Journal articles

A list of articles authored, or co-authored by FAC members and published in peer-reviewed journals.


Latest articles

Perspectives on Desirable Work: Findings from a Q Study with Students and Parents in Rural Ghana
June 15, 2016 / Journal articles

by Thomas Yeboah, James Sumberg, Justin Flynn, Nana Akua Anyidoho
The European Journal of Development Research

The perspectives of young people and parents are important to policy that seeks to address youth unemployment in Africa. A systematic understanding of these should help to avoid implementation failure caused by incompatible assumptions or world views, and increase the likelihood that policies promoted by officials will be effective. We present results of a series of Q Methodology studies with senior high school students and parents at two rural locations in Ghana. At both sites, the dominant perspective among students and parents was that professional jobs were most desirable and that low-skill or manual jobs were least desirable. There was little indication that respondents saw “being your own boss” as making a job desirable. Students showed a strong social ethos: jobs were desirable if they helped people, made the world a better place or built the nation. These results have important implications for strategies that seek to address youth unemployment primarily by promoting entrepreneurship.

Savannah fires and local resistance to transnational land deals: the case of organic mango farming..
May 29, 2014 / Journal articles

Full title: Savannah fires and local resistance to transnational land deals: the case of organic mango farming in Dipale, northern Ghana

Joseph A. Yaro and Dzodzi Tsikata
African Geographical Review, Volume 32, Issue 1, 2013

Recent interest in investments in land in Africa targets the supposed ‘abundant and wasting’ fire-prone savannah woodlands. Outgrower models are becoming the recommended business model for transnational investments as they are argued to guarantee a win–win outcome for both trans-national companies and local farmers. Using qualitative interviews in the village of Dipale, we investigate one such project, the Integrated Tamale Fruit Company (ITFC). All outgrowers lost their investments to savannah fires and consequently abandoned or converted the mango farms into food crop farms. The political ecology of the area, manifested in the human-environmental conditions and land management practices confounded the business model of land acquisitions thus threatening their profitability for the investors and reducing their contribution to local livelihood outcomes. The savannah fires represent an instrumentalized form of local resistance against the expropriation of their livelihood resources without their full cooperation and consent.

 

Land, Gender, and Food Security
May 29, 2014 / Journal articles

Cheryl Doss, Gale Summerfield and Dzodzi Tsikata
Feminist Economics, volume 20, issue 1, 2014

Since 2008, a surge in large-scale land acquisitions, or land grabs, has been taking place in low- and middle-income countries around the globe. This contribution examines the gendered effects of and responses to these deals, drawing on nine studies, which include conceptual framing essays that bring in debates about human rights, studies that draw on previous waves of land acquisitions globally, and case studies that examine the gendered dimensions of land dispossession and loss of common property. Three key insights emerge: the evolving gender and land tenure literature provides valuable information for understanding the likely effects of land deals; some of the land deal issues transcend gender-equity concerns and relate to broader problems of dispossession and loss of livelihoods; and huge gaps remain in our knowledge of gender and land rights that require urgent attention and systematic integration of gender analysis into mainstream research.

From agricultural research to ‘product development’: What role for user feedback and feedback loops?
February 19, 2014 / Journal articles

James Sumberg, Jonas Heirman, Cara Raboanarielina and Abdoulaye Kaboré
Outlook on Agriculture, December 2013

Agricultural research for development (AR4D) is often discussed in terms of abandoning ‘business as usual’. One important element of the reframing of agricultural research is an emphasis on the development of useful ‘products’, which immediately brings ‘users’ to centre stage. In this paper the authors review the literature on user involvement from the field of new product development (NPD). They then propose a conceptual model of feedback and feedback loops within AR4D and use this model to analyse examples of feedback generation in rice research in West Africa. On the basis of this initial analysis they conclude that, while there are many ongoing activities that could potentially provide useful feedback, in the majority of cases this potential is probably not being realized. Unless feedback is approached much more systematically, the promise of AR4D as a means of generating useful products for farmers and others will probably remain unfulfilled.

When a Good Business Model is Not Enough: Land Transactions and Gendered Livelihood Prospects…
January 22, 2014 / Journal articles

Full title: When a Good Business Model is Not Enough: Land Transactions and Gendered Livelihood Prospects in Rural Ghana

Dzodzi Tsikata and Joseph Awetori Yaro
Feminist Economics,  December 2013

Recent large-scale commercial agriculture projects in developing countries have raised concerns about the effects on natural resource-based livelihood activities of local people. A significant weakness in the emerging literature is the lack of a gender perspective on implications for agrarian livelihoods. This article explores the gendered aspects of land transactions on livelihood prospects in the Northern Region of Ghana. Drawing on qualitative research from two commercial agriculture projects, the article examines how pre-existing gender inequalities in agrarian production systems, as well as gender biases in project design, are implicated in post-project livelihood activities.

