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Future Agricultures blog

Opinion and comment from Future Agricultures researchers on agricultural politics, science and society in Africa.

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Some years ago, as part of the e-debate hosted by the Future Agricultures Consortium we had a discussion on ways forward on soil fertility management policy. The conclusions are just as relevant today. In reviewing the excellent contributions to the debate (well worth a read), I highlighted 6 themes.

Context matters. Contexts – social, economic and ecological – must be taken into account in policy. Simple, blanket solutions do not work. They have been tried before and failed; and we should avoid making the same mistakes, no matter how urgent the situation is or who much money there is to be disbursed.

The argument against continent-wide (or even national) blueprint programmes has of course been long made. That is not new. Which contexts matter and what implications does this have for what should be done on the ground? This relates to the question about the merits of using inorganic fertilizers as the entry point to an integrated soil fertility management approach. There are contrasting, often ideologically-charged views on this. But there may be more consensus if we get specific about context.

Tagged in: Zimbabwe
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New CBAA Working Papers published

Chinese Agricultural Expertise Support in Ethiopia: Approaches, Motives and Perspectives by Dawit Alemu, Seth Cook and Qi Gubo

Situating Tian Ze’s role in reviving Zimbabwe’s Flue-Cured Tobacco sector in the wider discourse on Zimbabwe-China cooperation: Will the scorecard remain Win-Win? by Langton Mukwereza

The Visible and Invisible Battles in Brazil’s Agricultural Cooperation

CBAA researcher Lidia Cabral's blogpost highlights some of the key points in her research on Brazilian agricultural engagements in Mozambique. This looks at i) the diversity of actors currently present in Brazilian agricultural cooperation programmes (“priests”, technicians and traders); ii) the visible battle between agribusiness and family farming models emanating from Brazil’s own agricultural background, and iii) the invisible battle between productivist modernisation and ‘territories of life’ models.
(Future Agricultures blog)

Brazil reduces its cooperation projects in Africa

Brazil’s budget for cooperation programmes with African countries has been reduced by 25% between 2012 (R$36.9 mil) and 2014 (R$27.8 mil). Furthermore, Brazilian companies such as Vale and Petrobras have downgraded their operations on the continent and Brazilian exports to the region have fallen. All projects are said to be delayed and facing difficulties, such as a Brazilian research centre that was due to be built for the ProSAVANA project in Mozambique but has yet to receive the USD$1.5mil needed. As a result, the Brazilian government has tried to renegotiate a number of its existing projects in a bid to share costs with the host country, or else scale-down the project.
(Folha.com.br - in Portuguese)

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Everyone is agreed that one of the central components of achieving an ‘African Green Revolution’ is to tackle the widespread soil fertility constraints in African agriculture. To this end, AGRA – the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa – launched a major ‘Soil Health’ programme aimed at 4.1 million farmers across Africa, with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation committing $198 million to the effort. The Abuja declaration, following on from the African Fertilizer Summit of 2006 set the scene for major investments in boosting fertilizer supplies. CAADP – the Comprehensive African Agricultural Developent Programme – has been active in supporting the follow up to the summit, particularly through it work on improving markets and trade. Other initiatives abound – the Millennium Villages programme, Sasakawa-Global 2000, the activities of the Association for Better Land Husbandry, among many others. All see soil fertility as central, although the suggested solutions and policy requirements are very different.

But what are the policy frameworks that really will increase soil fertility in ways that will boost production in sustainable ways; where the benefits of the interventions are widely distributed, meeting broader aims of equitable, broad-based development? Here there is much less precision and an urgent need for a concrete debate.

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How can people’s rights to land be secured on a continent in which an estimated 90% of land is untitled and held under informal and customary tenure systems that are often not recognized as constituting real property rights? This remains a profound challenge, and there are no easy answers.

African states have in recent years taken several initiatives to secure land rights, and specifically to improve land governance, in the face of large-scale land-based investments (the term ‘land grab’ does not appear).

Key among these is the African Union’s Declaration on Land Issues and Challenges in Africa (PDF) of 2009, which committed members states to ‘ensure that land laws provide for equitable access to land and related resources among all land users including the youth and other landless and vulnerable groups such as displaced persons’ and ‘strengthen security of land tenure for women which requires special attention.’

