feed-image RSS

Publications by type

pdf A Chinese Pesticide Enterprise in Ghana: Motivations, Impacts, Challenges and Local Interactions

By 49 downloads

Download (pdf, 351 KB)


Future Agricultures Working Paper 124
Yu Lerong, Lu Jixia, Henry Tugendhat and Li Xiaoyun
July 2015

This working paper explores the motivations, impacts, challenges and interactions of a successful Chinese pesticide enterprise in Ghana. In the context of much China-Africa literature focusing on state-backed Chinese business initiatives in Africa, this paper takes an ethnographic approach to explain the rise of a private sector Chinese agrochemicals company in Ghana. This is significant because of the frugal amount of literature that does cover Chinese migrant businesses in Africa, very few studies look at agricultural firms in particular. The main conclusion of this research is that the pushfactors from China’s domestic market and opportunities from Ghana’s agrochemicals market are important driving forces for Chinese pesticide enterprises to ‘go out’. Furthermore, diversified strategies are necessary to deal with local market environments based on business and social networks that intertwine formal and informal relations.

Default Africa’s Land Rush: Rural Livelihoods and Agrarian Change

By 42 downloads

Edited by Ruth Hall, Ian Scoones and Dzodzi Tsikata
Published by James Currey
July 2015

Discount flyer (PDF)

AfricaLandRushAfrica has been at the centre of a "land grab" in recent years, with investors lured by projections of rising food prices, growing demand for "green" energy, and cheap land and water rights. But such land is often also used or claimed through custom by communities. What does this mean for Africa? In what ways are rural people's lives and livelihoods being transformed as a result? And who will control its land and agricultural futures?

The case studies explore the processes through which land deals are being made; the implications for agrarian structure, rural livelihoods and food security; and the historical context of changing land uses, revealing that these land grabs may resonate with, even resurrect, forms of large-scale production associated with the colonial and early independence eras.

The book depicts the striking diversity of deals and dealers: white Zimbabwean farmers in northern Nigeria, Dutch and American joint ventures in Ghana, an Indian agricultural company in Ethiopia's hinterland, European investors in Kenya's drylands and a Canadian biofuel company on its coast, South African sugar agribusiness in Tanzania's southern growth corridor, in Malawi's "Greenbelt" and in southern Mozambique, and white South African farmers venturing onto former state farms in the Congo.


Ruth Hall is Associate Professor at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa; Ian Scoones is a Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex and Director of the ESRC STEPS Centre; Dzodzi Tsikata is Associate Professor at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana, Legon.


1  Introduction: The Contexts and Consequences of Africa's Land Rush by Ruth Hall, Ian Scoones and Dzodzi Tsikata
2  State, Land and Agricultural Commercialisation in Kwara State, Nigeria by Joseph A. Ariyo and Michael Mortimore
3  Recent Transnational Land Deals and the Local Agrarian Economy in Ghana by Joseph Awetori Yaro and Dzodzi Tsikata
4  Large-Scale Land Acquisitions in Ethiopia: Implications for Agricultural Transformation and Livelihood Security by Maru Shete and Marcel Rutte
5  Land Deals and Pastoralist Livelihoods in Laikipia County, Kenya by John Letai
6  Land Deals in the Tana Delta, Kenya by Abdirizak Arale Nunow
7  The State and Foreign Capital in Agricultural Commercialisation: The Case of Tanzania's Kilombero Sugar Company by Emmanuel Sulle and Rebecca Smalley
8  Trapped between the Farm Input Subsidy Programme and Green Belt Initiative: Malawi's Contemporary Agrarian Political Economy by Blessings Chinsinga and Michael Chasukwa
9  Agrarian Struggles in Mozambique: Insights from Sugarcane Plantations by Gaynor Paradza and Emmanuel Sulle
10  South African Commercial Farmers in the Congo by Ruth Hall, Ward Anseeuw and Gaynor Paradza

pdf The Contexts & Consequences of Africa's Land Rush

By 54 downloads

Download (pdf, 582 KB)

Africa's Land Rush Introduction lo-res.pdf

by Ruth Hall, Ian Scoones and Dzodzi Tsikata

This is the introductory chapter of the book Africa's Land Rush: Rural Livelihoods & Agrarian Change. It can be downloaded free of charge.

