forskare sitter på en strand
Forskarteamet på plats i Côte d'Ivoire.
Photo: Simon Larsson

Mission: Côte d'Ivoire


How can our common natural resources be utilised in a sustainable way and contribute to food security as the population grows and the climate changes?
Researchers from the University of Gothenburg are now seeking the answer together with colleagues in the West African country of Côte d'Ivoire.

Berries, roots, mushrooms, fruits, herbs - wild nature offers a wide variety of food resources that we may often take for granted. Managing these resources in a sustainable way also requires knowledge. But in a world where the number of people is increasing, combined with climate change, wild flora and fauna may become more important. So says researcher and social anthropologist Simon Larsson:

 "Already today, food that does not come from agriculture or industrial meat production is an important part of many people's diet, globally. With a growing global population and changes in climate, wild-collected food could play an even more important role in food security. Despite this, wild foods are often not integrated into policy and overall efforts to address food insecurity."

Simon Larsson is one of the researchers from the University of Gothenburg who has just returned from Côte d'Ivoire in West Africa. There, the research team has launched a pilot project on food security and wild collected food, in collaboration with local researchers.

Forskarna Syna Ouattara och Johan Wedel från Göteborgs universitet.
Forskarna Syna Ouattara och Johan Wedel från Göteborgs universitet.
Photo: Simon Larsson

Knowledge and traditions in Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire (also known as the Ivory Coast) is located in West Africa. "In many places, there is a long tradition of managing and utilising natural resources in a sustainable way," says Simon Larsson. 

Together with the researchers Maria José Zapata Campos and Syna Ouattara from the Gothenburg Research Institute at the Stockholm School of Economics and Johan Wedel from the Department of Global Studies, Simon Larsson has talked to researchers, authorities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to see which research questions about food security and wild food could be important to study. Because there are challenges:

"While wild collected food can be a great asset in the fight against hunger, there are barriers to the safe utilisation of this resource. Even where wild food is available, limited knowledge and local beliefs and taboos can prevent it from being used effectively. There are also many examples where collected food leads to overexploitation and has negative ecological consequences, and where it leads to the spread of diseases."