aquaponics system, integrating fish production with a range of crops. The third living lab will utilize a pond culture system integrated with poultry and vegetables, the poultry waste will be used to fertilize the ponds and the wastewater from the ponds will support in the irrigation of the crops. Each of these systems will be adapted to an East African environment and showcase available technologies and opportunities that will be replicable by local farmers.
Each project highlights the different directions into which aquaculture is developing in the different East African countries, emphasizing the technologies, techniques, and systems that are of the highest interest and benefits to the different regions. These differences allow for many exciting areas of research and development across and between the partners involved while also bringing into focus the primary commonality between both projects which is the necessity for all systems developed to be replicable by local farmers at different scales, small-scale, subsistence farming as well as larger, commercial scale endeavours.
The FOODLAND project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement N° 862802. The PrAEctiCe project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe programme under grant agreement No 101084248.