The full book is available to buy from the publishers, James Currey.


Default Large scale land deals in Southern Africa: voices of the people

By 75 downloads

Ruth Hall, Joseph Gausi, Prosper Matondi, Theodor Muduva, Camilo Nhancale, Dimuna Phiri and Phillan Zamchiya
Published by the Institute of Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies
June 2015
Open access – freely downloadable as a PDF file

This book presents case studies of large-scale land deals in Southern Africa. It aims to provide an accessible and vivid window into the lived realities and responses of rural people who are affected by such deals. For this reason, we have paid particular attention to what local people say, and have quoted their experiences and responses to the land deals.

largescale500The book emerges from an action research project implemented by the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, in partnership with non-governmental organisations in five Southern African countries: LandNet in Malawi, Kuwuka Juventude Desenvolvimento e Advocacia Ambiental in Mozambique, Legal Assistance Centre in Namibia, Zambia Land Alliance in Zambia and Ruzivo Trust in Zimbabwe.

Our joint project, entitled Commercialisation of Land and ‘Land Grabbing’ in Southern Africa: Implications for Land Rights and Livelihoods in Southern Africa, involved not only documenting what was happening on the ground but also action research, together with the communities, in negotiations, lobbying and meetings with investors and with government institutions.

We hope that this book, its case studies and the testimonies from the people affected, will prove to be a useful resource to popularise knowledge of big commercial land deals in the region, among policymakers, activists, farmers’ organisations and other civil society bodies. It can be used to debate why land deals are happening, how they affect rural communities, and the gaps in national laws, policies and institutions that govern land rights. We hope that reading this book, and using it in training and workshops, will help to strengthen activism and advocacy for just land laws and policies, and their full and transparent implementation.

pdf Chinese Training Courses for African Agriculture: Transformational Knowledge? Popular

By 261 downloads

Download (pdf, 384 KB)


Future Agricultures Working Paper 122
Henry Tugendhat
July 2015

China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) has launched one of the largest training course programmes in the world as part of its international cooperation programme with Africa. In these training courses, China’s foremost universities, state bureaux, and private companies transfer their knowledge to 10,000 African government officials per year. The courses cover everything from the management of health epidemics to customs office administration, all drawing from China’s most recent socio-economic development experiences. In 2013, agriculture-related topics made up a significant 15 percent of total training courses, covering courses on both policy and technology.

There has been a strong narrative, from Chinese government officials and their African counterparts alike, that what is particularly appealing about China is that its agricultural sector has similarities with that of many African countries. They talk of China’s diversity of climates to match the many African environments, as well as China’s dependence on smallholder farming. The logical conclusion from such narratives would appear to be: what worked for China, must work for Africa. In this context, the MOFCOM training courses consist of one of the most direct forms of knowledge transfer from Chinese experts to African state leaders and policymakers. Many of the Chinese experts involved are not just qualified in the theory of what they teach, but have had first-hand experiences of effecting the change that brought about China’s own agricultural achievements.

As such, this paper seeks to understand how China’s agricultural training courses have affected agricultural practices in the African countries where they train. This looks at how the training courses work, how transferable this knowledge really is for African agricultural contexts, and finally, what these training courses really achieve in the broader context of China-Africa relations. Ghana and Zimbabwe are focused on as key case studies for this paper, and fieldwork was also conducted with training institutions and lecturers in China.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

pdf Jumping into the Sea: Chinese Migrants’ Engagement in Non-Traditional Agricultural Commodities in Ethiopia Popular

By 314 downloads

Download (pdf, 417 KB)


Future Agricultures Working Paper 121
Seth Cook and Dawit Alemu
July 2015

This paper explores the nature and extent of Chinese migrants’ involvement in the demand and supply of non-traditional agricultural commodities in Ethiopia, shares the perspectives of the different actors involved, and discusses the implications of this presence for Ethiopian development.

