Research Activities: Urban Food Plus Summer School at the RUB
Martina Shakya reports on the third summer school that took place in the context of the Urban Food Plus project.
The third annual Summer School of the BMBF-funded research project Urban FoodPlus (UFP)
took place from 4th to 9th October 2015. Alternating between West Africa and Germany, this year's summer school was hosted by the IEE at the RUB's Blue Square
, in the city centre of Bochum. With more than 60 participants, the summer school brought together a wide range of stakeholders from 13 different countries, including researchers and project partners from UFP's four focus countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, and Mali.
Focus on Urban Agriculture
The UFP project aims to enhance resource use efficiency and improve food security in the urban and peri-urban agriculture of West African cities. Along these lines, the keynote speeches, which opened the summer school programme on Monday, focused on the importance of urban agriculture for food and nutrition security in Sub-Sahara Africa. Speaking on behalf of the RUAF (Resources Centres on Urban Agriculture & Food Security) Foundation, which is UFP's central partner for dialogue with local stakeholders in West Africa, Dr Philip Amoah gave an introductory overview of the current state of urban agriculture. In the second keynote speech, Dr Martin Yeboah from the World Vegetable Centre (AVRDC)
highlighted the nutritional importance and economic potential of African indigenous crops, especially green leafy vegetables. Due to their perishability, such vegetables must be produced within or in close proximity to cities and are, hence, important crops for urban and peri-urban agriculture.
Presentation of Research Results...
With the first funding phase (June 2013-May 2016) of the UFP project nearing its end, most of the field research in the cities of Tamale (Ghana) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) is now completed. The summer school, thus, provided the opportunity to take stock of an ample range of preliminary research findings from UFP's sub-projects. The various disciplinary perspectives and contributions to the UFP project were reflected in the plenary sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. Topics covered by the presentations included yield and soil property changes due to biochar application, the results of urban food flow surveys in both cities, the contribution of urban agriculture to food security, urban livestock production, wastewater filtration for agricultural production, and the importance of social networks for urban vegetable cultivation. From the IEE, Wilhelm Löwenstein, Martina Shakya, Lesley Hope, and Marc Hansen presented the first results of UFP's sub-project, Economics, which explores the welfare implications of biochar application and improved wastewater irrigation on urban producers, markets, and consumers.
... And Planning of Future Activities
Several sessions of the summer school were reserved for the planning and discussion of future activities among the project partners. Provided a positive outcome of the on-going interim evaluation will allow for a continuation of UFP until mid-2018, research activities will soon be extended to Bamako (Mali) and Bamenda (Cameroon). In line with this purpose, the presence of and input from UFP's partners in Mali and Cameroon at the summer school was particularly crucial and highly appreciated. From the Institute d'Economie Rurale du Mali (IER)
in Bamako, Dr Hamidou Nantoumé attended the UFP summer school, while the local partner in Bamenda, Strategic Humanitarian Services in Cameroon (SHUMAS)
, was represented by Stephen Ndzerem. Continuation of research activities in Tamale and Ouagadougou was discussed intensively as well. It was concluded that UFP's academic partners in Ghana and Burkina Faso, including the University of Ghana
, the University for Development Studies (UDS)
, and the Institut de l'Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA)
, shall play a stronger role in the maintenance and academic management of UFP's central experiment sites in Tamale and Ouagadougou in the future.
Promoting Research Skills of Young Scholars
One primary objective of UFP's annual summer school is to promote the academic qualification of UFP's PhD candidates. Apart from their contributions to the plenary sessions, the young researchers also had a chance to present their work at a poster session (see guided poster session on picture above; photo: private)
Moreover, workshops on scientific writing strategies, promotion of interdisciplinary research and statistics were offered during the summer school. Special thanks go to the RUB's Research School
, which generously supported the workshops (see UFP PhD students at a workshop picture above on the right; photo: private)
Prizes for the best posters were awarded during the concluding session of the summer school. Juliane Dao, PhD candidate from the University of Kassel, received the first prize for her poster, while the second prize was shared by Delphine Manka'abusi (University of Kassel) and Hanna Karg (University of Freiburg). The third prize went to Lesley Hope, PhD IDS candidate at the IEE. Congratulations to the successful candidates!
Excursion on Urban Gardening
A half-day excursion on urban agriculture in Germany was unanimously voted as one of the highlights of the summer school by the participants. The first part of the excursion was a visit to the ecological allotment garden "Kraut und Rüben"
in Bochum (see group picture at the garden below; photo: private)
After a warm welcome by members of the garden association and the chairman of Bochum's allotment garden umbrella association
, the summer school participants learned about the history and current role of allotment gardens in Germany.
After that, summer school participants visited the community garden Hof Bergmann
, one of Bochum's most recent urban gardening projects. While exchanging experiences and ideas about sustainable food production between urban gardeners and UFP researchers, participants were treated to delightful "urban food" prepared from fresh vegetables grown in the community garden (see summer school participants at the community garden "Hof Bergmann" above; photo: private)
The Way Forward
This year's summer school in Bochum marked an important milestone for the UFP project. The project researchers have already collected a massive amount of empirical data from Tamale (Ghana) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), which—after completion of on-going data analyses—will give preliminary answers to the project's multifaceted research questions, as far as these two cities are concerned. The first PhD projects are now nearing completion, thus the focus of UFP will now shift towards the presentation and publication of research results. Apart from reaching out to the scientific community, UFP will also share and discuss its findings with urban farmers and other relevant stakeholders in West Africa. While the BMBF's decision on a project extension until mid-2018 is still pending, preparations are already under way, in close cooperation with the African and international project partners, for future research activities in Bamako (Mali) and Bamenda (Cameroon).
For more information:http://www.urbanfoodplus.org/http://www.development-research.org/index.php/research/cluster-3/urban-food-plus.htmlDr. Martina Shakya
Postdoctoral Fellow, Urban Food Plus
Phone: +49 (0)234 / 32-25149
Fax: +49 (0)234 / 32-14294