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

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20 August: China and Brazil in African Agriculture - news roundup

by Henry Tugendhat
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Wednesday, 20 August 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

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

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project, sign up to the CBAA newsletter.

Agricultura “made in Brazil”

This article argues that Brazil’s agricultural technology model has been a success in Brazil and will be valuable for countries with similar environmental conditions. It focuses on the ProSavana project in Mozambique that embodies such technology transfers and critiques those civil society movements that contest their value.
(Vermelho Portal – in Portuguese)

South Africa wants to sell more agricultural produce to China

South Africa is preparing to plant and harvest 1million hectares of fallow land. As part of this they hope that they will be able to increase agricultural exports to China.

“In China, we have found a growing market for our agricultural produce. The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) has been instrumental in assisting producers in the wine industry with accessing marketing opportunities through international trade fairs in countries like China… We must however, challenge ourselves to translate export gains into opportunities for local economic development and job creation.”
(South African Government News Agency, via AllAfrica)

The developmental implications of Sino-African economic and political relations: A preliminary assessment for the case of Zambia

“This scoping study evaluates the nature, scope, and scale of Chinese trade and investment relations
in the primary sector of mineral-rich Zambia. It details how, despite diplomatic ties dating back to the liberation struggle of the 1960s, economic and political relations between the two countries matured only over the 2000s. This has focused primarily on the mining sector, with Chinese companies, many of which are state owned, investing heavily in mineral prospecting, copper mining and smelting, and associated (service) industries. With most investment activities targeting the mining sector, contrary to popular perception, China’s direct participation in other primary sectors, such as forestry and agriculture, is negligible.”
(CIFOR)

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The challenges of agriculture: attitudes of Senegalese young people from the Afrobarometer Round 5 Survey

by Mohamadou Sall
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Saturday, 16 August 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

Senegalese schoolgirl

In February and March 2013, the Senegalese Afrobarometer team conducted a nationwide Survey on a sample of 1200 young Senegalese people aged 18 and above. The sample is representative of the 18+ population and takes into account the distribution by district, sex and place of residence.

As in previous surveys, the Senegalese team inserted some country-specific questions into the standard questionnaire of the African network. These included a question on the extent to which respondents agreed with the following statements:

  1. Q80A_SEN. Promote economic growth by: support to farmers/rural areas versus prioritize industry/urban areas
  2. Q80B_SEN. Promote economic growth by: technology and agricultural inputs versus access to markets
  3. Q80C_SEN. Promote economic growth by: focus on producing cash crops versus food crops
  4. Q80D_SEN. No foreigners to buy land versus foreigners can purchase land
  5. Q80E_SEN. Work in agriculture; produce for consumption or sale.
Tags: youth, Senegal
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15 August: China and Brazil in African Agriculture - news roundup

by Henry Tugendhat
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Friday, 15 August 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

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

For regular updates from the
project, sign up to the CBAA newsletter.

Africa, an emerging ‘green revolution’?

Lidia Cabral is consulted in this article on agricultural development programmes in Africa. She traces some of the key projects that have emerged over the past few years, and introduces some of the research she has been conducting on the ProSavana programme in Mozambique.
(Publico – in Portuguese)

China in Africa: How Sam Pa became the middle man

This op-ed in the Financial Times seeks to unravel a large network of business ventures and connections around a successful Chinese businessman in Africa called Sam Pa (???). The article looks at some of his dealings with government officials and international business colleagues, including his role in a deal he made between Sinopec and Angola’s state oil company Sonangol. It gives an interesting perspective on a high profile Chinese migrant to Africa and the role that brokers may play between the different state and business actors.
(Financial Times)

Brazil to support coffee and soybean projects in Angola

The Brazilian ambassador to Angola has committed Brazilian support to increased agricultural cooperation between the two countries. Embrapa already provides support in Angola’s agronomic and veterinary research institutes, and their mention in this article seems to suggest they would be part of further agricultural cooperation programmes.
(Macau Hub)

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Engaging parliamentarians on large scale land investments in Africa

by Gaynor Paradza
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Friday, 15 August 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

by Gaynor Paradza and Emmanuel Sulle

Africa needs agricultural investments that facilitate inclusive and broad-based growth.  The investments must be transparent and fair in order to respect and protect the land rights of the rural communities and women. 

