Policy Briefs

The Policy Brief series was launched by Future Agricultures in 2005 to provide a forum for the analysis of important agriculture policy issues by leading researchers. The series aims to identify key issues, apply the best and most up-to-date research to help understand these issues, and explore the implications of this research for the design and conduct of policy. We typically publish between 8 to 10 Policy Briefs each year.

A significant number of our policy briefs are also translated into French.

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Latest articles

The New Alliance on Food Security and Nutrition: What are the Implications for Africa’s Youth?
October 20, 2016 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 86
by Cyriaque Hakizimana
July 2016

The ‘New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition’ (hereafter the ‘New Alliance’) is a partnership which was established between selected African countries, G8 members, and the private sector to ‘work together to accelerate investments in agriculture to improve productivity, livelihoods and food security for smallholder farmers. Its pioneers anticipated that the initiative would simultaneously increase food production/availability and food accessibility/affordability through market conduits, thereby lifting millions of rural Africans out of poverty. To achieve this goal, its proponents put much faith in the private sector as the key driver of the initiative given the sector’s endowments in terms of financial resources, human capital, technological resources, intellectual property, market access, cutting-edge business practices, in-country networks and other expertise related to food security. Some critics of the New Alliance, however, challenged this initiative on grounds that the pursuit of the profit generation and developmental goals are incompatible and mutually exclusive in essence, and the combination of these two can’t and will never work for the benefit of the poor, as the latter will always be adversely incorporated into the former.

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Research Findings: Models of Commercial Agriculture in Kenya
October 20, 2016 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 85
by Paul Goldsmith
July 2016

Kenya provides a compelling case study of market driven agricultural evolution over the past century. Agriculture played a singular role in the development of the modern Kenyan economy, and while Kenyan agriculture was commonly regarded as a positive exemplar at a time when agriculture in many regions of Africa remained stagnant, the sector faces new challenges. This is the backdrop to this study, which investigated the impacts of three models of commercial agriculture on economic development and rural livelihoods in an area dominated by small-scale producers.

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Agricultural Commercialisation in Meru County, Kenya: What are the Policy Implications?
October 20, 2016 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 84
by Cyriaque Hakizimana
July 2016

Contemporary processes of agrarian change tend to favour larger-scale, more consolidated farms over smallholders, while Kenya’s agricultural policy tends to promote export oriented commercial farming. These tensions, evident in different ways over time, raise important policy questions. What are the most advantageous forms of agricultural commercialisation? What scale and capital intensity in agricultural investment are appropriate? These questions in turn feed into the debates about alternative pathways of commercialisation and the role of different farming ‘models’. This study aimed to engage these debates. The study was carried out in Kenya’s Meru County and examined three agricultural farming models: outgrowers, medium-scale commercial farms and a plantation.

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Evidence from three models of land and agricultural commercialisation: Impacts on local livelihoods in Zambia
July 11, 2016 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 83
by Chrispin Radoka Matenga and Munguzwe Hichaambwa
May 2016

Zambia needs to undergo structural transformation triggered by increased agricultural and rural labour productivity if it is to achieve improved growth and broad-based poverty reduction. The current experience, however, is far from the radical change needed in order to achieve this. Zambia’s agricultural sector is characterised by a large number of poor smallholders contributing most of agricultural output, with low yields, limited commercialisation and few signs of rapid productivity growth. This policy brief summarises the findings of a research project that focused on three agricultural models in Zambia by comparing three case studies.

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Plantation, outgrower and mediumscale commercial farming in Ghana: which model provides better prospects for local development?
May 30, 2016 / Policy Briefs

Policy brief 82
by Joseph Yaro, Joseph Teye and Gertrude Torvikey
May 2016

Different agricultural commercialisation models produce different local development benefits. African governments are making important policy choices in their quest to modernise agriculture, with some promoting largescale farming on plantations while others promote small- or medium-scale commercial farming. This study examined three agricultural modernisation models in three areas of Ghana: plantation, outgrower and medium-scale commercial farming. Each has different implications for land, labour, employment, local economic linkages, food security and livelihood outcomes.

The plantation and commercial models resulted in more land concentration while the outgrower model produced the least. In terms of employment, the plantation and outgrower models employed more workers than the commercial model but the latter had better-paid workers at the lower level of employment. Although workers in the outgrower model were paid less, there were no significant gender differences in wages received by men and women. The other two models paid male workers much more than female workers. Food security is better in the outgrower area than in the plantation and commercial farming areas.

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Indian seeds for African markets: South–South trade and technical cooperation
January 15, 2016 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 80
by Sachin Chaturvedi, Dominic Glover and Ian Scoones
January 2016

The success of India’s generic pharmaceuticals industry is seen by some policymakers as a success for international development and cooperation, bringing affordable drugs to populations not only in India itself but across the developing world, including in Africa.

Could India’s thriving seed sector play a similar role for affordable, high quality seeds? How comparable are India’s pharmaceuticals and seed sectors in reality? And what lessons could be learned from the pharma case that might be relevant to the seed sector? In this briefing note we explore these questions.

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Policy Brief 081 Pdf 34.24 MB 2 downloads

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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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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.

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Chinese Agricultural Investment in Mozambique: the Case of Wanbao Rice Farm
December 18, 2014 / Policy Briefs

SAIS-CARI Policy Brief No. 2
by Sérgio Chichava

November 2014

China’s largest agricultural investment in Africa is reported to be the Hubei Gaza Friendship Farm, established in 2007 in Mozambique and now managed by a private Chinese firm, Wanbao Africa Agriculture Development Limited (WAADL). While officials have welcomed external investment as a source of employment and development, local communities have decried the project as a “land grab”. Tensions among local activists, the government and the Chinese investors continue to run high, posing a challenge to the future of agricultural investment in the country.

Published by the SAIS China Africa Research Initiative

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International and regional guidelines on land governance and land-based investments: An agenda for African states
December 3, 2014 / Policy Briefs

Future Agricultures policy brief 77
Emmanuel Sulle and Ruth Hall

Global and regional guidelines have been developed in the period 2009–2014 to improve land governance in the context of large-scale land acquisitions in developing countries. These provide an opportunity for affected countries to make necessary reforms to mitigate negative impacts of such acquisitions. They also challenge governments, private companies and rural communities to know their rights and responsibilities and to act on them.

Many African countries are yet to fully implement land and other natural resources policy frameworks developed by the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). These require states to strengthen the rights of rural populations to access, control and own such resources and to decentralise land administration. To date, rural communities in many countries lack proper knowledge about their rights and responsibilities; the roles of public and private sector and civil society – in their national policies; and legal frameworks governing natural resources.

African governments have challenged themselves to develop proper plans, garner political support at all levels of government and implement the intended policy, legal and institutional reforms on the ground. The global and regional guidelines must still be translated into binding regulations and enforceable laws in each country. This is a precondition for the global and regional guidelines to improve land governance and regulate land-based investments, as intended by all member states that acceded to them.

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Policy Brief 077 Pdf 356.54 KB 0 downloads

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