Research & analysis

Research and analysis are vital tools for any organisations looking to generate (policy) support for truly healthy and just food systems. They can help create perspectives about where we are and what a new kind of future can look like. They are also invaluable for underpinning the work of organisations, social movements and their wider networks.

Cultivate! works together with various partners to undertake such analysis and create publications such as policy briefs, case studies, guidebooks or research papers. Our comprehensive analyses, formulated in understandable terms, are being used to influence key decision-makers, to build capacities of actors involved in advancing food system transformation and to generate support from other audiences.

We are experienced researchers and writers, and can also assist with designing and producing publications.

Below, we present a selection of the publications and research projects we have been engaged in.

Pooling Funds to Scale Agroecology. Agroecology Fund Achievements 2017 – 2021 (2023)

Partner: Agroecology Fund

In this report, the Agroecology Fund look back at the past five years its work, a period of time during which they attracted more donors, covered more regions, and funded more inspiring grassroots-led agroecology work than planned. In this report, Cultivate! summarises the Agroecology Fund’s main achievements and most important lessons learned. We were also responsible for its attractive design.
Read the report on the AEF website

Agroecology: A transformative opportunity for the Convention on Biological Diversity (2022)

Written by Faris Ahmed of Cultivate! in collaboration with: Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative (ALC)/Biovision/Global Alliance for the Future of Food/Agropolis Fondation/Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy/Food Policy Forum for Change/Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR)/African Centre for Biodiversity/Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems/Cultivate!/EcoNexus/UNESCO Chair on Food, Biodiversity and Sustainability Studies/IPES Food/Third World Network (TWN)/African Biodiversity Network/Sociedad Científica Latinoamericana de Agroecología (SOCLA)/Friends of the Earth International.

Read the joint Policy Brief (pdf)

Shifting funding to agroecology for people, climate and nature (2021)

Partners: ActionAid and University of Vermont

There are growing calls to transform the current food system. But financial institutions and donors and other actors have tended to focus on increasing productivity and developing global value chains, which has caused great harm to the environment while failing to end hunger, poverty, and inequalities. This is where agroecology comes in: an alternative vision that reflects a more fundamental and systemic transformation towards fair and sustainable food systems. In this brief, published in collaboration with ActionAid and the University of Vermont, we outline how agroecology is distinct from other approaches and offers a series of considerations and recommendations to increase the quantity and quality of funding for agroecology.

Read more

Agroecology Now! Transformation towards More Just and Sustainable Food Systems (2021)

Partners: Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) of Coventry University 

This book presents a framework for advancing agroecology in food systems transformation, with a specific focus on power, politics and governance. It explores the potential of agroecology as a sustainable and socially just alternative to today’s dominant food regime. The authors, including Janneke Bruil, analyse the conditions that enable and disable the potential of agroecology. They present six ‘domains of transformation’ where agroecology comes into conflict with the dominant food system.

Read more 

Backgrounder: Scaling agroecology from the bottom up. Six Domains of Transformation (2019)

Partners: FoodFirst and the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (Coventry University)

How can we enable the scaling of agroecology from the bottom up? What is needed for agroecology to be advanced, amplified, scaled up and out? Our new publication identifies and presents six ‘domains of transformation’ for agroecology.

Read more

Harvesting wild rice as an act of food sovereignty (ongoing)

Food sovereignty, in the indigenous North American context, involves a re-connection to traditional land-based food and political systems. This research explores how the indigenous-led revitalisation of wild rice, a culturally important food for the Ojibwe people of the Upper Great Lakes area of the United States, has become a centrepiece in the struggle for food sovereignty. Using a feminist political ecology perspective, Jessica Milgroom explores Ojibwe people’s historical and current relationships with wild rice. Traditionally a women’s realm, the research uncovers how commodification of wild rice displaced women and led to a loss of traditional knowledge and cultural heritage, and how it is being revitalised today.

Contact: Jessica Milgroom, jessica[at]

Scaling agroecology in the Sahel. Elements of good practice.

Partners: Groundswell International, the Global Resilience Project, Sahel Eco, Agrecol Afrique, Association Nourrir Sans Detruire

A new briefing for civil society presents key strategies for upscaling and outscaling agroecology in the Sahel to address the climate and food crises. It outlines pathways not just for the what of these scaling processes, but also for the how. Read more

Cultivate! was also invited by Groundswell International to evaluate their programme to enable small scale farmers and their families in the western Sahel, who have become chronically vulnerable to food and nutrition insecurity, to strengthen their resilience. Designed as a ‘proof of concept’ the programme demonstrated that agroecology can greatly enhance the resilience of the dryland farmers in the Sahel if integrated with explicit strategies to: 1) strengthen women’s empowerment in  agriculture, 2) foster social equity, 3) integrate nutrition, 4) diversify women’s livelihoods through savings and credit, 4) improve local governance and 5) create a multiplier effect through networking and alliances with national farmer organisations, documentation, and advocacy. Together with local organisations, Cultivate! assessed to what extent this approach has promoted the resilience of dryland farmers and fostered a more favourable environment for it to spread. Read the final evaluation report (2019)

A guide to mapping for food system change

Partners: Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience and the AgroEcology Fund

Across the world, people and organisations are mapping agroecology and food sovereignty. It is all the rage! This new guide provides insights and tips on how to map for food system change. Read more

Strengthening FAO’s commitment to agroecology (February 2019)

– A briefing for civil society

Partners: Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, AgroecologyNow!, the AgroEcology Fund

This briefing presents an analysis of the current dynamics, opportunities and challenges of strengthening the commitment to agroecology of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It is especially useful for actors in civil society who are promoting agroecology as an alternative paradigm for food and farming. Download the briefing (pdf)

How to amplify agroecology. Report of the Agroecology Learning Exchange (2016)

Partners: AgroEcology Fund and the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa

This publication brings together the insights from a landmark meeting in May 2016. Over 70 individuals shared the fruit from decades of hard field work, research and activism, discussing factors for successful amplification of agroecology, and identifying key lessons from their work. The four day Agroecology Learning Exchange in Uganda was facilitated by Janneke Bruil and Jessica Milgroom, who also compiled this report.
Read the report in English or in Spanish. A shorter article summarises the main insights of the meeting.