These issues were highlighted by the Pan African Parliamentarians (PAP) and Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC) Parliamentarians Forum in a workshop co-organized by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, African Land Policy Initiative, International Land  Coalition, the Land Policy Initiative of the African Union, European Parliamentarians with Africa, Oxfam, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Future Agricultures Consortium, Africa Forum  and NEPAD. The Conference was held in Johannesburg from 11-12 August 2014.

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Are we really tackling the challenge of improving livelihoods for poor farmers?

by Nathan Oxley
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Friday, 15 August 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

Agricultural research for development, including the consortium of research centres CGIAR, is regularly assessed to ensure money is being wisely spent on effective measures to promote better lives for rural communities. 2014 is the African Union Year of Agriculture and Food Security and the 10th Year of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme, CAADP, which is also being reviewed for its success in improving food and nutrition security.

On 15th July, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture & Food for Development debated the impact of CAADP and how to ensure a sustainable future for African agriculture. The event, held at the UK Houses of Parliament, was chaired by Lord Cameron of Dillington and brought together a panel of experts including Dr Yvonne Pinto (Director, Agricultural Learning and Impacts Network (ALINe) and Colin Poulton (SOAS Centre for Development, Environment and Policy), co-authors of ‘African Agriculture: Drivers for Success for CAADP implementation’.

Further information

To find out more about this event, read the background article: CAADP: how can Africa's agricultural development be sustained?

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Livelihood pathways after land reform in Zimbabwe

by Ian Scoones
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Wednesday, 13 August 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

landhungerUnderstanding livelihood pathways requires sustained fieldwork in particular sites in order to understand what changes and why. Systematic longitudinal studies are sadly rare in many developing country settings. Project grants for a few years are insufficient to sustain the research effort required. Long term studies are especially important when major changes have occurred. We cannot understand their impact unless influences are tracked over time, discovering new pathways as they unfold.

Such long-term work has been ongoing in Masvingo province in Zimbabwe since 2000, led by myself with a team of Zimbabwean colleagues – BZ Mavedzenge, Felix Murimbarimba and Joseph Mahenehene. Over the last 14 years the team has been tracking 400 households across 15 sites, and finding out what has happened to people’s livelihoods in areas taken as part of Zimbabwe’s radical land reform that unfolded from 2000.

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«Ne mangent seulement ceux qui peuvent se le permettre»: La sécurité alimentaire dans un contexte d’agriculture industrielle

by Nathan Oxley
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Wednesday, 13 August 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

par Rebecca Pointer (PLAAS) et Marion Girard Cisneros (AWEPA)

Les défenseurs de l’agriculture industrielle affirment que les investissements fonciers à grande échelle améliorent la sécurité alimentaire. Or les activistes et chercheurs assurent que ces investissements ont des conséquences néfastes pour la sécurité alimentaire, spécialement de ceux qui ont été expulsés de leurs terres pour faire place à l’agriculture industrielle.

Lundi, lors d’un séminaire au Parlement panafricain, des parlementaires, des chercheurs et des représentants de la société civile et du secteur agroalimentaire se sont réunis pour discuter de quelle sorte tirer profit des investissements fonciers à grande échelle en Afrique.

