Addressing complexity: smallholder farmers facing climate risks in sub-Saharan Africa

Session 1: October 26,  4:00- 5:30 Belfer 503 (M-RCBG conference room)

Session 2:  November 18,  2:00- 3:30 Belfer 503 (M-RCBG conference room)

Smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa face a complex web of risks and challenges.  Those related to climate change are growing and jeopardizing production of the food and agricultural commodities on which they, and the world depend.  Governments, the private sector and development actors are aware that dramatic and urgent changes are required to help smallholders address the risks, but the broader systems in which they all participate are not currently set to take on the challenges.

The study group will examine the risks and challenges from the perspective of interested stakeholders looking to promote the interests of smallholders. Focusing on cocoa and maize, and specifically efforts to promote greater resilience in the face of climate change, we will establish a framework that can guide system leaders who are looking to drive improved actions by governments, the private sector, development funders and practitioners, and the producers themselves.

Simon Winter is TechnoServe’s Senior Vice President of Development.  He is responsible for leading strategy, thought leadership, and business and program development.  He is also responsible for managing and incubating innovative programs, including around capital access for SMEs.  Previously he was Regional Director for Africa. He joined TechnoServe in 2003.  Winter was a management consultant with McKinsey and Company (1998-2003) during which he co-led the firm's international development practice.  He worked as an economic planner for the Botswana government, and a development consultant in Southern Africa.  He started his career with Barclays Bank plc in the UK, Cote d'Ivoire and Australia. Winter is a founding Executive Committee member of the Aspen Network for Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), a Board Member of Root Capital, a steering committee member of the Initiative for Smallholder Finance, and a member of the Transformation Leaders Network of the World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture.  Winter originates from the UK and holds a PhD in economics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1998, which focused on the development of the manufacturing sector in Zimbabwe.  During his Senior Fellowship, Winter’s research will focus on understanding how we can change the global food system so that it can produce enough to feed the expected growing population in the face of climate change and produce positive impacts on workers and farmers across the system (especially in developing countries).  His faculty sponsor is William C. Clark, Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy, and Human Development.  Email:

Simon Winter headshot

M-RCBG Senior Fellow Simon Winter.