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Too many people, too few livestock
January 11, 2012 / Pastoralism in crisis?

Below is an unpublished extract written by Stephen Sandford from the book Development at the Margins: Pathways of Change in the Horn of Africa, ed. Andy Catley, Jeremy Lind and Ian Scoones (2012), Earthscan. It was written in November 2011.

Over the last half-century pastoralists’ wealth and welfare have been in sharp decline in the Horn of Africa and it is becoming increasingly urgent to find other livelihoods for many of them. This chapter is a plea for a rethink about the potential of irrigated agriculture to be a valuable alternative or additional livelihood to pastoralism. The Horn of Africa in this paper refers to the five core countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

For many years the average levels (and the equity of inter-household distribution) of wealth and welfare, among pastoralists in the rangelands of the Horn have been getting worse (Waller, 1999; McPeak, 2006, p45; Desta and Coppock, 2002, p445, Devereux, 2006, pp88-90); and they will continue to worsen. This is a consequence of a growing imbalance between the extent, productivity and sustainability of the rangelands, the number of humans dependent on them for their livelihood, and the number of livestock needed to support these humans. That number is, in turn, determined by the productivity of the land and animals, the proportion of different types of output which are bought and sold, and their relative prices (Dietz et al, 2001; Sandford, 2006; ODI, 2010). Although there has been some switch from natural vegetation to feed based on cropping, livestock herded by pastoralists in the Horn of Africa still depend on the rangelands for most of their diet, typically 70-80 per cent in individual countries (LOG Associates, 2010, pxix). But the extent of the rangelands accessible by pastoralists is declining (Homewood, 2008, p251) and, in spite of the unreliability of demographic data (ODI, 2010), the human population is increasing (Randall, 2008), although becoming less nomadic.

The livestock population, which is already too large for the natural environment to support sustainably (ODI, 2010) is at the same time too small to provide an adequate living for the human population if that remains largely dependent on pastoralism. The burden of the resulting gap between the requirements for livestock (and their products) and their supply falls principally on the already poor. They have herds that are too small to sustain them. Consequently they have to supplement their income in other ways which leads them to neglect their herds. Their herds therefore shrink yet further (Lybbert et al, 2004). The non-viability of the existing pastoral systems, as highlighted by the acute food crisis of 2011, continues to worsen.

If both the growth of the human population and primary dependence on a pastoral livelihood are to continue, then the net value of total pastoral output (i.e. sales and auto-consumption of animals and their products) needs to increase, but without putting further grazing pressure on the rangelands by increasing animal numbers. The best available forecasts (OECD/FAO, 2011) of real world prices (adjusted for inflation) over the next decade do not suggest that this increase in net value will come about by rises in the prices of the animal products produced by pastoralists. Any increase in net value of pastoral output will have to come through changes in quantity.

Although there is some scope for improving secondary productivity (yield of animal products per unit of feed consumed by the herd), for example through improved animal health, this will have little real effect unless the total quantity of feed consumed is also increased (Otchere, 1986). Such an increase in feed consumed will either require the extra feed to be imported from non-pastoral areas or the primary productivity of the rangelands (feed per hectare) to be increased. Although high protein feed supplements can be economically imported and fed, the feed conversion ratios of cattle and small ruminants are such that, as simple back-of-the-envelope modelling of transport costs show, it is normally much more economic to export the pastoral livestock to where the bulky energy-providing feed is grown in the non-pastoral areas rather than the other way round. But in such systems, the value added then accrues to the non-pastoralist feed-growers.

While a modest increase in the quantity of pastoral output might be achieved by an increase in the efficiency with which existing ‘traditional’ technology is used the scope for this is limited. In spite of some claims to the contrary (Breman 1995; Toutain et al, 2009, p186), the ‘improved’ research-based technology available does not seem able substantially to increase the primary productivity of rainfed rangelands.

One issue is that most research focused on rangelands is not intended to maximise income but focuses on sustainability. That emphasis may be appropriate but the focus of this paper is income and how to stop the increasing impoverishment of pastoralists and to strengthen their ability to survive. A proper scientific approach to testing the hypothesis that research-based technology is no better than what pastoralists already do would require statistical testing of considerable sophistication. The data for this does not exist and will not for decades, if ever. In the meantime, one has to rely on unsophisticated comparisons and indirect approaches.

