Publications

The Future Agricultures Consortium produces research in a variety of formats.Several key research series are available for download, circulation and citation.

Use the search field below or review our thematically structured research archive.


Latest articles

The biofuels boom and bust in Africa: a timely lesson for the New Alliance initiative
April 13, 2015 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 80
by Emmanuel Sulle

April 2015

Policies promoting biofuels development through financial incentives in Europe and in the United States of America are major drivers of the ‘land rush’ in many African countries. Yet,we know that most of the first projects have not achieved their intended objectives on the ground. Amidst these controversial and failed investments, which continue to hold large tracts of land in Africa, the G8 initiative called the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is trying to attract substantial new private investment in agriculture in ten African countries. The New Alliance focuses on public-private investments, with host governments offering  large tracts of land to investors. These land-based investments follow similar patterns to unrealised ambitions of biofuels investments.

Given the evidence of negative impacts of biofuels investments on rural communities’ access to and control of land, water and forests, the New Alliance implementing partners need to consider lessons from the biofuels rush, and take different pathways to avoid such impacts.

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Policy Brief 080a Pdf 34.24 MB 1 downloads

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Uganda’s Dilemmas in the Transition to Modern Commercial Agriculture: Implications for the Poverty Reduction Agenda
March 26, 2015 / Research Papers

Leocardia Nabwire
February 2015

This paper draws on field data from farming households in Kabale and Kisoro districts of Uganda and early findings from monitoring the implementation of the Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA) and the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy and Investment Plan (DSIP) to investigate: (1) whether Uganda’s agricultural modernisation strategies constitute the right mechanism and target of transforming smallholder subsistence agriculture into highly productive commercial farming; and (2) whether the generation and promotion of modern farm inputs pursued is sufficient to increase household farm output and incomes, or whether there is need for more rigorous market/economic incentives.

Several key findings emanate from this study. First, the overall logic of agricultural modernisation as laid out in the PMA/DSIP (increase household farm output and income) still holds, but there are weaknesses within the implementation process, with most of the pillars that seek to address agricultural marketing problems not being visible on the ground. Overall, progress in generating and promoting knowledge on modern farm inputs (hybrid seed, fertiliser and pesticide) is good. However, smallholder farmers lag behind in the adoption of these inputs despite the high demand for them. The low adoption levels of these inputs coupled with low literacy levels, small land sizes, low asset endowments and low access to credit limit the capacity of smallholder subsistence farmers to produce surplus for the market.

Second, results on market participation show that smallholder farmers have significantly lower production volumes and lower market participation. Yet households that had higher total crop output also had considerable market surplus and reported greater market participation. These results point to the strong relationship between output level, market participation and exiting poverty, and indicate the role that access to productive assets, which improve a household’s capacity to produce marketable surplus, can play in poverty reduction. Chief among this paper’s recommendations is the need to mainstream input and output marketing issues within all intervention areas and the development of more differentiated strategies according to target groups.

This paper was produced with support from the Early Career Fellowship Programme.

Zimbabwe-Brazil cooperation through the More Food Africa Programme
March 23, 2015 / Working Papers

Future Agricultures Working Paper 116
Langton Mukwereza
March 2015

The expanding footprint of BRICS countries in Africa, especially over the last 15 years, has remained a subject of intense public interest in academic, development and diplomatic circles. There is some understandable trepidation among traditional donors towards the BRICS approach, and their focus remains on China.

Zimbabwe experienced intractable socio-economic development challenges from 2000 and the period 1998- 2008 has been referred to mildly as one of ‘political and economic crisis’. The European Union, which had hitherto been the largest development partner for Zimbabwe, suspended development cooperation with the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) and confirmed the fallout by imposing sanctions on specified state entities and members of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANUPF). As Zimbabwe was actively courting investment from the East, Brazil was in its own way extending its tentacles across Africa in line with its increasing economic stature.

The GoZ has been in discussion with the Government of Brazil (GoB) for a major agricultural mechanisation cooperation programme since 2010, and the first batch of machinery and equipment was delivered between October 2014 and January 2015. The South American country is supplying tractors, tractor-drawn equipment and irrigation equipment under a concessionary loan agreement through the More Food Africa programme. The process to culminate in the supply of the equipment has been intractable and is yet to fully play out. Yet negotiations have been undertaken cordially and with mutual respect. This paper documents the negotiation process to date, situating it within the broad development encounters between Brazil and Africa, and in particular that BRICS country and Zimbabwe.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

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FAC Working Paper 116 Pdf 368.92 KB 1 downloads

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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?
March 23, 2015 / Working Papers

Future Agricultures Working Paper 115
Langton Mukwereza
February 2015

The milestone 1998 land reform conference convened by Zimbabwe and major donors ended in a stalemate on how the country was to proceed thereon. In the aftermath of that landmark event, Zimbabwe proceeded unilaterally in implementing a fairly radical land reform programme that saw land owned by almost all white large scale commercial farmers being redistributed among indigenous people.

