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Policy Briefs

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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.

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Documents

Default Evidence from three models of land and agricultural commercialisation: Impacts on local livelihoods in Zambia Popular

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Policy Brief 83
by Chrispin Radoka Matenga and Munguzwe Hichaambwa
May 2016

Zambia needs to undergo structural transformation triggered by increased agricultural and rural labour productivity if it is to achieve improved growth and broad-based poverty reduction. The current experience, however, is far from the radical change needed in order to achieve this. Zambia’s agricultural sector is characterised by a large number of poor smallholders contributing most of agricultural output, with low yields, limited commercialisation and few signs of rapid productivity growth. This policy brief summarises the findings of a research project that focused on three agricultural models in Zambia by comparing three case studies.

Default Plantation, outgrower and mediumscale commercial farming in Ghana: which model provides better prospects for local development? Popular

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Policy brief 82
by Joseph Yaro, Joseph Teye and Gertrude Torvikey
May 2016

Different agricultural commercialisation models produce different local development benefits. African governments are making important policy choices in their quest to modernise agriculture, with some promoting largescale farming on plantations while others promote small- or medium-scale commercial farming. This study examined three agricultural modernisation models in three areas of Ghana: plantation, outgrower and medium-scale commercial farming. Each has different implications for land, labour, employment, local economic linkages, food security and livelihood outcomes.

The plantation and commercial models resulted in more land concentration while the outgrower model produced the least. In terms of employment, the plantation and outgrower models employed more workers than the commercial model but the latter had better-paid workers at the lower level of employment. Although workers in the outgrower model were paid less, there were no significant gender differences in wages received by men and women. The other two models paid male workers much more than female workers. Food security is better in the outgrower area than in the plantation and commercial farming areas.

pdf Indian seeds for African markets: South–South trade and technical cooperation Popular

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Policy_Brief_081.pdf

Policy Brief 80
by Sachin Chaturvedi, Dominic Glover and Ian Scoones
January 2016

The success of India’s generic pharmaceuticals industry is seen by some policymakers as a success for international development and cooperation, bringing affordable drugs to populations not only in India itself but across the developing world, including in Africa.

Could India’s thriving seed sector play a similar role for affordable, high quality seeds? How comparable are India’s pharmaceuticals and seed sectors in reality? And what lessons could be learned from the pharma case that might be relevant to the seed sector? In this briefing note we explore these questions.

 

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

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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.

Default Chinese Training Courses for African Officials: a “Win-Win” Engagement? Popular

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SAIS-CARI Policy Brief No. 3
by Henry Tugendhat

December, 2014

Some 30,000 African public officials have participated in Chinese training courses, yet little is known about their goals, structure, or content. Henry Tugendhat observed classroom trainings, interviewed trainees and reviewed publicly available course content. He argues that while China’s training courses do promote technology and knowledge transfers, they are also clearly organized to increase trade opportunities for Chinese firms, develop better political ties, and offer a positive image of China. This report, based on interviews and classroom observation, is the first study of its kind.

Default Chinese Agricultural Investment in Mozambique: the Case of Wanbao Rice Farm Popular

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SAIS-CARI Policy Brief No. 2
by Sérgio Chichava

November 2014

China’s largest agricultural investment in Africa is reported to be the Hubei Gaza Friendship Farm, established in 2007 in Mozambique and now managed by a private Chinese firm, Wanbao Africa Agriculture Development Limited (WAADL). While officials have welcomed external investment as a source of employment and development, local communities have decried the project as a “land grab”. Tensions among local activists, the government and the Chinese investors continue to run high, posing a challenge to the future of agricultural investment in the country.

