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

Terres, politique foncière et agriculture paysanne en Éthiopie
January 1, 2006 / Briefings politiques / Policy briefs in French

Terre et régime foncier sont des sujets sensibles en Éthiopie. Trois problèmes cruciaux se posent : d’abord, la taille et le morcellement de l’exploitation et la question de savoir ce qu’est une exploitation « viable » ; ensuite, la sécurité foncière et savoir si le manque de cadastrage/de certification ou la définition d’unités cadastrales freinent les investissements visant à l’amélioration de la productivité ; et enfin, suivre les marchés fonciers et savoir si des marchés en évolution irrégulière réduisent les opportunités de remembrement, d’investissement et de croissance.

Orientations possibles pour l’agriculture au Malawi : défis et dilemmes. (ii) politique
January 1, 2006 / Briefings politiques / Policy briefs in French

Ce document d’information examine les défis et dilemmes auquels sont confrontés les décideurs en matière de politique agricole au Malawi, qu’ils soient issus des processus politiques actuels ou qu’ils soient enracinés dans les politiques et résultats du passé.

Issues pour l’agriculture éthiopienne : options et scénarios
January 1, 2006 / Briefings politiques / Policy briefs in French

Le Premier ministre éthiopien Meles Zenawi a clairement cerné le paradoxe de la politique agricole nationale en 2000 lors d’une déclaration : « L’agriculture demeure notre talon d’Achille et une source de vulnérabilité […] Nous demeurons cependant convaincus que l’agriculture est le seul espoir de développement de l’Ethiopie ». Le fait est que la plupart des Ethiopiens luttent pour vivre sur de petites exploitations agricoles, obtenant de faibles rendements, courant des risques, dans une activité incapable de leur fournir un revenu de subsistance fiable et encore moins de leur permettre de « décoller » grâce à une réduction de la pauvreté ou à une croissance économique durable. Les décideurs politiques et les observateurs, qu’ils vivent en Ethiopie ou à l’étranger, hésitent entre encourager l’investissement dans les petites exploitations, l’agriculture commerciale ou l’abandon de ces fermes familiales sans avenir, en faveur de la diversification ou de l’urbanisation. Ils soulignent souvent que, si l’Ethiopie peut résoudre les problèmes graves de son agriculture, les leçons pourront s’appliquer dans de nombreuses autres régions africaines.

Land, Land Policy and Smallholder Agriculture in Ethiopia
January 1, 2006 / Policy Briefs

By Samuel Gebreselassie
Policy Brief 001

Land_Land_Policy_and_Smallholder_Agriculture_in_EthiopiaLand and land tenure is a hot policy issue in Ethiopia. Three key issues are raised – farm size and fragmentation and the question of what is a ‘viable’ farm unit; tenure security and whether lack of land registration/certi. Cation or titling undermines investment in productivity improvements; and finally the issue land markets andwhether imperfectly functioning markets constrain opportunities for land consolidation, investment and agricultural growth.

Farm size, land fragmentation andsmallholder production
Ethiopia is a country of smallholder agriculture. In the 2000 cropping season, 87.4 % of rural households operated less than 2 hectares; whereas 64.5 % of them cultivated farms less than one hectare; while 40.6 % operated land sizes of 0.5 hectare and less. Such small farms are fragmented on average into 2.3 plots. The average farm size can generate only about 50% of the minimum income required for the average farm household to lead a life out of poverty, if current levels of farm productivity and price structures remain constant. Such farmers have little or no surplus for investment and for input purchase.

The increasing decline of farm size also leads to a reduction of fallowing practice or shortening of fallow cycles, and rotation, with a consequence of declining soil quality and fertility in some highland areas. The average farm size is considered by many too be small to allow sustainable intensi. Cation of smallholder agriculture. The probability of adopting fertilizer and improved seeds decreases with declines in farm size. Households with relatively small farm size are generally poor in cash income, have less access to extension services and credit, and have less risk coping opportunities to take risks of rain failure, and less profitable technologies given higher transaction costs of acquisition and application of fertiliser per unit of operated land.

Déclarations des donateurs : quel rôle pour l’agriculture?
January 1, 2006 / Briefings politiques / Policy briefs in French

Quel est le rôle de l’agriculture aux yeux des organismes internationaux concernés par le développement agricole ? Quel rôle jouent le marché et l’état ? Ce document de synthèse examine quatre déclarations faites récemment par des organismes d’aide de premier plan et s’interroge sur la manière dont ils voient le rôle de l’agriculture dans le développement.