Selon Constance Mogale, activiste du Land Access Movement d’Afrique du Sud (LAMOSA, un mouvement de la société civile pour l’accès à la terre), la conséquence de forcer des femmes à se déplacer de leurs terres pour faire place aux investisseurs c’est qu’elles ne sont plus en mesure de produire les aliments qui assuraient leur moyen de vie. En plus, le déplacement les ayant laissées dans le dénuement le plus complet, elles peinent à acheter la nourriture produite par l’entreprise commerciale qui a remplacé leur activité. Ceci souligne que, pour les pauvres et les vulnérables, la sécurité alimentaire n’est pas une question de disponibilité d’aliments, mais plutôt d’accès aux aliments. Accroitre la production à travers l’agriculture industrielle n’aide donc pas ceux qui n’ont pas l’argent pour acheter de la nourriture.

Tags: landgrabs, land rush
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Land Rush, Day 1: Food availability doesn’t always equal food access

by Nathan Oxley
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Tuesday, 12 August 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

by Rebecca Pointer, Institute of Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)

While proponents of corporate farms argue that large scale land investment will enhance food security, activists and academics alike are highlighting how detrimental such land deals could be for the food security of those who are moved off the land to make way for corporate farming.

Speaking at a meeting of the Pan African Parliament yesterday, parliamentarians, civil society, academics and agribusiness came together to discuss how to make large scale land investment work for Africa.

Civil society activists, such as Constance Mogale from the Land Access Movement of South Africa (LAMOSA), highlighted how moving women off land to make way for investors meant that women could no longer produce food to secure their livelihoods. As this leaves affected women all but destitute, they also cannot access the food being produced by the commercial farm which had replaced their activity. Food security for the poor and vulnerable is often not about availability, but about access. Increasing production through commercial farming, therefore, does not help those who do not have cash to purchase their food.

Tags: land rush, landgrabs, land rush
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7 August: China and Brazil in African Agriculture - news roundup

by Henry Tugendhat
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Thursday, 07 August 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

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

For regular updates from the
project, sign up to the CBAA newsletter.

Brazil’s strategic partnerships

Alcides Costa Vaz has just published a new article entitled ‘Brazil’s strategic partnerships: origins, agendas and outcomes’: “Over the last 40 years Brazil has pursued strategic partnerships with a wide range of countries. It has done so to gain access to capital and technology, foster regional and inter-regional cooperation, and advance its priorities on the international stage - in particular through multilateral bodies and coalitions. These partnerships will continue to be a valuable tool for Brasilia to manage the intersections of its bilateral and multilateral engagements, reform global governance and consolidate Brazil's profile as an increasingly important global actor.”
FRIDE (pdf)

Chinese technologies enhance water and food security in Africa: UNEP

China has partnered with UNEP to facilitate the transfer of technologies on water resources management and agriculture targeting local communities in sixteen African countries. The project has so far been regarded as a success and phase two covering 2014-2017 will involve the implementation of six projects on water resources protection and dry land farming in river Nile and Lake Tanganyika basin. UNEP signed an agreement with China’s Ministry of Science and Technology in 2008 to enhance the capacity of African countries in climate change adaptation, ecosystems management and disaster reduction.

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Can Sub-Saharan Africa's plural seed systems survive?

by Nathan Oxley
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Wednesday, 06 August 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

Seed selector, Kenya

by Leonard Haggai
Research and Engagement Officer, Future Agricultures East Africa hub

Traditionally Africa’s food production relies on the informal sector to provide 80 percent (Byerlee et al., 2007) of its seed needs. But public seed breeding programmes have largely ignored the informal seed sector in favour of producing varieties for the formal sector, particularly hybrid maize. Delivery of these improved varieties is dominated by private sector actors, namely seed companies and agro-dealers. Increasingly, the formal seed business in Sub-Sahara Africa is big money dominated by public enterprises such as Kenya Seed Company and Ethiopia Seed Enterprise, as well as multinationals including Monsanto, Syngenta, Pannar, and Pioneer Hi-Bred.

Behind these public companies and multinationals are the networks of influential policy and business interests. Will they be inclined to support the growth of both formal and informal seed systems in the region?

Tags: seeds, issd
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17 July: China and Brazil in African agriculture - news roundup

by Henry Tugendhat
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Thursday, 17 July 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

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

For regular updates from the
project, sign up to the CBAA newsletter.

