Although agriculture at the country-level is influenced by global events and decision-making, all major political decisions are still made at national level. A holistic and systemic assessment of the agriculture sector is required at the national level to ensure that political decisions and strategies guarantee food and nutrition security for all and reduce rural poverty, while at the same time protecting natural resources. Biovision Foundation and the Millennium Institute are supporting the government of Senegal in conducting a multi-stakeholder assessment of the food system through the use of a computer simulation model (T21), which is being developed through a multi-stakeholder and participatory process. The T21 model constitutes an important tool for policy analysis and decision-making to orient and monitor national policies, strategies and action plans to achieve sustainable development.

An important component of these assessments is the training of national authorities and stakeholders in system-dynamic modelling and its use, maintenance and improvement, so that the assessments and analyses for decision-making can be conducted independently in the future by the countries themselves.

In the first phase of the project (2013-2014), experts from the Senegalese Ministry of Agriculture have been trained on system-dynamic modelling with T21 during an intensive course at the University of Bergen. This enabled them to actively support the development of the model which was then improved, calibrated and validated through three rounds of multi-stakeholder workshops.

In the second phase of the project (2015-2017), the team of local experts together with representatives of different stakeholder groups will have the task to support the government in the formulation and monitoring of food and agriculture policies. In parallel, efforts are being made to anchor knowledge and training programmes on T21 system-dynamic modelling within Senegalese high-education institutions to facilitate its access, ownership and use among both policy-makers and academia.

The lessons learned of this pioneer work in Senegal also inform processes at higher level, for example in the CFS, where multi-stakeholder assessments of food systems are discussed and promoted.