Thursday, March 14, 2024

Prof. Cecilia Onyango, Associate Professor of Horticulture, University of Nairobi and a Cheney Fellow was among the delegates in the International Food Systems research week that was hosted by Leeds.

Prof. Onyango was introduced to the scheme through the Food Systems Research Network for Africa (FSNet-Africa project). The fellowship is designed to enable world-leading researchers to spend a period of time at Leeds, exploring new research ideas and building new collaborations.

Speaking during the Food Systems Research Week, she said: “The Cheney fellowship will offer an excellent opportunity for me to work with colleagues from across multiple disciplines at the University of Leeds starting now during the Global Food and Environment Institute’s International Food Systems Research Week.

“Further, my work will connect to the Knowledge Equity Network to enhance collaboration opportunities with Higher Education Institutions in Kenya starting with the University of Nairobi, with the aim to reduce inequalities and  help tackle global challenges together.”

The Global Food and Environment Institute (GFEI), University of Leeds, hosted partners from eastern and southern Africa for a research week dedicated to enabling research and innovation collaboration opportunities across strategic research, industry and priority policy themes.

The week organised in collaboration with the FoSTA Health programme, will focus on changing food systems supply chains and regulation and human, animal, environmental and plant health.

The University hosted colleagues from academia, industry and government from Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania.

Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, said: “International Food Systems Research Week is where our community of world leading research and innovation colleagues can collaborate with partners to foster opportunities across research, industry, and policy, to create life changing impact in our global communities.  

“The global challenges facing our world today - such as food security - can only be solved by viewing the system as a whole. Such a holistic approach requires strong interdisciplinary collaboration. We are delighted to continue and develop our partnerships with these leading experts and establish new interdisciplinary partnerships that can tackle global issues and drive change.”

During the week, a variety of systems research from Leeds was shared including FoSTA Health and Food Systems Research Network for Africa (FSNet-Africa). These programmes which focus on food security and African food systems are in partnership with the University of Pretoria and Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN).

Academics were able to plan FoSTA Health research on supply chain regulation, trade and One Health in southern Africa and progress the work on food systems mapping and modelling.

Professor Stephen Whitfield, Interim Director of GFEI, said: “In a context of varied social and environmental challenges, there are competing priorities for food system change in eastern and southern Africa. Bringing together different disciplines and sectors is crucial for building evidence-based understandings of the implications of food system changes in the region.

The Food Systems Research Week is part of the University of Leeds’ ongoing efforts within GFEI to build interdisciplinary partnerships for global challenge-led research.”

In light of the recent commitment from the UK government to strengthening science collaboration partnerships with South Africa, the week helped to identify opportunities for ongoing collaboration and a co-developed research agenda. 

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