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Discussion Papers

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Discussion Papers disseminate research quickly to generate comment and suggestions for revision or improvement. They are often presented at conferences or workshops and often result in FAC Research or Occasional Papers.


Default PEAPA: Has CAADP Made a Difference? Conceptual Framework and Hypotheses Popular

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PEAPA Phase 2 Conceptual Framework and Hypotheses.pdf

Conceptual Framework and Hypotheses for Phase 2 of the Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa (PEAPA) project.

This phase will explore how contrasting political incentives have influenced the eight countries’ engagement with the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). Case studies will explore both the nature of a country’s engagement with the CAADP process and the impact (“value added”) of CAADP on agricultural policy and politics.

Default Gender and Other Social Differences: Implications for FAC? Popular

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Christine Okali

This paper addresses the challenge of integrating learning from four decades of gender and feminist research in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) into the research of the Future Agricultures Consortium of the Institute of Development Studies. Specifically it explores what this now extensive body of work on gender relations, farm household decision-making, social and accumulation strategies implies for the research taking place under FAC.

Default Future Farmers: Youth Aspirations, Expectations and Life Choices Popular

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Jennifer Leavy and Sally Smith
June 2010

Young people constitute a high and increasing proportion of the African population, with around 70 percent of the continent’s total population currently under the age of 30. Evidence suggests many young people are choosing not to pursue livelihoods in the agriculture sector, especially as farmers, which may have implications for national and international efforts to drive economic growth through investments in agriculture. An understanding of the aspirations of rural youth and the links between aspirations and career decisions will be critical if agricultural policies achieve their intended outcomes. This paper establishes the foundations for a programme of research by the Future Agricultures Consortium, based on a review of existing research on youth aspirations, expectations and life choices. It describes the dynamic processes through which aspirations are formed, shaped and influenced by economic context, social norms and customs, parental and peer influence, media, previous attainment and gender relations, and relates this to the agrarian context of sub-Saharan Africa. The paper concludes with a series of tentative hypotheses about youth aspirations, how they link to outcomes in the rural African context, and the implications for agricultural policy and practice.

Default Land, Land Policy and Smallholder Agriculture in Ethiopia Popular

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By Samuel Gebreselassie

Land is a public property in Ethiopia. It has been administered by the government since the 1975 radical land reform. The reform brought to an end the exploitative type of relationship that existed between tenants and landlords. Tenants became own operators with use rights, but with no rights to sell, mortgage or exchange of land. The change of government in 1991 has brought not much change in terms of land policy. The EPRDF-led government that overthrew the Military government (Derg) in 1991 has inherited the land policy of its predecessor. Even though the new government adopted a free market economic policy, it has decided to maintain all rural and urban land under public ownership. The December 1994 Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia proclaimed that ‘Land is a common property of the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia and shall not be subject to sale or to other means of transfer’. Since the 1975 land reform, which made all rural land public property, the possession of land plots has been conditional upon residence in a village. The transfer of land through long-term lease or sales has been forbidden1, and government sponsored periodic redistribution, though, discouraged administratively since the early 1990s, has not been outlawed (Mulat, 1999).

Default Using Social Protection Policies to Reduce Vulnerability and Promote Economic Growth in Kenya Popular

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By John Omiti and Timothy Nyanamba
August 2007

Vulnerability and human suffering are major challenges facing large sections of Kenyan society who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Policy reforms have failed to adequately address social protection issues afflicting particularly the most vulnerable groups. This paper discusses ways in which social protection policies can be used to address the key sources or aspects of this vulnerability, and to promote agricultural and economic growth. The paper reviews social protection instruments, maps out actors involved in the provision of social protection, assesses the progress in provision of social protection in Kenya and identifies issues in moving forward to improve social protection, particularly in the agriculture sector.

Default Synthesis Report for Theme III: Growth and Social Protection June 2005–September 2007 Popular

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By Rachel Sabates-Wheeler, Andrew Dorward, John Omiti, Stephen Devereux, Amdissa Teshome, Ephraim Chirwa
October 2007

This report describes the main activities and outputs of the Future Agriculture Consortium (FAC) under the theme of Growth and Social Protection for Phase I. Core work on the theme has involved the development of a conceptual framework setting out potential and evolving synergies and conflicts between social protection and agricultural growth in the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable people, in local and national economies, and in policy formulation and implementation. Publication and discussion of the framework has led to its uptake outside the FAC and in the country theme work. In Ethiopia and Malawi this has engaged strongly with evaluations and national and donor policy reviews of innovative and major national social protection and/or agricultural growth policies.

Such engagement has, necessarily, followed the national rather than FAC timetable, and hence theme work in these two countries has not reached the planned September completion; this is a price worth paying for the opportunities to learn from and contribute to these major national programmes, which have continent-wide relevance. In Kenya, theme work has explored, with national stakeholders, the multiple and often uncoordinated social protection interventions of different players, as well as their actual and potential interactions with agricultural development. This work has generated considerable interest and provides a platform for rethinking and improving policies and interventions.

Work on this theme has achieved considerable leverage through its integration with non-FAC work being conducted by FAC-members and by stimulating interest in the theme by other players. There are also strong cross-theme linkages through work on the policy processes of social protection and agricultural policy development, and through recognition of the importance of labour markets and on- and off-farm diversification in social protection / agriculture livelihood linkages.

Further work in the remainder of Phase I will involve writing up and reporting the work in Ethiopia and Malawi, and synthesis of this with other work being conducted by consortium members, with particular emphasis on cross-country lesson-learning.

