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Does livestock enhance or reduce crop commercialisation? A case of Singida in Central Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in Singida Region in Tanzania, contributing to household income, and reducing poverty in the region. The use of ox-plough to perform farm operations, such as ploughing, and the application of livestock manure are just some ways in which livestock can enhance crop commercialisation. However, livestock production can also reduce the need to expand crop production if livestock earns a farmer higher income, hence inhibiting crop commercialisation in mixed crop-livestock farming systems. This blog explains the differences in commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories, as found in APRA Working Paper 65.

September 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 66: Yield and Commercialisation Effects of SRI Interventions in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania


This paper discusses System of Rice Intensification (SRI) interventions and its potential effects on paddy yield and commercialisation in Mngeta division, Kilombero district in Morogoro region, Tanzania. SRI is an innovative agroecological methodology that aims to improve yields and farmers’ profits by creating the most suitable environment for the rice plant to grow. It comprises the precise set of cultivation practices specifically required for careful management of biophysical needs of the rice plant for producing high yields. To assess the effects, we compare between trained and non-trained farmers, as well as between farmers who are members of SRI associations and non-SRI members, on aspects of adoption of SRI interventions, paddy productivity and yields. In turn, the effects of SRI is evaluated in terms of its influence on rice yield per hectare and commercialisation at household level.

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September 21, 2021


APRA Working Paper 65: Livestock, Crop Commercialisation and Poverty Reduction Among Rural Households in the Singida Region, Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in the Singida Region in Tanzania, directly or indirectly contributing to household income, food security and poverty reduction among rural people in the region. This paper examined the effect of livestock on crop commercialisation and farmers’ livelihoods in the region. The complementarity between crops and livestock in the farming systems of Singida needs to be recognised, enhanced and utilised not only by farmers and livestock keepers, but also by local government authorities and development practitioners.

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Challenging simplistic land degradation and restoration narratives in Zimbabwe


In the last blog, I reviewed the results of our land use analysis using a combination of Landsat satellite imagery, document/archival analysis and field interviews from Mvurwi area in northern Zimbabwe from 1984 to 2018, now out as APRA Working Paper 48. There are some important wider implications that emerge from such an analysis that gets to grips with longitudinal environmental and land use change and its intersecting drivers. In this blog, I identify four themes.

September 20, 2021


APRA features at the Second Scientific Conference held at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania


The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) participated in a scientific conference at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania from 24th May–27th May 2021. Themed ‘Agricultural Technologies, Productivity and Market Competitiveness in Tanzania: Towards an Upper-Middle Income Economy’, the conference provided a platform for scholars to interact and exchange knowledge on the application of science, innovation, and technology in the country’s socio-economic transformation. This blog highlights APRA Tanzania researchers’ contributions to the conference.

September 16, 2021


Dynamic drivers of land use change in Zimbabwe


What are the drivers of land use change and how do they interact over time? Are the changes, uni-directional and linear, or are the dynamics more complex? This is the question we posed for our study site in Mvurwi in northern Zimbabwe for the period 1984 to 2018, now published in APRA Working Paper 48. This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland.

September 13, 2021


Influence of rice commercialisation on poverty reduction levels in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


The commercialisation of smallholder agriculture has been considered a key strategy for sustainably reducing poverty and achieving equitable growth across many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, linking farmers to markets is pursued as an important strategy towards commercialisation and agricultural transformation under the National Development Programme and current Five-year Development Plan for the period 2016 – 2021 and the national vision up to 2025. This blog examines changes in rice commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories that have occurred between 2017 and 2019, as presented in APRA Working Paper 63, based on the findings from Mngeta division, Kilombero Valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, where rice is the most important food and cash crop.

September 9, 2021


APRA Working Paper 63: Rice Commercialisation Effects in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania: Identifying the Underlying Factors


Rice production is the most dominant farming system in Kilombero valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, accounting for more than 80 per cent of cultivated land within the valley. This paper examines changes in rice commercialisation and livelihood outcomes for different categories of farmers in the Mngeta division, Kilombero District, Tanzania. Understanding the underlying factors of agricultural commercialisation enables policymakers to ensure that policy interventions promote inclusive and equitable involvement of all farmers and other value chain actors, especially women and youths, who have been excluded from most development initiatives in the past.

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September 7, 2021


Worker-peasants and peasant-workers: new labour regimes in rural Zimbabwe


Much academic debate about rural farm labour has focused on the idea of linear transitions in labour regimes through processes of agricultural commercialisation. This sees farmworkers as either moving towards a class of wage-labour, profiting from modernising, efficient, large-scale agricultural commercialisation, or into subsistence, peasant-based family farming. Yet data discussed in a new open access paper just out in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies shows that neither of these simple transitions is happening.

September 6, 2021


Are smallholder farms or medium-scale farms more productive in Nigeria?


In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), support for smallholder-led agricultural strategy has been motivated by the stylised fact that smallholder farmers are more productive. This stylised fact is known as inverse relationship (IR) between farm size and productivity, which has been widely observed in developing countries around the world. Broadly, the IR suggests that smaller farms are more productive than larger farms. However, documented evidence of IR in SSA is largely limited to farms operating 5ha or less. This blog looks to a recent study of a greater range of farm sizes in Nigeria to better understand the reality of productivity as it relates to farm size.

September 2, 2021


Ghana’s agricultural commercialisation and food security: An analysis of smallholder farmers across gender and geography


Photo credit: Charles Nyaaba of the Peasant Farmers Association A recent study by Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Ghana researchers addresses the question: under what conditions, and at what scale, does smallholder agricultural commercialisation promote or hinder food security? The study presents an analysis of how gender and spatial inequalities in resource control determine… Read more »

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September 1, 2021


Does sunflower commercialisation empower women in Singida, Tanzania?


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 59, which investigates the influence of sunflower commercialisation and diversity on women empowerment in Singida region, Tanzania. This study assesses the assumption that women engagement along Tanzania’s sunflower value chain empowers them socially, economically, and politically, and its contribution to their sense of individuality, self-respect, and confidence.

August 26, 2021


Rice commercialisation, agrarian change and livelihood trajectories: Transformations on the Fogera Plain of Ethiopia


This blog summarises APRA Working Paper 61, which explores the commercialisation of rice in Ethiopia since its introduction in the early 1970s. This process has evidenced wider agrarian changes that have contributed to the emergence and development of diverse livelihood options. The paper presents the role of increased rice commercialisation for the observed agrarian changes and the livelihood trajectories, based on both primary and secondary data sources generated from the Fogera plain.

August 23, 2021


The politics of mechanisation in Zimbabwe: tractors, accumulation and agrarian change


This article explores whether mechanisation affects patterns of accumulation and differentiation in Zimbabwe’s post land reform where policy consistently disadvantages smallholders. Is the latest mechanisation wave any different? The article considers dynamics of tractor access and accumulation trajectories across and within land use types in Mvurwi area. Larger, richer and well-connected farmers draw on patronage networks to access tractors and accumulate further. Some small to medium-scale farmers generate surpluses and invest in tractors or pay for services. Thus, accumulation from above and below feeds social differentiation. Tractor access remains constrained yet mechanisation is only part of the wider post-2000 story.

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August 16, 2021


Agricultural commercialisation and changing labour regimes in Zimbabwe


Written by: Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba This paper explores the emerging labour regimes and the consequences for agricultural commercialisation across multiple land-use types in post land reform Zimbabwe. The livelihoods of farmworkers, including those still resident in former labour compounds, are explored. The paper examines patterns of employment, land access, crop farming,… Read more »

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End of the road? The future of smallholder farmers in Malawi


This paper reflects on the findings of APRA Working Paper 56 and APRA Working Paper 58 to understand the reality of smallholder farming in Malawi, and what the future can be expected to hold for individuals involved in this sector. Further, the authors assess why the current outlook of smallholder farming is as it is, and seeks to understand the policy landscape that could carve a space for small-scale farmers in Malawi’s agricultural future.


Why it is expensive to produce cocoa in Ghana, a former global leader? APRA Ghana share findings


Cocoa producers in Ghana incur high production costs, but obtain low yields and receive less income. This hampers the country’s cocoa commercialisation efforts, hence requiring adoption of high yielding varieties and innovative financing options and investments in labour and inputs. These were the findings of a study carried out by APRA and the University of Ghana on agricultural commercialisation in Ghana’s cocoa sector. These findings were discussed in a dissemination workshop held on Wednesday July 28, 2021, in Ghana’s Suhum area.

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August 10, 2021


COVID-19 spreads to rural Zimbabwe


The third COVID-19 wave has firmly arrived in Zimbabwe’s rural areas. This is no longer the ‘rich person’s disease’ of those based in town. The number of cases and sadly deaths has surged across our rural study areas in the last month. This is a picture reflected across the country and indeed the region, with large increases since our last report.

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August 9, 2021


Positioning Tanzania in the regional market for rice: Lessons from the East Africa Rice Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In this blog, the fifth in our series on these national workshops, we reflect on the Tanzanian event.

August 5, 2021


Environmental impacts of commercial rice production in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


In Kilombero Valley, Tanzania, rice is increasingly becoming a commercial crop. However, although research findings show that commercial rice production is beneficial, it is also associated with increasing use of modern implements, such as tractors, and use of agrochemicals, such as herbicides. This blog, based on APRA Working Papers 30 and 37, highlights the potential environmental impacts of rice commercialisation in the region, and recommends actions that could be taken to mitigate these impacts.

August 2, 2021


Responses of Rice Farmers Engaged in Vegetable Production: Implications of the Collapse of Vegetable Prices in the Fogera Plain


Written by: Dawit Alemu and Tirhas Kinfe Since the early 1980s, the Fogera Plain has been one of Ethiopia’s major rice production areas. The introduction of rice, its commercialisation and the subsequent increased surplus production has led to the ability of smallholder rice farmers to intensify their production through diverse investments, mainly in supplementary irrigation.… Read more »

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July 27, 2021


The political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 60, investigating the political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria. This study focused on how the political economy dynamics can contribute to understanding the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation in the country, and the government’s role in enhancing this process.

July 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 60: The Political Economy of the Maize Value Chain in Nigeria


Written by, Paul Amaza, Sunday Mailumo, Asenath Silong The aim of this case study is to understand the underlying political economy dynamics of the maize value chain in Nigeria, with a focus on how this can contribute to comprehending the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation. The study is informed by theories of political settlements,… Read more »

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July 15, 2021


Working Paper 59: The Influence of Sunflower Commercialisation and Diversity on Women’s Empowerment: The Case of Iramba and Mkalama Districts, Singida Region


There is a growing body of literature that argues that normally women derive little benefit from cash crops. Some of the barriers leading to women having less benefit from cash crop value chains include cultural norms and power differences in access to, and control over, resources among actors in value chains. It is also argued that women’s participation in different forms of collective action help women to increase benefits to them through their increased agency, hence enabling them to utilise existing and diverse options for their empowerment. This paper explores how women have benefited from their engagement in sunflower commercialisation and how culture has influenced changes in access to, and control over, resources, including land, for their empowerment.