Four such approaches are:

  1. The crude quantitative comparisons that are available show that commercial ranches, which normally claim that their range management techniques are derived from research, have lower values of output per ha than traditional pastoralists in comparable circumstances (Hesse, 2009).
  2. Appropriate range-management techniques and strategies are very ‘site- specific’, depending on local ecological, social and economic factors (Perrier, 1990; Briske et al, 2008). Africa is very heterogeneous and the quantity of research carried out (other than in South Africa) is too small to have produced reliable results even for a few sites.
  3. Although extension services have been advising African pastoralists for the last sixty years to adopt ‘improved range management’ in practice take-up of these recommendations has been minimal (Ndlovu and Mugabe, 2002, p259). This suggests that pastoralists do not find that the recommendations are profitable.
  4. Although range scientists 40-50 years ago were very confident in the power of improved range management, claiming that it could double yields (Sandford, 1980), their recent claims have been much more modest. For example, a senior range scientist in South Africa, where there has been considerable range research done, says ‘In the field of rangeland science we can offer to marginally increase production by improving the use of rangeland’ (Palmer 1999)  [emphasis added]

The need to diversify and its scale

The evidence presented here on the improbability of net pastoral output increasing as a result of either higher prices or of the adoption of new technology indicates that the recent and continuing decline in the welfare of pastoralists will not be halted or reversed by focusing only, or even principally, on livestock-based livelihoods. Diversification of livelihoods is essential.

Successful and sustainable land use in dry areas of the Horn requires a mobile system of land use and often household herds of mixed species, able to exploit different types of vegetation in widely separated locations at different seasons. An efficient mobile land-use system requires an adequate labour force for herding and one able to respond to rainfall and other events rapidly. Households with too small a herd get a living from and who consequently have to divide their attention across several different livelihoods, or with too small a labour force who are unable to devote sufficient attention to the needs of different categories and species of stock, are not economically viable as pastoralists (Barrett and McPeak 2006) and are unable to operate a mobile system of land use. At the same time their herds compete for scarce livestock feed with the herds of those who are potentially viable, and their immobile system of land use puts greater pressure on the environment.

Diversification of livelihoods by the pastoral population as a whole but specialisation by individual households is the key to successful and sustainable land use. The aim should be to reduce the number of people dependent on pastoralism by facilitating the emigration out of a pastoral livelihood of those households who have to diversify if they are to survive at all.

The scale of the effort needed to achieve a satisfactory rate of emigration depends on the present degree of overpopulation, as reflected in various indicators of stress, and in the future rate of growth of the population significantly dependent on pastoralism. Obviously these will differ quite widely between different locations. But we can take as an example the pastoral areas of north Kenya and southern Ethiopia. Two indicators of stress are:

  • In the pastoral areas of southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya, 49 per cent of households wholly or partially dependent on pastoralism were, for four consecutive dry seasons of study (McPeak, 2004), below an income poverty line which was set at a value equivalent to half the level of the UN’s extreme poverty line (US$1 of 1993 purchasing power parity) per person per day.
  • About 80 per cent of family herds in these pastoral areas are now less than the threshold size (about 10-12 head of cattle per household or their equivalent in terms of other categories of livestock) above which household herds are, after a ‘shock’ such as extreme drought, probably able to recover their pre-shock size but below which they gradually dwindle in numbers and are no longer viable pastoralists (Lybbert et al, 2004).

These two indicators show that the proportion of the pastoral population already in acute poverty, no longer able to practise viable pastoralism, and urgently needing an alternative livelihood is large. For this reason I have advocated elsewhere the need to reconsider the option of irrigation-based livelihoods (Sandford 2011).

Stephen Sandford
November 2011

References

Barrett, C. and McPeak, J. (2006) ‘Poverty traps and safety nets’, Economic Studies in Inequality, Social Exclusion and Well-Being, vol 1, pp131-154

Briske, D.D., Derner, J.D., Brown, J.R., Fuhlendorf, S.D., Teague, W.R., Havstad, K,M., Gillen, R.L., Ash, A.J. and Willms, W.D. (2008) ‘Rotational grazing on rangelands: reconciliation of perception and experimental evidence’, Rangeland Ecology and Management vol 61, pp3-17

Desta, S. and Coppock, D. L. (2002) ‘Cattle population dynamics in the southern Ethiopian rangelands, 1980–97’, Journal of Range Management, vol 55, no 5, pp439-451

Devereux, S. (2006) Vulnerable Livelihoods in Somali Region, Ethiopia, IDS Research Report 57, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton

Dietz, T., Nunow, A. A., Roba A. W. and Zaal, F. (2001) ‘Pastoral Commercialization: On Caloric Terms of Trade and Related Issues’, in M. Salih, T. Dietz and A.G. Mohamed, African Pastoralism, Conflict, Institutions and Government, Pluto Press, London, pp194-234

Hesse, C. (2009) ‘Generating wealth from environmental variability: The economics of pastoralism in East Africa’s drylands’, Indigenous Affairs 3-4

Homewood, K. (ed) (2008) Ecology of African Pastoralist Societies, James Currey Ltd, Oxford

Lybbert, T. J., Barrett, C. B., Desta, S. and Coppock, D. L. (2004) ‘Stochastic wealth dynamics and risk management among a poor population’, The Economic Journal, no 114. pp750–777

LOG Associates (2010) Regional Study on the Sustainable Livestock Development in the Greater Horn of Africa, African Development Bank Group, Abidjan

McPeak, J. (2004) Vulnerability among pastoralists: Evidence from Kenya and Ethiopia. Presentation made at the World Bank, www.worldbank.org/afr/padi/Vulnerability_Among_Pastoralists.pdf, accessed 4 December 2011

McPeak, J. G. (2006) ‘Livestock marketing in Marsabit District, Kenya, over the past fifty years’, in J. G. McPeak and P. D. Little, Pastoral Livestock Marketing In East Africa: Research And Policy Challenges, Intermediate Technology Publications, Rugby

Ndlovu, L.R., and Mugabe, P.H. (2002) Nutrient-Cycling in Integrated Plant-Animal Systems in Barret, Place and Aboud. C.B. Barrett, F. Place, A.A. Aboud (eds) Natural Resources Management in African Agriculture: Understanding and Improving Current Practices, CABI Publishing, Oxon

ODI (2010) ‘Pastoralism demographics, settlement and service provision in the Horn and East Africa: Transformation and opportunities’, Humanitarian Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute, London

OECD-FAO (2011) Agricultural Outlook 2011-2020, FAO

Otchere, E.O. (1986) ‘Small ruminant production in tropical Africa’ in V.M. Timon and J.P. Hanrahan (eds) Small Ruminant Production in the Developing Countries, Proceedings of an Expert Consultation held in Sofia, Bulgaria, 8–12 July 1985, FAO, Rome

Palmer, A.R. (1999) ‘Towards a national rangelands policy’, African Journal of Range and Forage Science, vol 16, no 1, pp44–46

Perrier, G.P. (1990) The Contextual Nature Of Range Management, Overseas Development Institute Pastoral Network Paper, 30c, ODI, London

Randall, S. (2008) ‘African pastoralist demography’, in K. Homewood (ed) Ecology of African Pastoralist Societies, James Currey Ltd, Oxford, pp199-226

Sandford, S. (1980) Keeping an eye on TGLP, National Institute for Development and Cultural Reseach Working Paper 31, Gaborone

Sandford, S. (2006) Too Many People, Too Few Livestock: The Crisis Affecting Pastoralists in the Greater Horn of Africa, accessed on 1 December 2011

Sandford, S. (2011) Pastoralists and Irrigation in the Horn of Africa: Time for a Rethink? Paper presented at the International Conference on the Future of Pastoralism 21-23 March 2011, IDS, Brighton

Toutain, B., Ickoiwicz, A., Dutilly-Diane, C., Reid, R.S., Amadou Tamsir Diop, Vijay Kumar Taneja, Gibon, A., Dither Genin, Muhammad Ibrahim, Behnke, R. and Ash, A. (2009) ‘Impacts of Extensive Livestock Systems on Terrestrial Ecosystems’, in H. Steinfeld, H.A. Mooney, F. Schneider and L.E. Neville (eds) Livestock in a Changing Landscape: Volume One: Drivers, Consequences and Responses, Island Press, Washington DC

Waller, R. D. (1999) ‘Pastoral poverty in historical perspective’, in D. M. Anderson and V. Broch-Due (eds) The Poor are not Us: Poverty and Pastoralism in Eastern Africa, James Currey, Oxford

Querstion 4: Linking
July 21, 2011 / Social Relations Analysis E-Debate

What are the pathways for linking outcomes of social relations analysis with the productivity and production outcomes of interest to policy?

Comments

  • Margaret MkromaAGRA – ‘This question spotlights the dilemma of social relations analysis; the need for “deeply qualitative data” from specific contexts if it is to point to policies that will address the structural constraints that determine how both women and men, now and in the future, participate in agriculture….’. Pathways could include linking programmes that address practical needs of women to programmes that build strategic capacities among male and female household members to leverage what they own (labour asset, income, etc.) to negotiate in ways that meet individual and household interests.’

