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Tropentag 2023, September 20 - 22, Berlin, Germany

"Competing pathways for equitable food systems transformation: trade-offs and synergies."

Combating malnutrition in Africa through diversification of the food systems

Emmanuel Donkor1, Michael Frei1, Sali Ndindeng2, Dominique Van Der Straeten3, Christophe Matthys4, Alisdair Fernie5, Tiziana de-Magistris6, Patrick Teixeira7, Chiji Ojukwu8, P. C. Sibiry Traoré9, Rousseau Djouaka10, Sharon Chacha11, Mube K. Hervé 12, Paul Z. Diby13, Ina Danquah14, Rodrigue Kamga15, Irmgard Jordan16, Kassi Elia17, Benedikte Grenov18, Juliana Kiio19, Haris I. Parvez 20, Tsanko Gechev21

1Justus Liebig University Giessen, Inst. of Agronomy and Plant Breeding, Germany
2Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), Agri-food Systems, Crop based system, Farming systems and Post-harvest, Côte d'Ivoire
3Ghent University, Laboratory of Functional Plant Biology, Department of Biology, Belgium
4University Hospitals Leuven, Dept. of Chronic Diseases and Metabolism & Department of Endocrinology, Belgium
5Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Germany
6Agrifood Research and Technology Centre of Aragón (CITA), Spain
7World Food Programme, Regional Centre of Excellence against Hunger and Malnutrition, Côte d’Ivoire
8Africa Projects Development Centre, Nigeria
9Manobi Africa, Mauritius
10International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Benin
11Food Security for Peace and Nutrition-Africa, Kenya
12University of Dschang, Faculty of Agriculture and Agricultural Sciences, Cameroon
13Entreprise en Sante et Securite au Travail, Côte d’Ivoire
14Heidelberg Universitätsklinikum, Heidelberg Institute of Global Health, Germany
15Agribusiness Vocational Training Centre, Cameroon
16The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, Food Environment and Consumer Behaviour, Kenya
17Opportunities Industrialisations Center International Côte d’Ivoire, Côte d’Ivoire
18University of Copenhagen, Dept. of Nutrition, Exercise, and Sports, Denmark
19Kenyatta University, Dept. of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics, Kenya
20De Montfort University, Leicester School of Allied Health Sciences, Fac. of Health and Life Sciences, United Kingdom
21Center of Plant Systems Biology, Bulgaria


Africa faces persistent undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and growing rates of overweight, obesity, and diet related diseases known as the triple burden of malnutrition. These nutritional problems not only overburden health care system but also undermine economic growth and development in Africa. HealthyDiets4Africa is a transdisciplinary project with partners from 12 African and nine European countries that aims to harness the potential of food systems diversification to address malnutrition and improve food and nutrition security in Africa. Our central hypothesis is that diversifying different elements of the food chain will improve nutritional health and reduce malnutrition in Africa, while achieving economic and environmental benefits. Our overall goal is to build sustainable food systems through diversification in Ivory Coast, Benin, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda, and Kenya. Diversification can occur at different stages of the food value chain, including production, supply chains, and consumption, and at various levels of organisation, ranging from the farm to scaling at the continental level. The project will engage the different food value chain players, policy makers and key partners and apply interdisciplinary methodology to actualize the project goals. To achieve the overall goal, the project is organised into four clusters. Cluster 1 includes mapping and monitoring of dietary diversity and evaluating determinants of dietary diversity within the food environment. Cluster 2 involves assessing nutrient diversity in traditional, underutilised, and novel foods and diversifying agricultural production and food processing. Cluster 3 entails co-designing and assessing economic acceptability of diversified diets and novel food products, enhancing food safety through dietary diversification, and evaluating impacts of diversification on health outcomes. Cluster 4 involves the establishment of scaling infrastructure to promote adoption of approaches towards diversified food systems and enabling better policy environment and strengthening stakeholders’ capacities on all relevant levels to promote informed decision-making processes. In line with the objectives of the EU Green Deal and the global elements of the EU Farm-to-Fork Strategy, HealthyDiets4Africa aims to contribute to the transformation of food systems in Africa through diversification to make them more resilient, sustainable, and climate-friendly, while improving the supply of safe, nutritious, and affordable food to combat malnutrition.

Keywords: Diversification, food and nutrition security, food systems, food value chains, innovations, interdisciplinary methodology, Sub-Saharan Africa, sustainable diets

Contact Address: Emmanuel Donkor, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Dept. of Agronomy and Crop Physiology, Inst. for Agronomy and Plant Breeding, Heinrich-Buff-Ring 26-32, 35392 Giessen, Germany, e-mail: emmanuel.donkor@agrar.uni-giessen.de

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