The key coordinating body that is meant to help to deliver on this mandate is the Land Policy Initiative, a secretariat established jointly by the African Union, African Development Bank and UN Economic Commission for Africa, and based in Addis Ababa.

At the same time that the land rights agenda is bearing fruit, African states are being called on to commercialise their farming sectors, to speed up agricultural growth, and attract external investment. The Malabo declaration of June 2014 includes the commitment to ending hunger, halving poverty, and achieving 6% agricultural growth in Africa by 2025, by at least doubling productivity through access to inputs. It remains to be seen how the tensions among these goals – especially between equity and growth – will be resolved in practice.

It is in this context that the LPI hosted a side event during the 11th Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) Partnership Platform Meeting held in Johannesburg this week. Entitled ‘Improving Land Governance for Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural Transformation’, the purpose was to brief policy makers from across the continent, mostly from agricultural ministries, about the policy processes underway and how the LPI will work (and monitor) the required land reforms at country level, together with governments but also with other stakeholders.

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Brazilian agriculture is famous for its modern farms growing soybeans in the cerrado and for Embrapa, a world leading public research agency on tropical crop science that played a central role in the cerrado transformation. Its agricultural cooperation with African countries has not, however, been a simple matter of replicating the ‘miracle of the cerrado’ in the African savannah. In fact, it presents a rather more fragmented picture than the caricature of orderly lined up soya harvesters might suggest.

Over the last decade, the scope of Brazil’s agricultural cooperation projects has expanded from training courses and sporadic technical exchanges, carried out mainly by Embrapa researchers, to include joint research, regional development planning, public policy advocacy, pilot interventions and the selling of Brazil-made tractors and other agricultural equipment. Brazil’s portfolio in Mozambique, the focus of my own research, is an example of such diversity.

In a recent Future Agricultures working paper, I explored these different approaches and looked at the debates shaping them.

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CIDRN International Development Policy Briefings

The China International Development Research Network, based at China Agricultural University, has published 7 new policy briefs in Mandarin and English. These succinct 2-page briefings offer a range of policy recommendations concerning China’s growing development industry. These include such topics as the importance for China to play a bigger role in international development negotiations, how Chinese NGO’s (or CCO’s) should move forward in African cooperation projects, and proposals for the Post-2015 agenda.
RCID (English / Chinese)

Launching ‘O Informativo Setorial’

The ‘Observatório Brasil e o Sul’ has begun publishing a regular newsletter that looks at key issues within Brazil’s South-South Cooperation programmes. This involves surveys on primary data and analysis of reports from key government agencies. This first edition looks specifically at Brazil’s South-South cooperation in the area of Social Protection, involving a look at the role of the Ministry of Agrarian Development within these programmes.
(OBS (in Portuguese)

US critical of UK joining AIIB

The US has reprimanded the UK for its decision to be a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, describing it as part of “constant accommodation” of China. The AIIB is an initiative that seeks to operate with strong Chinese influence, as compared with World Bank and Asian Development Bank that operate with strong US and Japanese influences in the region. US pressure is said to have prevented Japan, South Korea, and Australia from also becoming part of the 21 founding members of AIIB.
(Financial Times)

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Debates on soils and their management have too often been unnecessarily polarised between promoters of ‘organic’, ‘sustainable’ or ‘agroecological’ agriculture and those who argue that only large supplies of mineral fertiliser are the answer. These are often pitched in ideological terms, with little reference to technical understandings of soils. What can we learn from the decades of technical research on soils in Africa about what makes sense, where and for whom?

Tagged in: Zimbabwe
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There is a long and distinguished history of soils research in Zimbabwe, led by the Department of Research and Specialist Services and the University of Zimbabwe (see a review of some of this in the Zimbabwe chapter of the Dynamics and Diversity: Soil Fertility and Farming Livelihoods in Africa book (download here). We know an enormous amount about soils of different types and their responsiveness to different combinations of inputs. This is vital information to support the post-settlement agrarian reform programme, but is barely used.

Farmers who gained land in 2000 have often profited from a short window of high soil fertility on land clearance, but now the soils need more intensive management. But there is no available soil testing service, no extension support, and they are having to find their own way, often in challenging circumstances where input supplies are variable (and politicised), and availability of manure and other biomass is limited.

The basic challenges are best illustrated by a dramatic graph based on long-term research at Harare research station. The decline of soil fertility and so yields on land clearance is massive and quick, and the ability to increase responses due to input application is important but marginal.