China’s New White Paper on Foreign Aid

China’s second white paper on foreign aid has been published, wherein China is shown to have provided RMB 89.34 billion in the three years from 2010-2012. The report includes sections on agriculture and environmental protection and the blog below provides an interesting analysis of the report.

Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania criticises Chinese migrants

China’s ambassador to Tanzania, Lu Youqing, gave an interview to Southern Metropolis Daily, in which he talks of the positives that China has brought to the country, such as adding 150,000 jobs locally, and becoming the country’s biggest trading partner. However, he talks of the difficulties with the Chinese migrants that have come to the country and had pejorative dealings with local government officials and others that fail to respect the local laws.
(Southern Metropolis Daily)

China Zimbabwe hybrid rice project

Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Agriculture and a local private consultation firm have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China’s National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center to start a pilot hybrid rice production project. A team of Chinese technical experts are due to visit Zimbabwe in the third week of July to plan the project. The local firm is tasked with providing land, labour, logistical support and seek government support.
(Oryza.com)

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The EU-Brazil partnership on development: a lukewarm affair

by Nathan Oxley
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Monday, 14 July 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

Lidia Cabral, researcher with our China & Brazil in African Agriculture project, has written a policy brief for the think tank FRIDE assessing the limited success of the EU-Brazil strategic partnership on international development.

In particular, the brief identifies problems with a ‘North/South’ discourse which persists in spite of the changing dynamics of power and influence across continents.

From the brief:

“Much of the debate is infused by a discourse that, by juxtaposing ‘North’ versus ‘South’ and ‘traditional’ versus ‘emerging’ players, places Brazil and the EU on opposing sides. Yet, there are opportunities to build alliances around specific thematic issues, such as the global fight against hunger. With regard to trilateral cooperation, the analysis reveals a mismatch between high-level pledges and motivations on the one hand and on-the- ground operational capacity on the other. It also shows a fading emphasis on this modality of engagement. There is still scope, nonetheless, for joint learning on trilateral cooperation.”

The EU-Brazil partnership on development: a lukewarm affair (FRIDE website)

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A culture of extraction and exclusion: How philanthropy impoverishes the vulnerable

by Nathan Oxley
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Friday, 11 July 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

maintenance-zambia

by Rebecca Pointer, Information and Communications Officer, Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)

Well-intentioned people the world over see transformation to green ways of doing as absolutely essential. Many argue that by switching to green ways of doing, we can have win-win situations in which we tackle both environmental degradation and poverty, through innovative projects and by conserving wild areas where there still exist.

Yet at the Green Economy in the South conference, which took place from 8-10 July in Dodoma, Tanzania, case study after case study has showed how the language and practices of switching to ‘green’ result in the extraction of resources from Africa to the North, from the poor to the wealthy, all under the guise of philanthropy and development. Processes funded by Northern development agencies, such as REDD+, result in capital accumulating more by dispossessing Africans, enclosing African land, and selling ecological services to the wealthy few who can afford the high price tag.

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Missionary discourses: can the green economy bring climate justice to the South?

by Joanes Odiwuor Atela
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Friday, 11 July 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

French missionaries in Africa, c.1930

The green economy has become one of the most powerful political and social agendas in the era of climate change. This week, researchers have met in Dodoma, Tanzania at the Green Economy in the South conference – the first meeting of its kind. Central to this green economy is the emergence of carbon market mechanisms as a form of green development for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The carbon phenomenon has attracted a variety of multilateral and bilateral investments from the North to the South, with the premise that it represents a form of climate justice for the states and local communities who could participate in these schemes. But in academic and political debates on green economy, questions have been raised as to what extent these carbon schemes – as part of the green economy – represent realistic climate justice to climatically vulnerable farmers and pastoralists in the South.