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July 14, 2021


Zimbabwe faces a COVID-19 surge: what is happening in the rural areas?


Vaccination drive at Hippo Valley sugar estate This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The increase in COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe has been significant in the weeks since our last blog. This has been matched by an increase in recorded deaths. The government has responded with a new ‘level 4’ lockdown, imposing a curfew, restricting… Read more »

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July 12, 2021


Inclusive and sustainable rice system to transform Kenya’s food system: Lessons from the East African Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In the second blog of our series exploring the outcomes of each of these national workshops, we turn our attention to Kenya.

July 6, 2021


How is ‘China’ helping to transform ‘Africa’? The need for a more sophisticated debate


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland How is China helping to transform African economies? There are many different narratives cast around in public and policy debate: China as the new imperial power, China as the radical developmentalist, China as just like any other donor/foreign power. None are very convincing. A report synthesising… Read more »

July 1, 2021


Social issues impacting household food security in the epoch of COVID-19


Written by: Loveness Msofi Mgalamadzi The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives and livelihoods around the world, and Malawi is no exception. This blog explores the social and food security issues arising from the implementation of COVID-19 preventive measures at household level in the country. Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented impacts that have… Read more »

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June 28, 2021


Gender and social differentiation in the context of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 58, observing agricultural commercialisation in Malawi and how it differs among various gender and social groups. This study found that female-headed and poorer households are at a disadvantage compared to their male-headed and wealthier counterparts due to differential access to resources and control over decision-making. The following blog provides a deeper look into this reality, and assesses the impact of gender and wealth on several aspects of commercialisation.

June 21, 2021


Journal Article: Medium-scale commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe: the experience of A2 resettlement farms


Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba. 2021. The emergence of medium-scale farms is having important consequences for agricultural commercialisation across Africa. This article examines the role of medium-scale A2 farms allocated following Zimbabwe’s land reform after 2000. While the existing literature focuses on changing farm size distributions, this article investigates processes of social differentiation… Read more »

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June 15, 2021


COVID-19 and economic transformation in rural Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 situation looks uncertain, with localised outbreaks and a rise in infections south of the Limpopo in South Africa. On June 11 there were 191 new cases (including 82 that were reported late) and 3 deaths reported, making a cumulative total of 39,688 cases and… Read more »

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June 14, 2021


Key messages and required actions for Ethiopian rice sector development: Outcomes of a national rice conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. This blog explores the outcomes of Ethiopia’s national workshop, which was held in parallel in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar.

EARC 2021 participants at the International Livestock Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

June 10, 2021


How land reform transformed small towns in Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Our recent paper – small towns and land reform in Zimbabwe – out in the European Journal of Development Research (open access) – explores some of the themes discussed last time for the Zimbabwe setting. Over a number of years, we have been monitoring changes in three small towns in… Read more »

June 7, 2021


Small towns and agricultural development in Africa


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The most recent Africa Agriculture Status Report from AGRA, ‘Feeding Africa’s Cities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Policies for Linking African Farmers with Growing Urban Food Markets’ and led by MSU’s Steve Haggblade, makes the important link between the future of African urban areas and agricultural development. On a… Read more »

May 26, 2021


Disseminating science amid COVID-19 restrictions: lessons from Ghana


The findings of a recent APRA Ghana research project were shared with a range of stakeholders at a dissemination event on Wednesday, 17 March 2021 in Takoradi, Ghana. This workshop included a discussion of the team’s research and the implications of these findings. The outcome of discussions will be incorporated into subsequent analyses and reports on the APRA project, and contribute to informing policy and practices related to rural development, empowerment of women and girls, and food and nutrition security. This will ensure that this research is used to inform effective and relevant policy.

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May 24, 2021


Working Paper 58: Understanding Gender and Social Differentiation in the Context of Agricultural Commercialisation and Implications for Livelihoods in Rural Malawi


Written by, Loveness M. Mgalamadzi, Mirriam Matita, Masautso Chimombo, Blessings Chinsinga, Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa, Stevier Kaiyatsa and Jacob Mazalale Agricultural commercialisation is widely recognised as a catalyst to economic growth and development in low and middle-income countries. This study investigates gender and social differences in agricultural commercialisation in rural Malawi. Specifically, the paper analyses different… Read more »

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May 20, 2021


Rural livelihoods in the pandemic: notes from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Half a million people have now been vaccinated in Zimbabwe, but this is still only 3.5% of the population. The Chinese Sinopharm vaccine has now been fully approved by the WHO for emergency use and Zimbabwe’s vaccination drive is in full swing. Even tourists from South Africa are taking advantage… Read more »

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At the mercy of politics? The groundnut value chain in Malawi


This blog highlights the findings of APRA Working Paper 56, observing the groundnut value chain in Malawi in both historical and contemporary perspectives through qualitative tools of inquiry. This study found that this value chain has experienced notable recovery in terms of productivity, but remains primarily informal and struggles to re-enter the lucrative formal global export markets. The following blog explores why this is the case, as well as examining the socio-economic importance of this crop and what can be done to support it in reaching its full potential moving forward.

May 17, 2021


Political economy of agricultural input subsidies in Tanzania: Who benefitted from the National Input Voucher Scheme?


This blog explores the programmes implemented in Tanzania to promote rice commercialisation since the country’s independence in 1961, as found in the course of a recent APRA study for Working Paper 57, as well as their impact on different socio-economic groups. Specifically, this blog is about agricultural input subsidy programmes implemented since 1967 to support smallholder farmers as part of the ujamaa (“socialism”) model of economic development. It focuses on the National Input Voucher Scheme (NAIVS), the biggest agricultural input subsidy programme implemented in Tanzania.

May 13, 2021


Beyond the silver bullet solution: towards a ‘systems agronomy’ perspective


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The previous two blogs (here and here) have discussed the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme that has become a high-profile, politicised intervention during the last season. In a very wet year, the results have been interesting. Yields have been good on the small plots, but many problems have been… Read more »

May 10, 2021


APRA Ghana presents research findings in a dissemination workshop


Key findings emerging from APRA’s research in Ghana were presented to representatives of oil palm farmers and oil palm processing companies, agricultural extension officers, district and regional directors of agriculture, and the media at a workshop on 17 March 2021 at the Takoradi Library & Office Complex.

May 6, 2021


Conservation agriculture: latest experiences from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland In the last blog, I introduced the Pfumvudza programme in Zimbabwe, a version of conservation agriculture that has been heavily promoted across the country during the last season. In this blog, I look at what happened, based on reflections from our field sites across the country – from… Read more »

May 4, 2021


APRA Research Note: The Covid-19 Pandemic and Household Rice Consumption Patterns in Ethiopia: The Case of Addis Ababa


Written by, Dawit Alemu and Gashaw T. Abate. The outbreak of COVID-19 also resulted in moderate changes to the operation of the domestic rice value chain in Ethiopia. These were caused by changing responses of value chain actors (domestic and others engaged in rice imports) to the COVID-19 prevention measures put in place by the… Read more »

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April 30, 2021


Political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania: Socioeconomic impact of trade policies, strategies and programmes


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 57, as the authors discuss the policies, strategies and programmes implemented since Tanzania’s independence in 1961 to promote rice commercialisation and reduce poverty and food insecurity among smallholder rice farmers, and their impact on different socio-economic groups based on findings from literature review and key informant interviews.

April 29, 2021


The political economy of cocoa value chain in Ghana


This blog presents the findings of APRA Working Paper 53, which adopted the political settlement framework to analyse the political economy dynamics of Ghana’s cocoa value chain. Researchers Joseph Kofi Teye and Ebenezer Nikoi discuss these findings, which indicate that policies implemented in this value chain have gone through several shifts in relation to changing agrarian political economy and distribution of power among interest groups, and highlight the steps that can be taken to harness the cocoa sector’s potential to contribute to economic development in Ghana.

April 26, 2021


The need for rice sector modernisation: a key outcome of the Ethiopian National Rice Platform Meeting


The 2021 Annual National Rice stakeholders’ platform meeting, hosted by the National Rice Secretariat at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), was held on 19 April in both Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar, concurrently.

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April 22, 2021


Can the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme deliver food security in Zimbabwe?


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. It looks like it’s going to be a good harvest this year in Zimbabwe. Early crop assessments suggest that there will be a bumper crop of maize, perhaps the highest since the early 1980s at 2.8 million tonnes, planted across 1.9 million hectares. The season saw heavy rains throughout the… Read more »


COVID-19 and the disappearing tobacco in Zimbabwe: Makoronyera and the new value chains


In this blog summarising APRA Working Paper 55, Toendepi Shonhe discusses the growing prevalence of informal tobacco aggregators, their impact on farmers’ wealth accumulation potential and the changes in this value chain since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shonhe also assesses how Zimbabwe’s government can address the challenges in the chain.

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April 20, 2021


The Policy Context of the Oil Palm Sector’s Underperformance in Ghana


In this blog summarising his research in the newly published APRA Working Paper 54, APRA researcher Kofi Takyi Asante highlights both the historical importance and the future potential of the oil palm industry in Ghana. He outlines the findings from the paper, explains the political and societal factors that have prevented this value chain from reaching its full potential in the past, and provides insight on how the Ghanaian government can engage stakeholders and take advantage of regional and global demand for this commodity to improve the outlook for this sector moving forward.

April 12, 2021


Working Paper 57: Agricultural commercialisation and the political economy of value chains: Tanzania rice case study


Written by Ntengua S.Y. Mdoe and Glead I. Mlay This paper presents the political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania. It is based on a review of trade policies, regulations, strategies, and programmes implemented since the 1960s to promote rice commercialisation, and the views of key informants. Key findings that emerge from the review of… Read more »

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March 31, 2021


Page 1 of 8

Use these filters to specify your search

  • Select one ore more countries

  • Submit query

Found 396 Results
Page 1 of 8

Does livestock enhance or reduce crop commercialisation? A case of Singida in Central Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in Singida Region in Tanzania, contributing to household income, and reducing poverty in the region. The use of ox-plough to perform farm operations, such as ploughing, and the application of livestock manure are just some ways in which livestock can enhance crop commercialisation. However, livestock production can also reduce the need to expand crop production if livestock earns a farmer higher income, hence inhibiting crop commercialisation in mixed crop-livestock farming systems. This blog explains the differences in commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories, as found in APRA Working Paper 65.

