Academic Research


SASS – Sustainable Agri-Food System Strategies

The research is funded by the Ministry of University and Research (MIUR). Its main objective is to create knowledge, political dialogue and collaboration, enhancing the link between agro-biodiversity conservation, nutrition and health in sub-Saharan Africa. The project involves a wide network of local partners in Tanzania and Kenya, including universities, research centers, public institutions and Slow Food.


OTHER UNISG RESEARCHERS INVOLVED: Rachele Ellena, Michele Filippo Fontefrancesco, Gabriele Volpato, Dauro Mattia Zocchi

PARTNERSHIP: European Centre for Development Policy Management – Maastricht (Netherland),  University of Milan Bicocca (Italy), Catholic University of Sacred Heart – Milano (Italy), University of Pavia (Italy)


FUNDING INSTRUMENT: Italian Ministry of University and Research – Special Supplementary Fund for Research 2016



The project aims to sustain and promote the production, marketing and consumption of the so-called “neglected and underutilized species” (NUS), also known as ”orphan crops”. These are wild species, local varieties and ecotypes that are common in developing countries but are rarely found in other parts of the world. They have been limitedly studied and their economic potential has not been valorized.

Historically NUS have played a crucial role within traditional agricultural systems in guaranteeing food security and sovereignty, in preserving biodiversity and in generating income and employment sources for local communities.

Despite this, these species are not able to fully develop their potential due to the lack of awareness of their real value and the marketing constraints both at local and international level. The project aims at providing theoretical and methodological tools to overcome these difficulties adopting an interdisciplinary approach. The research will be carried out in Tanzania (Arusha and Iringa district) and Kenya (Nakuru district).

As part of the SASS project, the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo has carried out a careful anthropological and ethnobotanical analysis of the gastronomic landscapes of the sample areas. The research team has investigated the production and consumption practices of these areas, identifying and cataloging the NUS of vegetal, fungal and animal origin as well as the ways that are formally and informally exchanged.



Bartow & Zocchi (a cura di), 2018. The ark of taste in Kenya, Bra, Slow Food Editore 

Corvo & Fontefrancesco (a cura di), 2018, Sotto il cielo della Rift Valley. Sviluppo rurale e cibo tradizionale nella contea di Nakuru, Tortona, Vicolo del Pavone

Fontefrancesco & Lekanayia, 2018, Meanings and taboos in traditional gastronomy of Maasai communities in Kajiado County, Kenya, Antrocom Online Journal of Anthropology vol. 14. n. 1 (2018) 77-85 – ISSN 1973– 2880

Fontefrancesco M, Zocchi D, Corvo P , 2020, “Quanto la multiculturalità appiattisce l’offerta. Dinamiche culturali e sviluppo merceologico alimentare nei mercati della contea di Nakuru, Kenya”. Dada Rivista di Antropologia post-globale, speciale n. 1, 2020, Antropologia del cibo. Pp. 129-156. ISSN: 2240-0192