Tagged in: Zimbabwe
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Agricultural research has not always recognised the knowledge and skills of farmers, particularly those in resource-poor areas, to innovate and adapt. In 1989, the book Farmer First: Farmer Innovation and Agricultural Research launched a movement to encourage farmer participation in agricultural research and development. It argued that farmers in resource-poor areas are innovators and adaptors, and that agricultural research must take farmers' own agendas and priorities into account. Since then, two further volumes – Beyond Farmer First and Farmer First Revisited – have developed these themes, looking at experiences from across the world and forward to the future.

My purpose here is to add my voice to the historic place the Farmer First books hold in development literature, and encourage development practitioners (including myself) to continue documenting farmer innovations.

The three books, Farmer First in particular, have established two things:

  • farmer innovation existed well before ‘modern/scientific’ research and extension came along (Chambers, et. al. 1989). This assertion remains true today. Regardless of the on-going scientific discoveries, farmers continue to innovate on their fields and in their backyards.
  • farmer innovations and ‘modern/scientific’ research and extension are complementary. That means that advances in smallholder agriculture can neither be achieved solely by one nor the other. Therefore, present and future generation of researchers and extensionists have the responsibility to ensure that modern knowledge listens to traditional knowledge and vice versa.

This is not a conventional review. The Farmer First books (what I referred to here as three generations) have received more acclaims than I can ever give them. But in this blogpost, I want to define what I mean by the three ‘generations’ of Farmer First and identify some basic features of the three books to enable readers to get a glimpse.

This leads me to observe who have remained loyal (champions) to Farmer First from its inception until now. I also examine Farmer First from an Ethiopian perspective – a country little served by the three generations of Farmer First, despite practicing agriculture for centuries, and least benefited by modern science. I give indication of focus areas for a possible fourth generation, and conclude with the declaration that transforming African agriculture (Ethiopian agriculture in particular) and eradicating poverty has proven to be more difficult than sending a man to the moon – more than ‘rocket science’.

Tagged in: Ethiopia Farmer First
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New paper: China and Brazil in Mozambique
The CBAA project has published a new paper by Sérgio Chichava and Natalia Fingermann which compares Chinese and Brazilian agricultural cooperation programmes in Mozambique. Both projects, in the district of Boane, draw on the agricultural development experiences of their respective countries. The authors question how transferable these experiences really are.
(Future Agricultures)

 Tunisia seeks greater ties with Brazilian Agriculture

The CEO of Tunisia’s ‘Agency for Agricultural Investment Promotion’ (APIA) is currently in Sao Paulo where he sought to attract increased engagements from Brazilian agribusiness and cooperation projects. He was cited as saying “We have a lot to learn when it comes to agricultural research and teaching, and developing areas such as grains and meats.” The Tunisian CEO is also in discussions about increasing Tunisian agricultural exports to be sold Brazilian supermarket chains.

Brazilian and Chinese investments in Angola and Mozambique

Victoria Waldersee has published a policy brief at the BRICS Policy Centre that maps out some of Brazil and China’s key investments in Angola and Mozambique. The mapping is based on a mixture of academic papers and news articles and it gives a sense of areas of concentration as well as key commercial interests coming from each country.
(BRICS Policy Center)

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You may not know, but 2015 is the International Year of Soils. Soils are of course vitally important for agriculture and livelihoods, but they often go unsung and are routinely uncared for. The Year of Soils, promoted by the FAO, is aimed to put soils into the spotlight. The Director General of the FAO, Jose Graziano Da Silva, puts it nicely: “”The multiple roles of soils often go unnoticed. Soils don’t have a voice, and few people speak out for them. They are our silent ally in food production”.

The recent high-profile Montpellier Panel report pulls together much of the science, and makes a strong case for taking an integrated and holistic approach to soil management to promote soil health. If we lose soils, then we lose the basis for life, it argues. While climate change, correctly, has gained the international spotlight, making sure the basic substrate for human survival is in a good condition may be equally important.

If you want to learn more about soils you can attend an event virtually every week somewhere in the world this year. A highlight is the ‘Global Soil Week’ in Berlin next month, when soil science and policy will be discussed in a number of sessions. The organisers have produced a ‘Soil Atlas’, a compilation of infographics, which projects the data and the importance of soils.

