SALSA builds on its research by conducting participatory foresight analysis in more than 10 reference regions

What would it be the contribution of small farms and small food businesses to Food and Nutritional Security in 2030 and 2050? This is main question that SALSA Work Package 4 workshops have been trying to answer throughout 13 workshops in the most representative reference regions in Europe and Africa over the last few months.

SALSA partners have been working with their Communities of Practice (CoP) to identify and assess which will be the main drivers of change that will likely affect small farms and small food businesses. These CoP had already been involved in the SALSA research regarding the in-depth assessment of food systems in the different reference regions. This time they have imagined what the future has in store for them.
“Participants had this rare occasion to reflect upon how the Gushegu region [in Ghana] will look like in the different scenarios foreseen for 2030 and 2050,” said Sylvester Ayambila, from the SALSA partner University of Development Studies in Accra, Ghana.

While imagining the future ahead, one key aspect throughout these participatory workshops has been to assess the main vulnerabilities and weaknesses of small farms and small food businesses to face and tackle future challenges. All these exercises have built on the information previously gathered in previous Work Packages, particularly WP3 “In-depth assessment of regional food systems”.

Great mix of stakeholders

These future scenario workshops involved a wide range of stakeholders from every region. For instance, in Gushegu, “the stakeholders ranged from traditional leaders (chiefs), small scale farmers, large scale farmers, processors, tractor service providers, farm inputs dealers, small food business operators, farm produce aggregators, private sector, Non-governmental Organizations, Development Partners and representatives from the District Assembly,” said Ayambila.

In the Latgale region workshop, in Latvia, “participants appreciated the multi-actor event where different stakeholders could meet, exchange their views and knowledge and combine them in joint visions. They indicated that, in order to make a tangible impact on future food systems, all the stakeholders – including farmers, businesses, consumers, municipalities, state institutions – should meet in these kind of discussions on small farms and food security more often,” explained Sandra Šūmane, from SALSA partner Baltic Studies Centre.

In total numbers, these regional foresight workshops involved a total of 184 participants, with women representing 43%. These workshops were facilitated by a total of 58 researchers linked to SALSA, of which 34 were women. “In other words, more than 240 persons have been directly involved in these science‐policy‐society foresight activities,” said Dionisio Ortiz Miranda, coordinator of the activities, from SALSA partner Universidad Politécnica de Valencia.

Outcomes

“The scenario exercise reminded the participants how complex food systems are, and how important it is planning actions to arrive at a desirable future. Such a visioning exercise is helpful for strategic planning in any field, be it policy or farming,” explained Šūmane.

The reports of these workshops will now feed the ongoing research that SALSA is conducting with regard to the governance systems of small farmers’ organizations and food chains. According to Šūmane, the workshop in Latgale confirmed the three main fields of action to build “ideal” food systems for small farms: “firstly, an enabling legal framework and multi-level policies, secondly, knowledge and learning including food education for consumers, and thirdly networking and cooperation among the food value chain actors.

The outcome of these seminars will help SALSA research determine which are the enabling conditions that can support small farms and small food businesses to maintain and enhance their contribution to Food and Nutritional Security. “In the next stages of SALSA, the regional reports will be compared to produce a synthesis report. Moreover, the regional participatory foresight processes will be jointly assessed to evaluate the achievements and shortcomings of this stakeholder interaction,” explained Ortiz Miranda.

List of participatory foresight analysis workshops in 2018 and 2019

1. Reference Region (RR) 2. Santiago, Cabo Verde. 20 February 2019
2. RR7. Gushegu District, Ghana. 31 January 2019
3. RR9. Larisa, Greece. 7 March 2019
4. RR11. Pisa, Italy. 20 December 2018
5. RR13 – Ugunja, Kenya. 7 September 2018
6. RR14. Latgale, Latvia. 1 March 2019
7. RR17. Balaka District, Malawi. 21-25 January 2019
8. RR18. Hedmark, Norway. 6 March 2019
9. RR19. Rzeszowski, Poland. 27 February 2019
10. RR23. Oeste, Portugal. 7 March 2019
11. RR25. Giurgiu, Romania. 12 March 2019
12. RR26. Castellón, Spain. 20 November 2018
13. RR29. Perth and Kinross, and Stirling, United Kingdom. 1 March 2019