Towards planet and people-positive agriculture in East Africa

IIED and partners are reviewing the state of planet and people-positive agriculture in Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda to identify entry points for environmentally sound agriculture and food systems that create social and economic benefits.

June 2020 - February 2021
Barbara Adolph

Senior associate, Natural Resources

View of a field and a farm.

Farmland surrounding the crater lakes near Fort Portal, Western Uganda (Photo: Alejandro Guarín, IIED)

The agricultural and agri-food sector is the main employer and an important generator of revenue in East Africa. However, agricultural and food systems in Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda are facing many challenges, often failing poor people and the environment.

Food and nutrition security has overall improved in these countries over the past decade, but recent shocks (desert and African migratory locusts swarming, floods followed by droughts and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic) mean that food insecurity persists, affecting the poorest and most vulnerable rural and urban people.

Agricultural policies and practices focus on increasing the production of staple food crops and livestock products through agricultural intensification programmes, while also expanding export-oriented agriculture. But this often takes a toll on the environment: while the land under agriculture is expanding into natural habitats that provide important contributions to people, existing arable and pasture lands continue to degrade.

But there are technologies and institutions that have the potential to generate benefits for both people and the planet. Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds and enhances ecosystem services, building on agroecological principles, including nutrient recycling.

Planet and people-positive agriculture (PPPA) expands this principle of circularity to agribusinesses, and includes a strong commitment to social and economic inclusion and empowerment.

What is IIED doing?

IIED is leading this project to establish the state of PPPA in four East African countries – Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya – and identify entry points to support a transition towards sustainable and equitable food and agriculture systems in the region. This includes working with partners in the four selected countries to produce a report on the status of PPPA.

In order to identify successful examples of PPPA interventions and to understand the interests and ambitions of different stakeholders, we will:

  • Carry out a document review
  • Interview key informants, and
  • Hold online workshops.

This analysis will inform the decisions and actions of development actors in Africa and globally.