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SALSA – Small farms, small food businesses and sustainable food and nutrition security

SALSA will provide a better understanding of the current and potential contribution of small farms and food businesses to sustainable food and nutrition security. Using a food systems perspective the project will look beyond production capacity and investigate food security in terms of the availability of nutritious and safe food, food access and control (including affordability), food utilisation, and food stability. Project partners will be pioneering a novel integrated multi-method approach in 30 regions in Europe and Africa, using the most recent satellite technologies, transdisciplinary approaches, food systems mapping and participatory foresight analysis.

SALSA will examine relevant governance systems related to the organisation of small farmers and food chains, and provide tools to guide decision-makers in enhancing the contribution of small farms and food businesses to food and nutrition security. Our approach will recognise the tremendous diversity of small farms and food systems in Europe and Africa, paying particular attention to their vulnerability and resilience. SALSA will facilitate an effective collaboration and exchange between European and African research and practice partners, thereby supporting the implementation of the EU-Africa Dialogue.

SALSA aims to effectively engage with stakeholders and decision-makers relevant to small farms and food and nutrition security, and facilitate a dialogue that cuts across classical boundaries in research, policy and practice.

Project Objectives

To thoroughly assess the current role of small farms and small food businesses in achieving sustainable Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) in Europe and in selected African regions.

To evaluate the means by which small farms can respond to the expected increase in demand for food, feed and fibre of an increasing population in an increasingly resource constrained world.

To assess the capacity of small farms and small food businesses to contribute to FNS under alternative future scenarios for 2030/50, and to identify the main determinants of the capacity to respond.

To help better tailor international cooperation (in particular EU-Africa) and research and to develop tools to guide decision makers in enhancing the role of small farms in FNS.

To establish a Community of Practice and to enhance the use of FAO’s TECA platform as well as European and African networks and in order to strengthen the voice of small farms in the global debate on FNS.


SALSA will elaborate and implement a transdisciplinary, multi-scale approach that builds on and connects relevant theoretical and analytical frameworks within a food systems approach, and that uses qualitative, consultative and quantitative methods. We will also test a new combination of data-based methods and tools (including satellite technologies) for rigorously assessing in quantitative terms the interrelationships between small farms, other small food businesses and FNS, paying particular attention to limiting and enabling factors. Ground-truthing by field researchers, qualitative interviews and scenario planning will form part of the empirical study. SALSA will use participatory methods, at regional level, and establish a more global Community of Practice and multi-stakeholder learning platform, based on FAO’s TECA online communication and learning platform.

Further details

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Staff Involved

Lee-Ann Sutherland, Dominic Duckett

Key Contact

Lee-Ann Sutherland


Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project


Areas of Interest

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.