The focus here is not simply on the food and agriculture sector; the study also aims to shed light on the Chinese migrants involved in that sector. For instance, who are they and where do they come from in China? Why do they come to Ethiopia, and how do they end up in the food and agriculture sector? How do their business networks operate? What are their aspirations, and do they see Ethiopia as a permanent home?

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

pdf Pathways for irrigation development in Africa – insights from Ethiopia, Morocco and Mozambique (Summary) Popular

By 447 downloads

Download (pdf, 5.41 MB)


Future Agricultures Working Paper 119 (Summary version)
Naomi Oates, Guy Jobbins, Beatrice Mosello and John Arnold
June 2015

This paper summarises the findings of a rapid review to determine the policies and practices that have shaped irrigation performance over the last 50 years in three African countries: Ethiopia, Morocco and Mozambique.

The research combined a review of national (sector) level trends with short case studies of specific irrigation schemes. Evidence was drawn from the literature, supplemented by in-country key informant interviews and brief site visits. The review considers changes in policy and their drivers; linkages between policy, practice and performance; factors determining scheme performance; and key issues for future policymaking.

Full details can be found in the main working paper.

pdf Pathways for irrigation development in Africa – insights from Ethiopia, Morocco and Mozambique Popular

By 481 downloads

Download (pdf, 6.54 MB)


Future Agricultures Working Paper 119
Naomi Oates, Guy Jobbins, Beatrice Mosello and John Arnold
June 2015

Irrigation has played an important role in agricultural modernisation around the world. In Africa, however, agricultural production has increased very slowly over the last fifty years, barely keeping pace with population growth. After a period of relative neglect, the international community is showing renewed interest in African irrigation as a means to tackle food insecurity, increasing water scarcity and climate change. Calls for increased investment present an opportunity to learn from past experiences in order to chart plausible pathways for future development.

This working paper reviews the policies and practices that have shaped irrigation development in Ethiopia, Morocco and Mozambique of the last fifty years. The research combines an analysis of sector trends with case studies of specific irrigation schemes, considering linkages between policy, practice and performance, drivers of change, and key issues for future policymaking.

A summary version of this paper is also available.

pdf Gender implications of agricultural commercialisation: The case of sugarcane production in Kilombero District, Tanzania Popular

By 375 downloads

Download (pdf, 2.46 MB)


Future Agricultures Working Paper 118
Helen Dancer and Emmanuel Sulle
May 2015

Since the global food crisis of 2008 the Tanzanian government, amongst other African governments, has made food security through increases in agricultural productivity a policy priority. The emphasis in Tanzania is on commercialisation, with a particular focus on large-scale rice and sugarcane production. Gender equity within African agricultural production is a critical issue; yet limited empirical research exists on the gender implications of agricultural commercialisation now taking place in the region.

This paper presents findings from fieldwork conducted in Kilombero District of Tanzania in 2013 and 2014. The research takes the country’s largest sugar producer – Kilombero Sugar Company Ltd – as its focus and analyses the socio-economic implications of the commercialisation of sugarcane production from a gender perspective. The findings demonstrate the significance of gender relations in the development of commercial agricultural business models, local socio-economic development and land titling measures. They also illustrate the pressures and benefits for relationships and resource-sharing within households in the transition from food crops to sugarcane production.

pdf Utafiti wa wakulima wa nje wa miwa Kilombero: Taarifa ya Mrejesho wa Wadau Popular

By 403 downloads

Download (pdf, 806 KB)

