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By Steve Wiggins July 2009

Despite the achievements of smallholders in Asia during the green revolution, there is scepticism that Africa’s smallholders — who dominate the farm area in most countries — can imitate this model and deliver agricultural growth. This paper assesses whether such pessimism is justified.

Given the high transactions costs of hiring labour of farms, diseconomies of scale can be expected when labour is relatively cheap and abundant compared to other factors of production: which may explain the survey evidence that small farms often produce more per hectare than larger farms. In conditions of low development with relatively cheap labour, small units may have advantages over larger ones.

FAC Working Paper 43by 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 document de travail no. 41par Augustin Loada

Le présent article porte sur l’économie politique de la filière coton au Burkina Faso. Si l’histoire du succès économique de cette filière est bien connue, il n’en va pas de même pour le rôle de l’économie politique jusque là peu étudié.

Pays sahélien enclavé confronté à des conditions climatiques et écologiques peu propices au développement de l’agriculture, le Burkina Faso est pourtant cité comme un exemple de réussite dans la filière coton. Introduite en Afrique l’Ouest sous l’ère coloniale dans les années 20, la culture du coton connaît un succès qui n’est pas seulement dû aux innovations techniques apportées de l’extérieur mais aussi à la capacité d’innovation des producteurs (Thomas J. Basset, 2002). Mais la filière ne prendra son envol qu’au lendemain de l’indépendance en 1960, sous l’impulsion de la Compagnie française pour le développement des fibres textiles (CFDT), une société publique dont le champ d’intervention s’étendait dans la sous-région francophone.

John Baptist D. Jatoe, Damien G. Lankoandé and James SumbergMay 2013

This paper tests the ‘systems of innovation’ hypothesis for a selection of crops in Ghana and Burkina Faso that have shown significant growth in production over an approximately 20-year period. The question is whether such growth can only occur if supported by a system of innovation. Using two indicators (a common understanding on objectives and priorities, and a high level of interactivity) we find little evidence for the existence of anything that might be considered a high functioning system of innovation.

Working Paper 79 Gountiéni Damien Lankoandé and James Sumberg March 2014

The distribution of livestock to poor people, commonly known as heifer-in-trust (HIT) or ‘livestock-in-kind credit’, can be seen as a specific type of asset-based social protection. Because of their growth and reproductive potential, some suggest that livestock can play a particularly important role in asset accumulation and thus graduation. This study tests the assumption that livestock will remain a part of the asset portfolio of HIT recipients. Beneficiaries of five HIT-type projects in Burkina Faso were interviewed. The analysis suggests that either because of poor targeting or an appreciation of the demands of livestock keeping, the HIT projects are not reaching the poorest. It also provides only limited support to the assumption that poor people will use the HIT gift to increase their livestock assets. There would appear to be good reason to question the general proposition that livestock are a particularly appropriate asset for transfer to the poor. Because of the demands of livestock – in terms for example of feed, water and management – for the poorest, they may be more of a liability. Understanding the role of asset-transfer programmes in graduation demands a holistic understanding of asset dynamics, which presents important methodological challenges.

Future Agricultures Working Paper 90 Edward R. Rhodes, Abdulai Jalloh and Aliou Diouf May 2014

The agricultural sector in Africa is very vulnerable to climate change and there is need for strong support to research on adaptation to climate change. A desk study on the synthesis of research and policy on climate change in the agricultural sector in West Africa was undertaken as part of the activities of a platform for exchange between researchers and policymakers for adaptation to climate change (AfricaInteract), a project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and coordinated by the Council for Agricultural Research and Development in West and Central Africa (CORAF/WECARD). The objective of the review is to enhance the knowledge base and support research-based policy formulation for climate change adaptation in the smallholder agricultural sector (crops, livestock, pastoral systems and fisheries) in West Africa. Peer reviewed journal papers, peer reviewed reports of CGIAR centres and international organisations, papers published in conference proceedings and consultancy reports were studied. Materials published from 1995 to 2013 were used for the report.

This review was undertaken under the auspices of the AfricaInteract project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

Future Agricultures Working Paper 88 Seydou Doumbia, Abdulai Jalloh, Aliou Diouf April 2014

The African continent is the most vulnerable region in the world to the impacts of climate change. While there is undisputed evidence that the climate is changing, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the pace and extent of the impacts on the sub-regions of Africa. This review is aimed at identifying gaps in research and policymaking for climate change adaptation in the health sector in West Africa. The purpose is to provide information and insights that can be used to bring researchers and policymakers together to improve evidence-based policymaking that can enhance food security and protect populations vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change.

This report is based on a systematic review of literature on climate change and related health risks, policy and adaptation strategy over the past 15 to 20 years. The search included a broad-based review of published, peer reviewed and grey literature and interviews. Priority was given to relationships between climate change and health risks and vulnerability in West African countries, with a focus on Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria.

This review was undertaken under the auspices of the AfricaInteract project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

Future Agricultures Working Paper 89 Maruf Sanni, Abdulai Jalloh and Aliou Diouf April 2014

There has been an unprecedented increase in human population and urban development in recent times. The West African sub-region is no exception. The sub-region’s population is growing at an average annual rate of three percent, and could reach 430m by 2020. Climate change will increase existing urban system challenges in the sub-region. Against this background, the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD) commissioned a review of literature on climate change impacts and adaptation in urban areas of West Africa. This was with a view to enhancing the knowledge base and to supporting research-based policy formulation for climate change adaptation in urban areas of West Africa. This review was carried out using peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, grey literature, policy documents, technical reports, relevant government and non-governmental organisation (NGO) documents and libraries over the past 15 to 20 years.

This review was undertaken under the auspices of the AfricaInteract project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

Full title: The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Process in Burkina Faso: From False Start to Restart Towards Rural Development?

Working Paper 85 Augustin Loada

This report is about the adoption of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) by Burkina Faso, and tries to assess if it was a simple means of refreshing the country’s agricultural policies or a starting point towards a new rural development policy.

The current research aims at analysing the implementation of the objectives set at Maputo in Burkina Faso, how the CAADP process was rolled out, and the results. The report starts by analysing the existence of political incentives that made possible a number of initiatives for rural development launched by relatively weak institutions. It then shows how Burkina Faso adhered to the CAADP process whose implementation was characterised by an impasse before it restarted through the formulation of a National Programme for the Rural Sector. The report also analyses the driving forces behind this process and identifies the value added springing from the CAADP implementation. Finally we draw lessons for the upcoming agricultural policies. The current case study relies on a document review and discussions with key informants: representatives of donors (Germany, Denmark), decision makers (Permanent Secretary for the Coordination of Sectoral Agriculture Policies), representatives of private sector and civil society.