Specific cases of carbon schemes in Ghana (Vision 2050 carbon project), Zimbabwe (Kariba REDD project) and Kenya (the Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project) indicate that these schemes, in their designs, perpetuate a generic discourse around ‘ecological and social missionary’. In this discourse, projects claim to bring a new life to the ecosystem and livelihoods in the respective target localities that are now suffering the impacts of global change.

Tags: climate change, carbon, redd+
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Why we should care about developing a Green Economy in the global South

by Emmanuel Sulle
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Monday, 07 July 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

Algeria-solar

The importance of developing a green economy – mostly referred to as “an economy where economic prosperity can go hand-in-hand with the ecological sustainability” (PDF) – in the global South cannot be overstated. Studies indicate that with the basic economic system in place, using less carbon intensive technologies, less developed countries (LDCs) are better placed to go green than developed countries, which have to retire the old fossil fuels dependent facilities/technologies.

The transition to a green economy is, however, not an easy task. The constraints include lack of capital, technologies, policies, and legal and institutional frameworks that would enable and regulate private sector investments in the green economy. Yet the wealthiest Northerners, sometimes in collusion with local elites, are seizing opportunities associated with green economies – in many cases with negative impacts for surrounding communities and vulnerable groups in the global South.

Early studies into biofuels developments, for example, indicate that rural communities especially find limits placed on their access to, ownership and control over resources.

Understanding how these initiatives work, and their consequences, has motivated scholars from all over the world to attend the Green Economy in the South conference, which starts tomorrow in Tanzania. With a wide range of questions and cases covered, the conference will steer a lively debate in search for answers, recommendations and cruxes on how these issues can be dealt with.

Tags: GM crops, land, climate change, Tanzania, green economy, green economy
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7 July: China and Brazil in African agriculture - news roundup

by Henry Tugendhat
Henry Tugendhat
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Monday, 07 July 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

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

For regular updates from the
project, sign up to the CBAA newsletter.

Zimbabwe to Follow Brazilian model of ethanol fuel blending

Zimbabwe’s Agriculture and Rural Development Authority board chairman Mr Basil Nyabadza has said that his country would move from the use of an E15 ethanol blend to an E85 ethanol blend in their cars, to cut down on imported fossil fuels (the number refers to the percentage of ethanol versus petrol). The chairman accepted that some car manufactures will have to readjust, but affirmed that “Zimbabwe has the same opportunity as Brazil to develop a dynamic biofuel industry to serve not only its own fuel needs but the region as well.”
(Manica Post)

Zimbabwe’s Alliance of Anhui-based investors grows

The Alliance of Anhui-Based Investors was established last year and has since then facilitated 37 Anhui companies’ engagement in Zimbabwean markets, with investment contracts worth $17m. These contracts have been signed with business and government leaders, and agriculture is listed as one of the areas of cooperation.
(Anhui News)

Zimbabwe’s tobacco sales exceed expectations

“The sales of tobacco in Zimbabwe reached 190 million kg, which has surpassed this year’s target of 180 million kg, as the country’s 2014 tobacco auction marketing season will end soon, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) announced Thursday.” This was sold for $604.7m and compares with 166m kg sold in 2013 for $616m. The article cites China as Zimbabwe’s biggest buyer of tobacco.
(Coastweek.com)

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25 June: China and Brazil in African agriculture - news roundup

by Henry Tugendhat
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Wednesday, 25 June 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

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

For regular updates from the
project, sign up to the CBAA newsletter.

China’s sovereign wealth fund shifts focus to agriculture

“China’s sovereign wealth fund is shifting its focus to invest in agriculture and global food supplies in a significant strategic move that reflects the priorities of the country’s new leadership.” The China Investment Corporation (CIC) will focus on irrigation, land transformation and animal feed production among other areas across value chains. CIC has roughly $650bn of assets under management of $200bn is invested outside the country. Alongside this article in the Financial Times, the Chairman of CIC has had a blog published with his own commentary on the news entitled ‘China will profit from feeding the world’s appetite’.