Published by the SAIS China Africa Research Initiative

pdf International and regional guidelines on land governance and land-based investments: An agenda for African states Popular

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Policy_Brief_077.pdf

Future Agricultures policy brief 77
Emmanuel Sulle and Ruth Hall

Global and regional guidelines have been developed in the period 2009–2014 to improve land governance in the context of large-scale land acquisitions in developing countries. These provide an opportunity for affected countries to make necessary reforms to mitigate negative impacts of such acquisitions. They also challenge governments, private companies and rural communities to know their rights and responsibilities and to act on them.

Many African countries are yet to fully implement land and other natural resources policy frameworks developed by the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). These require states to strengthen the rights of rural populations to access, control and own such resources and to decentralise land administration. To date, rural communities in many countries lack proper knowledge about their rights and responsibilities; the roles of public and private sector and civil society – in their national policies; and legal frameworks governing natural resources.

African governments have challenged themselves to develop proper plans, garner political support at all levels of government and implement the intended policy, legal and institutional reforms on the ground. The global and regional guidelines must still be translated into binding regulations and enforceable laws in each country. This is a precondition for the global and regional guidelines to improve land governance and regulate land-based investments, as intended by all member states that acceded to them.

pdf Emerging Seed Markets: The Role of Brazilian, Chinese and Indian Seeds in African Agriculture Popular

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Policy_Brief_079.pdf

Policy Brief 79
Henry Tugendhat

In recent years, three of the largest emerging powers, Brazil, China and India, have all brought about incredible agricultural revolutions and seeds have played a big part in that story. Nowadays, their seed markets are all within the world’s top ten in terms of value and their companies are eager to expand into new markets, particularly in Africa. Their development cooperation agendas are already focused on facilitating these overseas moves, and they come with a strong narrative that these seed producers and technical experts can help bring about similar success for Africa. It remains to be seen how true this is; however, we can already identify and analyse certain trends in the technology and policy that each is transferring.

This policy brief examines the development and expansion of each country’s seed industry and how it is engaging with African seed systems. An understanding of these trends matters primarily for the African farmers and policymakers engaging with these new flows, but it can also shed light on contrasts and opportunities for collaboration on seeds with the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN).

Default Opportunities and Challenges in Tanzania’s Sugar Industry: Lessons for SAGCOT and the New Alliance Popular

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Policy_Brief_076.pdf

Policy Brief 76
Emmanuel Sulle

Sugarcane outgrower schemes are central to several policy and donor strategies for driving agricultural growth and reducing poverty, including the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor project in Tanzania (SAGCOT). But field research into the outgrower component of Kilombero Sugar Company, Tanzania’s largest and best regarded sugar producer, demonstrates a pressing need for change.

Sugarcane production in Kilombero has had benefits for farming households as well as the local and national economy. However, unsustainable expansion and governance issues in the outgrower scheme have created new risks. There are pressures on food security as a result of a decline in land for food crops, and on incomes, particularly when outgrowers’ cane remains unharvested and farmers’ payments are delayed. These problems have been aggravated by the importation of foreign sugar into the country. For this industry to provide its maximum benefits to the economy and to the household, a policy, legal and institutional framework is needed that provides greater efficiency, accountability and transparency, as well as greater security for all participating stakeholders. There are lessons for the sugar industry, as well as donors and investors of ongoing and future agribusiness developments in Tanzania.

Default Neo-traditionalism, chieftaincy and land grabs in Ghana Popular

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Policy_Brief_074.pdf

Policy Brief 74
Joseph Yaro and Dzodzi Tsikata

The achievement of the Ghanaian state’s objective of modernising agriculture by encouraging transnational capital necessarily requires the regulation of the activities of chiefs in land transactions to prevent the misuse of neo-traditional norms to dispossess community members of their rights to land. The current context of land transactions, which has been characterised by poor governance, opens the gate for opportunism by local and state elites, and the risk of transnational companies ‘colonising’ large parts of rural Ghana. Without fundamental institutional reforms and social protection mechanisms which privilege the land rights of smallholders, large-scale transnational land acquisitions threaten the socio-economic development of rural Ghana.

Default Kenya’s Land Reform Agenda: Pastoralism within the Current Land Debate Popular

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Policy_Brief_073.pdf

Policy Brief 73
John Letai

Kenya’s Community Land Bill could herald a new and improved approach to securing the rights of pastoralists to land, grazing and water. Devolving the governance of these resources to the local level could provide pastoralists with greater influence over decisions affecting their livelihoods.

This policy brief explores and argues for the enactment of a people-driven Community Land Act. The objective is to provide key observations and arguments that can help guide the process that will recognise and respect efficient management, control and use of community land. The process is informed by past practices and experiences whereby pastoralists in Kenya accessed land and natural resources through customary systems and institutions that operated largely outside the statutory legal framework of land administration.

Default Pastoral Livestock Trade and Growth in Ethiopia Popular

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Policy_Brief_072.pdf

Policy Brief 72
Yacob Aklilu and Andy Catley

In Ethiopia, government support to the export of livestock and livestock products started soon after the eradication of rinderpest. This was generic multi-sector support from which the livestock sector benefited, and pre-dated the New Alliance. Although Ethiopia has seen dramatic increases in formal exports, it is less recognised that pastoralist areas supply most of the animals for export. For this supply to be maintained or increased, specific livestock policy support is needed based on consultation with pastoralists, traders and other private sector actors, along with stronger coordination of the government ministries that oversee different aspects of the production and trade system. There are also opportunities to further apply systems to support cross-border trade, in line with the policies of the African Union and IGAD, and supported by certification systems such as the COMESA Green Pass. In terms of the New Alliance objective of supporting equitable growth, commercialisation of pastoral systems is associated with increasing wealth disparity and out-migration of poorer or destitute pastoralists.

Default Investment in drylands: widening the benefits for food security and development Popular

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Policy_Brief_071.pdf

Policy Brief 71
Izzy Birch and Jeremy Lind

After decades of comparative neglect, the drylands of the Horn of Africa are experiencing an unprecedented surge of investment. Largescale infrastructure projects now dominate national development plans. They represent a welcome renewal of interest by states in drylands and an opportunity to reduce long-standing inequalities in the provision of public goods and services. Uneven investment has been a barrier to formal private sector engagement; it has also left pastoralists more vulnerable to shocks and ill-equipped to take advantage of processes of economic transformation. Of all types of investment, state-driven investment should provide for the greater public good. Careful planning and management will be required if it is to contribute to inclusive growth rather than deepen inequality.

Default Social protection in pastoral areas: promoting inclusive growth at the margins Popular

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Policy_Brief_070.pdf

Policy Brief 70
Jeremy Lind and Izzy Birch

Vulnerability and poverty levels remain stubbornly high and arguably are deepening in many pastoral areas of the Horn of Africa. This is in spite of galloping livestock commercialisation in these areas and their closer incorporation into wider systems of marketing, trade and investment. The fact remains that the benefits of recent growth and investment in pastoral areas have yet to result in wider benefits for addressing food insecurity and poor nutrition. Chronically food insecure, poor or vulnerable people with limited assets cannot engage in or contribute to more productive livestock-keeping or other growth-oriented economic activities that are the intended focus of the New Alliance. Thus, strengthening social protection systems in the region is a prerequisite for realising more inclusive growth at the pastoral margins. This brief details the role of social protection in agendas to promote agricultural growth, highlighting areas of innovative programme design and implementation where further efforts might focus.

Default Policy processes and agriculture – what difference does CAADP make? Popular

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CAADP Policy_Brief_14.pdf

CAADP Policy Brief 14

It is just over ten years since African Union (AU) Heads of State made their declaration in support of Africa’s agricultural sector in Maputo. Through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), they committed to a common process for the development and refinement of national agricultural strategies and investment plans, intended to guide the investments of governments, donors and the private sector. This Brief draws on research by the Future Agricultures Consortium on the political and economic context of CAADP in eight African countries (Poulton et al. 2014)and asks:

  • How does CAADP fit with existing national agricultural strategies and policies?
  • Who and what drives the CAADP process at country level?
  • What value has CAADP added to national agricultural policies?

The findings add to our understanding of how domestic political incentives affect pro-poor agricultural policy in Africa.

Default Agriculture and climate change – politics behind the policies Popular

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CAADP Policy Brief_13.pdf

CAADP Policy Brief 13

Policy-makers are increasingly focusing on the linkages between agriculture and climate change. Since 2009 African Union members have committed to embracing climate change mitigation and adaptation as integral components of agricultural development. While a number of pilot initiatives are under way, we know little about what this kind of focus on climate change and agriculture will mean in practice. Realising the potentials of agricultural systems for adaption and mitigation is about more than technological choices and farming practices; it is also about politics and power.

This Brief draws on recent research by the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) which examines how the agenda for climate-smart agriculture is playing out in practice in Africa, and asks:

  • Who participates in national agriculture and climate change policy processes?
  • Whose knowledge counts in defining climate-smart agriculture?
  • On whose terms and in whose interests are particular approaches and technologies favoured?

Default Women’s economic empowerment and collective action in agriculture: new evidence and measurement... Popular

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Policy_Brief_068.pdf

Full title: Women’s economic empowerment and collective action in agriculture: new evidence and measurement challenges

Policy Brief 68
Sally Baden

Development actors increasingly claim that their interventions are contributing to women’s economic empowerment, and donors require that monitoring and evaluation systems capture these empowerment outcomes. However, there are divergent views and perspectives among both development policy makers and among grassroots women themselves on what constitutes ‘women’s economic empowerment’. Differences relate to whether empowerment is seen as an end in itself, or a means to broader developmental goals; how broadly or narrowly economic the definition is; and whether empowerment is primarily seen as having the ability to ‘compete’ in the market, or encompasses the capacity to challenge structural inequalities in the market and beyond. Related to this, there is also considerable debate on what measures constitute rigorous or comparable evidence of economic empowerment, and whether it is even possible to ‘measure’ empowerment across different contexts.

Default Lessons for the New Alliance and Land Transparency Initiative: Gender Impacts of Tanzania's... Popular

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Policy_Brief_067.pdf

Full title: Lessons for the New Alliance and Land Transparency Initiative: Gender Impacts of Tanzania’s Land Investment Policy

Policy brief 67
Helen Dancer

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.

Default Inclusive business models in agriculture? Learning from smallholder cane growers in Mozambique Popular

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Policy_Brief_066.pdf

Future Agricultures / PLAAS Policy Brief 66
Emmanuel Sulle, Ruth Hall and Gaynor Paradza

Amidst the increasing corporate investment in African farmland the term ‘inclusive business model’ has become a catchphrase touted as an opportunity for incorporating smallholder farmers alongside large-scale commercial farming projects. Inclusive business models require an enabling institutional and regulatory framework. Such frameworks now exist at the international level: the African Union Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa and FAO Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance on the Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forest in the Context of National Food Security provide a starting point. If translated and implemented, these guidelines can help develop transparent and accountable mechanisms that enable and strengthen the participation of smallholder farmers in the process of commercialisation, such as in the sugar industry in Mozambique.

To enable equitable partnerships between corporate investors and small-scale farmers, governments need to prioritise public investment in agriculture, including research and development, that helps smallholder farmers increase and diversify their agricultural produce. Smallholders’ access to, ownership of and control over land and other resources should be secured. Based on our analysis of current large-scale sugar estates and milling companies, as well as smallholder involvement as outgrowers in the Mozambican sugar industry, this policy brief interrogates policy and suggests mechanisms for enabling and strengthening smallholder farmers’ participation in and securing returns from large scale investments.

Default Large-scale Commercial Agriculture in Africa: Lessons from the Past Popular

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Policy _Brief_065.pdf

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.