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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1132: XVIII International Symposium on Horticultural Economics and Management

Improving food and nutritional security in East Africa through African indigenous vegetables: a case study of the horticultural innovation system in Kenya

Authors:   W. Bokelmann, Z. Ferenczi, E. Gevorgyan
Keywords:   food security, malnutrition, hidden hunger, horticulture, African indigenous vegetables, Kenya
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1132.12
Food security and poverty remain aggravating challenges in East Africa despite decades of development work and research. Enhancing food security having complex dimensions of food availability, food accessibility, food stability and food utilisation, requires an integrated approach that transcends disciplinary boundaries and aims at solving real world problems not solely at contributing scientific knowledge. Horticulture, in particular, African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs) provide a comparatively advantageous entry point as they offer largely untapped potentials in terms of workplaces and income opportunities, the delivery of vital micronutrients for combatting malnutrition and, not least, a raised diversity of agricultural production systems. However, top-down research approaches generating only knowledge from selected disciplines have reportedly failed to provide smallholder farmers with affordable, practical and readily available solutions to their problems; adoption rates of scientific inventions are low. Interdisciplinary knowledge generation must be embedded in an effective innovation system extending to all stakeholders to bring about change. This paper will present a research framework that holistically analyses the food system and AIV value chains of Kenya and bordering regions of Tanzania and Ethiopia using an integrative, inter- and disciplinary framework adapted from natural, social and communication science, ecology, gender studies and development economics, developed by more than one hundred young and senior researchers from Kenya and Germany within a major international research project. As case study, novel empirical results will be presented using the innovation system approach (one of fourteen elements of the research approach) focussing on the systemic determinants of all innovative processes and activities possibly taking place in the Kenyan AIVs sector. Through a focused analysis of factors affecting innovation in the case of AIVsRSQUO seed supply and the actors working together, the problem-focused innovation system provides a promising solution(s).

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