Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS): Phase 2 Workshop Recap

By Natalie Kozlowski
What is VACS?

The Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS) Initiative was launched in February of 2023 by Dr. Cary Fowler, the Special Envoy for Global Food Security, in partnership with the African Union and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. VACS focuses on investing in traditional and indigenous (“opportunity”) crops in Africa and building healthier soils— two key focal areas for advancing climate-resilient food systems.

The Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) is a leading technical partner in VACS and is spearheading the development of novel climate-crop models on a short list of highly nutritious opportunity crops to better understand how these underutilized crops can be used to address the challenges African food systems face under climate change.

VACS Phase 2 Workshop

The VACS Phase 2 Workshop took place November 28-29, 2023 at the Rockefeller Foundation Global Headquarters in New York City, U.S. Participants included stakeholders from all key project partners, and were mainly composed of African agricultural experts from across the continent. The workshop was co-chaired by Lindiwe Sibanda (CGIAR) and Namukolo Covic (CGIAR, ILRI).

Key findings to date were presented by AgMIP, along with other leading technical partners, such as HavosAI and the African Orphan Crops Consortium, among others. AgMIP co-organized and facilitated the workshop in order to receive feedback from a wide range of experts to refine current VACS research objectives and trajectories.

Drs. Cynthia Rosenzweig, Dilys MacCarthy, and Alex Ruane
participated in a panel Q & A

AgMIP community members attended the
VACS Phase 2 Workshop

The objectives of the workshops were as follows:

  1. Present and discuss findings from Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS) Phase 2 research
  2. Characterize VACS crops based on their potential impact on future food security, utilizing results from AgMIP modeling
  3. Develop clear strategies for research and investment directions based on findings from Phase 2 research, utilizing results from HavosAI evidence synthesis

In addition to helping organize and facilitate the workshop, AgMIP shared current research findings with the larger VACS community. To date, AgMIP has developed models for 22 opportunity crops across five crop groups: cereals, legumes, roots & tubers, nuts & oilseeds, and fruits & vegetables. AgMIP will continue to further refine these newly developed models, as well as continue to develop models for a larger group of crops.

AgMIP’s initial crop modeling results will be available to the public in the VACS Phase 2 Report, which will be published in March by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Additional Resources

Further information on the Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils Initiative:
Explore AgMIP’s initial crop modeling results, created by Earth Genome