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News Archive

Future Agricultures Consortium Phase 2 confirmed

Following the recent completion of a successful Mid-Term Review, the Future Agricultures Consortium has secured funding for a second phase. A detailed planning workshop took place in February 2008.

World Development Report 2008

The World Development Report 2008 is on ‘Agriculture for Development’. The report calls for greater investment in agriculture in developing countries and warns that the sector must be placed at the centre of the development agenda if the goals of halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 are to be realised.

Growing Demand for Livestock

The February 2008 issue of id21 Insights discusses the growth in demand for livestock as the global appetite for meat and dairy products increases, and assesses whether key policy and institutional changes will benefit poor farmers. FAC-member Ian Scoones contributes an article on the future viability of pastoralism in the Horn of Africa. The issue is available to view as a web-page or PDF document (Adobe Acrobat Reader required).

FAC participation in a major international conference on social service provision and agricultural investment

FAC researcher Stephen Devereux took part in a major international, invitation-only conference, 'Convergence between Social Services Provision and Productivity Enhancing Investments in Development Strategies: How to Maximise the Impact of Public Expenditure on Agricultural Growth and Poverty Reduction', which took place in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa on 29-31 January 2008.

Consultation on EC Discussion Paper African Agriculture

The European Commission is presently conducting consultations with African farmer's organisations and civil society groups on a paper related to proposed cooperation on African agriculture. On the basis of the various inputs, the Commission intends to produce a Communication on EU-AU cooperation on agricultural development, outlining the priority areas and modalities of such cooperation.

The discussion paper lists the main challenges to African agriculture, as viewed by the European Commission on the basis of a range of recent reports and discussions, and describes main lines of African and EU policies on agricultural development before making a proposal for cooperation at continental and regional levels in seven areas.

Stakeholders had an opportunity to provide input on this proposal until the end of February 2007. The final communication can be seen here.

BBC World Debate: Failing the Farmer?

BBC in conjunction with IFAD hosted a debate on smallholder farmers and the role they play in poverty reduction. Panel participants included Pedro Sanchez (Earth Institute, Columbia University), Crawford Falconer (Agriculture Chairman, WTO) and Louise Fresco (University of Amsterdam). The debate was televised on BBC World on March 31 2007. More information and transcript of the proceedings.

Future Agricultures / World Bank discussion workshop on the 2008 World Development Report

On January 22-23, 2007, the Future Agricultures Consortium and stakeholders convened a discussion workshop with representatives of the WDR team. The main purpose of this workshop was to engage with the WDR 2008 process, and offer contributions on how to incorporate a political economy dimension into the report. More...

Norman Uphoff speaks at IDS

The Green Revolution has been losing momentum for the last decade, with stagnation of yield increases and with diminishing marginal returns to external inputs. But the need to sustain and increase food production continues. Norman Uphoff, of the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD), spoke recently at IDS about the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) - still controversial in some research circles - for its ability to enhance factor productivity of land, labour, capital and water.

Future Agricultures debate: pastoralist futures

The Future Agricultures Consortium has been debating the future of pastoralism in the Greater Horn of Africa. Prompted by an argument from renowned pastoralism expert Stephen Sandford that there are now too many people and too few animals for a sustainable pastoral system in the Greater Horn of Africa, IDS Fellows Stephen Devereux and Ian Scoones, together with other commentators, have offered a response.

CG Virtual Library now online

The CGIAR virtual library is now accessible online. CGVlibrary allows researchers to use the gateway to simultaneously search the online libraries of the CGIAR Centers and the Secretariat, as well as more than 160 outside databases.

Partnership to boost Africa's Green Revolution

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation have announced plans to invest US$150 million in a programme to improve seed varieties in areas with harsh environmental conditions. More...

Book release: Agricultural R&D in the Developing World - Too Little, Too Late?

Combining new evidence with economic theory and an economic way of thinking about science policy, this recent publication from IFPRI disturbingly highlights how "poor countries may no longer be able to depend as they have in the past on spillovers of new agricultural technologies and knowledge from richer countries, especially advances related to enhanced productivity of staple foods." The Future Agricultures Consortium will address related issues under our Technology and Innovation programme of work.