Yet we must be careful when making the case for soils that we do not simplify and overstate. This is always a temptation when trying to raise the profile of an issue. To generate attention, headline grabbing statistics are always helpful. But they may not actually be useful, as they can distort responses and obscure understandings. Thus, while I agree with virtually everything in the new Montpellier report, I was disappointed to find that the old and much disputed figures of global soil degradation and nutrient loss are trotted out yet again.

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China_brazilflagsThis news roundup has been collected on behalf of the China and Brazil in African Agriculture (CBAA) project.

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New CBAA paper: the narratives behind Brazil & Mozambique’s co-operation in agriculture

Lidia Cabral has published a new working paper entitled ‘Priests, technicians and traders? The discursive politics of Brazil’s agricultural cooperation in Mozambique.’ This paper asks whose interests drive Brazil into Africa, what development models are carried along and what is in them for African countries have been guiding research and debates about Brazil’s cooperation in Africa. The paper focuses specifically on two large Brazilian projects in Mozambique: ProSAVANA and More Food International.
(Future Agricultures)

Brazilian Banana species in Uganda and Nigeria

Another article has emerged about the EMBRAPA’s programme to transfer 13 cultivars of banana developed in Brazil to Uganda and Nigeria. The cultivars have are more resistant to diseases that affect the crop and as bananas are part of the staple diets in Nigeria and Uganda, the programme hopes to ensure greater food security. Testing will take place over three to five years over four test-sites in each country. How the successful strains will be rolled out is not specifically mentioned in the article, but it alludes to “questions of the market” at the end suggesting that strains would be sold to local farmers. This raises further questions over who would own the intellectual property rights.
(Jornal do Brasil)

Manicaland to twin with Anhui, China

Zimbabwe’s Provincial Affairs Minister, Mandi Chimene, has announced that Manicaland Province will be twinned with China’s Anhui province with a view to export chickens. She is reported as saying: “Manicaland we are twinning you with Anhui Province in China. We have a treaty that we signed to trade with them. We don’t want to continue receiving products from them. Let’s plan what we should supply them so that we brief them during our next visit.” This seems to mark the first time an African country is pro-actively twinning one of its provinces with a part of China in order to boost exports.
(Zimbabwe Situation)

Tagged in: cbaa-roundup
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A series of Working Papers by the China and Brazil in African Agriculture (CBAA) project of Future Agricultures has been launched for 2015. The papers fall broadly into two groups, with many overlaps.

The first is a set of papers looking at the political economy context in Brazil and China. We argue that historical experiences in agriculture and poverty programmes, combine with domestic political economy dynamics, involving different political, commercial and diplomatic interests, to shape development cooperation engagements in Africa. How such narratives of agriculture and development – about for example food security, appropriate technology, policy models and so on - travel to and from Africa is important in our analysis.

b2ap3_thumbnail_cbaavid.jpgThe second, larger set of papers focuses on case studies of development cooperation. They take a broadly-defined ‘ethnographic’ stance, looking at how such engagements unfold in detail, while setting this in an understanding of the wider political economy in the particular African settings. There are, for example, major contrasts between how Brazilian and Chinese engagements unfold in Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, dependent on historical experiences with economic reform, agricultural sector restructuring, aid commitments, as well as national political priorities and stances.

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What does it mean to be dispossessed of land? In a very interesting post for the Democracy in Africa blog, Festus Boamah – a contributor to our two international conferences on Land Grabbing – explores the legal arguments around dispossession, looking at cases in Ghana where chiefs have given land over to be used for biofuel investments. The post draws on a recent paper by Festus in the Review of African Political Economy.

You can read his full post at Democracy in Africa, but here’s an extract:

In everyday language, ‘dispossession’ implies the loss of something that was once held, controlled, used or claimed by an entity, individual or group. In legal terms, however, we need to go further to claim that dispossession has occurred: a legitimate actor must confirm the identity of the claimant and the basis of their ownership. Consequently, the legal verdict of dispossession is contingent upon evolving notions of entitlement in a particular polity. Furthermore complications also surround attempts to ascertain the scale and value of the asset that has been lost. In this blog, I illustrate these arguments in the context of large-scale land allocations by Ghanaian chiefs.

