Research and Extension Systems

The synthesis report of the “enjoyable and useful” FAO email conference on the SALSA project is available online

30 Apr 2018

The synthesis report of the second e-conference of the EU-funded ‘Small Farms, Small Food Businesses and Sustainable Food Security’ research project (commonly known as SALSA) has been issued today. This report summarizes the main topics and questions discussed during a virtual event that has been well praised by its participants in a survey conducted post-conference. “Participants unanimously agreed that the e-conference was enjoyable, useful and had been an opportunity to learn from each other,” explained Peter Casier, who moderated the email conference together with Fiona Chandler. Both are also the co-authors of the synthesis report. “The results, both from the original emails and from this synthesis, are directly relevant to the SALSA project, and will be used to shape further discussions and research questions,” says Chandler. SALSA will host a follow-up webinar for the participants of the e-conference on 7 May 2018. 

The e-conference 
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) hosted this moderated e-mail conference between 19 March and 9 April 2018. Before the start of the event, participants received a short Background Document to help guide and contextualize the discussions. Six overarching topics were covered in this e-conference, each with specific questions posed for discussion. The conference counted on the key role of the moderators to manage interactions and foster participation. Karlheinz Knickel, the scientific coordinator of the SALSA project revealed that “the intent of this e-conference was to provide further feedback on what has been learned so far from the work in the SALSA project and to identify key knowledge gaps, as well as to share examples that will contribute to build the SALSA empirical base”. 

Great participation 
Over these three weeks, discussions around the EU-funded Horizon 2020 research project gathered 855 online participants almost doubling the participation from the previous e-conference. Moderators posted weekly summaries to recap the main discussions and stimulate further dialogue. Participants from Africa were the most active, writing over 40% of the total 294 input messages,. Contributions from Europe and Asia were also very significant (30% and 23% respectively). In total, 124 unique contributors from 47 countries across the globe actively participated in the discussion. Contributors also represented a wide range of work environments. Those submitted by people coming from research, education, and advisory services, accounted for over half of the contributions to the event. Almost one in every four inputs were from civil society and NGOs and the remainder from small farms or businesses, the general public, other food chain actors and a few policy-makers/administrators. 

Useful links

Background on SALSA project Supported by the EU-funded Horizon 2020 program, the SALSA project is a coalition of 16 European and African partners collaborating in assessing the role of small farms and small food businesses in delivering a sustainable and secure supply of affordable, nutritious and culturally adequate food. The SALSA project began in April 2016 and runs for 48 months. In the project, the partners have adopted a novel, transdisciplinary, multi-scale approach across 30 regions in Europe and Africa that builds on and connects relevant theoretical and analytic frameworks within a food system approach. Using this perspective, the project is looking beyond production capacity, and investigating food security in terms of the availability of nutritious and safe food, food access and control (including affordability), food utilisation, and food stability. The project aims to provide a better understanding of the current and potential contribution of small farms and food businesses to sustainable food security and improved nutrition.