News - February 15, 2007

Food sovereignty examined

The capacity of people to choose themselves how they produce and consumer food: a possible definition of ‘food sovereignty’, and the central idea in a new INREF research programme launched this week.

The programme kicked off this week with a series of workshops. Twelve PhD students will work in three teams over the next few years. Each team consists of a plant breeder, a food technologist, a nutritionist and a social scientist.

In India one of the teams will look at local production and processing of the mung bean, in West Africa the cowpea and in Ecuador the lupine. These are all legumes that are cultivated and processed in different ways. The idea is that using local technology to produce and process the crops is important for local food sovereignty. The production and processing take place within local networks that are located in a particular region. Local production differs in this way from international production chains, where production – in the south – is often separated from the consumption – in the west. The PhD students will research how the local food networks work and whether they can contribute to improved nutrition and food sovereignty.

Professor Tiny van Boekel of the Product Design and Quality Management Group is leading the programme which has been named ‘Tailoring Food Sciences to Endogenous Patterns of Local Food Supply for Future Nutrition’ (Telfun). Professor Guido Ruivenkamp is also participating in the project. He works within the new social sciences institute Critical Technology Construction in Wageningen. The Human Nutrition, Microbiology and Crop Breeding groups are involved in the programme.