During the last decade, many Ghanaian chiefs have allocated large land areas to agricultural investors―mostly from Norway, Italy, and Canada―usually for the cultivation of jatropha for biofuel production. Schoneveld et al. report land allocations of over one million hectares to mostly foreign-owned companies (or companies financed by Ghanaians abroad) as of 2009, which sharply contrasts with the 158,906 hectares of land areas acquired by both the British colonial administration and post-independence governments of Ghana combined between 1850 and 2001. These large land allocations have proceeded apace during the decade partly because the main requirement for a land transfer in Ghana is the consent of the prospective investor and that of either a primordial actor ― chief, family head, land owner ― or the legitimate land grantor. Hence, the involvement of state institutions in the registration of land allocations only emerges in the final stages of the formalisation process is often inconsequential. Whereas Ghanaian governments used to negotiation the allocation of large land areas in the early post-independence era, Ghanaian chiefs have now taken on this role: an indication of the state’s waning authority over land.

Read more of Festus Boamah's post at Democracy in Africa.

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The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has just published its comprehensive external evaluation of Future Agricultures’ performance and impact from 2008 to 2013, carried out by the consultants Upper Quartile. This is the third, and biggest, review of the Consortium since it was established in 2005, and gives us a unique chance to reflect on what we’ve achieved so far.

The specific focus of this evaluation, which took nearly a year to complete, was to provide a rigorous and independent assessment of the quality and relevance of FAC’s research activities and uptake; appraise the outcomes and impacts of its research at different levels; and examine its value for money and organisational management.

 It was also expected to identify key lessons and implications for Future Agricultures as it moved forward with its regional strategy, and for DFID as it looked at future options for commissioning research on agricultural policy issues. So what have we learned?

Evaluation diagram

The full 281-page version of the Upper Quartile evaluation (pdf) was released by DFID this week, along with documents separating out the annexes, executive summary and main report.

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China_brazilflagsThis news roundup has been collected on behalf of the China and Brazil in African Agriculture (CBAA) project.

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Brazil to host International Lusophone Food Conference

The municipality of Uberaba in Brazil’s province of Minas Gerais has been chosen as the location for this year’s international seminar on “Together against hunger, through agricultural and infrastructural development”. It will be held in September, organised by the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, and plans to involve more countries in the MDA’s ‘mais alimentos’ programme. The event will also involve representatives from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Mozambique-Brazil Chamber of Commerce.
(Jornal da Manhã – in Portuguese)

‘Urgent! Modernize Chinese Agriculture’

“In a January 7 speech on developing agriculture under a "new normal", Minister Han Changfu said the demand to speed up agricultural modernization has become much more urgent as the economy enters the "deep waters" of reform… Han says that China has made a lot of progress in modernizing agriculture, but it is stuck in a state where "modern" and "traditional" agriculture coexist.”
(Dim Sums)

Profile: new chief of body for Lusophone-China trade

A profile of Vicente de Jesus Manuel, the new Secretary General of the ‘Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries’, also known as the Forum of Macao.
(Macau Hub)

Tagged in: cbaa-roundup
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The past decade has witnessed global outcry over a new era of ‘land grabbing’ and, in response, there have been numerous efforts to halt and reverse the corporate takeover of community land.

Initially presented as investors grabbing land from rural people, it has since become clear that most such ‘grabs’ involve national governments selling or leasing out land to private companies, often by dispossessing rural communities of their rights.

Though such moves may flout international law and human rights, they are mostly legal under national law. It's the result of a longstanding failure to recognize that customary and informal land rights constitute real property rights. This failure effectively renders invisible the tenure of millions of people across the world, and privileges only the minority of those in developing countries who hold private title to property.

The conundrum then is how to address the deficiencies of national statutes that render land grabs – which are illegitimate and flout human rights – nominally legal under national law. On a recent trip to Lake Victoria, I heard fishing communities talk about the effects of land acquisitions on their lives and livelihoods. In this post, I'll explore the issues and share some of their reflections.

Tagged in: FAO landgrabs water
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How Mozambique’s journalists see China

CBAA project member Sérgio Chichava, and colleagues Lara Côrtes and Aslak Orre, have published a paper on Mozambican press coverage of Chinese engagements in the country. The piece looks at Chinese engagements with the African media, and the representation of Chinese engagements in the Mozambican media with a case study on illegal logging.

