Understanding Sustainable Food System Transitions: Practice, Assessment and Governance

Food Governance

SoRo Sustainable Food Transitions

I am very pleased to share that a new special issue of Sociologia Ruralis edited by Damian Maye and me is now online: Understanding Sustainable Food System Transitions: Practice, Assessment and Governance.

The Special Issue provides theoretical insights and advancements into sustainability transitions through empirically grounded and informed investigations of food system practices. The papers confirm, following Hinrichs (2014, p. 143), that ‘numerous opportunities exist to forge more productive links between work on food systems change and the broad and growing sustainability transitions field’.

The Special Issue brings together 8 articles grouped together around two themes:

  1.  Examining relations between AFN practices and transition;
  2. Opening up measures and assessment practices for sustainability transitions.

Taken as a whole, the Special Issue advances discussions and thinking on alternative food practices and sustainability, opening up the debate not only on how to identify and analyse ‘alternative food practices’ in Europe, and beyond…

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Why livestock are essential for Agenda 2030—Jimmy Smith at the High-Level Forum on Sustainable Development

ILRI news

Ram-bearer, Cypriot, 6th century BC,
said to be from the temple of Apollo Hylates at Kourion
(photographed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City).

United Nations High-Level Forum on Sustainable Development
Special Event:
The Role of Livestock in Achieving the SDGs

Friday, 14 July, 2017
Institute of International Education (IIE)
Kaufman Conference Room

Opening remarks by Jimmy Smith
director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

Why livestock are essential for Agenda 2030

Ending poverty
Because of livestock’s central contributions to both individual livelihoods and national development, we’re not going to end world poverty (SDG1) if we undervalue the major roles livestock play in the economies of developing countries and their peoples.

In low- and middle-income countries, up to three-quarters of a billion of the poorest people rely on small-scale livestock farming and products to make a living.

Such small-scale livestock production contributes…

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Sucking it up: Milk—cheap, energy dense, retro-cool—is becoming Asia’s weapon of choice in its war on hunger

ILRI Clippings


Milk (via Flickr/EADD).

‘[O]nly seven out of 19 developing Asian countries are now on track to reach the UN FAO’s bold goal of “zero hunger”.

‘However, changing tastes for food means Asians are drinking more milk, traditionally absent from many Asian kitchens but which now flies off the shelves from Bangkok to Beijing.

[Milk] production has almost tripled, from about 110 million tons in 1990 to nearly 300 million tons in 2013—accounting for more than 80 percent of the world’s increase in milk supplies during that time.

Nutritious and cheap, the dairy boom has encouraged governments to bring cartons to classrooms. Studies have found Thailand’s National Milk Program, which brings milk to schools, causes students to grow taller and take in more protein and calcium. Similar programs were rolled out from India to China to the Philippines.

‘The main beneficiaries have been small farmers, who produce nearly 80 percent of…

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Grass? How an unlikely weapon can help farmers beat drought in Africa

CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish

To resist the droughts that decimate rural livelihoods, researchers and farmers in Tanzania are testing different forage grass and legume species to discover which management and grass combinations can boost the quantity and quality of forages in local conditions.

They are testing different methods of planting like intercropping and contour planting, varying height and frequency of cutting, and applying different types and amounts of manure.

Producers, local governments and the private sector share tips and advice on improving livestock and milk production through “Innovation Platform” groups.

Since 2014, data from field trials monitored by TALIRI and CIAT, has been collected on forage biomass, soil nutrients and rainfall. The aim is to advise farmers which forages suit their conditions and can be integrated into their farm system in ways that don’t compromise their own food security.

Read the full story from CIAT

This research is part of the CGIAR Research…

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On the two central, and under-resourced, assets of the developing world: Women and livestock

ILRI Clippings

Left to right: Thomas Cherenet (Ethiopia), Samuel Chief Ankama (Namibia), Emma Naluyima (Uganda), Amadou Diallo (FAO), Bruce Mukanda (AU-IBAR) (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu). 

An interesting discussion took place at a news conference that followed the policy session on Thursday morning (11 May 2017), the fourth of this five-day Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Meeting of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock.

A member of the audience asked the following question of the distinguished panel members, who included ministerial rank leaders of livestock development agenda in several African countries.


In today’s industrialized countries, where many people are fighting obesity and the illnesses that attend it, and where most farm animals are no longer raised on farms but in ‘factories’, it may be understood why some people have an anti-livestock bias, and why cutting back on meat consumption is being advertised as good for human and environmental health as well as for animal welfare.

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Towards a toolkit to analyse livestock and fish value chains

CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish

The CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish has been operational since January 2012. It seeks to improve the diets of poor people for healthy productive lives, and sustainably increase the productivity of small and medium-scale livestock and fish producers for food secure futures.

The program has implemented several approaches across different sites in nine countries, including in-depth analysis of livestock and fish value chains. Among the approaches is use of tools designed and developed to systematically collect information from different actors at different levels in the value chains. Over the past five years, several tools for value chain assessment have been produced, covering different aspects of assessment including gender issues.

ILRI Value Chains Workshop: Note card

Livestock and Fish value chains are unique and have distinct features. For instance, the products, such as milk and meat, are of higher value and in some cases are bulky and highly perishable. Also, delivery of some inputs and services…

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Balancing research and development: Livestock and fish research and value chain insights from Tropentag workshop

CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish

Participants in the synthesis ‘fishbowl’

On 19 September 2016, the CGIAR Livestock and Fish Research Program hosted a side workshop at the 2016 Tropentag conference. It brought together partners from across the Program to examine the approach it uses to accelerate agricultural research for development. Some 60 people participated.

For the past five years, Program partners have worked in a solution-driven approach to agricultural research for development that combines technical upstream interventions in animal health, animal feeding and animal genetics with interventions along value chains in 8 countries. Special attention has been given to inclusive value chain development, by and for the poor, targeting women and people facing environmental and public health issues.

This post reports on some of the discussions that took place. The session began with an introduction to the Program by Tom Randolph. Then, participants formed groups and interrogated scientists from across the Program (see topics and…

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