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seasonalityThis section lists books written by, or with contributions from Future Agricultures Consortium researchers.

Our contributions to books allow us to explore issues in detail. They often involve working with other researchers to share new ideas and findings on topics important to agricultural policy in Africa - from seasonality to innovation among pastoralists.


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

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

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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 Popular

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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 Popular

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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.

Default Agricultural Input Subsidies: The Recent Malawi Experience Popular

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Chirwa and Dorward - Malawi input subsidies book OUP.pdf

by Ephraim Chirwa and Andrew Dorward
Oxford University Press
September 2013

This book is available as an Open Access pdf.

Agricultural input subsidies have been adopted on a large scale across different African countries in the last few years. However global experience with input subsidies has been mixed, and there is considerable concern that current input subsidies will turn out to be expensive political programmes with very limited development benefits. There is, however, also considerable enthusiasm for new, 'smart' approaches in subsidies' delivery and for their potential to raise the productivity of millions of poor smallholder farmers and lift them out of poverty while promoting wider food security.

malawi-bookThis book takes forward our understanding of agricultural input subsidies in low income countries. A review and extension of current thinking on the potential roles of such subsidies provides the basis for a broad examination of recent documented experience in different African countries and then for: a detailed examination of Malawi's current agricultural input subsidy programme, the main focus of the book. This large programme has been the subject a very considerable international debate, much of it unfortunately little informed by the substantial amount of information available on the programme. Drawing on their extensive involvement with the programme over many years and on a wide range of information sources, the authors provide a detailed analysis of the historical, political and agro-economic roots and context of the programme, and its implementation and impacts from 2005 to 2011. Of interest in its own right, this also provides critical insights into the potential benefits and risks with such programmes, and on political and technical issues that are critical in success or failure.

Hard copies of this book are available to buy from the Oxford University Press website, website, priced £55.

The book is also available as a download: Open Access version (pdf)

Default Governing Global Land Deals: The Role of the State in the Rush for Land Popular

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This collection of essays on Governing Global Land Deals provides new empirical and theoretical analyses of the relationships between global land grabs and processes of government and governance.

The book reframes debates on global land grabs by focusing on the relationship between large–scale land deals and processes of governance. The authors offer new theoretical insights into the different forms and effects of global land acquisitions, and illuminate both the micro–processes of transaction and expropriation, as well as the broader structural forces at play in global land deals.

Governing Global Land Deals provides new empirical data on the different actors involved in contemporary land deals occurring across the globe and focuses on the specific institutional, political, and economic contexts in which they are acting.

Governing Global Land Deals cover

From the back cover: Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in large–scale land deals, often from public lands to the hands of foreign or domestic investors. Popularly referred to as a ‘global land grab’, new land acquisitions are drawing upon, restructuring and challenging the nature of both governance and government. While ‘the state’ is often invoked as a key player in contemporary land deals, states do not necessarily operate coherently or with one voice.

This collection of essays brings clarity and understanding to the entity of ‘the state’, analyzing government and governance as processes, people and relationships. Focusing on relations of territory, sovereignty, authority and subjects, the essays in this collection explore the highly variable form and content of large–scale land deals in different settings around the world, illuminating both the micro–processes of transaction and expropriation, as well as the broader structural forces at play in global land deals. The authors do not assume a priori that there is a necessary character to land deals, rather they frame the deals themselves quite broadly, as embedded in complex multi–scalar webs of relationships shaped by power, property and production.

These articles have previously appeared in a special issue of Development and Change.

  • Edited by Wendy Wolford, Saturnino M. Borras, Jr., Ruth Hall, Ian Scoones and Ben White
  • Publisher: Wiley Blackwell
  • Buy from the publisher

Default Defining Moments in the Ethiopian Seed System Popular

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Seed Book ETH.zip

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This book is the culmination of a considerable amount of new and important research on seed systems, both within Ethiopia and across Africa. Drawing together a large collection of papers presented at the ‘International Conference on Sustainable Seed Systems in Ethiopia: Challenges and Opportunities’, hosted by the Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture Research, Addis Ababa, in June 2011, it provides insights into the latest innovations in seed system research and development, the evolving role and performance of the formal and informal seed sectors and the potential for their integration and, significantly, the political economic and institutional factors shaping national and regional seed policy and processes.

Ethiopiabook1In this respect, the book comprises more than simply a set of ‘defining moments’ in the evolution of Ethiopia’s own seed system, as it raises fundamental questions about the opportunities and challenges facing seed system development in Africa at a time of increasing change and uncertainty. Above all, this collection makes it clear that it is essential to focus on issues of diversity—in gene pools, in seed and crop varieties, in agronomic practices, in training and technical support, in production and delivery systems, in resulting landscapes, and in the way we go about appraising and pursuing— divergent trajectories in knowledge, innovation, and development with regard to seed systems.

