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Policy Processes
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By Ian Scoones, FAC Co-coordinator

A fascinating FAC workshop has just finished hosted by FAC partner, SOAS, focusing on the World Bank’s Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant report. This argues that a huge area, defined as the ‘Guinea savannah’, stretching across West Africa and with a second belt in southern Africa offers huge potential for a new era of commercial agriculture in Africa, sufficient to supply growing domestic, regional and global markets. The report offers two models for agricultural development of this area – the Brazilian cerrado, focusing on large-scale commercial operations, and northeast Thailand, where a smallholder led revolution took place.

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Africa Seminar Series

Africa Seminar Series now underway.

In partnership with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), FAC launches a new series of discussions about timely agriculture topics with key presentations by experts.

Read More about these seminars.

Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant? The Potentials and the Pitfalls

In 2009 the World Bank published a report entitled Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant: Prospects for Commercial Agriculture in the Guinea Savannah Zone and Beyond. The report highlights the agricultural potential of Africa’s Guinea Savannah (henceforth GS) zone, which it describes as “one of the largest underused agricultural land reserves in the world” (p2). It argues that the time has come for this potential to be realized, noting the strengthening demand for agricultural commodities both in world markets and within Africa, where population growth, rising incomes and urbanization are driving demand for staple foods as well as for livestock and hor ticultural products. Macroeconomic and sectoral (taxation) policies are also increasingly favourable to agricultural investment within Africa.

The report draws lessons from post-1960 agricultural development experiences in two other regions once considered low potential agricultural areas, but now home to agricultural export industries of global importance: the Brazilian cerrado, where production is dominated by large-scale farmers, and the Northeast Region of Thailand, where production is dominated by smallholders. It recognises that considerable challenges will have to be overcome if Africa’s GS zone is to emulate their success and also that such success could be accompanied by some adverse environmental and possibly social impacts. However, it argues that, with adequate planning and policy, the worst of these eff ects can be mitigated. Priorities for public intervention thus include: land policies that protect property rights in an equitable manner; investments in agricultural research, education and infrastructure; institutions to promote smallholder access to markets and services (including fi nance), and enhanced environmental monitoring and management. With these in place, “opportunities abound for farmers in Africa to regain international competitiveness, especially in light of projected stronger demand in world markets for agricultural commodities over the long term” (p2).

  Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant? The Potentials and the Pitfalls (381.03 kB)

Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa (PEAPA)

Debates on the appropriate role for the state in stimulating agricultural development should be linked to an assessment of the capacity and willingness of the state to implement particular policies in particular country contexts.

The Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa (PEAPA) project proceeds from the following insights:

it is a country’s political system which generates the incentives (strong or weak) for the state to take action to promote agricultural development; this political system also influences the type of development promoted (for example, smallholder or large farm based). Read more...
Awakening Africa's Sleeping Giant

FAC’s conference held at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, on 21-22 June 2010, focused on the findings of the World Bank’s Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant report. This influential document argues that a huge area, defined broadly as the ‘Guinea Savannah’, stretching across West Africa with a second belt down to southern Africa, offers huge potential for a new era of commercial agriculture in Africa. Intensive commercial production in this zone, it is asserted, would be sufficient to supply growing domestic, regional and global markets. The report offers two models for agricultural development of this area – the Brazilian Cerrado region, focusing on large-scale commercial operations, and northeast Thailand, where a smallholder-led revolution took place.

Read more...
Report on the Africa College International “Food Security, Health and Impact” Knowledge Brokering Conference

22 - 24 June 2011, Leeds, UK, by Colin Poulton

Africa College is a research partnership between University of Leeds (Faculties of Biological Sciences, Environment, Medicine and Health), IITA and ICIPE that aims “to improve the lives of millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa by a sustainable enhancement of their food and nutritional security”. David Howlett (ex-DFID, now University of Leeds) seems to be a key link person in bringing the partners together.

Africa College research focuses on:

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Debating Fertiliser Subsidies in Malawi
FAC recently published an in depth evaluation of the 2006-07 fertilizer subsidy programme. The evaluation, by Andrew Dorward (FAC and University of London) and Ephraim Chirwa (FAC and University of Malawi), assesses the impact and implementation of the Malawi Government Agricultural Input Subsidy Programme (AISP) in order to provide lessons for future interventions in growth and social protection. This follows on from a similar study covering 2005-06 by Blessings Chinsinga (University of Malawi). Read more...

Two FAC members (Blessings Chinsinga and Lydia Ndirangu) are involved in collaborative research on "Linking African Researchers with Adaptation Policy Spaces". This project aims to increase the ability of partners in Climate Change Adaptation in Africa (CCAA) programme in East Africa to understand climate change adaptation policy processes at local and national scales.

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Role and Performance of Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development

During 2007 - 2009, the Policy Processes team conducted research in seven districts of Kenya (Eldoret West, Mwingi, Nyeri South and Rachuonyo) and Malawi (Dedza, Rumphi and Thyolo), to examine the role and performance of the Ministry of Agriculture at district level, using interviews with key informants and focus group discussions. The research explored stakeholders’ views as to the role that the ministries should be playing in different contexts, what they actually do and why, and what factors impede the performance of their roles.

The main activity of the Policy Process team during Phase 2 (2009-2010) has been additional field work for the Ministries of Agriculture district case studies in Malawi and Kenya and dissemination of the survey results on the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) services from all study districts.

