Mixing More Voices into Food Policy

NAME: AMANDA SOOKDEO                                      ID NO.: 812117269

Population growth and rapid urbanization combined with other stresses such as climate change, extreme weather conditions and environmental degradation add to the already growing pressure of obtaining food security hence food policies are imposed on building a sustainable food system. Ellis (1996) defines food policy as the incorporation of governmental efforts to minimize factors negatively affecting the supply, distribution and consumption of food and hence ensure that citizens have a continuous access to sufficient amounts of food. Food policy focuses mainly on the adequacy of staple foods vital for the survival of the people in a country, not only the production of food. Food policy also deals with rectifying the disproportion between the availability of food and obtaining access to the food, varying/unequal incomes and poverty hinders food accessibility and causes incidences of starving or undernutrition in different sectors of a population.

The article titled “Mixing More Voices into Food Policy,” by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) discusses the innovative initiative of both IIED and Hivos together with the Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRC) working with a ‘Food Change Lab’ in the western region of Uganda to include not only the voices of municipal authorities but also that of the citizens; including low-income farmers (suppliers), informal traders and vendors (distributors) and rural Ugandan households (consumers). These voices assist in ‘molding’ a food system that would benefit everyone since those aforementioned are the people who spend a huge portion of their income on food and are therefore directly affected. Mixing More Voices into Food Policy (2016) states that some food policies often fail because it does not reflect the livelihood of those it targets which I completely agree with, having regular citizens voice their concerns and/or opinions will bring forth underlying food and nutrition issues.

The Food system in Uganda is limited by a number of factors such as inadequate financial services, poor agricultural facilities, inadequate storage and processing facilities, poor food sales and the over-dependence on rain sustained agriculture. Vision 2040, Uganda’s National Planning Document, discusses intentions for an accelerated shift from sustenance farming to commercial agriculture which was one of the issues discussed in the ‘change lab.’ Change labs are social spaces that welcome the emergence of innovations and the testing of inventions. While there are many advantages to a ‘change lab’ the lab remains a medium for discussion and still requires authorization for the implementation of any policy by Uganda’s government. While countries aim to create food security for citizens a natural disaster or extreme weather conditions can destroy all efforts in a matter of minutes. There are no measures in place to deal with a naturally occurring phenomenon.

“Mixing Voices into Food Policy” is an effective initiative to deal with food security not only in the Western Region of Uganda but should be implemented throughout the country and countries in the world. To encourage meaningful discussions that lead to successful inventions or sustainable solutions in the ‘change labs’ small incentives can be given to those citizens and encourage others to participate. Most importantly, together we can raise awareness on the importance of food and nutrition and achieve a hygienic, nutritious food system.



Ellis, Frank. 1996. Agricultural Policies in Developing Countries. 1st ed. Cambridge [u.a.]:            Cambridge Univ. Press.

Jongen, W. M. F, and M. T. G Meulenberg. 2005. Innovation In Agri-Food Systems. 1st ed.          Wageningen: Wageningen Publishers.

“Mixing More Voices into Food Policy”. 2016. International Institute for Environment And            Development. https://www.iied.org/mixing-more-voices-food-policy.


Mixing More Voices Into Food Policy

Nafisha Hassanali


Food systems are changing, driven by urbanization, trade, climate change and shifts in consumption. Sometimes these changes are well-intended efforts to provide the seven billion citizens of the world with available, affordable and nutritious food, but too often these policies are imposed in ways that do not consider the everyday issues facing low-income citizens; nor the solutions that the same local communities can suggest. The people most familiar with what food insecurity looks like in their communities are left out of the debate.

The article provides information on how the Food Change Lab in Uganda is bringing together a range of voices to shape a food system that works for all, including ordinary citizens. I support this notion because it is about time that someone takes into consideration what the people who are involved in the early stages of the food system (production) have to say other than the high rankers have to say (law setters).

One of the big questions therefore is how citizens will be involved in the food systems of the future. A food systems perspective helps to systematically uncover the drivers of consumption and production, as well as the complex web that links consumers to vendors, processors, traders, marketplaces and farmers. This is why Hivos and IIED have partnered to take a social innovation or “Change Lab” approach that will put citizens at the center of finding solutions to food challenges. They have convened not only the innovators or ‘change makers’, but all stakeholders in the food system, including those not normally given voices. The Food Change Lab approach aims for sustainable innovation in local food policy and planning, by including voices that are normally not heard. Hivos and IIED believes that this could radically improve inclusive and sustainable solutions.
Uganda’s national planning document Vision 2040, calls for “A transformed Ugandan society from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country within 30 years”. This simply means a rapid urbanization, with a dramatic growth of the urban population.
Although there are advantages to the food change lab, one disadvantages of this is due to the increased production, the natural resources are depleting therefore preventing sustainable production over the long term. A suggesting idea of including the voices of informal traders and vendors, can help ensure that urban growth is achieved without adding to the burdens of food insecurity, obesity and food-borne illness.

In a foreword accompanying the People Summit report, the NPA Director pledged to integrate the food system as a cross cutting issue in their planning system, and urged the Kabarole Food Change Lab to continue their work and be a leading example for other regions.


International Food Policy Research Institute (2016) Global Nutrition Report 2016: From Promise to Impact: Ending Malnutrition by 2030. Washington, DC.

Uganda Census of Agriculture 2008-9, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Uganda, 2010

Van Campenhout, Bjorn, Karl Pauw, and Nicholas Minot. The impact of food price shocks in Uganda: First-order versus long-run effects. Vol. 1284. Intl Food Policy Res Inst, 2013.