The West African Centre for Sustainable Rural Transformation (WAC-SRT) has established a Living Lab at the University for Development Studies (UDS) funded by the European Union. It would serve as a training centre for beneficiaries in aquaponics, hydroponics, and insect farming.
The establishment of the Living Lab at the Nyankpala Campus of UDS was part of the inauguration of Integrated and Circular Technologies for Sustainable city Food System in Africa (INCiTiS-FOOD PROJECT) in Ghana.
The project seeks to improve food and nutrition security in Africa and reduce the food-system-related environmental footprints while contributing to circularity.
Professor Seidu Al-Hassan, Vice-chancellor of UDS, speaking during the inauguration of the INCiTiS-FOOD PROJECT and the establishment of Living Lab centre at Nyankpala, said the establishment was one of the eight Living Labs developed across Africa within the framework of the European Union Horizon Projects.
He said the Living Lab was a fenced farm area with shaded trees and other ecosystem services conducive to integrated fish-vegetable farms and the site was constructed and fenced with corrugated wire mesh on large tracts of land.
He said the set-up for the aquaponics was housed in a shaded house to provide a serene environment to allow for all-year-round production.
Professor Al-Hassan indicated that as the world, and particularly Africa struggled to emerge from the detrimental impacts of climate change, research and innovation would be key for the success of efforts in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of zero hunger and no poverty.
Alhaji Shani Alhassan Saibu, Northern Regional Minister said the UDS Living Lab would improve food systems to promote the availability of nutrition security and supply in the country.
He said, “Within the next four years, the INCiTiS-FOOD project would contribute to solving challenges related to the four dimensions of food and nutrition security,” adding that the project would also improve food access and affordability, increase food utilisation, and the reduction of food waste as well as improve food stability in the country.
Dr Emmanuel Olatunbosun Benjamin, who gave overview of the project on behalf of the Coordinator of the INCiTiS-FOOD PROJECT, said the project would economically empower communities by opening opportunities for agri-food businesses along the supply and value chains and would further achieve environmental justice through transformative food policies.
He added that the project consisted of 24 partners from 13 countries spread across Europe and Africa.
Dr Benjamin said the project would be achieved through interdisciplinary research, integrated best-fit technologies creation and uptake, stakeholder-led action, capacity-building, research-practitioner-policy collaborative engagement, and Europe-Africa partnership.
He stated that INCiTiS-FOOD project would co-create circular agri-food technologies, practices, and business models for an inclusive food system in African cities and towns.
The project is based on a multi-actor approach involving eight Living Labs in six countries.