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FAC's Malawi teamOctober 2009

This workshop was held on 23rd October 2009 at Panjira Lodge in Dedza district. The workshop brought together officials working in the agricultural sector from Thyolo, Dedza and Rumphi districts. The participants included District Agricultural Development Officers, Subject Matter Specialists from the Extension Sections including the Agricultural Extension Development Officers (AEDOs), Directors of Planning and Development, NGO Officials, Agro-dealers and farmer representatives. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MoAFS) Headquarters was represented by the Chief Economist responsible for Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E).

The Role and Performance of the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nyeri South District

June 2010

The workshop was held in the CDF Hall, Othaya, Nyeri South district, on 5th February 2010. The main objectives of the workshop were to disseminate and seek validation of the main findings of research into “The Role and Performance of the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development” in the district. This research was conducted during November and December 2009 and the resulting report can be downloaded from www.future-agricultures.org

Geophrey O. Sikei, Booker W. Owuor and Colin PoultonJune, 2008

A widely accepted objective of agricultural development is to achieve sustainable intensification. With many people especially in the rural areas deriving their livelihoods directly or indirectly from agriculture, the performance of the sector is therefore reflected in the performance of the whole economy. Growth in agriculture is expected to have a greater impact on a larger section of the population than any other sector. For effective realization of the sector’s goals, the structure, capacity and coordination capabilities of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) cannot be overlooked.

Booker W. Owuor, Job O. Ogada, Colin Poulton, and Gem Argwings-Kodhek June 2010

Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy. Well managed, agriculture can be the single source that will spearhead the economy and alleviate poverty among the over 80 percent of Kenya’s population dependant on it. The sector has been fragmented into 10 ministries that all came out of a large Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) that is still seen as the parent Ministry and is viewed as the main player in the sector. This study was aimed at gaining a better understanding of how the sector is managed, and to critically examine the structure, capacity and coordination capabilities of the Ministry of Agriculture in Eldoret West District.

Booker Owuor, Beatrice Wambui, Gem Argwings-Kodhek and Colin Poulton December 2009

Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy with many urban, and most rural folk deriving their livelihoods directly or indirectly from agriculture. The performance of the sector is therefore refl ected in the performance of the whole economy. Growth in the agricultural sector translates directly to the improvement in living standards of many farm families. Nyeri South District has a vibrant agricultural sector that provides the main source of livelihood for over 82% of its residents. Three commodities with varied histories - tea, coff ee and dairy - are the main agricultural enterprises. Eff ective realization of the agricultural sector’s goals in the district depends on reviving these commodities in a sustainable manner. For this to be achieved however, the structure, capacity and coordination capabilities of the agricultural sector ministries must be up to the task.

Rosemary Atieno and Karuti KanyingaFebruary 2008

This paper presents a case study of politics of policy reforms in the dairy sector in Kenya with particular reference to the Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC). It is developed for the Policy Processes sub theme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC).

The sub theme recognises that that while many policy recommendations on how to get agriculture moving have been made, too often such recommendations have foundered. This has been attributed to among other things, the narrow focus on the technical dimensions of policy, with little attention paid to the political economy and the complex politics of policy making in specific contexts (FAC 2007).

Blessings ChinsingaJuly 2007

This paper is based on research work carried out the under auspices of the Politics and Policy Processes theme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC). It demonstrates that political context matters in agricultural development policy issues, using as illustration the case of the fertilizer subsidy programme (FSP) launched in Malawi in the 2005/2006 growing season.

Claire Delpeuch and Colin Poulton

Research Paper 22

This paper discusses the estimation methods used in Anderson and Masters (2009) to calculate nominal rates of assistance (NRAs) for cotton and other traditional export cash crops in sub- Saharan Africa (SSA) and offers alternative estimates for cotton for a sub-set of countries, on the basis of a standardised approach, alternative data sources and correcting some basic but important errors concerning processing ratios.

By Lidia Cabral and Ian ScoonesMarch 2006

Much policy research on African agriculture has focused more on ‘what policy’ type of questions, rather than on the processes by which policy is made and implemented (Omamo, 2004). The focus has been on ‘policy fixes’, based often on idealised models of the way things should be, rather than the way they are, or are likely to be.

October 2009Although fluctuating in intensity, debates about the role of the state remain fundamental to strategies for rural development and poverty reduction. Under structural adjustment African states were scaled back to play a minimalist public goods provider role, motivated in large part by the weakness and over-extension of the state prior to that. Whilst there is now broad recognition that a more activist, coordinating role is required to stimulate market development (World Bank, 1997, Dorward et.al. 2004), this places extra demands on the capacity of the state. Meanwhile, most African states are almost two decades into a transition to democracy. Whilst the median voter in most of these states is rural and poor, it remains unclear as to whether democratic politics can generate the incentives for the creation of “developmental” states that will serve the needs of such voters.

Claire Delpeuch and Colin Poulton June 2011

Research Paper 21

Recent years have witnessed a renewed recognition both of the importance of agricultural development to growth and poverty reduction in Sub-Saharan Africa and of the important role that the state has to play in stimulating market development in rural areas (Poulton et al. 2006; World Bank 2007). However, there is an “agricultural development paradox” during the early stages of rural development in that “the need for pro-poor state services is high when state failure is profound” (Kydd 2009, p453).

This raises important questions: what are the key dimensions of state capacity for agricultural development and how can they be measured? These questions are of interest to development organisations seeking to design and to monitor the impact of “capacity building” interventions. Increasingly, researchers are also likely to be interested in comparing (changes in) state capacity across countries. This raises the question of whether the rather intangible concept of capacity can be compared in this way.

This brief presents some reflections on this question. It investigates the concept of state capacity for agricultural development in Africa (section 2), then considers both direct (section 3) and indirect (section 4) approaches for measuring state capacity for agricultural development across countries.

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