September 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 66: Yield and Commercialisation Effects of SRI Interventions in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania


This paper discusses System of Rice Intensification (SRI) interventions and its potential effects on paddy yield and commercialisation in Mngeta division, Kilombero district in Morogoro region, Tanzania. SRI is an innovative agroecological methodology that aims to improve yields and farmers’ profits by creating the most suitable environment for the rice plant to grow. It comprises the precise set of cultivation practices specifically required for careful management of biophysical needs of the rice plant for producing high yields. To assess the effects, we compare between trained and non-trained farmers, as well as between farmers who are members of SRI associations and non-SRI members, on aspects of adoption of SRI interventions, paddy productivity and yields. In turn, the effects of SRI is evaluated in terms of its influence on rice yield per hectare and commercialisation at household level.

Tags: ,

September 21, 2021


APRA Working Paper 65: Livestock, Crop Commercialisation and Poverty Reduction Among Rural Households in the Singida Region, Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in the Singida Region in Tanzania, directly or indirectly contributing to household income, food security and poverty reduction among rural people in the region. This paper examined the effect of livestock on crop commercialisation and farmers’ livelihoods in the region. The complementarity between crops and livestock in the farming systems of Singida needs to be recognised, enhanced and utilised not only by farmers and livestock keepers, but also by local government authorities and development practitioners.

Tags: ,


Challenging simplistic land degradation and restoration narratives in Zimbabwe


In the last blog, I reviewed the results of our land use analysis using a combination of Landsat satellite imagery, document/archival analysis and field interviews from Mvurwi area in northern Zimbabwe from 1984 to 2018, now out as APRA Working Paper 48. There are some important wider implications that emerge from such an analysis that gets to grips with longitudinal environmental and land use change and its intersecting drivers. In this blog, I identify four themes.

September 20, 2021


APRA features at the Second Scientific Conference held at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania


The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) participated in a scientific conference at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania from 24th May–27th May 2021. Themed ‘Agricultural Technologies, Productivity and Market Competitiveness in Tanzania: Towards an Upper-Middle Income Economy’, the conference provided a platform for scholars to interact and exchange knowledge on the application of science, innovation, and technology in the country’s socio-economic transformation. This blog highlights APRA Tanzania researchers’ contributions to the conference.

September 16, 2021


Dynamic drivers of land use change in Zimbabwe


What are the drivers of land use change and how do they interact over time? Are the changes, uni-directional and linear, or are the dynamics more complex? This is the question we posed for our study site in Mvurwi in northern Zimbabwe for the period 1984 to 2018, now published in APRA Working Paper 48. This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland.

September 13, 2021


Influence of rice commercialisation on poverty reduction levels in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


The commercialisation of smallholder agriculture has been considered a key strategy for sustainably reducing poverty and achieving equitable growth across many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, linking farmers to markets is pursued as an important strategy towards commercialisation and agricultural transformation under the National Development Programme and current Five-year Development Plan for the period 2016 – 2021 and the national vision up to 2025. This blog examines changes in rice commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories that have occurred between 2017 and 2019, as presented in APRA Working Paper 63, based on the findings from Mngeta division, Kilombero Valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, where rice is the most important food and cash crop.

September 9, 2021


APRA Working Paper 63: Rice Commercialisation Effects in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania: Identifying the Underlying Factors


Rice production is the most dominant farming system in Kilombero valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, accounting for more than 80 per cent of cultivated land within the valley. This paper examines changes in rice commercialisation and livelihood outcomes for different categories of farmers in the Mngeta division, Kilombero District, Tanzania. Understanding the underlying factors of agricultural commercialisation enables policymakers to ensure that policy interventions promote inclusive and equitable involvement of all farmers and other value chain actors, especially women and youths, who have been excluded from most development initiatives in the past.

Tags: ,

September 7, 2021


Worker-peasants and peasant-workers: new labour regimes in rural Zimbabwe


Much academic debate about rural farm labour has focused on the idea of linear transitions in labour regimes through processes of agricultural commercialisation. This sees farmworkers as either moving towards a class of wage-labour, profiting from modernising, efficient, large-scale agricultural commercialisation, or into subsistence, peasant-based family farming. Yet data discussed in a new open access paper just out in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies shows that neither of these simple transitions is happening.

September 6, 2021


Are smallholder farms or medium-scale farms more productive in Nigeria?


In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), support for smallholder-led agricultural strategy has been motivated by the stylised fact that smallholder farmers are more productive. This stylised fact is known as inverse relationship (IR) between farm size and productivity, which has been widely observed in developing countries around the world. Broadly, the IR suggests that smaller farms are more productive than larger farms. However, documented evidence of IR in SSA is largely limited to farms operating 5ha or less. This blog looks to a recent study of a greater range of farm sizes in Nigeria to better understand the reality of productivity as it relates to farm size.

September 2, 2021


Ghana’s agricultural commercialisation and food security: An analysis of smallholder farmers across gender and geography


Photo credit: Charles Nyaaba of the Peasant Farmers Association A recent study by Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Ghana researchers addresses the question: under what conditions, and at what scale, does smallholder agricultural commercialisation promote or hinder food security? The study presents an analysis of how gender and spatial inequalities in resource control determine… Read more »

Tags: ,

September 1, 2021


Does sunflower commercialisation empower women in Singida, Tanzania?


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 59, which investigates the influence of sunflower commercialisation and diversity on women empowerment in Singida region, Tanzania. This study assesses the assumption that women engagement along Tanzania’s sunflower value chain empowers them socially, economically, and politically, and its contribution to their sense of individuality, self-respect, and confidence.

August 26, 2021


Rice commercialisation, agrarian change and livelihood trajectories: Transformations on the Fogera Plain of Ethiopia


This blog summarises APRA Working Paper 61, which explores the commercialisation of rice in Ethiopia since its introduction in the early 1970s. This process has evidenced wider agrarian changes that have contributed to the emergence and development of diverse livelihood options. The paper presents the role of increased rice commercialisation for the observed agrarian changes and the livelihood trajectories, based on both primary and secondary data sources generated from the Fogera plain.

August 23, 2021


The politics of mechanisation in Zimbabwe: tractors, accumulation and agrarian change


This article explores whether mechanisation affects patterns of accumulation and differentiation in Zimbabwe’s post land reform where policy consistently disadvantages smallholders. Is the latest mechanisation wave any different? The article considers dynamics of tractor access and accumulation trajectories across and within land use types in Mvurwi area. Larger, richer and well-connected farmers draw on patronage networks to access tractors and accumulate further. Some small to medium-scale farmers generate surpluses and invest in tractors or pay for services. Thus, accumulation from above and below feeds social differentiation. Tractor access remains constrained yet mechanisation is only part of the wider post-2000 story.

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August 16, 2021


Agricultural commercialisation and changing labour regimes in Zimbabwe


Written by: Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba This paper explores the emerging labour regimes and the consequences for agricultural commercialisation across multiple land-use types in post land reform Zimbabwe. The livelihoods of farmworkers, including those still resident in former labour compounds, are explored. The paper examines patterns of employment, land access, crop farming,… Read more »

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End of the road? The future of smallholder farmers in Malawi


This paper reflects on the findings of APRA Working Paper 56 and APRA Working Paper 58 to understand the reality of smallholder farming in Malawi, and what the future can be expected to hold for individuals involved in this sector. Further, the authors assess why the current outlook of smallholder farming is as it is, and seeks to understand the policy landscape that could carve a space for small-scale farmers in Malawi’s agricultural future.


Why it is expensive to produce cocoa in Ghana, a former global leader? APRA Ghana share findings


Cocoa producers in Ghana incur high production costs, but obtain low yields and receive less income. This hampers the country’s cocoa commercialisation efforts, hence requiring adoption of high yielding varieties and innovative financing options and investments in labour and inputs. These were the findings of a study carried out by APRA and the University of Ghana on agricultural commercialisation in Ghana’s cocoa sector. These findings were discussed in a dissemination workshop held on Wednesday July 28, 2021, in Ghana’s Suhum area.

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August 10, 2021


COVID-19 spreads to rural Zimbabwe


The third COVID-19 wave has firmly arrived in Zimbabwe’s rural areas. This is no longer the ‘rich person’s disease’ of those based in town. The number of cases and sadly deaths has surged across our rural study areas in the last month. This is a picture reflected across the country and indeed the region, with large increases since our last report.

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August 9, 2021


Positioning Tanzania in the regional market for rice: Lessons from the East Africa Rice Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In this blog, the fifth in our series on these national workshops, we reflect on the Tanzanian event.

August 5, 2021


Environmental impacts of commercial rice production in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


In Kilombero Valley, Tanzania, rice is increasingly becoming a commercial crop. However, although research findings show that commercial rice production is beneficial, it is also associated with increasing use of modern implements, such as tractors, and use of agrochemicals, such as herbicides. This blog, based on APRA Working Papers 30 and 37, highlights the potential environmental impacts of rice commercialisation in the region, and recommends actions that could be taken to mitigate these impacts.

August 2, 2021


Responses of Rice Farmers Engaged in Vegetable Production: Implications of the Collapse of Vegetable Prices in the Fogera Plain


Written by: Dawit Alemu and Tirhas Kinfe Since the early 1980s, the Fogera Plain has been one of Ethiopia’s major rice production areas. The introduction of rice, its commercialisation and the subsequent increased surplus production has led to the ability of smallholder rice farmers to intensify their production through diverse investments, mainly in supplementary irrigation.… Read more »

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July 27, 2021


The political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 60, investigating the political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria. This study focused on how the political economy dynamics can contribute to understanding the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation in the country, and the government’s role in enhancing this process.

July 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 60: The Political Economy of the Maize Value Chain in Nigeria


Written by, Paul Amaza, Sunday Mailumo, Asenath Silong The aim of this case study is to understand the underlying political economy dynamics of the maize value chain in Nigeria, with a focus on how this can contribute to comprehending the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation. The study is informed by theories of political settlements,… Read more »

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July 15, 2021


Working Paper 59: The Influence of Sunflower Commercialisation and Diversity on Women’s Empowerment: The Case of Iramba and Mkalama Districts, Singida Region


There is a growing body of literature that argues that normally women derive little benefit from cash crops. Some of the barriers leading to women having less benefit from cash crop value chains include cultural norms and power differences in access to, and control over, resources among actors in value chains. It is also argued that women’s participation in different forms of collective action help women to increase benefits to them through their increased agency, hence enabling them to utilise existing and diverse options for their empowerment. This paper explores how women have benefited from their engagement in sunflower commercialisation and how culture has influenced changes in access to, and control over, resources, including land, for their empowerment.