The article concludes that a good business model of a land deal, even one that includes local communities in production and profit sharing, is not sufficient to protect women’s livelihood prospects if projects ignore pre-existing gender inequalities and biases, which limit access to opportunities.

Land Grabbing, Large- and Small-scale Farming: what can evidence and policy from 20th C Africa…
December 16, 2013 / Journal articles

Full title: Land Grabbing, Large- and Small-scale Farming: what can evidence and policy from 20th century Africa contribute to the debate?

Elena Baglioni and Peter Gibbon
Third World Quarterly, Vol 34, Issue 9, 2013
Special Issue: Global Land Grabs

This article examines the contemporary phenomenon of ‘land grabbing’ in relation to the history of plantation and large- and small-scale farming (PF, LSF and SSF) in sub-Saharan Africa. It looks at the extent of PF and LSF over the 20th century, as well as the policy narratives that have justified, supported or circumscribed their development.

Many characteristics of the current land rush and its interpretation reveal elements of continuity with some of the general trends marking the history of PF and LSF up to recent years. In particular, the heterogeneity of PF and LSF, subsuming quite different relations to SSF, and the pivotal role played by the combination of private capital (whether foreign, domestic or combined) with the state represent organisational continuities. Meanwhile continuities in supporting narratives centre on the prevalence of generic prescriptions for either LSF/PF or SSF. Refuting these generic prescriptions is a precondition for more nuanced analysis and policy proposals.

Young People, Agriculture, and Transformation in Rural Africa: An “Opportunity Space” Approach
September 9, 2013 / Journal articles

by James Sumberg and Christine Okali
Innovations Journal, Special Edition on Youth Economic Opportunities
September 2013

In this essay we argue that entrepreneurship-based policy and programmes to address the jobs challenge facing young people in rural Africa need to be much more firmly grounded. Specifically, in terms of expectations, design and implementation they must take explicit account of the highly diverse and changing rural and social realities within which young people both find themselves and help to fashion. We will develop this argument through an exploration of the notion of “opportunity space”, and demonstrate the benefit of putting an appreciation of social difference and social relations at centre stage.

The changing politics of agronomy research
August 1, 2013 / Journal articles

Sumberg, James; Thompson, John; Woodhouse, Philip
Outlook on Agriculture (2013) Volume 42, Number 2, June 2013 , pp. 81-83(3)

The context in which agronomy research takes place has changed fundamentally over the last 40 years, with important implications for the discipline. Systematic study of the new politics of agronomy is particularly important in an era when the whole basis of global and sustainable food security is under question. One critical challenge is to analyse the forces driving claims on the universality of technology and approaches.

Determinants of Commercialization of Smallholder Tomato and Pineapple Farms in Ghana
June 26, 2013 / Journal articles

Samuel Asuming-Brempong, John K. Anarfi, Samuel Arthur and Seth Asante
American Journal of Experimental Agriculture (2013), ISSN: 2231-0606,Vol.: 3, Issue.: 3 (July-September)

Smallholder commercialisation may be broadly defined as the situation where farmers of small individual and family farms have greater engagement with markets, either for inputs, outputs, or both. A key premise of commercialization as a development strategy is that markets provide increased incomes to households who are able to maximize the returns to land and labor through market opportunities, using earned income for household consumption in ways that are more efficient than subsistence production. This study assesses the characteristics of smallholder farmers in Ghana using tomato and pineapple production as a case study; analyses the relationship between commercialization and smallholder land holdings; assesses the determinants of commercialization of smallholder agriculture, as well as the benefits or otherwise of smallholder farmers from commercialization; and discusses how commercialization affects household food security among smallholder farmers. Descriptive statistics, correlations and regression analysis are used to describe the characteristics of smallholder farmers and determine the key factors that influence household decision to undertake commercialization among both tomato and pineapple farmers. Based on the study, it was found that 96.3 percent of the respondents in the study communities are farmers; and they fall between the ages of 15 and 59 years (91%), which indicates that they are relatively young. The key determinants of commercialization among tomato farmers are land productivity and labour productivity. Similarly, the main determinants of commercialization among pineapple smallholder farmers are land productivity and savings. The study recommends that both public and private agencies work should together to facilitate the move of smallholder farmers from mainly subsistence to commercialization because it comes with several benefits, including higher household incomes, and improvements in household food security. – See more at: http://www.sciencedomain.org/abstract.php?iid=229&id=2&aid=1384#.UcrBlpwZ_lU