 

  • P Kantor ’The emphasis on contextually specific data leads to a number of now familiar questions: How does one then deal with scale? Can we influence change processes through more than highly localized programmes? What might innovative approaches that address the complexities of social relations in practice, and also operate at scale, actually look like?’

 

  • Christine Okali – ‘These important scale questions raise the issue of the value of “deeply contextual” evidence. Is this not about learning more about the trade-offs made by individuals and households between different income-earning activities, and other valued outcomes? These data are not intended to be integrated ‘as is’ into policy just as we should not move directly from role data to arriving at conclusions about relations between women and men.’‘What might the policy implications be? Do they not draw attention to the need to accept a range of possible outcomes from say, a programme designed to increase incomes via improved crop production/ productivity for example?’

 

  • ‘If we accept that policy outcomes will be valued differently by different individuals and groups, where might the current interest in identifying ‘success stories’ (and winners and losers) fit into such a policy outcome?  In our search for successes, have we ourselves defined what success looks like?’ ‘What about flexible policies or policies that leave more room for manoeuvre/ adaptation to specific (local?) circumstances?’

 

  • Christine Okali – ‘The questions for this debate point to problems of complexity, and even to the nuances in social relations, but possibly these are not the main challenges. Much of the gender literature points to the need to adopt a different starting point for our analysis, and always emphasizes an understanding of the interests of possible policy clients’.
    Certainly there is an issue of commitment – on the part of researchers, their research organisations, and their professional networks – to collect different sets of data, or data that are more disaggregated, and to create a winning alternative narrative for policy makers.

 

  • Coordinator of Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS) –  ‘With regard to the latest LEGS handbook (Introduction), we include gender and social equity as one of the four cross-cutting issues, and as such we highlight some of the key basics (such as the need to understand gender roles with regard to livestock keeping and management, and the differential impact that emergencies can have on men and women). Each technical chapter also considers briefly each of the cross-cutting issues and particular aspects relating to that intervention. 
    However, I feel that there is much more we should include on gender in future editions of LEGS. In particular, it would be interesting to have more data and analysis of gender relations in emergencies. The data we have at present does not go beyond gender differences in access and control over resources, and in the impact of proposed interventions. I would hope that when we produce the next edition of LEGS (planned for the forthcoming phase over the next 2-3 years) we can get some deeper analysis of gender relations, and their implications for planning both for emergencies, and for long term development. It would be interesting for example to have more information on gender dynamics in emergency situations, and especially in relation to coping strategies. In pastoral households during emergencies there is often a split along gender and age lines between obtaining emergency relief support (by women and young children), and moving extra long distances in search of grazing (by men).  If women are to retain any access to livestock and livestock products in these situations, they may have to take on more responsibility for livestock. We might also expect to see a different dynamic occurring in different pastoral groups.’

Question 3: Land Access
July 21, 2011 / Social Relations Analysis E-Debate

How do different kinds of households and wider kin groups incorporate terms of land access into their short and long term livelihood strategies, and what are the implications of this for land policy?

 

  • Mohamadou Sall Population Studies, The Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar (Senegal) – In relation to land access and control, it is very important to pay attention to different (and possibly antagonist?) forces about land within the household. Especially In a context of land scarcity, and with the emergence of a land market, men (often the household heads) who traditionally controlled land, are less likely to favour sharing their power over land. Meanwhile, women who are supported by NGOs, do their utmost to access and to control land as they progressively move out of the private into more public spaces.’

 

  • Christine Okali – I agree that in the context of land scarcity and the growth of land markets, negotiations around land will change. However, I would question the understanding that men will not give up their customary expectations of land control (such as this exists) in this changed context. Of course there remains the question of inheritance. Even customary rights (at least in some social contexts) include compensation or claims to those who have assisted on farms/ fields/ animals by providing labour and/or other inputs. As to the role of NGOs and the response of women to their (the NGO) objectives of ensuring rights for women, in the case of livestock programmes, these NGO initiatives have been contested in various ways by men with interests in the outcomes of the production. In addition, some livestock programmes have shifted from attempting to enforce the creation of individual rights for women, to acknowledging the need of women (and men) to work together in their enterprise. Should we be contesting the notion of joint rights in these important assets?