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July 14, 2021


Zimbabwe faces a COVID-19 surge: what is happening in the rural areas?


Vaccination drive at Hippo Valley sugar estate This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The increase in COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe has been significant in the weeks since our last blog. This has been matched by an increase in recorded deaths. The government has responded with a new ‘level 4’ lockdown, imposing a curfew, restricting… Read more »

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July 12, 2021


Inclusive and sustainable rice system to transform Kenya’s food system: Lessons from the East African Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In the second blog of our series exploring the outcomes of each of these national workshops, we turn our attention to Kenya.

July 6, 2021


How is ‘China’ helping to transform ‘Africa’? The need for a more sophisticated debate


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland How is China helping to transform African economies? There are many different narratives cast around in public and policy debate: China as the new imperial power, China as the radical developmentalist, China as just like any other donor/foreign power. None are very convincing. A report synthesising… Read more »

July 1, 2021


Social issues impacting household food security in the epoch of COVID-19


Written by: Loveness Msofi Mgalamadzi The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives and livelihoods around the world, and Malawi is no exception. This blog explores the social and food security issues arising from the implementation of COVID-19 preventive measures at household level in the country. Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented impacts that have… Read more »

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June 28, 2021


Gender and social differentiation in the context of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 58, observing agricultural commercialisation in Malawi and how it differs among various gender and social groups. This study found that female-headed and poorer households are at a disadvantage compared to their male-headed and wealthier counterparts due to differential access to resources and control over decision-making. The following blog provides a deeper look into this reality, and assesses the impact of gender and wealth on several aspects of commercialisation.

June 21, 2021


Journal Article: Medium-scale commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe: the experience of A2 resettlement farms


Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba. 2021. The emergence of medium-scale farms is having important consequences for agricultural commercialisation across Africa. This article examines the role of medium-scale A2 farms allocated following Zimbabwe’s land reform after 2000. While the existing literature focuses on changing farm size distributions, this article investigates processes of social differentiation… Read more »

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June 15, 2021


COVID-19 and economic transformation in rural Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 situation looks uncertain, with localised outbreaks and a rise in infections south of the Limpopo in South Africa. On June 11 there were 191 new cases (including 82 that were reported late) and 3 deaths reported, making a cumulative total of 39,688 cases and… Read more »

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June 14, 2021


Key messages and required actions for Ethiopian rice sector development: Outcomes of a national rice conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. This blog explores the outcomes of Ethiopia’s national workshop, which was held in parallel in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar.

EARC 2021 participants at the International Livestock Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

June 10, 2021


How land reform transformed small towns in Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Our recent paper – small towns and land reform in Zimbabwe – out in the European Journal of Development Research (open access) – explores some of the themes discussed last time for the Zimbabwe setting. Over a number of years, we have been monitoring changes in three small towns in… Read more »

June 7, 2021


Small towns and agricultural development in Africa


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The most recent Africa Agriculture Status Report from AGRA, ‘Feeding Africa’s Cities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Policies for Linking African Farmers with Growing Urban Food Markets’ and led by MSU’s Steve Haggblade, makes the important link between the future of African urban areas and agricultural development. On a… Read more »

May 26, 2021


Disseminating science amid COVID-19 restrictions: lessons from Ghana


The findings of a recent APRA Ghana research project were shared with a range of stakeholders at a dissemination event on Wednesday, 17 March 2021 in Takoradi, Ghana. This workshop included a discussion of the team’s research and the implications of these findings. The outcome of discussions will be incorporated into subsequent analyses and reports on the APRA project, and contribute to informing policy and practices related to rural development, empowerment of women and girls, and food and nutrition security. This will ensure that this research is used to inform effective and relevant policy.

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May 24, 2021


Working Paper 58: Understanding Gender and Social Differentiation in the Context of Agricultural Commercialisation and Implications for Livelihoods in Rural Malawi


Written by, Loveness M. Mgalamadzi, Mirriam Matita, Masautso Chimombo, Blessings Chinsinga, Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa, Stevier Kaiyatsa and Jacob Mazalale Agricultural commercialisation is widely recognised as a catalyst to economic growth and development in low and middle-income countries. This study investigates gender and social differences in agricultural commercialisation in rural Malawi. Specifically, the paper analyses different… Read more »

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May 20, 2021


Rural livelihoods in the pandemic: notes from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Half a million people have now been vaccinated in Zimbabwe, but this is still only 3.5% of the population. The Chinese Sinopharm vaccine has now been fully approved by the WHO for emergency use and Zimbabwe’s vaccination drive is in full swing. Even tourists from South Africa are taking advantage… Read more »

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At the mercy of politics? The groundnut value chain in Malawi


This blog highlights the findings of APRA Working Paper 56, observing the groundnut value chain in Malawi in both historical and contemporary perspectives through qualitative tools of inquiry. This study found that this value chain has experienced notable recovery in terms of productivity, but remains primarily informal and struggles to re-enter the lucrative formal global export markets. The following blog explores why this is the case, as well as examining the socio-economic importance of this crop and what can be done to support it in reaching its full potential moving forward.

May 17, 2021


Political economy of agricultural input subsidies in Tanzania: Who benefitted from the National Input Voucher Scheme?


This blog explores the programmes implemented in Tanzania to promote rice commercialisation since the country’s independence in 1961, as found in the course of a recent APRA study for Working Paper 57, as well as their impact on different socio-economic groups. Specifically, this blog is about agricultural input subsidy programmes implemented since 1967 to support smallholder farmers as part of the ujamaa (“socialism”) model of economic development. It focuses on the National Input Voucher Scheme (NAIVS), the biggest agricultural input subsidy programme implemented in Tanzania.

May 13, 2021


Beyond the silver bullet solution: towards a ‘systems agronomy’ perspective


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The previous two blogs (here and here) have discussed the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme that has become a high-profile, politicised intervention during the last season. In a very wet year, the results have been interesting. Yields have been good on the small plots, but many problems have been… Read more »

May 10, 2021


APRA Ghana presents research findings in a dissemination workshop


Key findings emerging from APRA’s research in Ghana were presented to representatives of oil palm farmers and oil palm processing companies, agricultural extension officers, district and regional directors of agriculture, and the media at a workshop on 17 March 2021 at the Takoradi Library & Office Complex.

May 6, 2021


Conservation agriculture: latest experiences from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland In the last blog, I introduced the Pfumvudza programme in Zimbabwe, a version of conservation agriculture that has been heavily promoted across the country during the last season. In this blog, I look at what happened, based on reflections from our field sites across the country – from… Read more »

May 4, 2021


APRA Research Note: The Covid-19 Pandemic and Household Rice Consumption Patterns in Ethiopia: The Case of Addis Ababa


Written by, Dawit Alemu and Gashaw T. Abate. The outbreak of COVID-19 also resulted in moderate changes to the operation of the domestic rice value chain in Ethiopia. These were caused by changing responses of value chain actors (domestic and others engaged in rice imports) to the COVID-19 prevention measures put in place by the… Read more »

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April 30, 2021


Political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania: Socioeconomic impact of trade policies, strategies and programmes


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 57, as the authors discuss the policies, strategies and programmes implemented since Tanzania’s independence in 1961 to promote rice commercialisation and reduce poverty and food insecurity among smallholder rice farmers, and their impact on different socio-economic groups based on findings from literature review and key informant interviews.

April 29, 2021


The political economy of cocoa value chain in Ghana


This blog presents the findings of APRA Working Paper 53, which adopted the political settlement framework to analyse the political economy dynamics of Ghana’s cocoa value chain. Researchers Joseph Kofi Teye and Ebenezer Nikoi discuss these findings, which indicate that policies implemented in this value chain have gone through several shifts in relation to changing agrarian political economy and distribution of power among interest groups, and highlight the steps that can be taken to harness the cocoa sector’s potential to contribute to economic development in Ghana.

April 26, 2021


The need for rice sector modernisation: a key outcome of the Ethiopian National Rice Platform Meeting


The 2021 Annual National Rice stakeholders’ platform meeting, hosted by the National Rice Secretariat at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), was held on 19 April in both Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar, concurrently.

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April 22, 2021


Can the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme deliver food security in Zimbabwe?


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. It looks like it’s going to be a good harvest this year in Zimbabwe. Early crop assessments suggest that there will be a bumper crop of maize, perhaps the highest since the early 1980s at 2.8 million tonnes, planted across 1.9 million hectares. The season saw heavy rains throughout the… Read more »


COVID-19 and the disappearing tobacco in Zimbabwe: Makoronyera and the new value chains


In this blog summarising APRA Working Paper 55, Toendepi Shonhe discusses the growing prevalence of informal tobacco aggregators, their impact on farmers’ wealth accumulation potential and the changes in this value chain since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shonhe also assesses how Zimbabwe’s government can address the challenges in the chain.

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April 20, 2021


The Policy Context of the Oil Palm Sector’s Underperformance in Ghana


In this blog summarising his research in the newly published APRA Working Paper 54, APRA researcher Kofi Takyi Asante highlights both the historical importance and the future potential of the oil palm industry in Ghana. He outlines the findings from the paper, explains the political and societal factors that have prevented this value chain from reaching its full potential in the past, and provides insight on how the Ghanaian government can engage stakeholders and take advantage of regional and global demand for this commodity to improve the outlook for this sector moving forward.

April 12, 2021


Working Paper 57: Agricultural commercialisation and the political economy of value chains: Tanzania rice case study


Written by Ntengua S.Y. Mdoe and Glead I. Mlay This paper presents the political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania. It is based on a review of trade policies, regulations, strategies, and programmes implemented since the 1960s to promote rice commercialisation, and the views of key informants. Key findings that emerge from the review of… Read more »

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March 31, 2021


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Does livestock enhance or reduce crop commercialisation? A case of Singida in Central Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in Singida Region in Tanzania, contributing to household income, and reducing poverty in the region. The use of ox-plough to perform farm operations, such as ploughing, and the application of livestock manure are just some ways in which livestock can enhance crop commercialisation. However, livestock production can also reduce the need to expand crop production if livestock earns a farmer higher income, hence inhibiting crop commercialisation in mixed crop-livestock farming systems. This blog explains the differences in commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories, as found in APRA Working Paper 65.