Sequencing of Investments for Agricultural Growth, Poverty Reduction and Food Security

A critical issue for design of investment programmes is to ensure that investments are correctly sequenced. To understand this, it is a necessary first to understand the major processes and stages of agricultural development, of economic growth, and of poverty reduction. A summary by Andrew Dorward.

Future Agricultures workshop papers now available

The Future Agricultures Consortium held a review and planning meeting on 20th to 22nd March 2006 to reflect on our work and to present the results of scoping studies which have been undertaken over the last 9 months. The workshop report can be seen here

New id21 'insights' on African Food Security

id21have released a new insights issue entitled 'Achieving food security: What next for sub-Saharan Africa?'. A collection of articles by various authors address questions such as:

  • Would a green revolution work in sub-Saharan Africa?
  • Can fertiliser subsidies help farmers out of poverty?
  • Are fertiliser subsidies necessary?
  • Is food aid effective?

In a response to this, Ian Scoones of the Future Agricultures Consortium writes in an id21 viewpoint that "...this is very familiar stuff – have we not been hearing this for decades, with little impact?". He goes on to argue that "By focusing on the technical and institutional issues only, these commentaries, as so many others, skirted perhaps the more difficult, complex intersections of policy and politics in Africa". Read more...

Low-External-Input Agriculture

What is the performance and impact of low-external-input agriculture? Many argue for the benefits of such systems – in social, environmental and economic terms – but how do low-external-input systems stand up to closer scrutiny? A new book by Robert Tripp of ODI – ‘Self-sufficient Agriculture: Labour and Knowledge in Small-Scale Farming’ (Earthscan: London) assesses the evidence, and explores the challenges through a series of case studies.

See publisher's information on 'Self-sufficient Agriculture: Labour and Knowledge in Small-Scale Farming'

Read more on this site on low-external-input agriculture

APGOOD Meetings and Agriculture Policy Paper

The UK All Parliamentary Group On Overseas Development (APGOOD) hosted a series of meetings from October to December 2005 on the topic: Agriculture in Africa: An Effective Route out of Poverty?

The series culminated with the presentation in APGOOD by the Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, of the new Agriculture Policy Paper (see next news item).

A list of the meetings is below. For more information and to read reports from the meetings and listen to audio, visit the APGOOD website.

1) Supermarkets and Standards

2) Making Science and Technology Work for the Poor

3) Alternative visions for agricultural growth in Africa: What should governments and markets do?

4) New approaches to land for agricultural growth and poverty reduction

5) Is agriculture still relevant to poverty reduction in Africa?

'Productivity Growth for Poverty Reduction: An Approach to Agriculture'

The UK Department for International Development released a draft policy paper in early August 2005 entitled 'Productivity Growth for Poverty Reduction: An Approach to Agriculture' which provides guidelines on the role of agriculture in poverty reduction. A two month consultation period has followed including a workshop held in London on 8 September 2005 at which participants met the principal authors of the paper and discussed critical issues. The document is available to download from the DFID website. More...

Event Archive


High-Level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy, 3-5 June 2008, Rome

For more information: High level Conference website

CAADP Partnership Platform meeting

The third meeting of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Partnership Platform (PP) was held in the Seychelles from 12-13 March 2008. See the FAC report from this meeting.

UN Convention on Biological Diversity meetings for 2008

Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) met in Rome, 18-22 February 2008 to discuss a variety of technical issues including agricultural biodiversity and forest biological diversity. On 12-16 May, the Ninth Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD met in Bonn, Germany. Documents for this meeting can be downloaded here and here.


ODI / Future Agricultures seminar series 2007: From broad themes to practical policy.

The OECD, IFAD, World Bank and FAO jointly held a Global Forum on African Agricultural Development and Poverty Reduction on 12-13 November 2007 Rome.

Agri Outlook 2007 25-26 October 2007, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

Rachel Carson Memorial Lecture

Professor Tim Lang was the invited speaker for the 2007 Rachel Carson Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Pesticides Action Network UK (PAN–UK). Lang highlighted four key principles for the food policy agenda: health of people and the planet; a new direction for food culture; ‘choice’ within limits; and increased democracy in food policy.