 

  • Mamadou Sall – From the technocratic and political view, the pathway for improving the contribution of agriculture to development is to move agriculture from traditional rules to modern rules (including land). However, this political and technocratic shift will come up against local reality: Land, for example, is controlled by local and traditional power holders who are also the political middlemen and stakeholders. In this context, what is the sense of land reform and other policies like “Parity in elective mandates/positions?”

 

  • Mohamadou Sall – In Senegal, studies conducted on the relations between gender and access to land have shown that one the main hindrances of access to land for women is their absence from some important institutions such as rural councils and other local agencies and structures.

 

  • A.N. ChibuduFormer National Dairy Development Project (NDDP), Kenya – My practical experience is more on the Zero Grazing Systems of livestock production and my comments relate to issues that are important in this system. These issues have implications for both men and women as livestock producers, Livestock Policy that takes gender issues into consideration should make sure that these concerns are taken into account. In the 90s the gender approach was Women in Livestock Development (WiLD) which I don’t think has changed much to date. The relevant issues for Zero-Grazing Systems are:-
    • Investment – the financial outlay required for this system is very high taking into account the socio-economic situation of smallholder farmers, and especially women farmers. This investment must be undertaken on land which the farmer is confident of his or her ownership rights! The policy environment surrounding this issue is very complicated as several factors come into play once you start talking about land; issues of security of tenure, and inheritance issues which are intertwined with household (family) stability.
    • Labour – zero grazing is a high input high output system, and labour especially is a key input. Many small scale producers in Africa are women who have multiple roles in life and this system of production denies them the time to attend to these other very important facets of their life. It is therefore important that the output is actually high, and translates into cash incomes that can be utilised to take care of the other roles of the women.
    • Technology – any life system instituted must be progressive and dynamic. For any meaningful success, farmers must be given continuous knowledge for them to deal with the ever-increasing challenges. There are several ways of giving this knowledge but the most popular ones are through residential training, tours and workshops which in many instances are biased against women as women can not be away from home for long periods.

Question 2: Trade-offs
July 21, 2011 / Social Relations Analysis E-Debate

What are the likely policy implications of the understanding that men and women take their joint concerns about household survival into consideration when assessing the trade-offs between e.g. investing in land improvements and engaging in off farm opportunities and other interventions?

Comments

  • Margaret MkromaAGRA – If indeed joint concerns get considered in assessing such trade-offs, then policies influenced by such understandings should promote and/or support household economic and social wellbeing. It connotes that both men and women enjoy a degree of agency expressed through their individual capacities to influence intra-household decisions. Where such an understanding is wrong or misplaced, then policies influenced by this may risk exacerbating the problems and situations of those with less power to negotiate and or bargain in intra-household decision making.

 

  • Christine Okali – I wonder if the concern about making matters worse for those with less power if policies are designed with these joint interests in mind is a reflection of poor policy formulation rather than anything else. Is the policy solution always to make separate provisions that somehow (it is not altogether clear how, or the processes involved) will ensure some form of equity?

 

  • Dr Joyce Otsyina – Programmes focused on women could be said to be underpinned by some understanding that both men and women are interested in the same resources. What is lacking is the fact that the interest of women in these resources is ‘killed’ since they (women) are not offered opportunities that will help them act on these interests. This takes us to the issue of important resources such as land, credit/financial facilities and information in which I think both men and women are interested, and which also programmes know are of interest to both. The problem comes where there is a lack of commitment to implement programmes which seek to improve the supply of these resources among women.

Question 1. Social Construction
July 20, 2011 / Social Relations Analysis E-Debate

How has the social construction of different groups e.g. women as vulnerable, responsible for household food security, and without agency or power, affected their opportunities to contribute to and/or benefit from mainstream agricultural policy?

 

Comments

  • Margaret MkromaAGRA – I think any response to the essentialist framing of women as the vulnerable “other” needs to go beyond a simple response that it has or hasn’t affected their opportunities to benefit from agricultural policy. It seems to me the particular contexts within which women are embedded (social, cultural, political) to a large degree work to either limit or expand the space for women to benefit or contribute to agricultural policy. We need to understand the two “problematiques” (construction of women as a vulnerable category, and the contexts in which they are located) as dynamically intersecting; and in ways that uniquely shape their experiences. We must understand those intersections for us to gain critical insights into women’s experiences and/or their ability to benefit or contribute to policy.

