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Policy Processes


Central to the work of the consortium is an understanding of policy processes surrounding agriculture in the regional/country settings where we work. This requires a look at how agriculture and farming is understood in policy circles and what bureaucratic, political, budgetary and other processes either prioritise or downplay agriculture.


The policy processes theme work will explore the relative influence of domestic politics and external factors (e.g. aid, regional economic/political integration, the CAADP process) on policy outcomes and how these different influences interact. Key questions we are addressing under this theme include: :

  • What are the politics of agricultural policy processes in different national settings? How do regional and international processes impinge?
  • What is the contemporary role for and position of Ministries of Agriculture? How does this affect the organisation and perception of the sector?
  • What is the contemporary role for and position of Ministries of Agriculture? How does this affect the organisation and perception of the sector?
  • How are farmers' perspectives articulated in policy? Through what organisations, forums and political processes?

Improving processes & advice for African agricultural policy

Women inspect pigeonpea at flowering time

On 11-13 June 2014, a three-day learning event was held in Ghana, discussing agriculture policy, its impact on agriculture performance and the political economy surrounding African agricultural policy processes.

A report, programme, presentation slides and video from the event are available to view and download.

The event, “The African Agriculture Policy Agenda in Practice: Managing processes and improving advisory capacities” was organised as part of a collaboration between the Overseas Development Institute and GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit).

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G8: A recipe for solving hunger?


As the G8 prepares to discuss transparency, hunger and nutrition, the approaches on the table have crucial implications for African agricultural policy.

In a new blog post, Ian Scoones asks if the political dimensions of the global food system are being lost in a search for technical solutions.


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New special issue of 'Development Policy Review'

DPR-cover-webA new open access issue of the journal Development Policy Review: ‘The Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa’, has been published.

Agricultural development is often seen as a technical issue, but Future Agricultures work has highlighted the politics and policy processes that enable change, or prevent it. Edited by Colin Poulton, the volume includes an overview of the effects of democratisation, along with studies from Malawi, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

View and download the articles

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Working Paper: The politics of revitalising agriculture in Kenya

In March 2004 the Kenyan government set out its radical Strategy for Revitalising Agriculture (SRA). Almost a decade on, remarkably little progress has been made on its priority areas. Beyond bureaucratic resistance to economic reform, this paper explains the political roots of inertia in the SRA case, encompassing both the political logic of maintaining commodity chain-based state organisations and the impossibility of achieving the necessary collective action for radical reform within a dysfunctional coalition government.

Continuation of the historic approach to agricultural development in Kenya is good for regional elites, but fails to deliver critical public goods for poorer smallholder producers. The authors consider what political changes might be needed before more radical reforms to Kenyan agricultural policy can be implemented.

CAADP: how can Africa's agricultural development be sustained?

parliamentAn event in the UK Houses of Parliament on ‘The future of African Agriculture and CAADP’ will be held on 15 July. Colin Poulton, convenor of the Policy Processes theme of Future Agricultures, will be discussing new research on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme. The panel includes two of the researchers and co-authors of ‘African Agriculture: Drivers for Success for CAADP implementation’, a recent report commissioned by the African Union.

Hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture & Food for Development, the event brings together a panel of experts including Dr Yvonne Pinto (Director, Agricultural Learning and Impacts Network (ALINe)), Colin Poulton (SOAS Centre for Development, Environment and Policy), Richard Dewdney (Deputy Director for Africa Regional Department, DFID), Boaz Blackie Keizire (Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union) and Professor Thomas Reardon (Michigan State University). The discussion will be chaired by Lord Cameron of Dillington.

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Programme, papers & video: Political Economy conference


Video and submitted papers are now available from our Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa conference, which took place on 18-20 March in Pretoria, South Africa.

The speakers included Adebayo Olukoshi (UN African Institute for Economic Development and Planning), Lindiwe Sibanda (FANRPAN), Erica Maganga (Malawi government), Hon. Chance Kabaghe (Former Minister of Agriculture, Zambia), John Barrett (DFID), Fatima Shabodien (ActionAid International) and many more.

You can follow or join in the debate on Twitter using the hashtag #agpolitics.

Does CAADP need more political economy?

voter in Juba

On our blog, Blessings Chinsinga reports back from CAADP's 10th Partnership Platform in Durban.

Among many positive discussions about the future of farming in Africa, is there a need for a new focus on the political economy of agriculture?

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Chicken and politics mix in Ghana

Frozen chicken on sale in Ghana

A post on the STEPS Centre blog by Future Agricultures researchers Jim Sumberg and John Thompson looks at the politics of chicken in Ghana, with elections just around the corner. 70,900 metric tons of frozen chicken were imported into the country in 2011, reflecting the changing tastes of urban consumers.

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CAADP Ethiopia: a new start?

doyogena1A working paper (pdf) by Kassahun Berhanu examines why the Ethiopian government is now embracing the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) as a national plan for agricultural transformation.

Ethiopia had already surpassed the targets set by CAADP for furthering agricultural-led economic growth, but the government has recognised two important factors: first, the limitations of smallholder agricultural growth, and secondly, the need to offset the downturn of its relations with donors in the aftermath of the May 2005 Elections.

Photo: Smallholder family and their sheep in Doyogena by ILRI on Flickr

Interview: Does democracy lead to pro-poor agriculture?

Elections in Ghana

The process of democratisation does not always create better pro-poor agricultural policy in Africa.

The Africa Portal has published an interview with FAC researcher Colin Poulton on whether democratisation in Africa leads to more pro-poor agricultural policy.

The interview comes ahead of our conference on the Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa, in March 2013.

In the interview, Colin explains what recent FAC research shows about what actually motivates pro-poor policies in different countries, the role of chiefs in maintaining government control over land, the importance of political analysis and the role of civil society.

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Further Reading