Smallholder commercialisation may be broadly defined as the situation where farmers of small individual and family farms have greater engagement with markets, either for inputs, outputs, or both. A key premise of commercialization as a development strategy is that markets provide increased incomes to households who are able to maximize the returns to land and labor through market opportunities, using earned income for household consumption in ways that are more efficient than subsistence production. This study assesses the characteristics of smallholder farmers in Ghana using tomato and pineapple production as a case study; analyses the relationship between commercialization and smallholder land holdings; assesses the determinants of commercialization of smallholder agriculture, as well as the benefits or otherwise of smallholder farmers from commercialization; and discusses how commercialization affects household food security among smallholder farmers. Descriptive statistics, correlations and regression analysis are used to describe the characteristics of smallholder farmers and determine the key factors that influence household decision to undertake commercialization among both tomato and pineapple farmers. Based on the study, it was found that 96.3 percent of the respondents in the study communities are farmers; and they fall between the ages of 15 and 59 years (91%), which indicates that they are relatively young. The key determinants of commercialization among tomato farmers are land productivity and labour productivity. Similarly, the main determinants of commercialization among pineapple smallholder farmers are land productivity and savings. The study recommends that both public and private agencies work should together to facilitate the move of smallholder farmers from mainly subsistence to commercialization because it comes with several benefits, including higher household incomes, and improvements in household food security.

Smallholder commercialisation may be broadly defined as the situation where farmers of small individual and family farms have greater engagement with markets, either for inputs, outputs, or both. A key premise of commercialization as a development strategy is that markets provide increased incomes to households who are able to maximize the returns to land and labor through market opportunities, using earned income for household consumption in ways that are more efficient than subsistence production. This study assesses the characteristics of smallholder farmers in Ghana using tomato and pineapple production as a case study; analyses the relationship between commercialization and smallholder land holdings; assesses the determinants of commercialization of smallholder agriculture, as well as the benefits or otherwise of smallholder farmers from commercialization; and discusses how commercialization affects household food security among smallholder farmers. Descriptive statistics, correlations and regression analysis are used to describe the characteristics of smallholder farmers and determine the key factors that influence household decision to undertake commercialization among both tomato and pineapple farmers. Based on the study, it was found that 96.3 percent of the respondents in the study communities are farmers; and they fall between the ages of 15 and 59 years (91%), which indicates that they are relatively young. The key determinants of commercialization among tomato farmers are land productivity and labour productivity. Similarly, the main determinants of commercialization among pineapple smallholder farmers are land productivity and savings. The study recommends that both public and private agencies work should together to facilitate the move of smallholder farmers from mainly subsistence to commercialization because it comes with several benefits, including higher household incomes, and improvements in household food security. – See more at: http://www.sciencedomain.org/abstract.php?iid=229&id=2&aid=1384#.UcrBlpwZ_lU

Uncertainty, ignorance and ambiguity in crop modelling for African agricultural adaptation
June 24, 2013 / Journal articles

by Stephen Whitfield
Climatic Change, June 2013

Drawing on social constructivist approaches to interpreting the generation of knowledge, particularly Stirling’s (Local Environ 4(2):111–135, 1999) schema of incomplete knowledge, this paper looks critically at climate-crop modelling, a research discipline of growing importance within African agricultural adaptation policy. A combination of interviews with climate and crop modellers, a meta-analysis survey of crop modelling conducted as part of the CGIAR’s Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) programme in 2010, and peer-reviewed crop and climate modelling literature are analysed. Using case studies from across the crop model production chain as illustrations it is argued that, whilst increases in investment and growth of the modelling endeavour are undoubtedly improving observational data and reducing ignorance, the future of agriculture remains uncertain and ambiguous. The expansion of methodological options, assumptions about system dynamics, and divergence in model outcomes is increasing the space and need for more deliberative approaches to modelling and policy making. Participatory and deliberative approaches to science-policy are advanced in response. The discussion highlights the problem that, uncertainty and ambiguity become hidden within the growing complexity of conventional climate and crop modelling science, as such, achieving the transparency and accessibility required to democratise climate impact assessments represents a significant challenge. Suggestions are made about how these challenges might be responded to within the climate-crop modelling community.