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FAC Research Themes

Future Agricultures explores what needs to be done to get different forms of agriculture – food/cash crops, livestock/pastoralism, smallholdings/contract farming/large holdings – moving on a track of increasing productivity and competitiveness.


We do this through work in 10 themes, examining how agricultural policy is made and put into practice in different settings, and how this could be improved.



Elections in GhanaTheme 1: Policy processes

  • Understanding the political economy and policy processes surrounding agriculture in specific regional/country settings
  • Critically assessing how food and agriculture is understood in policy circles and what bureaucratic, political, budgetary and other processes either support or constrain investment in the sector

Theme 2: Agricultural commercialisations
  • Investigating what (multiple) pathways of commercialisation of agriculture both promote growth and reduce poverty – and the trade-offs between them
  • Understanding the socially differentiated impacts of various commercialisation processes on livelihoods

Theme 3: Growth and social protection

  • Examining the trade-offs and complementarities between growth and social protection objectives
  • Understanding the role of seasonality in social protection programming and pro-poor agricultural policy


Theme 4: Science, technology and innovation

Governance issues surrounding innovation policy and the politics of policy making in research for development

  • Focusing on ‘the political economy of seed systems’ exploring how contrasting politics and different configurations of interests influence seeds policies.
  • Developing an interactive web-based game to examine the trade-offs and policy challenges of a new green revolution for Africa.

11852-small_thumb250_200Theme 5: Future farmers: youth and agriculture

Exploring the challenges facing young people and the agri-food sector in Africa.

  • Understanding the perceptions and potential roles of youth in the future of African farming.

  • Exploring how demographic change affecting the availability of farmers in the future; asking is de-agrarianisation inevitable?

  • How can agriculture be made more attractive as a livelihood option for future farmers in Africa?

garissa1Theme 6: Pastoralism

  • Understanding the changing context of pastoral systems in Africa: identifying key challenges and opportunities
  • Asking what innovations are being undertaken by pastoralists in response to climate change, decline in resource availability, market pressures and conflict?
  • Exploring pastoral innovation systems, and understanding how they operate and might in turn articulate with more formal systems

plantTheme 7: Climate change and agricultural policy

  • Understanding the policy processes, at national and international levels, that define the links between climate change and agriculture
  • Asking how climate change is understood in the agricultural sector, and what policy processes (actors, interests, narratives) influence how climate change issues are incorporated (or not) in agricultural policy and programmes

landhungerTheme 8: Land and agrarian change

  • The politics of policy underlying transnational commercial land deals in Africa
  • Asking what international and national policy processes influence transnational commercial land deals in Africa and what competing discourses, interests and power relations define struggles over transnational land deals in different places?

Chinese and African people on a farmTheme 9: China and Brazil in African Agriculture

  • What visions and models of development underpin Brazil and China cooperation programmes in agriculture?
  • Is there evidence of emerging new paradigms for development cooperation and for agricultural development?
  • What are the implications for traditional donors and for pro-poor development in Africa?

genderhpTheme 10: Gender and Social Difference

  • Challenging common framings in policy and practice that equate “gender” with “women”, and put women and men in opposition to each other.
  • What circumstances allow structures to either open or limit access to opportunities?
  • What kinds of support do both women and men need if they are to benefit from and/or adapt to change?