Food security in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is dependent on complex networks of interconnected actors and the flows of resources (biomass, capital) and information among them. However, the degree to which actors and value chains of different crops are in fact interconnected and their current systemic influence on food security are unclear. Therefore, the concept of “value webs” to better capture the complexity within the networks emerges. Biomass-based value webs of selected crops in Ghana, Nigeria, and Ethiopia are modeled using the systems analysis software iMODELER and by eliciting factors as well as their interconnections through participatory stakeholder workshops. Furthermore, a generic model was created compiling the country models to identify overarching system dynamics with supporting and hindering factors impacting food security in SSA. Findings from the country models show highly complex value webs, suggesting that the predominant value chain approach may oversimplify actual structures and resource flows in real life settings. However, few interconnections within the value webs link the actors and flows of different crops, contradicting predictions emerging from other research. Results from the generic model allow for a critical reflection on the relation between value web dynamics and food security policy in SSA. Current national and regional policy trends targeting market integration, mechanization, and reduction of post-harvest losses are supported by model results.
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