New Master thesis on vegetable farmers in Ouagadougou completed under SP6, July 2017

Day of the defense (from left to right: Dr Alexi Kaboré, Pr Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo, Florentin Zong-Naba and Dr Gabin Korbéogo)

Florentin Zong-Naba investigated the social processes of appropriation and usage of agricultural technology by urban farmers in Ouagadougou. His thesis highlights how vegetable farmers improved their wellbeing through the introduction of fertilizers into their actor-network. He defended his Master thesis in Sociology with the title “Stratégies sociales d’adoption et d’utilisation des technologies agricoles en milieu urbain: cas des fertilisants agricoles dans les sites maraichers de Ouagadougou” on 26th of July 2017 at the University of Ouagadougou. On his thesis committee were Dr. Alexi Kaboré, Pr Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo and Dr. Gabin Korbéogo. Dr. Imogen Bellwood-Howard co-supervised this research project together with Dr. Gabin Korbéogo.

Urban Food Plus Summer School on “Building and Sharing Knowledge in Urban Agriculture” at University of Goettingen, June 2017

Between the 21st and 23rd of June 2017, University of Goettingen hosted the fourth annual Summer School of the BMBF-funded project UrbanFoodPlus (UFP). Close to 50 participants came together at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and the Conference Centre at the Observatory for three intensive days of presentations, workshops, discussions and planning sessions. The summer school facilitated exchange between German and African researchers based in Germany and the project’s African and international partners. The thematic focus of the summer school was on building and sharing knowledge in urban agriculture. Researchers from all sub-projects presented their findings and on-going projects in posters and presentations. Partners and researchers worked together in activating sessions aimed at discussing the project’s role of transmitting research outputs to non-academic stakeholders such as policy-makers and farmers. Participants reflected on the intricacies of multi-stakeholder engagement processes as experienced in Tamale and Ouagadougou and the impact of their own research. Building on these lessons learnt participants set a time frame for activities in Bamenda.

In view of the project’s aim to promote the academic qualification of young scholars, the Summer School offered a workshop on the management, publication and citation of data. As a novelty, the Summer School also offered a session for Postdocs on lessons learnt and potentials in data management within the project. Both workshops were given by the eResearch Alliance of University of Goettingen.

The Summer school offered the opportunity to engage with Social Anthropology as a discipline through a customised guided tour of the Ethnographic Collection – one of the most significant teaching and research collections in the German-speaking sphere. The tour gave insights into the embeddedness of food production in social and cultural systems and it highlighted the collection process through expeditions – in their own ways early interdisciplinary enterprises.

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Royal Geographical Society Conference, September 2016

The anthropology team presented at the Royal geographical Society Conference in London in September 2016. Imogen Bellwood-Howard convened a panel on ‘Political Ecology and Technology in Agrofood Systems’ that was sponsored by the Food Geographies Working Group, as well as presenting a paper on Tamale’s vegetable markets in a session entitled ‘Ethnographic methods in Economic Geography’. Finally, the session on ‘Cities as Nodes in the Food Nexus’ hosted a film about the UFP Ghana-Burkina farmer exchange visit.

UFP at the American Association of Geographers’ annual meeting in San Francisco, March 2016

Lesley Hope, Marc Hansen and Martina Shakya of SP7 joined Imogen Bellwood-Howard of SP6 in three very well attended sessions on UPA at the American Association of Geographers’ annual meeting in San Francisco in March 2016. UFP organised the sessions and presented three papers. Two showed the value of SP7s modelling approaches in interdisciplinary context, and one detailed the comparative element of the baseline survey work. The three sessions focused on welfare, planning, and food security elements of UPA, all within an overall theme emphasising the interdisciplinarity of academic approaches to UPA. The UFP researchers were joined by academics working on UPA from Israel, Australia and France as well as the States, giving examples of approaches to studying UPA in countries across the global north and south.

Farmer Field Trip, March 2016

Four farmers from Ouagadougou visited Tamale and hosted their Ghanaian peers in return, in a week-long exchange visit in March 2016.

SP3, SP6, CIRDES, GRIL and BELWET coordinated to organise the trip. We aimed to respond to requests farmers had made that UFP facilitate their own research, and we ourselves wanted to record what their research priorities were. One further aim was to use a novel methodology to address one of our project objectives, obtaining farmers’ evaluations of UFP technologies and allied production techniques.

We therefore visited the central field experiment and a drip irrigation experiment set up by Tamale’s URBANET, a local organisation affiliated to UFP through our partner RUAF. Farmers who had been involved in the production of biochar demonstrated the method to the travelling producers.

In addition, we explored the production, transformation and marketing landscapes of the two cities. Amongst other activities, we visited BELWET’s jatropha oil factory and moringa plantation. At BELWET’s production site, we tasted their local chickens: products of their improved system matching 35 hens to 5 cocks. Larle Naaba Tigre, head of BELWET, emphasises the production of local chickens for their taste and traditional functions.