Kilombero stakeholder report_Swahili Version.pdf

Emmanuel Sulle na Rebecca Smalley
Mei 2015

Andiko hili ni muhtasari wa utafiti uliofanywa na watafiti kati ya mwaka 2013 na 2014 juu ya wakulima wa nje wa miwa na kipato chao katika maeneo yaliyo karibu na Kampuni ya Sukari ya Kilombero, Tanzania. Hili andiko linakusudia kutoa mrejesho kwa wahojiwa na watu wengine wanaopenda kujua masuala haya, pamoja na wadau wengine na kutoa fursa ya kupashana habari, kutoa malalamiko ya washiriki, na kuwasilisha matokeo ya utafiti na mapendekezo yetu.

(See the English version of this report)

pdf Study of sugarcane outgrowing at Kilombero: Stakeholder feedback report Popular

By 345 downloads

Download (pdf, 814 KB)

Kilombero stakeholder report_English Version2.pdf

Emmanuel Sulle and Rebecca Smalley
May 2015

This document is a summary of a study conducted by researchers in 2013 and 2014 on sugarcane outgrowing and livelihoods in the area around Kilombero Sugar Company, Tanzania. It aims to give feedback to interviewees and other interested residents and stakeholders, and creates an opportunity to share information, give voice to participants’ grievances, and present our observations and recommendations.

(See the Swahili version of this report)

pdf Agricultural growth in the New Alliance countries Popular

By 391 downloads

Download (pdf, 1.54 MB)


Future Agricultures Working Paper 108
Steve Wiggins, Sharada Keats and Jim Sumberg
April 2015

Rural Africa has changed considerably since the early 1990s. Demand for agricultural output is greater owing to higher world prices, economic growth, urbanisation and an enlarged urban middle class. Above all, governments and their development partners have revived their interest in agriculture during the 2000s. Concerted efforts are now underway to raise agricultural productivity and the rate of agricultural growth.

This prompts the two main questions addressed by this study. Is agriculture in Africa growing faster than in the past, and closer to the ambitious goal set in Maputo in 2003 of six percent growth per year? Equally important, is productivity in agriculture rising? Increased labour productivity will be critical for the transition of African countries from agrarian to urban economies. The focus here is on the countries that had by early 2014 joined the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania.

pdf International Drivers of Brazilian Agricultural Cooperation in Africa in the Post-2008 Economic Crisis Popular

By 1639 downloads

Download (pdf, 361 KB)


Future Agricultures Working Paper 117
Alcides Costa Vaz
March 2015

This text focuses on the major drivers of Brazilian agricultural cooperation in Africa as conceived and pursued from 2004 to 2014, with emphasis on the impacts of political and economic international changes that took place in that period, and particularly the impacts of the 2008 economic crisis, in framing Brazil’s foreign policy and development assistance initiatives. It addresses current international forces and developments at the systemic level, but also analyses recent economic domestic developments, in particular those directly related to Brazilian agriculture and those related to the policy framework of its evolving internationalisation. Special attention is paid to the dual dimensions of Brazilian agricultural policy and to its projection in agricultural cooperation as pursed in Africa.

pdf Perspectives on jobs and farming: Findings from a Q study with young people, parents and development workers in rural Ghana Popular

By 358 downloads

Download (pdf, 1.05 MB)


Future Agricultures Working Paper 109
James Sumberg, Thomas Yeboah, Justin Flynn and Nana Akua Anyidoho
April 2015

This paper presents the results of a series of Q Methodology studies with secondary students and parents at two sites in Ghana (Ashanti Region and Northern Region), and with development officials. The studies were informed by the argument that there is a significant risk of implementation failure when there is a clash of assumptions or world views among the parties associated with a policy process. Specifically the objective was to explore in a systematic way the perspectives of rural young people, their parents and development officials on a series of questions relating to work in general and agriculture in particular. Five specific research questions were addressed: What is a desirable job? What makes a job desirable? What explains young people’s attitude toward farming? Why should we be concerned about rural young people and farming? What should be done about rural young people and farming?