The West proceeded in unison in imposing economic sanctions on the country and the economy experienced a major slump. Leveraging on strong political ties between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) that date back to Zimbabwe’s protracted liberation struggle, Zimbabwe succeeded in courting the Chinese as alternative development partners in a wide range of economic sectors. The two governments have framed discourses and narratives on Zimbabwe-China cooperation as win-win engagements, while the West and Zimbabwe’s private media have been sceptical, intimating that benefits have been skewed in favour of China bearing in mind Zimbabwe’s vulnerability in the face of limited options post land reform.

A Chinese state-owned company, Tian Ze, has since assumed a prominent status in Zimbabwe’s tobacco sector through its contract farming scheme and purchase of the country’s crop. This paper draws on the knowledge encounters framework in discussing the basis for the evolution of enhanced economic cooperation between the two countries and critically considers the current activities and power of Tian Ze and what influence the company could exert in the continued resurgence of Zimbabwe’s tobacco sector.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture

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FAC Working Paper 115 A Pdf 722.47 KB 1 downloads

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Chinese Agricultural Expertise Support in Ethiopia: Approaches, Motives and Perspectives
March 23, 2015 / Working Papers

Future Agricultures Working Paper 114
Dawit Alemu, Seth Cook and Qi Gubo
February 2015

The Government of Ethiopia’s (GoE’s) economic growth strategy, Agriculture Development Led Industrialization (ADLI, formulated in 1991), places very high priority on accelerating agricultural growth and achieving food security. Agriculture is also a main focus of the current GoE’s Growth and Transformation Plan, as was also the case for its predecessors. The effort to modernise the agricultural sector, the GoE has been heavily investing in agricultural education, research and extension. Linked with such investment, the GoE duly considers the importance of technology and skill transfer from all over the world.

This paper documents the role of the different acts of cooperation between China and Ethiopia in ensuring the transfer of agricultural technology and knowledge in the process of agricultural modernisation in the country. It specifically assesses how these interventions are aligned with ongoing public programmes; how they are perceived by both locals and Chinese; what challenges and opportunities are emerging in achieving the objectives set in their design, especially in support of the Ethiopian agricultural extension system’s improvement; and what implications can be drawn for other development partners engaged in support of the Ethiopian agricultural sector.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

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FAC Working Paper 114 Pdf 368.51 KB 4 downloads

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A study of Brazilian Trilateral Development Cooperation in Mozambique: The case of ProSAVANA and ProALIMENTOS
March 4, 2015 / Working Papers

Future Agricultures Working Paper 113
Natalia N. Fingerman
February 2015

The distribution of power in the international system has dramatically changed in the twenty-first century. Emerging countries like China, India, Brazil and South Africa have expanded their capacity of influence worldwide, shifting the balance of international organisations. A remarkable feature of the rise of these emerging countries has been their engagement in development assistance through South-South cooperation mechanisms and innovative aid modalities. In general, the limited literature around South-South cooperation and Trilateral Development Cooperation (TDC) is split into two antagonist perspectives: enthusiasts and sceptics.

In particular, no study has ever attempted to identify empirically the motivations, ideas, values and practices of all different actors involved during the implementation process, so ‘there is limited evidence on its impact and value from the recipient’s country perspective and whether or not it functions as an effective “partnership”. In order to narrow this gap, this research considers implementation as a complex social process, arguing that one must look at the ground of the implementation process to analyse whether TDC may reshape the architecture of development aid and what its impacts are on partners.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

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FAC Working Paper 113 Pdf 619.84 KB 0 downloads

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Chinese and Brazilian agricultural models in Mozambique. The case of the Chinese Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre and of the Brazilian ProALIMENTOS programme
March 4, 2015 / Working Papers

Future Agricultures Working Paper 112
Sérgio Chichava and Natalia N. Fingermann
February 2015

China and Brazil have called increasing attention from the international community, especially in the field of development cooperation. In Africa, for instance, both countries have expanded their development activities and defined agriculture as one of the main sectors to boost mutual cooperation. Recognising that agriculture played a key role in both China’s and Brazil’s economic development, these countries, usually called ‘emerging donors’ or ‘new donors’, state that unlike ‘traditional donors’ they will be able to bring their respective agriculture-based developmental experiences to African countries.