On the livestock side, we followed the value chain from artificial insemination of cattle through a livestock market to mechanical processing of meat into pâté. In Ouagadougou, Tamale farmers were introduced to strawberries, and the Burkinabés visited the Ghana trade fair held at Tamale stadium. 

The participant farmers and partners asked for a film that they could use to explain their experiences to others. We therefore made videos that relate our experiences and considers theme of business linkage, experimentation, and learning. These different versions are linked to here.

Farmers and students visit a Burkinabe cattle farm
A cabbage farm at Boulmiougou
Sahakhpaligu irrigation site
UFPs central field experiment at Zagyuri

European Conference on African Studies, July 2015

The UFP SP6 and GRIL team organised a panel on Urban Agriculture at the European conference on African Studies in Paris on 10th July 2015. ECAS is a biennial event attracting scholars from around the world. The theme for the 2015 meeting, held at Paris’ Panthéon-Sorbonne University, was ‘Collective Mobilisations in Africa: Contestation, Resistance, Revolt’.

All team members presented at the panel, entitled ‘Contested networks of food production in urban Africa’. It served as an opportunity for UFP scholars to engage with peers from IWMI and the African Studies Centre at Leiden, among others working in the UFP study cities.

The four papers covered GRIL and SP6’s work on water access and herding in Ouagadougou and marketing and land access in Tamale.

Link between GlobE funded social scientists, May 2015

Researchers from the GlobE funded project Reducing Losses and Adding Value in East African Food Value Chains (ReLOAD) at the German Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture (DITSL) visited Göttingen University’s Institut für Ethnologie on 26th May 2015. Guyo Malicha Roba, accompanied by Professor Brigitte Kauffman, presented on Mr. Robas PhD research, entitled ‘Using multi-actor approaches for collaborative learning in pastoral meat value chains in Northern Kenya’. Mr Roba’s work on Kenyan livestock markets connects particularly with that of Barbara Löhde on cattle in Ouagadougou and Imogen Bellwood-Howard on vegetable markets in Tamale. His use of an actor-oriented approach reflects the methods the Göttingen team are using in their work in Ouagadougou and Tamale. This connection between GlobE funded social scientists took place as part of the Contemporary Social Theory and Markets seminar held by Prof Schareika at the Institut für Ethnologie.

Presentation at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 2015

Imogen Bellwood-Howard presented at the Association of American Geographers meeting in Chicago on 26th April. The paper, part of the session on Indigeneity and Actor Network Theory, used material collected in Tamale on farmers’ knowledge.

February 2015 Harmattan School

The UDS Harmattan School conference took place on the 4th and 5th February at the UDSICC. The theme was "Sanitation and Health Communication for National Development": something that is relevant to UFP’s concern with waste water and healthy food.

October 2014 Exploratory survey farmer feedback event in Ouagadougou

In Ouagadougou, a separate event was organized for feedback to farmers who had participated in the exploratory survey. These farmers gathered at Wayalghin, near the central experiment field, on 11th October 2014, to hear and comment on the results of the exploratory survey carried out by UFP in late 2013. Four of these farmers expressed interest in using this as a vehicle for mobilization, and were put in contact with the committee that formed at the stakeholder workshop.

Researchers give feedback from the exploratory survey to farmers in Ouagadougou and Ouagalaise farmers comment on the survey results.

August 2014 SP6 and 8 at International Conference on Enhancing Resilience to Climate and Ecosystem Changes in Semi-arid Africa

Alongside Takemore Chagomoka from SP8, Eileen Bogweh Nchanji and Imogen Bellwood-Howard from SP6 gave papers at the International Conference on Enhancing Resilience to Climate and Ecosystem Changes in Semi-arid Africa. This was held by our partner institution, UDS, in collaboration with the United Nations University Institute for Sustainability and Peace on August 6 - 7, 2014.

February 2014 Harmattan School Conference

IBH and EN at the 2014 Harmattan School.

Eileen Bogweh Nchanji and Imogen Bellwood-Howard presented a paper entitled "Governance for development in urban agriculture" at the UDS Institute for Interdisciplinary Research 8th Harmattan School conference on February 17th, 2014. The conference theme was "Accountable Governance - A Key to National Development".  The full paper is now online at and available here

September - November 2013 Exploratory survey and participatory appraisal

The exploratory survey and participatory appraisal was the first on-site activity for the UFP team. This overview research attempt comprised qualitative and quantitative elements. UFP PhD students and Postdocs, assisted by teams of local staff, performed focus groups, farm visits, qualitative interviews and a survey of 513 households across Ouagadougou and Tamale. Soil samples were collected alongside agronomic and socioeconomic data.

Training staff in Tamale for the exploratory survey.
Field staff in Ouagadougou with soil samples.
Staff conducting a site visit in Ouagadougou.