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Onions on sale in a MarketThis theme examines the question of how to raise productivity in the agricultural sector, and how smallholder farmers can participate in markets and improve livelihoods. Recognising that the liberalisation orthodoxy focusing on markets has not worked (or at least only partially), we focus on institutional questions, particularly in conditions where markets are weak, thin and interlocking.

Questions we areĀ pursuing include:
  • What pathways to which types of commercialisation are open to smallholder producers?
  • What market and institutional innovation in supply chains might help smallholder producers?
  • How do labour markets and institutions affect agricultural growth and poverty reduction?
  • How can coordination failures in finance, input and output supply be remedied?
  • How can agri-business be developed and regulated?

Unpacking the Political Economy of Sugar in southern Africa

Sugarcane farming in ZambiaA new open journal special issue of the Journal of Southern African sheds light on the political economy of sugar in southern Africa. The past decade has witnessed an upsurge in interest in the relationship between corporate capital and agricultural production in Africa.

Sugar is a dominant feature of such investments, and can be a useful lens on this debate. The issue argues that the region’s sugar industry provides a useful lens through which to understand current dynamics of corporate capital and agricultural production in Africa.

Blog: The Sugar rush in southern Africa by Ian Scoones

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11 November, Brussels: Leaping and Learning report launch

handsAn event on 11 November 2013 in Brussels will launch two new reports which provide practical, real-life examples of linking smallholder farmers in Africa to markets, as well as a robust academic review of the challenges faced, lessons learned and path ahead.

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Transforming Africa through agriculture

Harvesting a cereal crop in Ethiopia

Economic development is not just about growth - it is about transformation.

In a new blog post, Steve Wiggins looks at what we know about agriculture's rise in Africa, and how smallholder farmers can be part of transforming the future of the continent.

Blog: African agriculture is growing, but is it transforming? Steve Wiggins, 3 February 2014

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The New Alliance and changing patterns of growth - workshop

Seed conditioning plant in EthiopiaInitial findings from research into changing patterns of growth and investment in countries involved in the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, will be presented in November.

Building on earlier analysis, this project reviews recent trends in agricultural growth, rural poverty and hunger, to understand better changes that have taken place, what remains to be done, and what role policy can play.

The New Alliance was launched in 2012. Nine African countries have so far joined the initiative, which seeks to stimulate private investment in African agriculture, including from countries outside Africa.

The early findings of the work will be presented to a half-day workshop in Accra, planned for November 2013.

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