pdf The biofuels boom and bust in Africa: a timely lesson for the New Alliance initiative Popular

By 514 downloads

Download (pdf, 495 KB)


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.

pdf Uganda’s Dilemmas in the Transition to Modern Commercial Agriculture: Implications for the Poverty Reduction Agenda Popular

By 457 downloads

Download (pdf, 478 KB)


Leocardia Nabwire
February 2015

This paper draws on field data from farming households in Kabale and Kisoro districts of Uganda and early findings from monitoring the implementation of the Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA) and the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy and Investment Plan (DSIP) to investigate: (1) whether Uganda’s agricultural modernisation strategies constitute the right mechanism and target of transforming smallholder subsistence agriculture into highly productive commercial farming; and (2) whether the generation and promotion of modern farm inputs pursued is sufficient to increase household farm output and incomes, or whether there is need for more rigorous market/economic incentives.

Several key findings emanate from this study. First, the overall logic of agricultural modernisation as laid out in the PMA/DSIP (increase household farm output and income) still holds, but there are weaknesses within the implementation process, with most of the pillars that seek to address agricultural marketing problems not being visible on the ground. Overall, progress in generating and promoting knowledge on modern farm inputs (hybrid seed, fertiliser and pesticide) is good. However, smallholder farmers lag behind in the adoption of these inputs despite the high demand for them. The low adoption levels of these inputs coupled with low literacy levels, small land sizes, low asset endowments and low access to credit limit the capacity of smallholder subsistence farmers to produce surplus for the market.

Second, results on market participation show that smallholder farmers have significantly lower production volumes and lower market participation. Yet households that had higher total crop output also had considerable market surplus and reported greater market participation. These results point to the strong relationship between output level, market participation and exiting poverty, and indicate the role that access to productive assets, which improve a household’s capacity to produce marketable surplus, can play in poverty reduction. Chief among this paper’s recommendations is the need to mainstream input and output marketing issues within all intervention areas and the development of more differentiated strategies according to target groups.

This paper was produced with support from the Early Career Fellowship Programme.

pdf Zimbabwe-Brazil cooperation through the More Food Africa Programme Popular

By 1425 downloads

Download (pdf, 368 KB)


Future Agricultures Working Paper 116
Langton Mukwereza
March 2015

The expanding footprint of BRICS countries in Africa, especially over the last 15 years, has remained a subject of intense public interest in academic, development and diplomatic circles. There is some understandable trepidation among traditional donors towards the BRICS approach, and their focus remains on China.

Zimbabwe experienced intractable socio-economic development challenges from 2000 and the period 1998- 2008 has been referred to mildly as one of ‘political and economic crisis’. The European Union, which had hitherto been the largest development partner for Zimbabwe, suspended development cooperation with the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) and confirmed the fallout by imposing sanctions on specified state entities and members of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANUPF). As Zimbabwe was actively courting investment from the East, Brazil was in its own way extending its tentacles across Africa in line with its increasing economic stature.

The GoZ has been in discussion with the Government of Brazil (GoB) for a major agricultural mechanisation cooperation programme since 2010, and the first batch of machinery and equipment was delivered between October 2014 and January 2015. The South American country is supplying tractors, tractor-drawn equipment and irrigation equipment under a concessionary loan agreement through the More Food Africa programme. The process to culminate in the supply of the equipment has been intractable and is yet to fully play out. Yet negotiations have been undertaken cordially and with mutual respect. This paper documents the negotiation process to date, situating it within the broad development encounters between Brazil and Africa, and in particular that BRICS country and Zimbabwe.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

pdf Situating Tian Ze’s role in reviving Zimbabwe’s Flue-Cured Tobacco sector in the wider discourse on Zimbabwe- China cooperation: Will the scorecard remain Win-Win? Popular

By 1207 downloads

Download (pdf, 722 KB)


Future Agricultures Working Paper 115
Langton Mukwereza
February 2015

The milestone 1998 land reform conference convened by Zimbabwe and major donors ended in a stalemate on how the country was to proceed thereon. In the aftermath of that landmark event, Zimbabwe proceeded unilaterally in implementing a fairly radical land reform programme that saw land owned by almost all white large scale commercial farmers being redistributed among indigenous people.