September 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 66: Yield and Commercialisation Effects of SRI Interventions in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania


This paper discusses System of Rice Intensification (SRI) interventions and its potential effects on paddy yield and commercialisation in Mngeta division, Kilombero district in Morogoro region, Tanzania. SRI is an innovative agroecological methodology that aims to improve yields and farmers’ profits by creating the most suitable environment for the rice plant to grow. It comprises the precise set of cultivation practices specifically required for careful management of biophysical needs of the rice plant for producing high yields. To assess the effects, we compare between trained and non-trained farmers, as well as between farmers who are members of SRI associations and non-SRI members, on aspects of adoption of SRI interventions, paddy productivity and yields. In turn, the effects of SRI is evaluated in terms of its influence on rice yield per hectare and commercialisation at household level.

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September 21, 2021


APRA Working Paper 65: Livestock, Crop Commercialisation and Poverty Reduction Among Rural Households in the Singida Region, Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in the Singida Region in Tanzania, directly or indirectly contributing to household income, food security and poverty reduction among rural people in the region. This paper examined the effect of livestock on crop commercialisation and farmers’ livelihoods in the region. The complementarity between crops and livestock in the farming systems of Singida needs to be recognised, enhanced and utilised not only by farmers and livestock keepers, but also by local government authorities and development practitioners.

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Challenging simplistic land degradation and restoration narratives in Zimbabwe


In the last blog, I reviewed the results of our land use analysis using a combination of Landsat satellite imagery, document/archival analysis and field interviews from Mvurwi area in northern Zimbabwe from 1984 to 2018, now out as APRA Working Paper 48. There are some important wider implications that emerge from such an analysis that gets to grips with longitudinal environmental and land use change and its intersecting drivers. In this blog, I identify four themes.

September 20, 2021


APRA features at the Second Scientific Conference held at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania


The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) participated in a scientific conference at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania from 24th May–27th May 2021. Themed ‘Agricultural Technologies, Productivity and Market Competitiveness in Tanzania: Towards an Upper-Middle Income Economy’, the conference provided a platform for scholars to interact and exchange knowledge on the application of science, innovation, and technology in the country’s socio-economic transformation. This blog highlights APRA Tanzania researchers’ contributions to the conference.

September 16, 2021


Dynamic drivers of land use change in Zimbabwe


What are the drivers of land use change and how do they interact over time? Are the changes, uni-directional and linear, or are the dynamics more complex? This is the question we posed for our study site in Mvurwi in northern Zimbabwe for the period 1984 to 2018, now published in APRA Working Paper 48. This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland.

September 13, 2021


Influence of rice commercialisation on poverty reduction levels in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


The commercialisation of smallholder agriculture has been considered a key strategy for sustainably reducing poverty and achieving equitable growth across many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, linking farmers to markets is pursued as an important strategy towards commercialisation and agricultural transformation under the National Development Programme and current Five-year Development Plan for the period 2016 – 2021 and the national vision up to 2025. This blog examines changes in rice commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories that have occurred between 2017 and 2019, as presented in APRA Working Paper 63, based on the findings from Mngeta division, Kilombero Valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, where rice is the most important food and cash crop.

September 9, 2021


APRA Working Paper 63: Rice Commercialisation Effects in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania: Identifying the Underlying Factors


Rice production is the most dominant farming system in Kilombero valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, accounting for more than 80 per cent of cultivated land within the valley. This paper examines changes in rice commercialisation and livelihood outcomes for different categories of farmers in the Mngeta division, Kilombero District, Tanzania. Understanding the underlying factors of agricultural commercialisation enables policymakers to ensure that policy interventions promote inclusive and equitable involvement of all farmers and other value chain actors, especially women and youths, who have been excluded from most development initiatives in the past.

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September 7, 2021


Worker-peasants and peasant-workers: new labour regimes in rural Zimbabwe


Much academic debate about rural farm labour has focused on the idea of linear transitions in labour regimes through processes of agricultural commercialisation. This sees farmworkers as either moving towards a class of wage-labour, profiting from modernising, efficient, large-scale agricultural commercialisation, or into subsistence, peasant-based family farming. Yet data discussed in a new open access paper just out in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies shows that neither of these simple transitions is happening.

September 6, 2021


Are smallholder farms or medium-scale farms more productive in Nigeria?


In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), support for smallholder-led agricultural strategy has been motivated by the stylised fact that smallholder farmers are more productive. This stylised fact is known as inverse relationship (IR) between farm size and productivity, which has been widely observed in developing countries around the world. Broadly, the IR suggests that smaller farms are more productive than larger farms. However, documented evidence of IR in SSA is largely limited to farms operating 5ha or less. This blog looks to a recent study of a greater range of farm sizes in Nigeria to better understand the reality of productivity as it relates to farm size.

September 2, 2021


Ghana’s agricultural commercialisation and food security: An analysis of smallholder farmers across gender and geography


Photo credit: Charles Nyaaba of the Peasant Farmers Association A recent study by Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Ghana researchers addresses the question: under what conditions, and at what scale, does smallholder agricultural commercialisation promote or hinder food security? The study presents an analysis of how gender and spatial inequalities in resource control determine… Read more »

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September 1, 2021


Does sunflower commercialisation empower women in Singida, Tanzania?


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 59, which investigates the influence of sunflower commercialisation and diversity on women empowerment in Singida region, Tanzania. This study assesses the assumption that women engagement along Tanzania’s sunflower value chain empowers them socially, economically, and politically, and its contribution to their sense of individuality, self-respect, and confidence.

August 26, 2021


Rice commercialisation, agrarian change and livelihood trajectories: Transformations on the Fogera Plain of Ethiopia


This blog summarises APRA Working Paper 61, which explores the commercialisation of rice in Ethiopia since its introduction in the early 1970s. This process has evidenced wider agrarian changes that have contributed to the emergence and development of diverse livelihood options. The paper presents the role of increased rice commercialisation for the observed agrarian changes and the livelihood trajectories, based on both primary and secondary data sources generated from the Fogera plain.

August 23, 2021


The politics of mechanisation in Zimbabwe: tractors, accumulation and agrarian change


This article explores whether mechanisation affects patterns of accumulation and differentiation in Zimbabwe’s post land reform where policy consistently disadvantages smallholders. Is the latest mechanisation wave any different? The article considers dynamics of tractor access and accumulation trajectories across and within land use types in Mvurwi area. Larger, richer and well-connected farmers draw on patronage networks to access tractors and accumulate further. Some small to medium-scale farmers generate surpluses and invest in tractors or pay for services. Thus, accumulation from above and below feeds social differentiation. Tractor access remains constrained yet mechanisation is only part of the wider post-2000 story.

Tags:

August 16, 2021


Agricultural commercialisation and changing labour regimes in Zimbabwe


Written by: Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba This paper explores the emerging labour regimes and the consequences for agricultural commercialisation across multiple land-use types in post land reform Zimbabwe. The livelihoods of farmworkers, including those still resident in former labour compounds, are explored. The paper examines patterns of employment, land access, crop farming,… Read more »

Tags:


End of the road? The future of smallholder farmers in Malawi


This paper reflects on the findings of APRA Working Paper 56 and APRA Working Paper 58 to understand the reality of smallholder farming in Malawi, and what the future can be expected to hold for individuals involved in this sector. Further, the authors assess why the current outlook of smallholder farming is as it is, and seeks to understand the policy landscape that could carve a space for small-scale farmers in Malawi’s agricultural future.


Why it is expensive to produce cocoa in Ghana, a former global leader? APRA Ghana share findings


Cocoa producers in Ghana incur high production costs, but obtain low yields and receive less income. This hampers the country’s cocoa commercialisation efforts, hence requiring adoption of high yielding varieties and innovative financing options and investments in labour and inputs. These were the findings of a study carried out by APRA and the University of Ghana on agricultural commercialisation in Ghana’s cocoa sector. These findings were discussed in a dissemination workshop held on Wednesday July 28, 2021, in Ghana’s Suhum area.

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August 10, 2021


COVID-19 spreads to rural Zimbabwe


The third COVID-19 wave has firmly arrived in Zimbabwe’s rural areas. This is no longer the ‘rich person’s disease’ of those based in town. The number of cases and sadly deaths has surged across our rural study areas in the last month. This is a picture reflected across the country and indeed the region, with large increases since our last report.

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August 9, 2021


Positioning Tanzania in the regional market for rice: Lessons from the East Africa Rice Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In this blog, the fifth in our series on these national workshops, we reflect on the Tanzanian event.

August 5, 2021


Environmental impacts of commercial rice production in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


In Kilombero Valley, Tanzania, rice is increasingly becoming a commercial crop. However, although research findings show that commercial rice production is beneficial, it is also associated with increasing use of modern implements, such as tractors, and use of agrochemicals, such as herbicides. This blog, based on APRA Working Papers 30 and 37, highlights the potential environmental impacts of rice commercialisation in the region, and recommends actions that could be taken to mitigate these impacts.

August 2, 2021


Responses of Rice Farmers Engaged in Vegetable Production: Implications of the Collapse of Vegetable Prices in the Fogera Plain


Written by: Dawit Alemu and Tirhas Kinfe Since the early 1980s, the Fogera Plain has been one of Ethiopia’s major rice production areas. The introduction of rice, its commercialisation and the subsequent increased surplus production has led to the ability of smallholder rice farmers to intensify their production through diverse investments, mainly in supplementary irrigation.… Read more »

Tags: ,

July 27, 2021


The political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 60, investigating the political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria. This study focused on how the political economy dynamics can contribute to understanding the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation in the country, and the government’s role in enhancing this process.

July 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 60: The Political Economy of the Maize Value Chain in Nigeria


Written by, Paul Amaza, Sunday Mailumo, Asenath Silong The aim of this case study is to understand the underlying political economy dynamics of the maize value chain in Nigeria, with a focus on how this can contribute to comprehending the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation. The study is informed by theories of political settlements,… Read more »

Tags: ,

July 15, 2021


Working Paper 59: The Influence of Sunflower Commercialisation and Diversity on Women’s Empowerment: The Case of Iramba and Mkalama Districts, Singida Region


There is a growing body of literature that argues that normally women derive little benefit from cash crops. Some of the barriers leading to women having less benefit from cash crop value chains include cultural norms and power differences in access to, and control over, resources among actors in value chains. It is also argued that women’s participation in different forms of collective action help women to increase benefits to them through their increased agency, hence enabling them to utilise existing and diverse options for their empowerment. This paper explores how women have benefited from their engagement in sunflower commercialisation and how culture has influenced changes in access to, and control over, resources, including land, for their empowerment.

Tags: ,

July 14, 2021


Zimbabwe faces a COVID-19 surge: what is happening in the rural areas?


Vaccination drive at Hippo Valley sugar estate This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The increase in COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe has been significant in the weeks since our last blog. This has been matched by an increase in recorded deaths. The government has responded with a new ‘level 4’ lockdown, imposing a curfew, restricting… Read more »

Tags:

July 12, 2021


Inclusive and sustainable rice system to transform Kenya’s food system: Lessons from the East African Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In the second blog of our series exploring the outcomes of each of these national workshops, we turn our attention to Kenya.

July 6, 2021


How is ‘China’ helping to transform ‘Africa’? The need for a more sophisticated debate


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland How is China helping to transform African economies? There are many different narratives cast around in public and policy debate: China as the new imperial power, China as the radical developmentalist, China as just like any other donor/foreign power. None are very convincing. A report synthesising… Read more »

July 1, 2021


Social issues impacting household food security in the epoch of COVID-19


Written by: Loveness Msofi Mgalamadzi The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives and livelihoods around the world, and Malawi is no exception. This blog explores the social and food security issues arising from the implementation of COVID-19 preventive measures at household level in the country. Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented impacts that have… Read more »

Tags:

June 28, 2021


Gender and social differentiation in the context of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 58, observing agricultural commercialisation in Malawi and how it differs among various gender and social groups. This study found that female-headed and poorer households are at a disadvantage compared to their male-headed and wealthier counterparts due to differential access to resources and control over decision-making. The following blog provides a deeper look into this reality, and assesses the impact of gender and wealth on several aspects of commercialisation.

June 21, 2021


Journal Article: Medium-scale commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe: the experience of A2 resettlement farms


Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba. 2021. The emergence of medium-scale farms is having important consequences for agricultural commercialisation across Africa. This article examines the role of medium-scale A2 farms allocated following Zimbabwe’s land reform after 2000. While the existing literature focuses on changing farm size distributions, this article investigates processes of social differentiation… Read more »

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June 15, 2021


COVID-19 and economic transformation in rural Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 situation looks uncertain, with localised outbreaks and a rise in infections south of the Limpopo in South Africa. On June 11 there were 191 new cases (including 82 that were reported late) and 3 deaths reported, making a cumulative total of 39,688 cases and… Read more »

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June 14, 2021


Key messages and required actions for Ethiopian rice sector development: Outcomes of a national rice conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. This blog explores the outcomes of Ethiopia’s national workshop, which was held in parallel in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar.

EARC 2021 participants at the International Livestock Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

June 10, 2021


How land reform transformed small towns in Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Our recent paper – small towns and land reform in Zimbabwe – out in the European Journal of Development Research (open access) – explores some of the themes discussed last time for the Zimbabwe setting. Over a number of years, we have been monitoring changes in three small towns in… Read more »

June 7, 2021


Small towns and agricultural development in Africa


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The most recent Africa Agriculture Status Report from AGRA, ‘Feeding Africa’s Cities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Policies for Linking African Farmers with Growing Urban Food Markets’ and led by MSU’s Steve Haggblade, makes the important link between the future of African urban areas and agricultural development. On a… Read more »

May 26, 2021


Disseminating science amid COVID-19 restrictions: lessons from Ghana


The findings of a recent APRA Ghana research project were shared with a range of stakeholders at a dissemination event on Wednesday, 17 March 2021 in Takoradi, Ghana. This workshop included a discussion of the team’s research and the implications of these findings. The outcome of discussions will be incorporated into subsequent analyses and reports on the APRA project, and contribute to informing policy and practices related to rural development, empowerment of women and girls, and food and nutrition security. This will ensure that this research is used to inform effective and relevant policy.

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May 24, 2021


Working Paper 58: Understanding Gender and Social Differentiation in the Context of Agricultural Commercialisation and Implications for Livelihoods in Rural Malawi


Written by, Loveness M. Mgalamadzi, Mirriam Matita, Masautso Chimombo, Blessings Chinsinga, Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa, Stevier Kaiyatsa and Jacob Mazalale Agricultural commercialisation is widely recognised as a catalyst to economic growth and development in low and middle-income countries. This study investigates gender and social differences in agricultural commercialisation in rural Malawi. Specifically, the paper analyses different… Read more »

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May 20, 2021


Rural livelihoods in the pandemic: notes from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Half a million people have now been vaccinated in Zimbabwe, but this is still only 3.5% of the population. The Chinese Sinopharm vaccine has now been fully approved by the WHO for emergency use and Zimbabwe’s vaccination drive is in full swing. Even tourists from South Africa are taking advantage… Read more »

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At the mercy of politics? The groundnut value chain in Malawi


This blog highlights the findings of APRA Working Paper 56, observing the groundnut value chain in Malawi in both historical and contemporary perspectives through qualitative tools of inquiry. This study found that this value chain has experienced notable recovery in terms of productivity, but remains primarily informal and struggles to re-enter the lucrative formal global export markets. The following blog explores why this is the case, as well as examining the socio-economic importance of this crop and what can be done to support it in reaching its full potential moving forward.

May 17, 2021


Political economy of agricultural input subsidies in Tanzania: Who benefitted from the National Input Voucher Scheme?


This blog explores the programmes implemented in Tanzania to promote rice commercialisation since the country’s independence in 1961, as found in the course of a recent APRA study for Working Paper 57, as well as their impact on different socio-economic groups. Specifically, this blog is about agricultural input subsidy programmes implemented since 1967 to support smallholder farmers as part of the ujamaa (“socialism”) model of economic development. It focuses on the National Input Voucher Scheme (NAIVS), the biggest agricultural input subsidy programme implemented in Tanzania.

May 13, 2021


Beyond the silver bullet solution: towards a ‘systems agronomy’ perspective


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The previous two blogs (here and here) have discussed the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme that has become a high-profile, politicised intervention during the last season. In a very wet year, the results have been interesting. Yields have been good on the small plots, but many problems have been… Read more »

May 10, 2021


APRA Ghana presents research findings in a dissemination workshop


Key findings emerging from APRA’s research in Ghana were presented to representatives of oil palm farmers and oil palm processing companies, agricultural extension officers, district and regional directors of agriculture, and the media at a workshop on 17 March 2021 at the Takoradi Library & Office Complex.

May 6, 2021


Conservation agriculture: latest experiences from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland In the last blog, I introduced the Pfumvudza programme in Zimbabwe, a version of conservation agriculture that has been heavily promoted across the country during the last season. In this blog, I look at what happened, based on reflections from our field sites across the country – from… Read more »

May 4, 2021


APRA Research Note: The Covid-19 Pandemic and Household Rice Consumption Patterns in Ethiopia: The Case of Addis Ababa


Written by, Dawit Alemu and Gashaw T. Abate. The outbreak of COVID-19 also resulted in moderate changes to the operation of the domestic rice value chain in Ethiopia. These were caused by changing responses of value chain actors (domestic and others engaged in rice imports) to the COVID-19 prevention measures put in place by the… Read more »

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April 30, 2021


Political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania: Socioeconomic impact of trade policies, strategies and programmes


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 57, as the authors discuss the policies, strategies and programmes implemented since Tanzania’s independence in 1961 to promote rice commercialisation and reduce poverty and food insecurity among smallholder rice farmers, and their impact on different socio-economic groups based on findings from literature review and key informant interviews.

April 29, 2021


The political economy of cocoa value chain in Ghana


This blog presents the findings of APRA Working Paper 53, which adopted the political settlement framework to analyse the political economy dynamics of Ghana’s cocoa value chain. Researchers Joseph Kofi Teye and Ebenezer Nikoi discuss these findings, which indicate that policies implemented in this value chain have gone through several shifts in relation to changing agrarian political economy and distribution of power among interest groups, and highlight the steps that can be taken to harness the cocoa sector’s potential to contribute to economic development in Ghana.

April 26, 2021


The need for rice sector modernisation: a key outcome of the Ethiopian National Rice Platform Meeting


The 2021 Annual National Rice stakeholders’ platform meeting, hosted by the National Rice Secretariat at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), was held on 19 April in both Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar, concurrently.

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April 22, 2021


Can the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme deliver food security in Zimbabwe?


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. It looks like it’s going to be a good harvest this year in Zimbabwe. Early crop assessments suggest that there will be a bumper crop of maize, perhaps the highest since the early 1980s at 2.8 million tonnes, planted across 1.9 million hectares. The season saw heavy rains throughout the… Read more »


COVID-19 and the disappearing tobacco in Zimbabwe: Makoronyera and the new value chains


In this blog summarising APRA Working Paper 55, Toendepi Shonhe discusses the growing prevalence of informal tobacco aggregators, their impact on farmers’ wealth accumulation potential and the changes in this value chain since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shonhe also assesses how Zimbabwe’s government can address the challenges in the chain.

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April 20, 2021


The Policy Context of the Oil Palm Sector’s Underperformance in Ghana


In this blog summarising his research in the newly published APRA Working Paper 54, APRA researcher Kofi Takyi Asante highlights both the historical importance and the future potential of the oil palm industry in Ghana. He outlines the findings from the paper, explains the political and societal factors that have prevented this value chain from reaching its full potential in the past, and provides insight on how the Ghanaian government can engage stakeholders and take advantage of regional and global demand for this commodity to improve the outlook for this sector moving forward.

April 12, 2021


Working Paper 57: Agricultural commercialisation and the political economy of value chains: Tanzania rice case study


Written by Ntengua S.Y. Mdoe and Glead I. Mlay This paper presents the political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania. It is based on a review of trade policies, regulations, strategies, and programmes implemented since the 1960s to promote rice commercialisation, and the views of key informants. Key findings that emerge from the review of… Read more »

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March 31, 2021


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Does livestock enhance or reduce crop commercialisation? A case of Singida in Central Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in Singida Region in Tanzania, contributing to household income, and reducing poverty in the region. The use of ox-plough to perform farm operations, such as ploughing, and the application of livestock manure are just some ways in which livestock can enhance crop commercialisation. However, livestock production can also reduce the need to expand crop production if livestock earns a farmer higher income, hence inhibiting crop commercialisation in mixed crop-livestock farming systems. This blog explains the differences in commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories, as found in APRA Working Paper 65.

September 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 66: Yield and Commercialisation Effects of SRI Interventions in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania


This paper discusses System of Rice Intensification (SRI) interventions and its potential effects on paddy yield and commercialisation in Mngeta division, Kilombero district in Morogoro region, Tanzania. SRI is an innovative agroecological methodology that aims to improve yields and farmers’ profits by creating the most suitable environment for the rice plant to grow. It comprises the precise set of cultivation practices specifically required for careful management of biophysical needs of the rice plant for producing high yields. To assess the effects, we compare between trained and non-trained farmers, as well as between farmers who are members of SRI associations and non-SRI members, on aspects of adoption of SRI interventions, paddy productivity and yields. In turn, the effects of SRI is evaluated in terms of its influence on rice yield per hectare and commercialisation at household level.

