KM4Dev Harare 2017
Theme Invisible CoPs
A KM4Dev gathering in Harare (25 – 26 July 2017) seeks to inspire various actors and disciplines to engage and learn from the practices of informal food CoPs. While relationship-based food demand and supply models are increasing in many developing countries, lack of coherent knowledge pathways limits the extent to which these CoPs can influence development practice, theory and national food policies. Part of what remains unknown and unappreciated is informal food CoPs’ motivations, dynamic practices and contribution to regional and international food systems. From farmers to consumers or end-users, more than 70 percent of African food passes through informal food CoPs in informal markets. These CoPs and markets have become powerful sources of knowledge for farmers, traders and other actors. During the Harare KM4Dev gathering, participants will be immersed in Mbare Informal food market in Harare where more than a dozen knowledge pathways have been identified: farmer to farmer; farmer to trader; trader to farmer; trader to trader; farmer to transporter; transporter to farmer; trader to transporter; consumer to farmer; consumer to trader; trader to financier and many others.
The event hopes to generate reflections and answers to the following questions: • How do informal food CoPs respond to the needs of diverse consumers and knowledge seekers? • What could be the potential role of culture in shaping food demand and supply models? • To what extent do existing theoretical approaches and concepts around food speak to the peculiar roles of informal food CoPs and traders? • How do informal food CoPs and traders negotiate power and neutralize the politics of food? • How can the development sector harness informal knowledge sharing pathways that are used by the majority of African food producers and suppliers to make decisions? • What can we learn from the way knowledge travels through informal food supply models? • How can we recognize invisible CoPs that make informal agriculture markets resilient? • How can we use the KM4Dev toolkit and other approaches to learn from the informal food market? When the event is over, our collective achievements should include the following: • We will have discovered new and immediately useful sources of agricultural knowledge that is all around us. • We will have explored and applied the Wenger-Trayner value creation framework with a local knowledge perspective. • New theories and interpretations of the social, economic, ethical, cultural and political characteristics of food systems will have germinated among the participants.
I look forward to your thoughts/ideas/questions/contributions or any resources that can demonstrate how our agenda touches many parts of the globe.
Plans for the very first KM4Dev Harare gathering (25 - 26 July 2017) are powering forward. If you can't join us physically, there are several ways in which you can participate, thanks to ICTs. However, I will be grateful if you can give yourself permission to be present or contribute to our agenda in various ways. Ahead of the event, I am particularly keen to hear how issues in the agenda drop in your box. Having briefly stayed in Italy and witnessed how lunch and eating-out are such big deals in that country, it is my suspicion that informal food CoPs could be prevalent in many parts of the world. I will be happy if you can mirror our Harare agenda below to your context and send me insights about what is happening where you live:
Climate change-induced food insecurity and global socio-economic instability compels us to continuously revisit food demand and supply models, especially in developing countries. In many African countries, conventional approaches like the notion of formal value chains are no longer enough to fully understand food systems. It seems invisible Communities of Practice (CoPs) such as informal markets and relationships offer new pathways of forging new relationships and interpreting reality around food. These CoPs do not present food as a mere market commodity but demonstrate the extent to which food is linked to people’s identities. While all these aspects influence food demand and supply, modern value chain approaches seem limited to the economic sense and tend to over-simplify soft issues like knowledge, trust and relationships. Yet in most African informal markets, knowledge sharing adds more value than processing commodities into finished products. By fostering knowledge exchange between different commodities and people, informal markets build national food baskets supported by different food sources and values.