Benin - Madagascar dialogue: Transforming agricultural systems to end hunger 

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On 14 May 2024, the Zero Hunger Coalition conducted its first ‘South-South’ dialogue between Benin and Madagascar. This dialogue allowed the national taskforces from both countries to share their experiences and insights on their food system transformation. They discussed their challenges, opportunities and good practices applied. 

This dialogue is part of the Zero Hunger Coalition’s ongoing efforts to develop evidence-based and costed roadmaps for both countries, designed to identify the most effective and efficient interventions for transforming food systems addressing hunger, poverty, heathy diets and climate change. 

Status in Benin  

Benin’s task force, represented by Dossa Aguemon, Director of the Cabinet of the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of Benin, expressed his gratitude to the Coalition: “We are grateful for the opportunity to benefit from the experience and knowledge of Madagascar, whose government is probably at a more advanced stage in transforming their food systems.”  

Following the UN Food Systems Summit in 2021, Benin began the process for developing its national pathway to transform its food systems with a national assessment supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the European Union (EU) and CIRAD, the agricultural research and cooperation organisation.  While iterative consultations with stakeholders have taken place, the final report of the national dialogue has been delayed. 

Through the Coalition, Benin has partnered with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the Shamba Centre for Food & Climate. The goal is to finalise the national dialogue and develop a national pathway document based on the Coalition’s evidence-based and costed roadmap. 


Status in Madagascar 

The representative from Madagascar, Clara Raherijaona, Director of Communications at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, highlighted the substantial strides made in the country's food systems transformation. 

With support from the FAO, CIRAD and the EU, the country conducted an analysis of the state of play in 2021. In 2022, Madagascar developed its national pathway for food systems transformation which prioritised access to healthy and nutritious food for all, promoting equitable livelihoods and strengthening resilience to vulnerabilities. This process was further strengthened by four national consultations, emphasizing inclusivity and community involvement.  

In addition, the government published its first voluntary assessment during the UN Food System Summit Stocktaking Moment (UNFSS+2) to highlight the impact of its efforts. Achievements included food banks for vulnerable populations during emergencies and the provision of inputs to producers.  

Since 2023, the Food System Transformation Taskforce has commenced the operationalisation of the national pathway. To facilitate the development of the action plan, the government will leverage the Coalition’s evidence-based research and detailed cost analysis as a guide. Given that the roadmap focuses on maximising impact and optimising resource allocation, the government will be able to ensure that interventions are effective and targeted. 

Clara highlighted the pre-eminent role of the Taskforce to ensure coordination, planification and implementation. To maintain the long-term engagement of the Taskforce, the government plans to launch an online platform that provides access to all stakeholders and allows for continuous and collaborative update. 

Bodo Rakotomalala, a Nutrition Specialist for Policy Development at UNICEF Madagascar, outlined the reasons behind her organisations involvement in the Taskforce. The persistent issue of food poverty among children galvanised changes in national food and agricultural policies as the government recognised that the indicator of food diversity for children was consistently poor and showed no signs of improvement over time. This realisation prompted a strategic shift to address the root causes directly: improving the existing food systems, enhancing food production availability across different regions and bridging the cultural and educational gaps in nutrition. 


Four key insights from the dialogue 

  • Thierry Randriarilala, Programme Manager at FAO, stressed the importance of a common vision and clearly defined priorities for transforming food systems, underscoring how vital this alignment is for coordinating efforts across all stakeholders. 

  • A commitment to inclusivity ensures broad-based support for transforming food systems. This includes taking local contexts into account, which is essential for engaging and collaborating effectively with all stakeholders. Successful policy implementation hinges on active participation not only from government entities but also from local communities, private sector players and international organisations. Such diverse collaboration enhances the likelihood of sustainable outcome. 

  • Fostering a culture of learning is important for continuous improvement and adaptation as food systems are inherently complex and dynamic. This includes strengthening the capacity of local institutions and communities to manage and implement changes and ensure sustainability and long-term effectiveness. 

  • Breaking down policy silos and adopting a holistic approach are necessary to ensure effective transformation. This involves creating synergies between stakeholder efforts, which can be challenging but is critical for comprehensive policy implementation 


Further collaboration opportunities 

As a next step, Benin would like to integrate representatives from Madagascar’s taskforce into their process. Further exchanges between the two countries are expected in the coming months. 

For the Zero Hunger Coalition, these dialogues serve as an opportunity for countries to support each other. While each country has its own dynamics and context, they can learn from different experiences and use good practices to inform their activities.  

The next Zero Hunger Coalition ‘South-South’ dialogue will take place in August. 

To participate in the Coalition and learn more about its activities, visit the website and follow us.  

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