International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) Conference on Marketing of Organic and Regional Values
26-28 August 2007, Schwäbisch Hall, Germany

Second International Conference of the African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAEII)
20th - 22nd August 2007, Accra, Ghana

International Conference on Agribusiness and Food Industry in Developing Countries: Opportunities and Challenges
10-12 August 2007, Lucknow, India

'A process we can all build on' - Future Agricultures convenes National Consultation workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The Future Agricultures Consortium organised a National Consultation workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in June 2007, presenting the results of six bottom-up regional surveys on community visions for agriculture and identifying pathways for future growth. Nearly 100 key stakeholders took part, including the State Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Aberra Deressa, regional representatives groups, and farmers.

Read and see more here...

Second European Forum on Sustainable Rural Development
June 2007, Berlin, Germany.

Africa Agricultural Science Week and the 4th FARA General Assembly:

"Promoting the productivity and competitiveness of African agriculture in a global economy", June 10-16, Johannesburg, South Africa

Concern roundtable discussion on the the Future of Smallholder Agriculture

On 14 March 2007, Concern International hosted a meeting in London to discuss perspectives on smallholder agriculture and its roles in global agriculture. Future Agriculture's Colin Poulton took part. Read the Roundtable report here.

Nyéléni 2007 - Forum for Food Sovereignty
23rd - 27th February 2007, Sélingué, Mali ‘Rethinking Agriculture in development' Event

John Thompson, Research Fellow at IDS, gave a keynote presentation at the ‘Rethinking Agriculture in Development' stakeholder meeting. The event was organised by Wageningen University and took place in The Hague on 14 December 2006. Other presentations are available on the 'Rethinking Agriculture in Development' website.


Pastoral policy in Ethiopia: high level seminar

What does the future hold for pastoral areas in Ethiopia? What policy frameworks might work to enhance the economic potential of the livestock sector, as well as assure sustainable livelihoods in the dry zones? These are just some of the questions which were debated in a seminar held in December 2006 at the University of Sussex.

The seminar was co-hosted by the UNOCHA Pastoral Communications Initiative and the Future Agricultures Consortium. Read the seminar programme and download the workshop report (3.7mb)

Africa Fertilizer Summit
9-13 June 2006 in Abuja, Nigeria

Annual General Meeting 2006 of the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development
26-28 April, Brussels, Belgium.

Africa Fertilizer Summit

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) called for an Africa Fertilizer Summit from 9–13 June 2006 in Abuja, Nigeria, to be implemented by the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC).

For more information see the Summit website.


2010 Biodiversity Forum: Sustainable Ways to Conserve and Equitably Share Biological Diversity: Implementing the 2010 Targets
24-25 March, Curitiba, Brazil

International Forum on Assessing Sustainability in Agriculture (INFASA) Symposium
16-17 March, Bern, Switzerland

Land Redistribution in Africa
World Bank - ESSD Africa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs - France, Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN), 13-17 March, Pretoria

International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development
7-10 March, Porto Alegre, Brazil

IFA Agriculture Conference
Kunming, 27 February - 2 March 2006

Salon International de l'Agriculture
2006, Paris, Porte de Versailles, 25 February to 5 March 2006

8th International Conference on Dry Lands Development
sponsored by FAO, ICARDA, UNU, NSFC (China), ALRC (Japan), DRI (USA) and CAREERI (China), 25-28 February 2006, Beijing

Sustainable Development Conference 2006
Goethe Institute, Calcutta, 14 February 2006

13th Congress of the African Water Association
Algiers, 13 to 16 February 2006

25th Guelph Organic Conference
26-29 January 2006, University of Guelph, Ontario

9th European Conference Food Industry and Statistics
25-27 January 2006, Faculte de Pharmacie, Montpellier, France

'Enhancing Equitable Livelihood Benefits of Dams using Decision Making Support Systems'
23-26 January 2006, Adama/Nazareth, Ethiopia

International Conference 'Land, Poverty, Social Justice and Development'
9-14 January 2006, The Hague


Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference
13-18 December 2005, Hong Kong

CGIAR Annual General Meeting
5-9 December 2005, Morocco

UN World Aids Day
1 December 2005

Exploring Agribusiness Links with Smallholder Farmers in Africa
22-26 November 2005, Kampala

Agriculture Successes for Africa's Future
NEPAD/AU, 17-21 October 2005

Agricultural Development and Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa: Building a Case for more Support
FAO, 14-16 September 2005, Nairobi

Agriculture is a key pathway out of poverty