The private sector in knowledge processes and partnerships for food and nutrition security in the Global South: a case study from the Dutch Food and Business Applied Research Fund programme


  • Frejus Thoto
  • Mawuna D. Houessou ACED
  • Corinne Lamain NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development
  • Rodrigue C. Gbedomon ACED


For-profit actors, agribusiness, inclusive business, smallholders, agriculture, food systems, knowledge co-creation, knowledge management, sustainable development goals


Based on a recent outlook on the food and nutrition security, the zero-hunger goal is unlikely to be achieved by 2030. To improve the situation, there is a need for transformational changes not only by producing high-quality knowledge and innovations on food and nutrition security but also by ensuring their uptake and upscaling. On this challenge, the private sector is increasingly seen to play a critical role. However, the underlying factors and dynamics supporting such private sector mainstreaming in knowledge processes and partnerships are poorly known. This paper, therefore, contributes to the knowledge gap and learns from the Dutch Food and Business Applied Research Fund (ARF) programme to explore the role the private sector has played. We found that for-profit actors can bring value to research processes and knowledge development. However, the collaborations come with challenges related to goals and interests, implementation approach, and marketing strategies. The outcomes of such collaborations may be mixed and, in some cases, lead to results that are not inclusive for the most food insecure. Partnerships that include the private sector should be cognizant of the possible challenges and proactively define approaches that leverage the private sector to add value to food and nutrition security outcomes.

Author Biographies

Mawuna D. Houessou, ACED

Mawuna D. Houessou is the Director of Operations of ACED. He has extensive experience in program management, research and evaluation in food and nutrition security, community resilience, common goods, fisheries, urban agriculture and urban food systems. He is a PhD researcher, working on an operational framework for urban agriculture development in Benin, at Athena Institute of the VU University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Corinne Lamain, NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development

Corinne Lamain is a senior policy adviser at NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development. She coordinates the Food & Business Research programme, that includes the Applied Research Fund and the Global Challenges Programme. She has ample experience in developing and conducting approaches that enhance the potential for research impact. Corinne is also a PhD-candidate, focusing on the intersections of climate politics, climate security discourses and socio-environmental conflicts in the Eastern Himalayas. She holds an MSc in International Development Studies.

Rodrigue C. Gbedomon, ACED

Rodrigue C. Gbedomon is the Research and Learning Director at ACED. He coordinates the research agenda of ACED to facilitate their mainstreaming into policy decisions. Dr. Gbedomon is also a researcher at the University of Abomey-Calavi (Benin) and research associate at the Institute of Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva (Switzerland) with specialization in biodiversity, ecosystem services, forest economics, agricultural and forest value chains, and strategic environmental assessment. He collaborates with several organizations, including but not limited to the World Bank Group, The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).


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