Siirry sisältöön
Fair, healthy and green food models for Western African higher education


Birgitta Nelimarkka

lehtori, opinto-ohjaus
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 14.05.2024

The European Union has set goals for Europe to be carbon neutral by 2030 under the goals of the European Green Deal (European Commission 2019). Involved in the Green Deal is the Farm to Fork -strategy, which sets goals for the food chain, starting from agriculture and the food industry (European Commission 2020). These goals will most likely have an impact on European import and export of food and thus also affect areas outside of Europe, especially Africa (Dekeyser & Woolfrey 2021).

Helping West African universities become change makers

The NEEMA-project is an EU-funded project aiming at increasing the knowledge of the European Farm to Fork -strategies in West Africa (Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal). The project helps participating universities become change makers for the agricultural development in Africa. The European partners in the project are six of the eight Ulysseus Universities. In West Africa eight Universities are joined in on the project.

The West African partners are drafting strategy-papers analyzing the food system challenges in their countries as the European partners are collecting best practices in joint research-collaboration.

The agricultural landscape in Finland is very different from that in Africa. Best practices from Finland will be focusing on education, nutrition policies, and consumer perspectives. The home-economics education in Finland is unique, providing basic understanding and skills for everyone on food safety, handling of ingredients and cooking. All Finnish school children participate in hands on home-economics teaching at a lower secondary school level 7. The Finnish nutritional recommendations are based on wide collaboration within the Nordic countries: the same model can be used in West Africa, where countries share similar food cultures.

Women are important contributors in the food system

In the Neema-project, a food and nutrition resilience curricula will be developed to improve the knowledge and skills of the higher education institutes’ (HEIs) professors, students, and stakeholders. Our aim is also to strengthen the cooperation between participating HEIs and European food and nutrition partners by identifying possibilities for research and innovation activities.

At Haaga-Helia we will oversee the developing of a module for the joint curricula. The module will focus on gender equality as it is important to gain understanding of the role of women as important contributors in the food system. By including women in the development and decision-making of fair and healthy food models, understanding is enhanced and a more equal society can be built.

The NEEMA (Towards healthy and sustainable universities of the future in West Africa and Europe. Fair, healthy and green food models in Higher Education) -project is an Erasmus Capacity Building -project co-funded by the European Union. It started in February 2024, and will continue until September 2027.

Picture: Shutterstock