The West proceeded in unison in imposing economic sanctions on the country and the economy experienced a major slump. Leveraging on strong political ties between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) that date back to Zimbabwe’s protracted liberation struggle, Zimbabwe succeeded in courting the Chinese as alternative development partners in a wide range of economic sectors. The two governments have framed discourses and narratives on Zimbabwe-China cooperation as win-win engagements, while the West and Zimbabwe’s private media have been sceptical, intimating that benefits have been skewed in favour of China bearing in mind Zimbabwe’s vulnerability in the face of limited options post land reform.

A Chinese state-owned company, Tian Ze, has since assumed a prominent status in Zimbabwe’s tobacco sector through its contract farming scheme and purchase of the country’s crop. This paper draws on the knowledge encounters framework in discussing the basis for the evolution of enhanced economic cooperation between the two countries and critically considers the current activities and power of Tian Ze and what influence the company could exert in the continued resurgence of Zimbabwe’s tobacco sector.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

pdf Chinese Agricultural Expertise Support in Ethiopia: Approaches, Motives and Perspectives Popular

By 1290 downloads

Download (pdf, 368 KB)


Future Agricultures Working Paper 114
Dawit Alemu, Seth Cook and Qi Gubo
February 2015

The Government of Ethiopia’s (GoE’s) economic growth strategy, Agriculture Development Led Industrialization (ADLI, formulated in 1991), places very high priority on accelerating agricultural growth and achieving food security. Agriculture is also a main focus of the current GoE’s Growth and Transformation Plan, as was also the case for its predecessors. The effort to modernise the agricultural sector, the GoE has been heavily investing in agricultural education, research and extension. Linked with such investment, the GoE duly considers the importance of technology and skill transfer from all over the world.

This paper documents the role of the different acts of cooperation between China and Ethiopia in ensuring the transfer of agricultural technology and knowledge in the process of agricultural modernisation in the country. It specifically assesses how these interventions are aligned with ongoing public programmes; how they are perceived by both locals and Chinese; what challenges and opportunities are emerging in achieving the objectives set in their design, especially in support of the Ethiopian agricultural extension system’s improvement; and what implications can be drawn for other development partners engaged in support of the Ethiopian agricultural sector.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

pdf A study of Brazilian Trilateral Development Cooperation in Mozambique: The case of ProSAVANA and ProALIMENTOS Popular

By 1739 downloads

Download (pdf, 619 KB)

FAC_Working_Paper_113 .pdf

Future Agricultures Working Paper 113
Natalia N. Fingerman
February 2015

The distribution of power in the international system has dramatically changed in the twenty-first century. Emerging countries like China, India, Brazil and South Africa have expanded their capacity of influence worldwide, shifting the balance of international organisations. A remarkable feature of the rise of these emerging countries has been their engagement in development assistance through South-South cooperation mechanisms and innovative aid modalities. In general, the limited literature around South-South cooperation and Trilateral Development Cooperation (TDC) is split into two antagonist perspectives: enthusiasts and sceptics.

In particular, no study has ever attempted to identify empirically the motivations, ideas, values and practices of all different actors involved during the implementation process, so ‘there is limited evidence on its impact and value from the recipient’s country perspective and whether or not it functions as an effective “partnership”. In order to narrow this gap, this research considers implementation as a complex social process, arguing that one must look at the ground of the implementation process to analyse whether TDC may reshape the architecture of development aid and what its impacts are on partners.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.