From 20 to 22nd of September 2022, RAISE-FS held a planning workshop for 2023 fiscal year and beyond at Adama town. The aim of this workshop, which gathered around 35 experts from research institutes and universities, was to identify and priorities concrete action points for innovation testing and validation related to transforming food systems in the identified food system typologies (Commercial, High potential and Low potential/Food insecure/ Food Systems).
Dr. Dawit Alemu, RAISE-FS project manager, indicated in his welcoming address that the planning will stretch beyond 2023 fiscal year and extend till the end of the project period. He emphasized that participants should think about the rest of the project duration because innovation testing and validation takes time. Dr. Irene Koomen, RAISE-FS project coordinator during the opening speech said “food systems transformation approach is about breaking the “silo” and creating strong collaboration and synergy among stakeholders in the system to have the bigger picture.” Dr. Irene, added that “food systems transformation is about how we can have a greater impact together, not about demanding what is in it for one.”
The baseline study, the Rapid Food System Appraisal (RFSA), Gender and youth scoping study and the nutrition scoping study results provided a useful framework for providing direction where the 2023 and beyond plans should focus. Together they provided the context for the discussions in the planning workshop.
On the first day of the workshop, the three regional RAISE-FS teams showed separately the status of ongoing activities per the three food system typologies. The presentations were produced on posters that were displayed in the meeting hall, and participants went on a gallery walk to see them. Regional team leaders provided further clarifications to participants’ concerns. From the presentations and discussions, it was noted that the 2022 RAISE-FS plan is going well and everything is on track.
The gender and nutrition scoping studies done by RAISE were also presented in brief on a poster. The gender and youth scoping study provided input to translate gender and youth related challenges into more concrete implementation plans. The gender transformation approaches were discussed in detail and were used in the workshop to focus the planning on those gender transformative approaches that have the potential to empower women and youth. These scoping studies provide an evidence-based logic that proof the need for inclusiveness to bring about sustainable food system transformation.
The major findings from the baseline study presented in a similar fashion. Participants reflected on the baseline results and additional explanations given by the survey team. Workshop participants formed into groups per the three food system typologies. The groups discussed and identified from the baseline result two key intervention areas.
In the second day, list of identified challenges from the RFSA was presented. Workshop participants were asked to form group and select the challenges which they considered priority and subsequently comment on what exactly needs to be done for each of these priority food system challenges per food system typologies. Accordingly, participants clustered and prioritized five key challenges per the three food systems which have similarities in the three regions. The groups also indicated potential thematic intervention areas to address those prioritized challenges.
Finally, the team discussed on the next action points and set deadlines. It was announced that for innovation testing and development three woredas from the regions will be added to increase the innovation woredas to sixteen. The other woredas to be included will be scaling pathways to disseminate innovations tested and validated in the aforementioned woredas. The team agreed that the regional teams will further work on and consolidate the plan by engaging relevant stakeholders in their respective regions. Then, share the final plan with RAISE-FS national team for review and feedback.
The planning workshop emphasize the importance of the transition to sustainable, healthy, safe and inclusive food systems, and the role of knowledge and research institutes as a key partner in innovation testing and validation. About 35 researchers from Wageningen University and Research, Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute (EIAR), Amhara Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI), South Research Institute (SARI), Bahir Dar, Haramaya and Hawassa Universities participated.