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September 21, 2021


APRA Working Paper 65: Livestock, Crop Commercialisation and Poverty Reduction Among Rural Households in the Singida Region, Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in the Singida Region in Tanzania, directly or indirectly contributing to household income, food security and poverty reduction among rural people in the region. This paper examined the effect of livestock on crop commercialisation and farmers’ livelihoods in the region. The complementarity between crops and livestock in the farming systems of Singida needs to be recognised, enhanced and utilised not only by farmers and livestock keepers, but also by local government authorities and development practitioners.

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Challenging simplistic land degradation and restoration narratives in Zimbabwe


In the last blog, I reviewed the results of our land use analysis using a combination of Landsat satellite imagery, document/archival analysis and field interviews from Mvurwi area in northern Zimbabwe from 1984 to 2018, now out as APRA Working Paper 48. There are some important wider implications that emerge from such an analysis that gets to grips with longitudinal environmental and land use change and its intersecting drivers. In this blog, I identify four themes.

September 20, 2021


APRA features at the Second Scientific Conference held at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania


The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) participated in a scientific conference at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania from 24th May–27th May 2021. Themed ‘Agricultural Technologies, Productivity and Market Competitiveness in Tanzania: Towards an Upper-Middle Income Economy’, the conference provided a platform for scholars to interact and exchange knowledge on the application of science, innovation, and technology in the country’s socio-economic transformation. This blog highlights APRA Tanzania researchers’ contributions to the conference.

September 16, 2021


Dynamic drivers of land use change in Zimbabwe


What are the drivers of land use change and how do they interact over time? Are the changes, uni-directional and linear, or are the dynamics more complex? This is the question we posed for our study site in Mvurwi in northern Zimbabwe for the period 1984 to 2018, now published in APRA Working Paper 48. This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland.

September 13, 2021


Influence of rice commercialisation on poverty reduction levels in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


The commercialisation of smallholder agriculture has been considered a key strategy for sustainably reducing poverty and achieving equitable growth across many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, linking farmers to markets is pursued as an important strategy towards commercialisation and agricultural transformation under the National Development Programme and current Five-year Development Plan for the period 2016 – 2021 and the national vision up to 2025. This blog examines changes in rice commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories that have occurred between 2017 and 2019, as presented in APRA Working Paper 63, based on the findings from Mngeta division, Kilombero Valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, where rice is the most important food and cash crop.

September 9, 2021


APRA Working Paper 63: Rice Commercialisation Effects in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania: Identifying the Underlying Factors


Rice production is the most dominant farming system in Kilombero valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, accounting for more than 80 per cent of cultivated land within the valley. This paper examines changes in rice commercialisation and livelihood outcomes for different categories of farmers in the Mngeta division, Kilombero District, Tanzania. Understanding the underlying factors of agricultural commercialisation enables policymakers to ensure that policy interventions promote inclusive and equitable involvement of all farmers and other value chain actors, especially women and youths, who have been excluded from most development initiatives in the past.

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September 7, 2021


Worker-peasants and peasant-workers: new labour regimes in rural Zimbabwe


Much academic debate about rural farm labour has focused on the idea of linear transitions in labour regimes through processes of agricultural commercialisation. This sees farmworkers as either moving towards a class of wage-labour, profiting from modernising, efficient, large-scale agricultural commercialisation, or into subsistence, peasant-based family farming. Yet data discussed in a new open access paper just out in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies shows that neither of these simple transitions is happening.

September 6, 2021


Are smallholder farms or medium-scale farms more productive in Nigeria?


In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), support for smallholder-led agricultural strategy has been motivated by the stylised fact that smallholder farmers are more productive. This stylised fact is known as inverse relationship (IR) between farm size and productivity, which has been widely observed in developing countries around the world. Broadly, the IR suggests that smaller farms are more productive than larger farms. However, documented evidence of IR in SSA is largely limited to farms operating 5ha or less. This blog looks to a recent study of a greater range of farm sizes in Nigeria to better understand the reality of productivity as it relates to farm size.

September 2, 2021


Ghana’s agricultural commercialisation and food security: An analysis of smallholder farmers across gender and geography


Photo credit: Charles Nyaaba of the Peasant Farmers Association A recent study by Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Ghana researchers addresses the question: under what conditions, and at what scale, does smallholder agricultural commercialisation promote or hinder food security? The study presents an analysis of how gender and spatial inequalities in resource control determine… Read more »

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September 1, 2021


Does sunflower commercialisation empower women in Singida, Tanzania?


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 59, which investigates the influence of sunflower commercialisation and diversity on women empowerment in Singida region, Tanzania. This study assesses the assumption that women engagement along Tanzania’s sunflower value chain empowers them socially, economically, and politically, and its contribution to their sense of individuality, self-respect, and confidence.

August 26, 2021


Rice commercialisation, agrarian change and livelihood trajectories: Transformations on the Fogera Plain of Ethiopia


This blog summarises APRA Working Paper 61, which explores the commercialisation of rice in Ethiopia since its introduction in the early 1970s. This process has evidenced wider agrarian changes that have contributed to the emergence and development of diverse livelihood options. The paper presents the role of increased rice commercialisation for the observed agrarian changes and the livelihood trajectories, based on both primary and secondary data sources generated from the Fogera plain.

August 23, 2021


The politics of mechanisation in Zimbabwe: tractors, accumulation and agrarian change


This article explores whether mechanisation affects patterns of accumulation and differentiation in Zimbabwe’s post land reform where policy consistently disadvantages smallholders. Is the latest mechanisation wave any different? The article considers dynamics of tractor access and accumulation trajectories across and within land use types in Mvurwi area. Larger, richer and well-connected farmers draw on patronage networks to access tractors and accumulate further. Some small to medium-scale farmers generate surpluses and invest in tractors or pay for services. Thus, accumulation from above and below feeds social differentiation. Tractor access remains constrained yet mechanisation is only part of the wider post-2000 story.

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August 16, 2021


Agricultural commercialisation and changing labour regimes in Zimbabwe


Written by: Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba This paper explores the emerging labour regimes and the consequences for agricultural commercialisation across multiple land-use types in post land reform Zimbabwe. The livelihoods of farmworkers, including those still resident in former labour compounds, are explored. The paper examines patterns of employment, land access, crop farming,… Read more »

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End of the road? The future of smallholder farmers in Malawi


This paper reflects on the findings of APRA Working Paper 56 and APRA Working Paper 58 to understand the reality of smallholder farming in Malawi, and what the future can be expected to hold for individuals involved in this sector. Further, the authors assess why the current outlook of smallholder farming is as it is, and seeks to understand the policy landscape that could carve a space for small-scale farmers in Malawi’s agricultural future.


Why it is expensive to produce cocoa in Ghana, a former global leader? APRA Ghana share findings


Cocoa producers in Ghana incur high production costs, but obtain low yields and receive less income. This hampers the country’s cocoa commercialisation efforts, hence requiring adoption of high yielding varieties and innovative financing options and investments in labour and inputs. These were the findings of a study carried out by APRA and the University of Ghana on agricultural commercialisation in Ghana’s cocoa sector. These findings were discussed in a dissemination workshop held on Wednesday July 28, 2021, in Ghana’s Suhum area.

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August 10, 2021


COVID-19 spreads to rural Zimbabwe


The third COVID-19 wave has firmly arrived in Zimbabwe’s rural areas. This is no longer the ‘rich person’s disease’ of those based in town. The number of cases and sadly deaths has surged across our rural study areas in the last month. This is a picture reflected across the country and indeed the region, with large increases since our last report.

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August 9, 2021


Positioning Tanzania in the regional market for rice: Lessons from the East Africa Rice Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In this blog, the fifth in our series on these national workshops, we reflect on the Tanzanian event.

August 5, 2021


Environmental impacts of commercial rice production in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


In Kilombero Valley, Tanzania, rice is increasingly becoming a commercial crop. However, although research findings show that commercial rice production is beneficial, it is also associated with increasing use of modern implements, such as tractors, and use of agrochemicals, such as herbicides. This blog, based on APRA Working Papers 30 and 37, highlights the potential environmental impacts of rice commercialisation in the region, and recommends actions that could be taken to mitigate these impacts.

August 2, 2021


Responses of Rice Farmers Engaged in Vegetable Production: Implications of the Collapse of Vegetable Prices in the Fogera Plain


Written by: Dawit Alemu and Tirhas Kinfe Since the early 1980s, the Fogera Plain has been one of Ethiopia’s major rice production areas. The introduction of rice, its commercialisation and the subsequent increased surplus production has led to the ability of smallholder rice farmers to intensify their production through diverse investments, mainly in supplementary irrigation.… Read more »

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July 27, 2021


The political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 60, investigating the political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria. This study focused on how the political economy dynamics can contribute to understanding the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation in the country, and the government’s role in enhancing this process.

July 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 60: The Political Economy of the Maize Value Chain in Nigeria


Written by, Paul Amaza, Sunday Mailumo, Asenath Silong The aim of this case study is to understand the underlying political economy dynamics of the maize value chain in Nigeria, with a focus on how this can contribute to comprehending the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation. The study is informed by theories of political settlements,… Read more »

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July 15, 2021


Working Paper 59: The Influence of Sunflower Commercialisation and Diversity on Women’s Empowerment: The Case of Iramba and Mkalama Districts, Singida Region


There is a growing body of literature that argues that normally women derive little benefit from cash crops. Some of the barriers leading to women having less benefit from cash crop value chains include cultural norms and power differences in access to, and control over, resources among actors in value chains. It is also argued that women’s participation in different forms of collective action help women to increase benefits to them through their increased agency, hence enabling them to utilise existing and diverse options for their empowerment. This paper explores how women have benefited from their engagement in sunflower commercialisation and how culture has influenced changes in access to, and control over, resources, including land, for their empowerment.

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July 14, 2021


Zimbabwe faces a COVID-19 surge: what is happening in the rural areas?


Vaccination drive at Hippo Valley sugar estate This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The increase in COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe has been significant in the weeks since our last blog. This has been matched by an increase in recorded deaths. The government has responded with a new ‘level 4’ lockdown, imposing a curfew, restricting… Read more »

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July 12, 2021


Inclusive and sustainable rice system to transform Kenya’s food system: Lessons from the East African Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In the second blog of our series exploring the outcomes of each of these national workshops, we turn our attention to Kenya.