Default Making science and technology work for the poor Popular

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By Ian Scoones

In this viewpoint piece I want to argue that, as currently organised, R and D systems – both public and private - don’t necessarily respond well to the needs of poor people in developing countries. Despite all the hype about the potentials of science and technology for reducing poverty, there are many missed opportunities. Very often poor and marginalised people across the global south do not end up benefiting from S and T. How then should we rethink R and D so that S and T can help in the important challenge to ‘make poverty history’?

Default Sequencing of Investments for Agricultural Growth, Poverty Reduction and Food Security Popular

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By Andrew Dorward

As investment in agricultural development gains increasing prominence in Africa among governments and donors, there is renewed interest in developing strategic understanding of the investments that are needed to effectively and efficiently promote agricultural growth to benefit the poor and improve food security.

Default The crisis of pastoralism? Popular

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By Stephen Devereux and Ian Scoones

As part of discussions on the future of pastoral production systems in East Africa there have been a number of recent interventions arguing that something urgently needs to be done to deal with a Malthusian style crisis in pastoral areas. In short, the argument goes, there are too many people which, combined with a declining (or not increasing) productivity of the natural resource base, means that not enough livestock can be kept to sustain a viable pastoral system. This argument has been most eloquently and effectively argued by Stephen Sandford in "Too many people, too few livestock: the crisis affecting pastoralists in the Greater Horn of Africa". This is a response to this piece, aimed at sparking a wider discussion.

Default Commercialisation of Smallholder Agriculture in Selected Tef-growing Areas of Ethiopia Popular

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By Samuel Gebreselassie and Kay Sharp

The poverty-reduction strategy adopted by Ethiopia seeks to achieve growth through the commercialisation of smallholder agriculture. The Plan for Accelerated and Sustainable Development to End Poverty (PASDEP), Ethiopia?s strategic framework for 2005/06 – 2009/10, relies on a massive push to accelerate growth. This is to be achieved by efforts in two directions: commercialisation of agriculture, based on supporting the intensification of marketable farm products (both for domestic and export markets, and by both small and large farmers); and promoting much more rapid non-farm private sector growth (MoFED, 2005). This study aims to contribute to this plan by identifying factors that can deepen and expand the scope of market participation of smallholders.

Default The Social Protection Policy in Malawi: Processes, Politics and Challenges Popular

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By Blessings Chinsinga
September 2007

This paper is based on a study undertaken to critically understand the dynamics of policy-making and processes under the auspices of the Future Agricultures Consortium's (FAC) sub-theme on politics and policy processes hosted by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in the United Kingdom. FAC's operative philosophy is that contrary to the traditional and highly stylised perspective, policy-making does not happen in neat distinct stages except perhaps in the minimal sense that policies are proposed, legislated and implemented. Policy processes are thus a complex mesh of interactions and ramifications between a wide range of stakeholders driven, and constrained by the contexts in which they operate (cf. IDS, 2006; Oya, 2006). Understanding the policy processes therefore requires:

  1. Grasping the narratives that tell the policy stories
  2. The way positions become embedded in networks of various actors; and
  3. The enabling or constraining power dynamics (politics and interests)

Default Rethinking Agricultural Input Subsidies in Poor Rural Economies Popular

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By Andrew Dorward, Peter Hazell and Colin Poulton

Agricultural input subsidies were a common element in agricultural development in poor rural economies in the 1960s and 70s, and were a common element of successful green revolutions. Although they have continued to a greater and lesser extent in some countries, conventional wisdom and dominant donor thinking in the 80s and 90s was that subsidies had been ineffective and inefficient policy instruments in Africa and contributors to government over-spending and fiscal and macro-economic problems. Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in agricultural input subsidies in Africa and the complementary emergence of innovative subsidy delivery systems. These developments, together with new insights into development processes, require a revisiting of the conventional wisdom on subsidies: an examination of the various development opportunities and constraints facing African farmers, a review of recent experience with input subsidies in Africa, and a thorough re-examination of contributions and implementation modalities of agricultural input subsidies in the Asian green revolution.

Default Promoting Agriculture for Social Protection or Social Protection for Agriculture Popular

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By Andrew Dorward, Rachel Sabates Wheeler, Ian MacAuslan, Chris Penrose Buckley,Jonathan Kydd, Ephraim Chirwa

It is increasingly recognised that agriculture must play a role in pro-poor economic growth in countries with large, poor rural sectors. There is also a major focus on social protection interventions to address risks and insecurity affecting poor people. However current policy debate and formulation makes only limited attempts to integrate agricultural and social protection policies. This paper outlines significant paradigm shifts in policies affecting both these fields and highlights pertinent issues arising from interactions between agricultural and social protection policies.

Default Intensification of Smallholder Agriculture in Ethiopia Popular

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By Samuel Gebreselassie
March 2006

Ethiopia’s inability to feed its population and thus its continued dependence on foreign donations of food to sustain millions of its citizens is a dilemma that triggers a broad economic and sociological debate. The problem of Ethiopian agriculture cannot be primarily explained by natural endowments. By any measure, Ethiopia is well endowed at least in part with a fertile soil, abundant water resources and good climatic conditions until recently. What needs careful analysis is why Ethiopian farmers continue to practice essentially the same farming methods with very little technical or management improvement for so long.

Default Food Aid and Small-holder Agriculture in Ethiopia Popular

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By Samuel Gebreselassie

Ethiopia has been structurally in food deficit since at least 1980. The contribution of agriculture to food security has declined as the growth in food production has failed to keep pace with population growth. The level of chronic food insecurity also increases as the distinction between transitory and chronic food insecurity has become increasingly blurred (Devereux, 2000). Ethiopia is the world’s most food aid dependent country. Official statistics indicate that the country received 795 thousand metric tonnes of food aid annually between 1990 and 1999, which was about 10% of total domestic grain production. Food aid shipments increased to 997 thousand metric tonnes (equivalent to 11.5% of national production) between 2002 and 2032.