The Policy Brief series was launched by Future Agricultures in 2005 to provide a forum for the analysis of important agriculture policy issues by leading researchers. The series aims to identify key issues, apply the best and most up-to-date research to help understand these issues, and explore the implications of this research for the design and conduct of policy. We typically publish between 8 to 10 Policy Briefs each year.
A significant number of our policy briefs are also translated into French.
Full title: Lessons for the New Alliance and Land Transparency Initiative: Gender Impacts of Tanzania’s Land Investment Policy
Policy brief 67
There are gender-differentiated impacts when land is harnessed for commercial investment. Land policy needs to address the gendered nature of power relations within families and land tenure systems, and the implications of rural social relations on processes of community consultation, land management and dispute settlement. Without this, land investment policies will not reach their goals of tenure security for all, agricultural productivity and increased revenue. From the outset the full participation of women as well as men, good local leadership and gender-sensitive business practices at the local level are needed, to ensure that the fruits of land-based investment deals in the countryside are gender-equitable.
Policy Brief 65
by Rebecca Smalley
African agriculture is in a phase of rapid commercialisation. Planners and investors in sub-Saharan Africa urgently need to consider how the choice of business model, the local context and the political environment affect outcomes of commercial ventures. A review of past experiences with three commercial farming models reveals the conditions that have provided the most stable environment for investors but also protected the most vulnerable in society and created the best chance for technology transfer and local economic linkages. These lessons from history have contemporary relevance.
Policy Brief 64
by Sally Baden
Concerns expressed since the 1970s about women being excluded from mainstream rural development activities in Africa have fostered numerous women-specific activities designed to address this gender inequality. These actions have, more recently, been supported by arguments and evidence linking gender inequality with adverse agricultural productivity and welfare outcomes (FAO 2011). Views are divided on this approach: feminists such as Razavi (2009) have described such arguments as static and ahistorical, because as argued by O’Laughlin (2007) they ignore the larger processes of accumulation and impoverishment that have occurred in the context of capitalist transformation in the countryside. Meanwhile, recent reports suggest that, to varying degrees, rural women have benefitted from their involvement in certain types of women-specific development programmes (Buvinic et al. 2013).
This Policy Brief takes a critical look at one such activity – the engagement of women farmers in formal groups (referred to here as ‘collective action’) that are organised principally for economic purposes, including for acquiring finance, inputs and new technologies; for the bulking of produce for sale; for sharing marketing information and collective sales; and for developing linkages to more distant or remunerative markets (Thompson et al. 2012). The literature on smallholder collective agricultural marketing is large but relatively few studies address gender dimensions of group organisation in this context. The Brief draws on the findings of primary research undertaken by Oxfam between 2010 and 2012 on women’s collective action in agricultural markets in Ethiopia, Mali and Tanzania, as well as other sources, to address this knowledge gap.
Policy Brief 63
by Henry Tugendhat
As Africa attempts to boost agricultural productivity, many countries are turning to Brazil and China for the possibility of alternative approaches and technologies. Both countries have boasted numerous agricultural achievements, and both are increasing their engagements with African partners. The G8/African Union’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition bears some similarities with China and Brazil’s efforts, particularly with its aims to “increase responsible domestic and foreign private investments in African agriculture, take innovations that can enhance agricultural productivity to scale, and reduce the risk borne by vulnerable economies and communities”. The UK Department for International Development (DFID) describes this initiative as targeting the creation of “new jobs and market opportunities for small and large farms in African agriculture,” albeit, with a greater discussion of the importance of smallholders. Brazil and China’s ‘cooperation’ efforts in trade, aid and investments provide some key lessons for the New Alliance.
CAADP Policy Brief 12
The questions of how Africa can feed itself, and how the agricultural sector can be a more effective engine for growth and development, have long been targets of national governments. Western donors have increased assistance following the 2007/8 food price crisis. But the emergence of China and Brazil as major players has raised hopes that innovative agricultural models from the ‘rising powers’ can be transferred or adapted to African countries.
This policy brief draws on latest research findings by Future Agricultures, focusing on engagement in four African countries, and asks:
- What are the realities of the different routes and models in China and Brazil’s agricultural development?
- How are China and Brazil engaging with Africa in agricultural development?
- How should Africa approach these new engagements - with open arms or cautiously, looking at likely winners and losers?
CAADP Policy Brief 11
Accelerating growth in the agricultural sector by raising the capacities of private entrepreneurs – smallholder and commercial farmers – to meet the increasingly complex requirements of domestic, regional and international markets, is the central aim of CAADP Pillar II.
Commercialisation is about increasing engagement with markets. Smallholder farmers have long been engaged with markets for produce, inputs and information. Urbanisation, better communications and globalisation make understanding smallholder commercialisation all the more important. This policy brief draws on recent research by Future Agricultures and asks:
- How do small farmers commercialise?
- What have been the outcomes of small farmer commercialisation?
- How can policies support smallholder commercialisation and encourage good outcomes?
Full title:The Struggle over the Commons: Annual Savanna Fires and Transnational Mango Outgrower Schemes in Northern Ghana
FAC Policy Brief 62
by Joseph A. Yaro and Dzodzi Tsikata
Northern Ghana is characterised by rain fed agriculture, poor infrastructure, food crop production and poor export-oriented agriculture. Large-scale agriculture producing export crops has been one of the many suggestions made to reduce poverty in the region. However, annual savanna fires destroy investments in commercial and food crop agriculture due to a misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of these fires. The underlying causes of fires and their control cannot merely be attributed to overt reasons; they result from socio-political causes such as dissatisfaction with processes of disenfranchisement and social exclusion. This raises many questions regarding the plausibility and efficacy of introducing a modern export-oriented organic mango farming project in improving the local economy of northern Ghana.
This brief examines the Integrated Tamale Fruit Company (ITFC) outgrower farm model, which fits well into the government’s value chain approach to agricultural commercialisation with an export focus. Savanna fires are not necessarily destructive as the current policy formulations prescribe, but an understanding of the varied uses of these fires, the timings and a negotiated management of natural resources including land, is important in regulating the use of fires in ways beneficial to all land users.
FAC Policy Brief 61
by Andrew Dorward and Ephraim Chirwa
Targeting, the process of directing subsidised inputs to particular areas and to households within those areas, plays a critical role in Malawi’s Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP). It involves the implementation of particular targeting systems which are intended to deliver particular targeting outcomes and patterns of subsidised input access across areas and households. These affect how inputs are used, and hence programme impacts. Targeting is controversial and political, as it determines whether or not, how and how much particular people and groups benefit from the programme. Targeting is also difficult – and the large scale of the programme across the country adds to the challenges and costs in implementing and supervising targeting.
This policy brief sets out targeting issues that emerge from FISP evaluations and suggests criteria and options for improving targeting processes, outcomes and impacts.
FAC Policy Brief 60
by Ephraim W. Chirwa, Mirriam Matita and Andrew Dorward
One direct way in which agricultural input subsidies can provide social protection to the poor is by targeting the poor with very high subsidies to ensure that they are able to access inputs. Although the Malawi Agricultural Input Subsidy Programme (MAISP) generally targets resource-poor households, the targeting guidelines also accord special consideration to vulnerable groups such as child-headed, femaleheaded or orphan-headed households and households affected by HIV and AIDS. This Policy Brief considers how the Malawi Agricultural Input Subsidy Programme has contributed to providing social protection to these poor and vulnerable households.
FAC Policy Brief 59
by Ephraim W. Chirwa, Andrew R. Dorward and Mirriam Matita
Considering the high incidence of poverty and food insecurity among Malawi’s rural population, agricultural input subsidies can be seen in part as a social protection instrument, improving accessibility and availability of food for vulnerable groups. However, questions about the sustainability of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) have been raised since its introduction in 2005/06. Some have argued that with limited public resources and other competing needs of development, subsidisation of farm inputs for a food staple may not be the best use of scarce resources, justifying calls for an exit strategy. Others, however, describe the subsidy as a good thing insofar as it addresses chronic food insecurity in Malawi and contributes to inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction.