Working Papers

This series reports research activities or interim findings and aim to share ideas and elicit feedback. Future Agricultures publishes approximately six to ten Working Papers per year.

We also support a series of LDPI Working Papers through our involvement in the Land Deal Politics Initiative.

Some of our Working Papers are also available in a French translation: see Documents de travail for a full list.

Latest articles

Chinese and Brazilian Cooperation with African Agriculture: The Case of Ethiopia
March 10, 2013 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 50
Dawit Alemu

The increased importance of South-South cooperation in rural and agricultural development, and especially the increased role of BRICS countries, has been debated in relation to international development assistance, specifically in terms of

(i) the modalities and policies for agricultural development deployed, including officially articulated cooperation principles and visions and priorities for agricultural development
(ii) the main actors in the cooperation process
(iii) the explicit and implicit rationales for the modalities that underpin technical cooperation in agriculture
(iv) the lessons for established donors, and
(iv) local perceptions of the value added of the approaches deployed.

This paper provides an overview of rural and agricultural development cooperation and tries to answer these questions for the case of Brazilian and Chinese agricultural development cooperation activities in Ethiopia.

In general, the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) promotes harmonisation and an alignment process of donor support through the Ethiopian High Level Forum, with nine subsidiary sector-specific working groups. Brazil and China are not engaged in any of the nine government-donor coordination platforms including the platform for agriculture, natural resource management and food security, which is called the Rural Economic Development and Food Security Sector Working Group (RED&FS SWG).

However, Brazil and China are engaged as bilateral development partners in Ethiopia, mainly in the form of experience sharing in public governance, technical cooperation, and attraction of private and public investments. Moreover, the cooperation has very specific characteristics in that, in the case of Brazil, the GoE focuses on renewable energy sector development mainly related to biofuels, whilst in the case of China, cooperation is more focused on agricultural technology and skill transfer.

The paper first presents an overview of the cooperation in rural development in Ethiopia, followed by documentation of the level of engagement by Brazil and China in the major areas of cooperation, i.e. experience sharing in public governance, technical cooperation and strengthening private investment.


FAC Working Paper 050 Pdf 538.03 KB 0 downloads


Chinese and Brazilian Cooperation with African Agriculture: The Case of Zimbabwe
March 10, 2013 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 48
by Langton Mukwereza

This report describes the status of agricultural aid and cooperation programmes by Brazil and China in Zimbabwe from three perspectives:

  • A specification for each programme: the actors (governmental or otherwise) and their roles in the provision of such aid.
  • The nature of the aid and cooperation programmes: i.e. operational instruments used (e.g. financial support, technical cooperation, food aid, government-to-government, private sector driven), volumes pledged/disbursed, and a description of the status with specific projects and programmes.
  • An analysis of the relevance and impacts (current and foreseen) of the cooperation programmes.

Albeit preliminary at this stage, the scope for the cooperation programmes to accomplish intended outcomes is discussed throughout the ensuing sections, with reference made to the actors and interests being served, and any networks being formed.


FAC Working Paper 048 Pdf 649.68 KB 0 downloads


Food price volatility and financial speculation
January 23, 2013 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 47
Stephen Spratt
January 2013

Price volatility is exacerbated by the tendency of market actors to follow momentum strategies, where price rises encourage more buying, and falls encourage selling.

This paper focuses on the impacts of this activity with respect to global food prices, in order to understand the relationship between financial markets and food price volatility.

It examines how the relationship between financial actors and food commodity markets – particularly futures markets – changed in the last ten years. The paper also explores the benefits and costs of the increased role of financial sector actors in these markets,  and how the balance between benefits and costs might change in the future. Further, it asks what reforms, if any, are needed to ensure that benefits exceed costs.

The paper establishes the context in terms of price movements and the evolution of food and financial markets over the past decade, and develops a typology of speculation as a framework for thinking about these issues. It goes on to apply this typology to global food markets, and reviews the differing explanations for food price movements. The author also considers the role of uncertainty and complexity, and the role of financial markets in this regard, and considers some policy options.


