Project ‘Revenue diversification pathways in Africa through bio-based and circular agricultural innovations‘ (DIVAGRI)

The Robert-Schmidt-Institut der Hochschule Wismar (Wismar, Germany), in partnership with 8 pan-European and 12 African organisations, has been granted 8.994.693,75 million euros from the European Commission programme Horizon2020, under the call “Diversifying revenue in rural Africa through bio-based solutions” (CE-SFS-36-2020).

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DIVAGRI ambitions to contribute to sustainable livelihoods in rural areas of Africa, through domestic agri-food systems which can sustain growing populations in an inclusive and environmentally friendly way in the long term. DIVAGRI increases the productivity of the African agri-food systems, connects supply to demand and turn wastes into resources through connected value networks within the bioeconomy through selected enabling bio-based solutions tailored to specific conditions in the five target countries.

DIVAGRI aims to increase the productivity, income and economic opportunities of subsistence and smallholder farmers in arid and semi-arid regions of Sub-Saharan Africa by implementing state-of-the-art, innovative bio-based solutions to improve agricultural production, enable diversification of crops and increase added-value, create environmental, social and economic sustainability, and generate new local economic opportunities.

Based on identified challenges and mitigation measures, the following project objectives were defined. The overall goal of the DIVAGRI project is to provide African subsistence and smallholder farmers with tools to sustainably improve farm productivity, profitability and resilience through improved management of farming resources, output diversification and creation of high-value circular bioproducts. DIVAGRI targets the following specific objectives (SO):

  • SO1: Co-design and co-develop bio-based solutions (BBS) together with rural farming communities and cross-transfer sustainable farming practices;
  • SO2: Test and adapt BBS in diverse contexts to improve productive conditions, in particular freshwater availability and soil health;
  • SO3: Diversify crops, increase farm productivity and economic return at pilot sites and farmer field demos;
  • SO4: Create new sources of income in targeted rural farming communities through new bioproducts from residues;
  • SO5: Integrate BBS into existing agri-food systems and promote widespread uptake of DIVAGRI solutions.

DIVAGRI delivers new and sustainable bio-based value chains easily plugged into African agri-food systems to help rural communities to:

  • increase and diversify agricultural income and foster savings and investment;
  • enhance sustainability and reduce the environmental impact of domestic and economic activities, through e.g., reduced logging or nutrient recycling, and;
  • develop new economic activities and sectors, thus creating new jobs and opportunities.

DIVAGRI is driven by synergies and cluster actions with cluster with other initiatives rooted in the EU-Africa Research and Innovation Partnership on food, nutrition security and sustainable agriculture (FNSSA) and with the cooperation platform established under SFS-33-2018. These synergies generate result-oriented interactions, combining cities’ and regions’ territorial innovation actions and investments, foster transition towards sustainable food environments, with substantial quality level research and innovation initiatives, thus contributing to the highest impact in the territories currently engaged in the consortium, and beyond.

DIVAGRI impacts a vast series of dimensions among which the most immediate and sustainable are:

  • on the subsistence of the targeted smallholder farmers (in their respective demo sites) via appropriate realities-driven technical know-how and technologies to optimize productivity while minimising losses;
  • on participants’ via increased food security levels, increased productivity, profits, yields and secondary impacts as well, such as those related to health, environment and knowledge;
  • addressing eleven of the UN’s on SDGs (#1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, and 17), impacting in such a way significant needs are jointly addressed, to ensure the means practiced to achieve the goals, linked to food and agriculture, people’s livelihoods and the management of natural resources;
  • on EU-Africa cooperation, developing sustainable food systems with African partners implementing the actions agreed abiding the work of the Task Force for Rural Africa;
  • on EU strategies, via implementing the strategies of the European Green Deal specifically of the Farm to Fork Strategy by supporting the just transition to sustainable food systems, addressing the climate and environmental objectives and the circular economy action plan;
  • on biodiversity, a key criteria in the project considering for resilience, regeneration and for agroecological functions, by creating biodiverse ecosystems, to fully align with the European Biodiversity Strategy, the Updated Bioeconomy Strategy, the UNEP plans on Biodiversity and Agriculture, and beyond.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This press release reflects the views only of the author, and all partners of the project DIVAGRI and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.