Brazilian Bananas tested in Nigeria and Uganda

As part of the Brazil-Africa marketplace programme, EMBRAPA has begun working on a programme of improving the genetic strains of bananas and plantains in Africa. This work is taking place specifically in Nigeria and Uganda for the time being as they are some of the largest producers of these crops. They will test the improved strains across four separate environments within the two countries.
(O Documento)

China puts pressure on Zimbabwean parastatals over loans

There are reports that the Chinese government wants to second officials to key Zimbabwean parastatals to ensure that Chinese loans for government projects are not lost due to “leakages”. The article cites concerns over allowing the foreign officials into their key parastatals and says that negotiations over “the Chinese demands, including transparency, accountability and the stamping out of corruption in parastatals” will take some time. China is also said to have put pressure on the country in repaying its original loans, and it is articulated that Mugabe was ultimately unsuccessful in a bid to secure a further $4billion in loans from China late last year.
(Mail and Guardian)

Tagged in: cbaa-roundup
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For several years Future Agricultures has worked on pastoralism within African settings. For comparison, this post looks at a case from theTibetan Plateau, where pastoralists are facing similar challenges to those investigated by our Pastoralism theme.

In the last few weeks of 2014, IDS hosted a visiting fellow, Gongbuzeren, a researcher from Tibet who himself grew up in a nomadic community. Gongbuzeren has been researching rangeland management and pastoral development in pastoral regions around Tibet since 2007, with fieldwork in the provinces of Sichuan and Qinghai. We asked him a few questions about his emerging findings.

1. The Chinese authorities recently introduced a market-based system of rangeland management in the Tibetan Plateau, which contrasts with some of the existing collective and community-based practices. Why do you think they did this, and what have they done to achieve it?

The pastoral reforms were part of a wider programme. In the late 1980s, China initiated economic reforms to move towards market-based economic development, in order to improve its gross industrial and agricultural output. In the late 1990s, China implemented the ‘Great West Development’ programme. This tried to speed up economic growth through marketisation and modernisation in the west – including the six main pastoral provinces (Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet Autonomous Region(TAR), Qinghai, Sichuan and Gansu).

To integrate the rural pastoral communities in these areas into this larger market-based economic development, China made some rapid institutional reforms in how rangelands were managed, and accompanied these reforms with some centralised market-based policy interventions.

A policy in the early 90s moved the management of rangelands from a community-based system, to being based around household contracts, with individual privatized rangeland user-rights. This was called the Rangeland Household Contract Policy (RHCP). Then, in 2008, China introduced a market-based rangeland transfer system, which aimed to re-aggregate rangeland resources, and promote more optimal animal husbandry.

All of these market-based institutional reforms are underpinned by the belief that the older community-based system – which is based around community collective use of rangelands, with traditionally-inherited customary institutions and cultural norms – is irrational. According to this view, the old system leads to open access and the degradation of rangelands.

Market-based arrangements aim to correct this by ‘re-aggregating’ the household-based rangeland resources and allocating them more efficiently. They also support intensive animal husbandry and a rotational grazing system, which is meant to improve herder livelihoods and promote sustainable rangeland management.

The pastoralists in these areas have taken these reforms and adapted them to find systems that work for them.

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China_brazilflagsThis news roundup has been collected on behalf of the China and Brazil in African Agriculture (CBAA) project.

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Chinese Foreign Ministry official encourages investments in African Agriculture

The head of the Africa Department in China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lin Songtian, has encouraged Chinese companies to invest in African agriculture: “Opening up local (African) land, using local labour and meeting the needs of local markets would be an excellent investment”. He is cited as having spoken about the capital, technical expertise, and experience China can bring to countries in the form of mutual cooperation. The article goes on to draw out his points on the mutual economic benefits of China-Africa engagements and the need for Chinese investors to respect local regulations.
(Tianong.cn (in Chinese))

What is Brazil Really Doing in Africa?

This op-ed by Robert Muggah gives an overview of Brazil-African engagements from an international relations perspective. It looks at the developmental and commercial engagements, as well as flashpoints in the relationships so far.

Ethiopian dam to start power generation

A much-delayed $1.8 billion dam project under construction along Ethiopia's Omo river could begin generating power by June and be fully operational by early 2016, an official said on Thursday. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China stepped in four years ago with a loan of $500 million to pay for turbines and upon completion the project will generate 1,870 MW of power.

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