FAC Working Paper 047 Pdf 1.01 MB 3 downloads


The Politics of Agricultural Carbon Finance: The Case of the Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project
November 5, 2012 / Working Papers

STEPS Centre Working Paper 49
by Joanes Atela

In the context of major scientific and policy concern with the causes and implications of climate change, various actors are now keen to demonstrate how agricultural carbon finance can help achieve multiple benefits or ‘triple wins’ for sub-Saharan African agriculture.

The target areas for these demonstrations have complex sociopolitical histories including prior donor interventions seeking to address related problems of poverty and the environment. Agricultural carbon finance, with associated globally framed narratives and interests, arrives on the back of these interventions and intersects with existing socio-cultural contexts and local and national policy processes to reshuffle livelihoods and ecologies.

This paper explores this interplay empirically, drawing on evidence from the Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project (KACP). KACP is the first World Bank supported project on agricultural carbon finance in Africa and has worked with groups of smallholders in western Kenya since 2008. Fieldwork, interviews and document analysis show how a powerful donor-science network has established a dominant narrative around ‘triple wins’ which does not resonate well with local circumstances.

Farmers, concerned with food security through maize farming, focus on only one ‘win’- increases in maize production – with little awareness of or attention to climate resilience or carbon income. The Kenyan government, on the other hand, faces an implicit dilemma as to whether to mechanize agriculture as a quick fix for looming hunger or to embrace conservation agriculture for carbon finance.

As more powerful, resource and scientifically endowed global and project development institutions intersect rather messier, informal and complex local institutions, there is not a neat unfolding of a planned ‘agricultural carbon project’ – but a more complex situation from which various actors are nevertheless able to draw benefit, but from which certain farmers lose.

This paper therefore justifies the need to go beyond top-down donor and science-driven projectization of agricultural carbon finance. Approaches and associated capacity-building need to inform farmers more fully of links between sustainable farming practices and carbon; clarify their carbon rights, and attend to wider development issues such as water access and secure land tenure which bear heavily on carbon projects. This is vital if smallholder farmers are to become more empowered to expand their opportunities and wellbeing in the context of climate change and the uncertain promise of carbon money.

This paper was produced jointly by Future Agricultures and the ESRC STEPS Centre

Assessing Enablers and Constrainers of Graduation: Evidence from Ethiopia’s Food Security Programme
November 2, 2012 / Working Papers

Assessing Enablers and Constrainers of Graduation: Evidence from the Food Security Programme, Ethiopia

FAC Working Paper 44

Rachel Sabates-Wheeler, Mulugeta Tefera and Girma Bekele
April 2012

The purpose of this report is to identify the main enablers and constrainers of resiliency and graduation from food and cash support provided through the Food Security Programme (FSP) in Ethiopia. Different groups of women and men were interviewed to explore and interrogate the gendered experiences of change in relation to social protection provisions.

The aim was to: identify different pathways to graduation for different participating households; identify indicators of graduation, resilience and sustainability that go beyond simple benchmarks or thresholds; and understand the enablers and constrainers to graduation. The larger objective of this work is to learn from the ways households strengthen their livelihoods in different PSNP scenarios in order to inform policy debates around assessing sustainable graduation from social protection programmes.


FAC Working Paper 044 Pdf 518.67 KB 1 downloads


Climate Change and Agricultural Policy Processes in Malawi
October 3, 2012 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 46
by Blessings Chinsinga, Michael Chasukwa and Lars Otto Naess

This paper explores climate change – agriculture debates in Malawi in view of the increasing interest and funding pledges for the agricultural sector in a changing climate. While there is increasing evidence of how climate change may affect Malawian agricultural systems, and a growing body of literature on possible response strategies, less is known about how priorities are made, by whom and with what outcomes. This matters because climate-related funding can be a major factor for how the agricultural sector develops, in Malawi as in other countries across Africa. This paper is the first of its kind to analyse policy discussions on climate change and agriculture in the country. The primary focus is the national level, but some of the implications of national debates at sub-national levels, and the questions they raise, are also discussed.


FAC Working Paper 046 Pdf 470.40 KB 0 downloads


Climate Change and Agricultural Policy Processes in Ghana
October 3, 2012 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 45
by Daniel Bruce Sarpong and Nana Akua Anyidoho

This paper examines agriculture-climate change policy discussions in Ghana in the context of, on the one hand, increasing international interest and activity around climate change and agriculture, and on the other, concerns over whether climate policy and funding priorities are aligned to domestic development priorities. The paper poses the following questions: What are the contested areas and dividing lines in policy discussions and practices around climate change, which actors are supporting different viewpoints, and what traction do they have in the types of interventions that are being promoted?


FAC Working Paper 045 Pdf 529.44 KB 0 downloads


Democratisation and the Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa
August 29, 2012 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 43
by Colin Poulton

Theories of policy neglect of, or discrimination against, agriculture in Africa include urban bias (Lipton 1977; Bates 1981) and the narrow self-interest of autonomous elites (van de Walle 2001). Whilst structural adjustment removed much of the previous tax burden on African agriculture (Anderson and Masters 2009), the sector also saw declining investment from international development partners and through national budgets (Fan et al. 2009). Whilst there has been some recovery in public investment in agriculture over the past decade, signalled by the 2003 Maputo Declaration (Assembly of the African Union 2003), investment in the infrastructural and institutional public goods needed to support smallholder-led agricultural growth remains disappointing. As a result, the contribution of the agricultural sector to growth and poverty reduction objectives in Africa is widely believed to have been below potential.

In theory, democratisation, which has proceeded unevenly across Africa during the past two decades, should encourage pro-poor agricultural policy, as the majority of voters in many countries remain rural and poor. This paper draws on case studies of recent policy change (attempted and actual) in eight African countries, plus an analysis of the political systems in these countries, to explore the evolving role of competitive electoral politics in agricultural policy making. An important observation is that politicians are as likely to rely on ethnic allegiances and forms of social or political control to secure votes as they are to engage in policy competition. Moreover, the political incentives facing senior policy makers in the agricultural and rural development sphere may be inimical to the development of strong institutions to promote smallholder agricultural growth. Instead the paper finds that it is exogenous factors – macroeconomic dependence on agriculture and, most strikingly, sustained threats to regime survival – that create positive incentives for agricultural investment, even where social or political control is relied on to secure votes. The implications for participants in agricultural policy processes are briefly explored.


FAC Working Paper 043 Pdf 975.95 KB 2 downloads


The Political Economy of Agricultural Extension in Ethiopia: Economic Growth and Political Control
June 13, 2012 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 42
by Kassahun Berhanu

The central argument in this paper is that, for the past two decades, state-led agricultural extension in Ethiopia, implemented by excluding other players in general and non-state actors in particular, has facilitated uncontested control of the public space by the incumbent Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). In addition to its presumed economic ramifications, the ongoing agricultural extension scheme that is a major component of transforming smallholder agriculture is driven by political imperatives aimed at effectively controlling the bulk of the Ethiopian electorate whose votes in periodic elections are crucial to the regime’s perpetuation in power.


FAC Working Paper 042 Pdf 424.57 KB 1 downloads


Politics, Patronage and Projects: The Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Tanzania
June 13, 2012 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 40
by Brian Cooksey

The Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa (PEAPA) Programme examines the impact of political competition, patronage, and foreign aid on agricultural policy outcomes across a sample of eight African countries. This report examines the effects of these factors on agricultural policy formulation and implementation in Tanzania through the lens of two initiatives, the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP) and the National Agricultural Input Voucher Scheme (NAIVS). The report asks whether competitive politics has improved the policy regime for rural voters as political parties compete for their support and the ruling elite responds to increasing electoral pressures to deliver concrete benefits. The broad conclusion is that both vote-seeking and patronage incentivise agricultural policy but that the benefits to voters in terms of private and public goods delivered as a result are limited by the same patronage practiced from national to local levels. On balance, donor aid supports essentially statist policies which serve to marginalise the private sector as the ‘engine of growth.’


FAC Working Paper 040 Pdf 651.47 KB 2 downloads