Although both countries stress how their own local experience may inspire African agriculture, it is important to highlight that the modalities and models of technology transfer might differ from one country to another. In order to understand how Chinese and Brazilian models and modalities play out in the African context, this study has examined and compared the activities of a Chinese and a Brazilian project carried out in the district of Boane in Mozambique. Due to cultural and communication issues, as well as managerial practices, the Chinese agricultural model is facing more difficulties in Mozambique than the Brazilian one, although the Chinese have more financial capacity to implement their agriculture-based experience.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

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FAC Working Paper 112 Pdf 342.02 KB 2 downloads

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Mozambican elite in a Chinese rice ‘friendship’: an ethnographic study of the Xai-Xai irrigation scheme
February 6, 2015 / Working Papers

Future Agricultures Working Paper 111
Sérgio Chichava
February 2015

In April 2007, the Mozambican and the Chinese governments through the Provinces of Gaza and Hubei respectively set up an agreement for the establishment of a Chinese ‘friendship’ rice farm at the Lower Limpopo scheme (also known as Xai-Xai irrigation scheme). Among the main objectives of this partnership was agricultural technology transfer from Chinese to Mozambican farmers. In order to benefit from this technology transfer, the Mozambican government asked local farmers to organise themselves within an association, named ARPONE. The association intended to develop agriculture and livestock.

However, it appeared that the main people who created the association and started to work alongside the Chinese company were mostly Frelimo members, the party ruling the country since its independence in 1975. In the same way, some high-up employees of Regadio do Baixo Limpopo (RBL), the public company in charge of the irrigation scheme, joined ARPONE and started to produce rice. It is important to stress that high state officials are usually linked to Frelimo. The main purpose of this paper, which focuses on the example of ARPONE association farmers in Xai-Xai, is to show how the Mozambican political elite – usually linked to Frelimo – are using their positions within the party or the state to take advantage of the Chinese project.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

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FAC Working Paper 111 V2 Pdf 340.83 KB 0 downloads

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Priests, technicians and traders? The discursive politics of Brazil’s agricultural cooperation in Mozambique
February 5, 2015 / Working Papers

Future Agricultures Working Paper 110
Lídia Cabral
February 2015

Questions such as 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. This paper contributes to this emerging body of work by looking at the specific case of agricultural cooperation. The analysis highlights the discursive side of Brazilian cooperation, where competing narratives about models and purposes reproduce different versions of reality for reasons related to the political character of cooperation. Discourse is hence an expression of the political. One account frames Brazil’s agricultural cooperation as a domain of priests, technicians and traders, driven, respectively, by doctrinal, technical fixing and business rationales. This provides an initial frame of reference to distil actors’ narratives about cooperation programmes.

The paper focuses specifically on two cooperation initiatives in Mozambique: ProSavana and More Food International. The key for understanding competing narratives on these two programmes and how they intermingle and change over time can be found in Brazil’s domestic sphere. The two programmes have been interpreted as an expression of contradictions in Brazil’s agriculture and particularly its dualistic character, typically framed as family farming versus agribusiness. Through the lenses of discourse analysis, this paper offers a critical reading of the interplay between priests, technicians and traders, or different thrusts in cooperation relations. The interplay suggests that the terms of Brazil’s agriculture dualism need recasting. While the paper prioritises the discussion of how Brazil’s internal agricultural politics pervade the realm of development cooperation abroad, forthcoming research will reflect more extensively on why this happens.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

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FAC Working Paper 110 C Pdf 801.56 KB 0 downloads

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Chinese Training Courses for African Officials: a “Win-Win” Engagement?
December 18, 2014 / Policy Briefs

SAIS-CARI Policy Brief No. 3
by Henry Tugendhat

December, 2014

Some 30,000 African public officials have participated in Chinese training courses, yet little is known about their goals, structure, or content. Henry Tugendhat observed classroom trainings, interviewed trainees and reviewed publicly available course content. He argues that while China’s training courses do promote technology and knowledge transfers, they are also clearly organized to increase trade opportunities for Chinese firms, develop better political ties, and offer a positive image of China. This report, based on interviews and classroom observation, is the first study of its kind.

Download Brief