 

  • P Kantor This construction of women as vulnerable is central to the struggle to identify women as producers within mainstream agricultural policy, such as the USAID Feed the Future initiative. Women are most visibly connected to its nutrition and food security objectives, and not its production/productivity enhancement objectives. They are often labelled as vulnerable without demonstrating how, in relation to what activities or outcomes, and relative to, as well as in relation to men. More context-specific evidence is needed documenting what women and men do in agriculture and how social and institutional institutions, including the household, impinge on these activities, in order to better define areas of intervention that do more than deliver technical inputs without addressing the wider structural factors influencing whether and how women engage in agriculture. Such evidence also needs to be used to define innovative gender-responsive interventions, and to systematically test different approaches that might improve our understanding of how to scale up successes.’

 

  • Christine Okali Perhaps the question attributes too much influence to the framings themselves, and not enough to the social, cultural and political contexts within which individual women and men are embedded. Is it reasonable to suggest that more analytic research on the contexts within which women (and men?) have benefited or are likely to benefit from mainstream agricultural policy, would provide insight into the way these two “problematiques intersect”? If we take the example of commercial farming activities, there is limited information on women’s independent commercial activities.

 

Why Integrate the Analysis of Social Relations into Agricultural Policy?
April 28, 2011 / Social Relations Analysis E-Debate

coupleinfields

Over the last four decades there has been much emphasis on women and gender in African agriculture and agricultural policy.

There has also been plenty of talk about the importance of integrating social relations analysis into policy to achieve equitable, broad-based development in Africa. However, in large part this has not yet happened. Why?

In a recent FAC paper, Christine Okali, the moderator of this e-debate, argued that a social relations approach leads to more ambiguous interpretations of and expectations around social and technical change. This presents a challenge to research, development and policy actors given that policy narratives need to reign in complexity in order to provide clear guides for decision-making. Nevertheless, unless insights from the analysis of social relations begin to inform policy processes, and are integrated into policy recommendations, the dual goal of agricultural growth and equity will remain unachievable.

There is urgent need for an exchange of ideas and information to address how to make social relations analysis more accessible to and accepted by policy makers. For this reason FAC is inviting you to debate some key issues around the ways forward for achieving this.

Objective: The purpose of this debate is to explore the implications of different insights from and approaches to social analysis for agricultural policy formulation. This is a necessary step in future research planning, especially for the identification of information needs, but also for the translation of research results for policy making at different levels.

Dates: 30 May – 24 June 2011

Questions to be debated:

  • How has the social construction of different groups e.g. women as vulnerable, responsible for household food security, and without agency or power, affected their opportunities to contribute to and/or benefit from mainstream agricultural policy?
  • What are the likely policy implications of the understanding that men and women take their joint concerns about household survival into consideration when assessing the trade-offs between e.g. investing in land improvements and engaging in off farm opportunities and other interventions?
  • How do different kinds of households and wider kin groups incorporate terms of land access into their short and long term livelihood strategies, and what are the implications of this for land policy?
  • What are the pathways for linking outcomes of social relations analysis with the productivity and production outcomes of interest to policy?

 

Comments should be short, provocative and challenging. Comments should be submitted on our online forum which will be available from 30 May.

 

Background Reading

Achieving a Uniquely African Green Revolution
March 3, 2010 / E-debates

How can Africa’s farmers, scientists, development practitioners, private entrepreneurs and publicofficials, with the support of the international community, spark a Green Revolution in Africa,one that responds to the region’s unique social, political and ecological conditions? That was thechallenge presented to the over 113 delegates from 29 countries who attended a set of linkeddiscussions at the Salzburg Global Seminar in late April/early May 2008.

The main purpose ofthe deliberations was to assess the most critical issues and to review, refine and articulate anagenda for a new sustainable “Green Revolution” for Sub-Saharan Africa. The delegates weretasked with answering the question: What are the core elements of a “uniquely African GreenRevolution?”

Policy frameworks for increasing soil fertility in Africa
February 25, 2010 / E-debates

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 – has launched a major new „Soil Health? programme aimed at 4.1 million farmers across Africa, with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation committing $198 million.

Soil Frameworks
February 25, 2010 / E-debates

We have had some fantastic – and varied – contributions to the debate. Many thanks to everyone who contributed. This note aims to draw out some themes and emerging conclusions. It is not comprehensive, and I urge everyone to read through the contributions, as there are many rich examples and interesting ideas about ways forward.

Response to Prof Collier
February 25, 2010 / E-debates

To produce the food necessary to reduce high world food prices and meet the future demands of a growing and more affluent population, large-scale commercial farming needs to be encouraged. Any romantic illusions about small-scale farmers should be set aside. Or so Professor Collier writing recently in Foreign Affairs (November/December 2008) argues.