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LUCSUS receives grant of SEK 20 million to realise the global sustainable development goals

Illustration of women farmers. Illustration: Catrin Jakobsson.

LUCSUS has been awarded SEK 20 million for a new research project aimed at mobilising farmer organisations for sustainable agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. The project is one of eleven new research projects, with a focus on Agenda 2030, that have been awarded funding in one of Formas’ biggest targeted calls ever.

Interview with LUCSUS researcher Ellinor Isgren, who is leading the new FORMAS project, Mobilizing farmer organisations for sustainable agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa: Collaborative comparative analysis of rural social movement building and outcomes in Ghana, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

What is the aim of your project?

With primary focus on small-scale farmers, we will study how people in rural areas collectively mobilize to create more favorable conditions for sustainable and equitable agricultural development. We will compare how this is playing out in three sub-Saharan African countries – Ghana, Uganda and Zimbabwe – together with researchers and representatives from small-scale farmer associations within the three countries.

Who will you collaborate with?

On the academic side, the project involves collaboration with the University of Cape Coast (Ghana), Lira University (Uganda), and Sam Moyo Insititue of Agrarian Studies. On the civil society side, we will collaborate with the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, Eastern and Southern Africa Small-Scale Farmers Forum in Uganda, and Zimbabwe Small-Scale Organic Farmers Forum. The project builds on a whole year of preparatory research, including an interactive workshop held in Nairobi last October, so we already have a good foundation in terms of both the research focus and our network.

What do you hope to achieve, and how is the project connected to the realisation of the SDGs?

Ultimately, we hope to generate knowledge that is practically useful for civil society mobilisation around agricultural development, which we believe has an important role to play in making sustainable development realisable. In these countries, as in much of the world, agriculture relates to multiple SDGs – most obviously Zero Hunger but also No Poverty, Life on Land, Climate Change, Gender Equality and many others – if not all. There is a lot of existing knowledge already about what types of policies and interventions will make agricultural development more sustainable and inclusive. And yet, in many places, both environmental issues and the needs of resource-poor smallholders remain low on the political agenda.

We think that collaborative, comparative research will help answering some very important questions about the ability of small farmers to act collectively in the political sphere, and what shapes this process and its outcomes.

Other LUCSUS researchers involved

Chad Boda and Anne Jerneck

Ellinor Isgren


Bild på Ellinor Isgren

Ellinor Isgren is a researcher at Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS). She has a PhD in Sustainability Science and a background in Environmental Science and Agricultural Science. Her main research interest is the intersection of agriculture, development and sustainability, especially in smallholder contexts, and processes of social and political mobilization in rural areas.

Ellinor Isgren's personal webpage


About the Formas Call

This call for proposals aims to create research that is highly relevant to the UN’s global sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Agenda 2030. The research should offer new perspectives on the SDGs by either highlighting key synergies or conflicts between different goals or by applying humanistic or social science perspectives that could benefit the field of sustainability. In this call, Formas wants to encourage researchers to both tackle significant scientific challenges and take action to enable their research results to be used to guide society, directly or indirectly, towards realising the SDGs.