World Food Programme explains Brazil’s PAA (Purchase from Africans for Africa) Programme in Ethiopia

Further to last week’s mention of the Purchase from Africans for Africa programme in Ethiopia, this article on the World Food Programme’s (WFP) website gives a more detailed report on what is expected. Aiming to benefit 10,000 people, the programme is receiving support from the WFP and the FAO. It is expected that 37,500 metric tons of local grains will be purchased as part of the programme.
(World Food Programme)

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IFAMA 2014: Is Africa's future 'upstream' and 'post-farm'?

by Nathan Oxley
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Tuesday, 24 June 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

By Amelia Genis, PhD student, Institute of Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)

African agriculture is the next frontier for local and global agricultural services and input companies. Here, we are told, the "underutilised" land and water resources are enormous, and agricultural productivity so low that it translates into massive potential for new markets and scope for profit.

I attended IFAMA's (International Food and Agribusiness Management Association) "Agribusiness & Food World Forum" on 17-19 June 2014 in Cape Town, held for the first time in Africa.

The forum programme states that Africa's agriculture and agribusiness future has "soared to the top of the world's most elite economic growth and development agendas" and that this "heightened attention" on agriculture and agribusiness in Africa is based on the fact that her enormous growth potential, "now tangibly in sight, hinges on expanding the capacity of these industries".

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Sustainable intensification: a new buzzword to feed the world?

by Ian Scoones
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Thursday, 19 June 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

The term ‘sustainable intensification(SI) has entered academic and policy discourse in recent years, including in debates about what to do about agriculture in Zimbabwe. I have been intrigued for some while to find out what it actually means. Is this yet another contradictory hyphenation of two words for political ends, or does it have some substance? Who is driving this debate, and what does it mean for Africa?

A flurry of publications have been produced in the past year or two that use the term, and they provide a good route to finding out a bit more. A high profile article in Science from 2013 offered a definition of SI: “to increase food production from existing farmland in ways that place far less pressure on the environment and that do not undermine our capacity to continue producing food in the future”. The major Montpellier Panel report offer a similar one, defining SI as “producing more outputs with more efficient use of all inputs on a durable basis, while reducing environmental damage and building resilience, natural capital and the flow of environmental services”. Other similar formulations appear in a recent Royal Society collection of papers. No one could disagree with these it seems. Is SI then just what we used to call sustainable agriculture, or is there something more to it?

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16 June: China and Brazil in African agriculture - news roundup

by Henry Tugendhat
Henry Tugendhat
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Monday, 16 June 2014 Category Hot topic 0 Comments

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

For regular updates from the
project, sign up to the CBAA newsletter.

‘Estimating China’s Foreign Aid 2001-2013’

A new working paper by Naohiro Kitano and Yuiknori Harada at JICA has published revised estimates of China’s current aid disbursements. However, they have also presented the data in such a way that it allows a direct comparison with ODA net disbursements according to DAC definitions which has not been done before. The results suggest that net aid totalled $7.1bn in 2013 and that if placed within the list of DAC countries, then China moved from being the 16th biggest donor in 2001, to the 6th biggest donor in 2013. The results are based upon mixture of publically available data and informed estimates.

Forthcoming Brazil-Africa agricultural research agenda published

The Agricultural Innovation MKTPlace programme that forms research collaborations between African institutions and Brazil (usually EMBRAPA) has published the preliminary list of research projects and partnerships for the coming year.
(Agricultural Innovation MKTPlace)

Brazilian support for small-scale farming in Africa

Brazil’s ambassador to Ethiopia claims that the PAA programme (Purchase from Africans for Africa / Programa de Aquisição de Alimentos) been successful for smallholder farmers in the 5 countries it currently operates in: Ethiopia, Mozambique, Malawi, Niger and Senegal. She announced that there were plans to expand the programme in Ethiopia, which currently operates mainly in the south of the country.
(AllAfrica)

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