La politique agricole kenyane
January 1, 2006 / Briefings politiques / Policy briefs in French

Rôle de l’agriculture dans la lutte contre la pauvreté

L’agriculture est le moteur de l’économie kenyane. Elle contribue à environ 25 % du PIB, employant 75 % de la population active nationale. Plus de 80 % de la population kenyane est établie dans les zones rurales et vit, directement ou indirectement, de l’agriculture. Ce secteur est important pour réduire la pauvreté sachant que les groupes les plus vulnérables, comme les gardiens de troupeaux, les sans-terre et les agriculteurs de subsistance dépendent de l’agriculture, qui est leur principale ressource. On peut donc s’attendre à ce que la croissance agricole ait un impact significatif sur une portion plus large de la population que tout autre secteur. De même, les mesures politiques affectant la performance de l’agriculture ont des implications importantes pour l’économie en général.

 

 

Communities, Commodities and Crazy Ideas: Changing Livestock Policies in Africa
June 2, 2005 / Miscellaneous

In the late 1990s a review of aid-assisted livestock projects included an assessment of sustained impact on poorer producers (Ashley et al. 1998). The review looked back over 35 years and analysed documents from more than 800 livestock projects funded by major donors, including the Department foInternational Development (UK), the World Bank, the US Agency for International Development, the European Commission, DANIDA, theNetherlands Development Cooperation and the Swiss Development Cooperation.

The majority of these projects were based on a technical transfer paradigmin which constraints facing poor livestock keepers were to be addressed by the development anduptake of technologies, including new methods to control animal diseases, improve livestock breedsor raise production through a variety of other means. However, the lack of sustained impact on the poowas dramatic. In many cases, technologies were developed which livestock keepers either did not want or could not access due to weak delivery systems. In other cases, the benefits of new technologies were captured by wealthier producers.

Partly in response to these problems, a second broa category of livestock projects evolved which aimed to strengthen the capacity of organisations to develop and deliver novel technologies and services to the poor. These projects focused on government organisations (veterinary and extension services, research centres) and aimed to promote more clientfocused and decentralised approaches. A key project activity was training middle-level managers, researchers and field-level technicians. Again, the sustained benefit of these “organisational projects” was limited.

New skills did not change the way organisations behaved, as the overriding institutional frameworks rarely provided incentives for addressing the specific needs of the poor. Despite this rather gloomy picture a few projects did demonstrate substantial impact. These included new approaches to primary animal health care using privatised community-based animal health workers (CAHWs). Working in marginalised arid and semiarid areas of East Africa, local problem analysis wit communities led to the selection and training of CAHWs in areas where few veterinarians were willing to work. However, even these projects faced problems at a policy and institutional level – veterinary policies and legislation did not support CAHWs and were often vague or not implemented.

This article describes how workers at the Africa Union/InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU/IBAR) addressed policy constraints toCAHWservices in theHorn and East Africa. The AU/IBAR team developed and applied a range of lobbying, advocacy, networking and learning methods within an overall strategy which recognised the overtly political nature of the policy process. Over time, the teamalso targeted global animal health standard setting bodies and began to apply their experience of policy process to a broader range of livestock policies.

Agricultural Markets in West Africa: Frontiers, Agribusiness and Social Differentiation
June 1, 2005 / Miscellaneous

{jathumbnail off}{jcomments off}Neoliberal policies have in recent years focused on introducing institutional reform to facilitate and regulate the operation of free markets. It is still assumed that the freemarket is the best mechanism to achieve efficient and equitable growth, alongsidetechnical prescriptions. A growing body of research on the political economy of agribusiness and the ways in which agribusiness and geopolitical interestscapture world commodity markets is largely ignored within mainstream agricultural development literature on Africa. After 20 years of neoliberal reform in Africa, the same old formulas are dogmatically asserted without critical reflection.

Bates (1981) dealt a telling indictment of the elite basis of state policies in Africa. But his analysis largely focused on abstract models ofmarkets and failed to examine the interventions of the state in agricultural production, which were often based on linkages with agribusiness and aspiring private sector capitalists. The interventions of the state in agriculture served not only to promote patronage but also the development of capitalist agriculture and agribusiness.

Bates failed to analyse the interests of agribusiness in expanding into developing country markets. This is an important factor, since the open market policies he advocated play into the interests of agribusiness. This article examines how agricultural markets have been shaped by power relations, often at the expense of the rural poor, and how the organisation of frontiers, transport and input supplies affect export crop, food and agribusiness production. The frontier and export crop In looking at state interventions that control producer prices to the detriment of farmers, one ofthe sectors that Bates focused on was cocoa production in Ghana.

Bates argues that the state sought to appropriate an increasing proportion of the producer price to use in expanding its political patronage. As a result farmers stopped producing cocoa and turned to food production. During the 1980s Côte d’Ivoire was regarded as the economic miracle of Africa, whose open door policies favoured growth. By the 1990s the Ivorian economy entered crisis as world cocoa prices collapsed, and there were structural similarities between this and the earlier crisis in Ghana.

