The new UNU-IAS project Food Security Impacts of Industrial Crop Expansion in Sub-Sahara Africa (FICESSA) was launched at a meeting in London on 27–29 May 2015. Hosted by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the meeting brought together researchers from the project’s partner institutions, invited experts and potential end-users within the academic and development communities from Ethiopia, Ghana, South Africa, Swaziland and the United Kingdom.
FICESSA aims to provide empirical evidence of how industrial crops compete for land with food crops in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the mechanisms through which this competition can affect food security. Focusing on industrial crops including cotton, jatropha, sugar cane and tobacco, the project’s case study sites are located in Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Swaziland. FICESSA is an interdisciplinary collaboration between UNU, The University of Tokyo, ODI, the Royal Botanical Society Kew (United Kingdom) and the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (South Africa).
The kick-off meeting outlined the project’s aims, structure, roadmap and progress to date. Discussion focused on the co-design of methodologies for local case studies, the co-design of the conceptual framework for systems-based models and the dissemination strategy for research outcomes. Decisions were made relating to selection and finalization of case study sites in Ghana, and organization of a side event at the upcoming International Conference on Sustainability Science in 2016 in South Africa.