Organized Symposia / Invited Panel

The future of African food and nutrition security

Session organizer: Nicolas Gerber, email:

Chair: Joachim von Braun


(1) Hans van Meijl - LEI, part of Wageningen UR, Netherlands; 

(2) Alessandro Olper - LICOS – Centre for Institution and Economic Performance, University of Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium and  Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods (DEMM), University of Milan, Italy; 

(3) Nicolas Gerber - Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Germany;  

(4) Maximo Torero - International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington D.C. USA; 

(5) Karen Macours - Paris School of Economics and INRA, Paris, France.

Summary description:

Despite global progress, poverty and food and nutrition security remain pressing issues in the world. In Africa, on average 41% of the population lived in extreme poverty during the decade 2003–2012 and the decrease from the previous decade is too small to prevent absolute extreme poverty from rising. Although the prevalence of underweight children showed a stronger decrease, reaching 20.9% in that period, it also reflects on the failure of the continent to achieve MDG1 because of an important number of countries not being able to reduce extreme poverty to the necessary levels. The rates of decrease in those two important figures have somewhat accelerated over the last 10 years, but the challenges to global and African food and nutrition security have arguably increased in their complexity – notably with increased volatility in the climate system, in food commodity markets, and with the growing interlinkages between food commodities and the energy sector. These and other challenges need to be overcome to give the continent a chance of achieving the new set of international targets, in particular SDG1 (no poverty) and SDG2 (zero hunger). 

Under those circumstances, it is important to draw new strategies to protect food production, access and utilization for and by the most vulnerable. In Africa, small-holder farmers are and will remain key actors of that process, counting among those most vulnerable and food insecure, while at the same time ensuring food access for the rapidly expanding urbanizing population will create new challenges. Looking ahead and being able to create foresight on food and nutrition security in the mid to long term, as well as understanding the impacts of volatile food markets and associated policy responses, present specific methodological challenges but are equally important and intertwined elements in designing new FNS strategies. To that effect, in this session the speakers will:

  • Present quantified scenarios on Africa’s food and nutrition security, using state of the art CGE models tailored to go beyond food production, into predictions on access to food and dietary diversity;
  • Investigate the impacts of national trade policies and political reforms on food and health indicators;
  • Reflect on the evidence of agricultural innovation and its impacts on food and nutrition security, from national level to household survey data;
  • Assess policy interventions in the time extreme food market events;
  • Evaluate the impacts of volatile production environments on farm households’ risk management.

Docuement: Organized symposium FoodSecure_final