The existence of excellent research on the interaction between production, market prices, and crisis in Côte d’Ivoire enables us to re-evaluate the earlier crisis in Ghana. Cocoa production throughout the world is patterned on cycles of boom, collapse and movement of cocoa to new frontier areas ofremaining forest land. Cocoa is subject to a ‘forest rent’ (Ruf 1997). New areas of production achieve windfalls from soil conditions, moisture, and lack of weeds and pests, which are reflected in low production costs. As cocoa plantations become old they become less productive, susceptible to pests, and weed populations build up. The cost of labour and inputs increase and profits decline. The cost of rehabilitating cocoa in old producing zones is high.

Cocoa producers respond by migrating to new areas of forest where production costs are lower.Labour migrates to these new areas since labouring is less arduous and gains better returns. The decline of production in old areas can result in higher world prices.New frontier areas come into production

Key Challenges for Technology Development and Agricultural Research in Africa
June 1, 2005 / Miscellaneous

{jathumbnail off}{jcomments off}Agricultural development is a sine qua non fo improving livelihoods in Africa’s predominantlyrural economies, yet agricultural productivity has hardly improved and African food production percapita continues to decline. This is not because of a lack of planning efforts, but rather because thesehave not been of the scale required to have an impact on such huge problems. Past efforts have also no been sufficiently holistic for advancing comple systems and have not been pursued with thenecessary long-term vision and willingness to take the risks that are inherent in implementinginnovations.

To break the poverty trap experienced by the majority of African smallholders andpastoralists, these issues must be addressed. Targets for African poverty reduction are not being achieved. Many individual programmes and institutions show good returns to investment in agricultural research and development, but the sum of their collective effort falls far short of making a significant impact at the national level on poverty reduction and food security.2 Examples of innovations that have had significant impact Significant impact comes from significanintellectual and financial input. The two billion people – 30 per cent of the world’s total – that depend on the Haber–Bosch process of synthesisings (million Kshs )

New Direction for African Agriculture
June 1, 2005 / Miscellaneous

{jathumbnail off}{jcomments off}This year’s UNMillennium Report highlights the lack of progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in sub-Saharan Africa. The Commission for Africa report (2005) similarly highlights themajor challenges of poverty reduction on the continent.What role should agriculture have in this challenge? Most of Africa’s poor are rural, and most rely largely on agriculture for their livelihoods. Inevitably, “getting agriculture moving” must be part of the solution to the seemingly intractable problem of African poverty.

The standard storyline about African agriculture is not positive. In most countries, the sector is slow growing or stagnant, held back by negligible yield growth, poor infrastructure, degrading environmental resources, erratic weather, HIV/AIDS and civil conflict. But sweeping, generalised analyses often hide important stories of success. As Toulmin and Guèye (in this IDS Bulletin) highlight for West Africa, there have been some notable achievements in the past decade. This is replicated elsewhere, as Wiggins observes (also in this IDS Bulletin), where supplyled successes – including in hybrid maize, horticulture, dairy, cassava (see also Haggblade and Gabre-Madhin 2004) – have combined with new sources of demand, due to improvements in infrastructure, changing market conditions or the opening up of niche opportunities. Are these successes exceptional and limited to particular settings and times, or are they replicable across wider areas, benefiting larger numbers of people?

This IDS Bulletin draws together contributions from a diverse range of researchers and development practitioners working in Africa, with the common goal of exploring why agriculture is contributing to poverty reduction and livelihood improvement in some places, but not in many. Identifying ways forward implies moving away from failed past prescriptions, identifying and building on current successes and encouraging new and innovative thinking about future pathways and opportunities. This debate comes at a critical time. As the African Union’s Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Economy notes in the foreword to this IDS Bulletin, there is renewed interest in agriculture in Africa and a real commitment to revitalise the sector.

This comes fromnumerous sources – whether frominternational initiatives such as the UNMillenniumProject’s Task Force onHunger (2005) or theCommission for Africa report (2005); from within Africa, such as the African Union and NEPAD’s (New Partnership for Africa’s Development) Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme(CAADP) (NEPAD 2003), from national governments themselves or from the international donor community (USAID 2004; DFID 2003; World Bank 2002). But how to translate these words into reality? How to avoid the recycling and repackaging of old – and often failed – ideas? How to generate new thinking, rooted in African contexts and ground realities, whichmakes a difference? The aim of this IDS Bulletin is to contribute to this journey.

The central puzzle is: Why is African agriculture (largely) stagnating? This question is not new. Many have commented on the failures of an African “green revolution”, and many explanations have been suggested. The following sections outline three responses: “technical fixes”, “market and institutional fixes” and “policy fixes”. Each approach reflects a different way of looking at the problem, and each implies different ways forward. The IDS Bulletin draws on insights from across sub-Saharan Africa and is organised as follows. Three scenesetting articles follow this introductory piece. Then there are clusters of articles focusing on “resources and technologies”, “markets and institutions” and“policies and policy processes”.