Hivos International

Food Security

Zambian agricultural production is focused on one staple cereal: maize. Maize makes up the major part of the national diet, while nutrient-rich foods such as legumes, animal-source foods, fruit and vegetables are eaten in small quantities, particularly amongst the poorest families.Many Zambians live with food insecurity and malnutrition as a result of poor diets: seasonal hunger affects countless families; a significant proportion of children suffer from stunted growth; and overweight and attendant diseases are increasing in adults.

The food system is transitioning. New initiatives, start-ups and networks of changemakers are emerging at the grassroots level, harbouring ideas and massive potential to break through. Still, we struggle with enormous challenges: depletion of natural resources, hunger and obesity existing concurrently, climate change, soil erosion and so on. The urgency for a different, more sustainable and equitable food system is felt and recognised by more people every day. 

Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRC), Hivos and IIED convened the Change Lab in 2015. The process in the first year culminated in the country’s first People’s Summit on Food, the outcomes of which will be described in this publication.

Report: Provocative Seminar on Food

In the context of Age of Wonderland, a social innovation program which is jointly developed by Hivos, Baltan Laboratories and the Dutch Design Week, the “Provocative Seminar on Food: Challenging our Current Food System” took place at the Natlab on May 21st. Different experts from around the world reflected on the issues at stake and gave their perspectives on the food system in 2020.



Ideas seem to happen to us. Like the flashing light bulb in a cartoon. The intention behind this paper is to explore how new ideas that exist outside the mainstream discussions about development can be brought into its narrative and influence its course. And, how food in general, and agricultural biodiversity in particular, can help facilitate this process.

16 June 2012, Pontifica Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro. At a session of the IIED Fair Ideas Conference, four speakers explain how in their regions, agrobiodiversity promotes resilience. Hivos and Oxfam Novib organised this session as part of their 3-year knowledge programme Agrobiodiversity @ knowledged.

The Hivos Green Entrepreneurship programme has engaged in various pilot biofuel projects in the recent past, mostly involving the Jatropha plant. These aimed to provide additional cash income for small-scale farmers who grow the crops, and may have additional aims, such as adapting engines, converting the pure plant oil into bio-diesel, or even broader goals such as providing the community with renewable energy or fostering the independence of the local economy.

Jatropha is not a wonder crop. In the last couple of years, producers and Jatropha‐based projects around the world have all come to this conclusion. The high expectations raised at the height of the Jatropha hype have had to be scaled down over the last four years or so‐‐roughly the period over which the six projects evaluated here have been operational. While some of its properties (see Chapter 1) enable Jatropha to survive on marginal and degraded land without irrigation or other inputs, the returns are too low under these conditions to be viable in terms of labour input and volumes required for PPO production. 

Let's talk about city farming!

Creative City Lab hosts a day for eager cultivators

Let’s talk about city farming! Also dubbed Urban Agriculture, we see a rise in small and larger initiatives in our hopelessly crowded cities around the world. New York, Berlin, Beijing, Havana and Amman are but a few examples where citizens (and sometimes the state) have picked up their shovel for some serious farming or gardening. This trend has not bypassed the Netherlands. On April 4th, Creative City Lab organized a gathering at the NDSM dockyard in Amsterdam, where city farmers, professionals and students came together to discuss this increasing trend. For Creative City Lab, the day also functioned to present a plan in which sixteen excellent students from varying disciplines work on a strategy to cultivate two pieces of land in Amsterdam, aiming to turn it into a successful business case.