Learning and Adaptation in Food Systems: Insights from Four Case Studies in the Global South

Stellah Mukhovi, Johanna Jacobi, Chinwe Ifejika Speranza, Stephan Rist, Boniface Kiteme


This article presents empirical results on learning and adaptation to risks among different groups of actors in food systems in two countries of the global south (Kenya and Bolivia). Using a resilience approach, the study sought to assess knowledge about risks perceived by actors, forms of learning that actors in food systems have access to and use, and how this knowledge and learning has contributed to adaptation and resilience build ing. Data were collected through questionnaires, interviews, farmer meetings, workshops, and participant observation. The target population was different groups of actors in agroindustrial food systems in both countries, a regional food system in Kenya and an agroecological food system in Bolivia. The results show that knowledge on threats came from the actors’ experience and interaction with external actors. The main risks identified in Kenya and Bolivia included climate change impacts – particularly extreme climatic events (floods and droughts) –, price fluctuation of food products, declining soil fertility, deforestation, and –in Kenya– human-wildlife conflicts, and conflicts between actors over resource use. The most important forms of learning were experiential learning through demonstration farms, social learning exemplified in group approaches, and learning at individual levels through information
exchange between farmers and external actors such as extension personnel, research organisations and non-governmental organisations. There is potential to enhance adaptation strategies whose knowledge has been acquired over the years, to build resilient food systems necessary for dealing with current and future shocks and stress.


Food systems; Learning; Adaptation; Resilience; Global South

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18461/ijfsd.v11i4.57

ISSN 1869-6945


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