Access to food remains a global challenge, with 805 million people not having enough to eat (global hunger index 2014). Nutritional imbalances in Europe and Africa are increasing, characterised by persistent under-nutrition and growing diet-related diseases. It is projected that the global population will increase from 7 billion to more than 9 billion by 2050. The majority of this growth is expected to take place in Africa. Food availability needs to increase in the context of a changing climate with agricultural production systems under threat from extreme weather events, as well as in view of declining natural resources, particularly water, soil and biodiversity. Food losses from harvest to consumer households have to be reduced. Increasing the quantity of food produced will not be a sufficient answer in itself as food security is an issue not only of food production but also of access to food, affordability, stability of the food supply and the quality of that supply, beyond its basic calorie value. Hence there is a need to harness science and farmer knowledge to advance an innovation process.Scope:
Proposals should pool the necessary financial resources from the participating national or international research programmes with a view to implementing a joint call for proposals. The call should result in grants to third parties with EU co-funding. To achieve these objectives, a long-term research and innovation partnership would lead to a joint and coordinated effort of African and European actors in an innovation system along the lines of three broad thematic areas:
Sustainable intensification: Providing food in a sustainable manner is a challenge in both Europe and Africa. They therefore have a common interest in research on sustainable intensification. Research and innovation actions are needed to both improve the production of food/fibre/biomass and of services (social, economic and environmental) and to reduce the environmental impact of such production and the depletion of natural resources. Ecological intensification approaches such as conservation agriculture, integrated pest management, organic agriculture, which optimise the use of ecosystem services to produce quality food in a competitive manner, include breeding of crops and animals, nutrient management and research on institutional innovations.
Agriculture and food systems for nutrition: Agricultural and food systems need to be changed to reduce waste and improve diets. Aquaculture and coastal fisheries should be part of the approach. Both under-nutrition and obesity are associated with micronutrient deficiency (food intake is low in minerals and vitamins), which affects two billion people worldwide. Research and innovation actions would look at developing low-waste food value chains to deliver more nutritionally-rich food to consumers. This should include urban agriculture and better rural-urban linkages. A better understanding of consumer behaviour in relation to healthy diets could help improve regulations, the education and incentive system.
Improvement of agricultural markets and trade: Agriculture remains a primary means of economic growth for many African countries. Market and trade development will play an important role in the creation of future jobs and growth, especially in rural areas. Europe is a major growth market for African agricultural exports. Research into improved global value chains would benefit small farmers and consumers alike and would expand the market opportunities for organic, fair-trade and other quality label production. It could also help operators in developing countries adapt to new regulatory conditions, such as the new rules on organic production currently being discussed.
The joint call must be implemented jointly by European and African countries and could include other national or international funders such as foundations, public and non-governmental agencies or international research programmes (e.g. CGIAR research programmes). The joint call should also build on earlier experiences of this kind of cooperation, such as the international ERA-NET, ERAfrica or the ERA-NET ERA-ARD. It should also launch calls for innovation projects building on research results obtained from previous projects in the domain. Proposals will be expected to establish relevant links with other projects concerning the preparation of the EU-Africa Research and Innovation Partnership on food and nutrition and sustainable agriculture.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.Expected Impact: