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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

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

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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.

Default Collective Action, Gender Relations and Social Inclusion in African Agricultural Markets Popular

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Policy_Brief_064.pdf

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.

Default New Paradigms of Agricultural Development Cooperation in Africa: Lessons from Brazil and China Popular

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Policy_Brief_063.pdf

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.

Default Can China and Brazil help Africa feed itself? Popular

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CAADP Policy Brief_12_English.pdf

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?

Default Supporting small farmers to commercialise Popular

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CAADP Policy Brief_11_English.pdf

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?

Default The Struggle over the Commons: Annual Savanna Fires and Transnational Mango Outgrower Schemes Popular

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Policy_Brief_062.pdf

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
July 2013

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.

Default Targeting in the Farm Input Subsidy Programme in Malawi, 2006/07 – 2011/12 Popular

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Policy_Brief_061.pdf

FAC Policy Brief 61
by Andrew Dorward and Ephraim Chirwa
July 2013

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.

Default Factors Influencing Access to Agricultural Input Subsidy Coupons in Malawi Popular

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Policy_Brief_060.pdf

FAC Policy Brief 60
by Ephraim W. Chirwa, Mirriam Matita and Andrew Dorward
July 2013

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.