Skip to main content

Linking agricultural development to school feeding in sub-Saharan Africa: Theoretical perspectives

  • Published on March 18, 2022

This paper takes as a starting point the proposition that social protection interventions involving food can be used to promote transformational change in family farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa. The purpose is to highlight the complexity of pathways to agricultural transformation associated with the seemingly simple idea of home-grown school feeding (HGSF), an idea that is increasingly held up as ‘‘win–win’’. By reviewing the HGSF literature and the main theories underpinning it – structured demand, localism, family farmer development – we expose areas of inconsistency across the literature and programmes as well as possible tensions that may arise in attempting to pursue both market and social objectives in the same initiative. The arguments presented herein aim to provide a basis for moving towards clarity on (1) a theory of change for HGSF programmes; (2) the conditions under which HGSF programmes are more able to yield positive agricultural development outcomes and; (3) an agenda for moving forward on research and impact evaluation. This research agenda also speaks more broadly to important underresearched areas within the general social protection and agricultural development discourse.

This paper uses the case of HGSF to explore the proposition that social protection and agricultural growth can be achieved through a single intervention. Given the increasing interest in (and significant resources devoted to) HGSF as a tool for positive agricultural change, as well as the dearth of empirical evidence on the validity of the HGSF proposition, the paper intends to make a critical, timely and constructive contribution. Specifically, the authors aim to unpack the theory and assumptions underlying the HGSF agenda and situate notions of ‘‘structured demand’’ and ‘‘localisation’’ within the appropriate literatures in order to draw lessons that bear on HGSF.

You might also be Interested in