Dynamic trends coupled with deep challenges, and complex partnerships were recurrent themes in this year’s Food Lab Learning Journey and Summit discussions.

Urbanization across East Africa increases demand for safe, healthy food in local markets. Apex organizations like the Tanzania Horticultural Association and the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor are creating synergies among market demand, private investment and farmer needs. Rapid dissemination of low cost, post-harvest technology is reducing crop loss and increasing food security.

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Opportunities coexist with difficulties. Climate variability, systemic poverty, lack of reinvestment in farm improvement and not enough technical service delivery exacerbate farmers’ challenges every season. Ready investment capital far outstrips the capacity of African countries to capture this opportunity.  Governments prioritize agricultural development but are often crippled by lack of institutional coordination and internal capacity.

These were some of the messages we heard from the 94 African and global business, civil society and government leaders attending the 2016 Sustainable Food Lab Leadership Summit. The Summit participants worked together to map the context of agriculture in East Africa in an effort to understand this region and its lessons for our work to build sustainable food systems.