SE128 Private and public sector contributions to food system transformation for improved nutrition: Multi-stakeholder actions for sustainable food systems - How coordinated analysis and investments can scale up nutrition in Africa


  • WFP
  • IFAD
  • World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA)

Food systems are at the heart of many challenges faced by local communities, from food and nutrition insecurity to climate change and resource conservation. These intertwined challenges require a systems approach to improving livelihoods as well as nutrition. Multiple actors need to join forces and align on - inter alia - technical cooperation, financial investment and organizational priorities in order to support sustainable food production and consumption.

The objective of the side event is to unpack the challenges of food systems transformation for improving nutrition in low/middle-income African countries and to identify solutions and opportunities. The event focuses on the role of the public and private sector to provide nutritious and sustainable diets for all, considering entry points across the entire value chain and from multiple angles. WFP and IFAD will present findings from a collaborative analysis in Lesotho of how food environments present barriers to nutrient intake. WBA will explore how local African food and agricultural businesses can contribute to food system transformation as they play a critical role in achieving global targets like the SDGs and the EAT Lancet agenda. Presenters and panelists will discuss how nutrition and food security can be enhanced by both the public and private sector through multiple and joint entry points, such as , financing and technical assistance as well as targets and incentives that can be leveraged for improved nutrition.

The event will present: :

  1. Results from the WFP Fill the Nutrient Gap assessment in Lesotho, identifying bottlenecks and opportunities related to availability, access, affordability and choice of nutritious foods
  2. Integration of these findings into IFAD's country strategic paper for Lesotho,prioritization of investments and targeting in programmes
  3. WBA's Food and Agriculture Benchmark, which aims to create a tipping point in global food systems, and provides a roadmap for SME's to guide sector transformation and spur local transformation

Panelists from the private sector, civil society, IOs and government will share their experience of working on improved nutrition with specific county and company examples, addressing questions such as: 

  • Opportunities for the public and private sector in Africa to promote food diversity for healthy diets and increased availability of nutritious foods in sustainable production 
  • Factors inhibiting the scale up of nutritious and sustainable food supply focusing on in low/middle-income countries in Africa 
  • Challenges and opportunities to overcome these barriers

Key speakers/presenters


  • Sara Mbago-Bhunu (IFAD Regional Director Southern and Eastern Africa)


  • Carla Hommes (World Benchmarking Alliance)
  • Nora Hobbs/ Janosch Klemm (WFP)
  • Elena Pietschmann (IFAD)


  • H.E. Lineo Molise-Mabula (Ambassador of the Kingdom of Lesotho in Italy)
  • Fatiha Terki (Deputy Director Nutrition, World Food Programme)
  • Rogers Mugambi (East African Seed)
  • Carl Reynolds (KudosAfrica)

Main themes/issues discussed

The event brought together speakers from both the public and private sectors to discuss their respective contributions to food system transformation, with a specific focus on improved nutrition. WBA presented their ongoing work in developing a Food and Agriculture Benchmark, which aims to create a tipping point in global food systems, and provide a roadmap for SME’s alongside MNE’s; WFP presented results from their Fill the Nutrient Gap analysis in Lesotho, identifying bottlenecks and opportunities for systems to improve availability, access, affordability and choice of nutritious foods; and IFAD indicated how these findings have been integrated into their country strategic plan for Lesotho, prioritising investments and addressed through tailored programs. Panellists brought their unique perspective and knowledge to discuss the overarching topic of transforming the food system to achieve healthy and sustainable diets for all from three key angles; the consumer, producer and institutional point of view. The topics of dietary diversity in consumption and production, the role and importance of smallholder farmers and SMEs as well challenges to be overcome and opportunities to be leveraged in transforming the food system towards improved nutrition were thereby specifically debated.

Summary of key points

The need for a unified understanding of the challenges, for better information and data, but also the importance to interpret the data was emphasised in the event. Multiple actors’ own part of the solution and therefore a well-coordinated multi-stakeholder approach is needed. Improving nutrition is a topic that needs to be addressed cooperatively across multiple stakeholders and sectors. Several examples and opinions shared during the event highlighted that there is not only a need, but also a big opportunity to exploit when it comes to aligning objectives of local governments and the private sector. We learned about joint interventions including investment vehicles to upscale and deploy nutritious crops; support to provide agricultural extension services to farmers; or R&D efforts of local and nutritious crops. We also heard that for healthy and nutritious foods to have a positive impact on nutrition it needs to be affordable, so that people can purchase and eat the right food. At the same time producing nutritious and diverse crops needs to be viable and profitable for producers.

Key take away messages

  • Importance of shared understanding and direction between public and private sectors
  • Affordability of nutritious foods is a key aspect for consumers as well as small-scale producers; there needs to be a true business case for producing diverse and nutritious crops and one which is a profitable and viable proposition for smallholder farmers.
  • Multi-stakeholder collaboration is vital; nutrition is a topic to be addressed jointly, with no individual sector or actor alone capable of driving the holistic change required across the entire food system and value chain. The opportunities to align objectives of local governments and the private sector are huge.
CFS 46 Side Event: SE128 Private and public sector contributions to food system transformation for improved nutrition


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