Default Pastoralism and Development in Africa: Dynamic Change at the Margins Popular

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Once again, the Horn of Africa has been in the headlines. And once again the news has been bad: drought, famine, conflict, hunger, suffering and death. The finger of blame has been pointed in numerous directions: to the changing climate, to environmental degradation, to overpopulation, to geopolitics and conflict, to aid agency failures, and more. But it is not all disaster and catastrophe. Many successful development efforts at ‘the margins’ often remain hidden, informal, sometimes illegal; and rarely in line with standard development prescriptions. If we shift our gaze from the capital cities to the regional centres and their hinterlands, then a very different perspective emerges. These are the places where pastoralists live. They have for centuries struggled with drought, conflict and famine. They are resourceful, entrepreneurial and innovative peoples. Yet they have been ignored and marginalised by the states that control their territory and the development agencies who are supposed to help them.

Pastoralism book coverThis book argues that, while we should not ignore the profound difficulties of creating secure livelihoods in the Greater Horn of Africa, there is much to be learned from development successes, large and small.

This book will be of great interest to students and scholars with an interest in development studies and human geography, with a particular emphasis on Africa. It will also appeal to development policy-makers and practitioners.

This book is published in the STEPS Centre's Pathways to Sustainability book series.

Routledge, 2012


Default Contested Agronomy: Agricultural Research in a Changing World Popular

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The dramatic increases in food prices experienced over the last four years, and their effects of hunger and food insecurity, as well as human-induced climate change and its implications for agriculture, food production and food security, are key topics within the field of agronomy and agricultural research. Contested Agronomy addresses these issues by exploring key developments since the mid-1970s, focusing in particular on the emergence of the neoliberal project and the rise of the participation and environmental agendas, taking into consideration how these have had profound impacts on the practice of agronomic research in the developing world especially over the last four decades.

Contested Agroomy book coverThis book explores, through a series of case studies, the basis for a much needed ‘political agronomy’ analysis that highlights the impacts of problem framing and narratives, historical disjunctures, epistemic communities and the increasing pressure to demonstrate ‘success’ on both agricultural research and the farmers, processors and consumers it is meant to serve.

Whilst being a fascinating and thought-provoking read for professionals in the Agriculture and Environmental sciences, it will also appeal to students and researchers in agricultural policy, development studies, geography, public administration, rural sociology, and science and technology studies.

This book is published in the STEPS Centre's Pathways to Sustainability series.

Routledge, 2012


Default Seasonality, Livelihoods and Rural Development Popular

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Seasonality is a severe constraint to sustainable rural livelihoods and a driver of poverty and hunger, particularly in the tropics. Many poor people in developing countries are ill equipped to cope with seasonal variations which can lead to drought or flood and consequences for agriculture, employment, food supply and the spread of disease. The subject has assumed increasing importance as climate change and other forms of development disrupt established seasonal patterns and variations.

seasonalityThis book is the first systematic study of seasonality for over twenty years, and it aims to revive academic interest and policy awareness of this crucial but neglected issue. Thematic chapters explore recent shifts with profound implications for seasonality, including climate change, HIV/AIDS, and social protection. Case study chapters explore seasonal dimensions of livelihoods in Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi), Asia (Bangladesh, China, India), and Latin America (Peru). Others assess policy responses to adverse seasonality, for example through irrigation, migration and seasonally-sensitive education. The book also includes innovative tools for monitoring seasonality, which should enable more appropriate responses.

Routledge, 2011


Default Farmer First Revisited Popular

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Farmer First Revisited: Innovation for Agricultural Research and Development
Ian Scoones and John Thompson
ITDG Publishing (2008), 384 pages
ISBN 1 85339 682 3

Agriculture is an urgent global priority and farmers find themselves in the front line of some of the world's most pressing issues- climate change, globalization and food security. Twenty years ago, the Farmer First workshop held at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK, launched a movement to encourage farmer participation in agricultural reasearch and development (R & D), responding to farmers' needs in complex, diverse, risk-prone environments, and promoting sustainable livelihoods and agriculture. Since that time, methodological, institutional and policy experiments have unfolded around the world.

FFRFarmer First Revisited returns to the debates about farmer participation in agricultural R & D and looks to the future. With over 60 contributions from across the world, the book presents a range of experiences that highlight the importance of going beyond a focus on the farm to a wider innovation system, including market interactions as well as the wider institutional and policy environment. If, however, farmers are really to be put first, a politics of demand is required in order to shape the direction of these innovative systems. This is calls for a major rethinking of agricultural R & D, the boosting of the knowledge and capacities of farmers' organizations to innovate, the strenghening of networks and alliances to support, document and share lessons on farmer-led innovation, and the transformation of agricultural higher education.

Default Beyond Farmer First Popular

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Beyond Farmer First: Rural People's Knowledge, Agricultural Research and Extension Practice
Edited by Ian Scoones and John Thompson
ISBN 1 85339 250 2
ITDG Publishing (1994), 301 pages. Price: £12.95

This book presented a selection of the papers presented at the workshop “Beyond Farmer First”, which took place at the Institute of Development Studies , Sussex , in October 1992.

Click on the links to view scanned copies of selected sections of the book (by kind permission of Practical Action Publishing).

BeyondFarmerFirstPart 1: Theoretical reflections on knowledge, power and practice

Part 2: Methodological innovations, applications and challenges

Part 3: Transforming institutions and changing policies