July 6, 2021


How is ‘China’ helping to transform ‘Africa’? The need for a more sophisticated debate


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland How is China helping to transform African economies? There are many different narratives cast around in public and policy debate: China as the new imperial power, China as the radical developmentalist, China as just like any other donor/foreign power. None are very convincing. A report synthesising… Read more »

July 1, 2021


Social issues impacting household food security in the epoch of COVID-19


Written by: Loveness Msofi Mgalamadzi The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives and livelihoods around the world, and Malawi is no exception. This blog explores the social and food security issues arising from the implementation of COVID-19 preventive measures at household level in the country. Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented impacts that have… Read more »

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June 28, 2021


Gender and social differentiation in the context of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 58, observing agricultural commercialisation in Malawi and how it differs among various gender and social groups. This study found that female-headed and poorer households are at a disadvantage compared to their male-headed and wealthier counterparts due to differential access to resources and control over decision-making. The following blog provides a deeper look into this reality, and assesses the impact of gender and wealth on several aspects of commercialisation.

June 21, 2021


Journal Article: Medium-scale commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe: the experience of A2 resettlement farms


Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba. 2021. The emergence of medium-scale farms is having important consequences for agricultural commercialisation across Africa. This article examines the role of medium-scale A2 farms allocated following Zimbabwe’s land reform after 2000. While the existing literature focuses on changing farm size distributions, this article investigates processes of social differentiation… Read more »

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June 15, 2021


COVID-19 and economic transformation in rural Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 situation looks uncertain, with localised outbreaks and a rise in infections south of the Limpopo in South Africa. On June 11 there were 191 new cases (including 82 that were reported late) and 3 deaths reported, making a cumulative total of 39,688 cases and… Read more »

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June 14, 2021


Key messages and required actions for Ethiopian rice sector development: Outcomes of a national rice conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. This blog explores the outcomes of Ethiopia’s national workshop, which was held in parallel in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar.

EARC 2021 participants at the International Livestock Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

June 10, 2021


How land reform transformed small towns in Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Our recent paper – small towns and land reform in Zimbabwe – out in the European Journal of Development Research (open access) – explores some of the themes discussed last time for the Zimbabwe setting. Over a number of years, we have been monitoring changes in three small towns in… Read more »

June 7, 2021


Small towns and agricultural development in Africa


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The most recent Africa Agriculture Status Report from AGRA, ‘Feeding Africa’s Cities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Policies for Linking African Farmers with Growing Urban Food Markets’ and led by MSU’s Steve Haggblade, makes the important link between the future of African urban areas and agricultural development. On a… Read more »

May 26, 2021


Disseminating science amid COVID-19 restrictions: lessons from Ghana


The findings of a recent APRA Ghana research project were shared with a range of stakeholders at a dissemination event on Wednesday, 17 March 2021 in Takoradi, Ghana. This workshop included a discussion of the team’s research and the implications of these findings. The outcome of discussions will be incorporated into subsequent analyses and reports on the APRA project, and contribute to informing policy and practices related to rural development, empowerment of women and girls, and food and nutrition security. This will ensure that this research is used to inform effective and relevant policy.

Tags:

May 24, 2021


Working Paper 58: Understanding Gender and Social Differentiation in the Context of Agricultural Commercialisation and Implications for Livelihoods in Rural Malawi


Written by, Loveness M. Mgalamadzi, Mirriam Matita, Masautso Chimombo, Blessings Chinsinga, Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa, Stevier Kaiyatsa and Jacob Mazalale Agricultural commercialisation is widely recognised as a catalyst to economic growth and development in low and middle-income countries. This study investigates gender and social differences in agricultural commercialisation in rural Malawi. Specifically, the paper analyses different… Read more »

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May 20, 2021


Rural livelihoods in the pandemic: notes from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Half a million people have now been vaccinated in Zimbabwe, but this is still only 3.5% of the population. The Chinese Sinopharm vaccine has now been fully approved by the WHO for emergency use and Zimbabwe’s vaccination drive is in full swing. Even tourists from South Africa are taking advantage… Read more »

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At the mercy of politics? The groundnut value chain in Malawi


This blog highlights the findings of APRA Working Paper 56, observing the groundnut value chain in Malawi in both historical and contemporary perspectives through qualitative tools of inquiry. This study found that this value chain has experienced notable recovery in terms of productivity, but remains primarily informal and struggles to re-enter the lucrative formal global export markets. The following blog explores why this is the case, as well as examining the socio-economic importance of this crop and what can be done to support it in reaching its full potential moving forward.

May 17, 2021


Political economy of agricultural input subsidies in Tanzania: Who benefitted from the National Input Voucher Scheme?


This blog explores the programmes implemented in Tanzania to promote rice commercialisation since the country’s independence in 1961, as found in the course of a recent APRA study for Working Paper 57, as well as their impact on different socio-economic groups. Specifically, this blog is about agricultural input subsidy programmes implemented since 1967 to support smallholder farmers as part of the ujamaa (“socialism”) model of economic development. It focuses on the National Input Voucher Scheme (NAIVS), the biggest agricultural input subsidy programme implemented in Tanzania.

May 13, 2021


Beyond the silver bullet solution: towards a ‘systems agronomy’ perspective


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The previous two blogs (here and here) have discussed the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme that has become a high-profile, politicised intervention during the last season. In a very wet year, the results have been interesting. Yields have been good on the small plots, but many problems have been… Read more »

May 10, 2021


APRA Ghana presents research findings in a dissemination workshop


Key findings emerging from APRA’s research in Ghana were presented to representatives of oil palm farmers and oil palm processing companies, agricultural extension officers, district and regional directors of agriculture, and the media at a workshop on 17 March 2021 at the Takoradi Library & Office Complex.

May 6, 2021


Conservation agriculture: latest experiences from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland In the last blog, I introduced the Pfumvudza programme in Zimbabwe, a version of conservation agriculture that has been heavily promoted across the country during the last season. In this blog, I look at what happened, based on reflections from our field sites across the country – from… Read more »

May 4, 2021


APRA Research Note: The Covid-19 Pandemic and Household Rice Consumption Patterns in Ethiopia: The Case of Addis Ababa


Written by, Dawit Alemu and Gashaw T. Abate. The outbreak of COVID-19 also resulted in moderate changes to the operation of the domestic rice value chain in Ethiopia. These were caused by changing responses of value chain actors (domestic and others engaged in rice imports) to the COVID-19 prevention measures put in place by the… Read more »

Tags: ,

April 30, 2021


Political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania: Socioeconomic impact of trade policies, strategies and programmes


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 57, as the authors discuss the policies, strategies and programmes implemented since Tanzania’s independence in 1961 to promote rice commercialisation and reduce poverty and food insecurity among smallholder rice farmers, and their impact on different socio-economic groups based on findings from literature review and key informant interviews.

April 29, 2021


The political economy of cocoa value chain in Ghana


This blog presents the findings of APRA Working Paper 53, which adopted the political settlement framework to analyse the political economy dynamics of Ghana’s cocoa value chain. Researchers Joseph Kofi Teye and Ebenezer Nikoi discuss these findings, which indicate that policies implemented in this value chain have gone through several shifts in relation to changing agrarian political economy and distribution of power among interest groups, and highlight the steps that can be taken to harness the cocoa sector’s potential to contribute to economic development in Ghana.

April 26, 2021


The need for rice sector modernisation: a key outcome of the Ethiopian National Rice Platform Meeting


The 2021 Annual National Rice stakeholders’ platform meeting, hosted by the National Rice Secretariat at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), was held on 19 April in both Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar, concurrently.

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April 22, 2021


Can the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme deliver food security in Zimbabwe?


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. It looks like it’s going to be a good harvest this year in Zimbabwe. Early crop assessments suggest that there will be a bumper crop of maize, perhaps the highest since the early 1980s at 2.8 million tonnes, planted across 1.9 million hectares. The season saw heavy rains throughout the… Read more »


COVID-19 and the disappearing tobacco in Zimbabwe: Makoronyera and the new value chains


In this blog summarising APRA Working Paper 55, Toendepi Shonhe discusses the growing prevalence of informal tobacco aggregators, their impact on farmers’ wealth accumulation potential and the changes in this value chain since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shonhe also assesses how Zimbabwe’s government can address the challenges in the chain.

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April 20, 2021


The Policy Context of the Oil Palm Sector’s Underperformance in Ghana


In this blog summarising his research in the newly published APRA Working Paper 54, APRA researcher Kofi Takyi Asante highlights both the historical importance and the future potential of the oil palm industry in Ghana. He outlines the findings from the paper, explains the political and societal factors that have prevented this value chain from reaching its full potential in the past, and provides insight on how the Ghanaian government can engage stakeholders and take advantage of regional and global demand for this commodity to improve the outlook for this sector moving forward.

April 12, 2021


Working Paper 57: Agricultural commercialisation and the political economy of value chains: Tanzania rice case study


Written by Ntengua S.Y. Mdoe and Glead I. Mlay This paper presents the political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania. It is based on a review of trade policies, regulations, strategies, and programmes implemented since the 1960s to promote rice commercialisation, and the views of key informants. Key findings that emerge from the review of… Read more »

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March 31, 2021


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Does livestock enhance or reduce crop commercialisation? A case of Singida in Central Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in Singida Region in Tanzania, contributing to household income, and reducing poverty in the region. The use of ox-plough to perform farm operations, such as ploughing, and the application of livestock manure are just some ways in which livestock can enhance crop commercialisation. However, livestock production can also reduce the need to expand crop production if livestock earns a farmer higher income, hence inhibiting crop commercialisation in mixed crop-livestock farming systems. This blog explains the differences in commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories, as found in APRA Working Paper 65.

September 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 66: Yield and Commercialisation Effects of SRI Interventions in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania


This paper discusses System of Rice Intensification (SRI) interventions and its potential effects on paddy yield and commercialisation in Mngeta division, Kilombero district in Morogoro region, Tanzania. SRI is an innovative agroecological methodology that aims to improve yields and farmers’ profits by creating the most suitable environment for the rice plant to grow. It comprises the precise set of cultivation practices specifically required for careful management of biophysical needs of the rice plant for producing high yields. To assess the effects, we compare between trained and non-trained farmers, as well as between farmers who are members of SRI associations and non-SRI members, on aspects of adoption of SRI interventions, paddy productivity and yields. In turn, the effects of SRI is evaluated in terms of its influence on rice yield per hectare and commercialisation at household level.

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September 21, 2021


APRA Working Paper 65: Livestock, Crop Commercialisation and Poverty Reduction Among Rural Households in the Singida Region, Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in the Singida Region in Tanzania, directly or indirectly contributing to household income, food security and poverty reduction among rural people in the region. This paper examined the effect of livestock on crop commercialisation and farmers’ livelihoods in the region. The complementarity between crops and livestock in the farming systems of Singida needs to be recognised, enhanced and utilised not only by farmers and livestock keepers, but also by local government authorities and development practitioners.

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Challenging simplistic land degradation and restoration narratives in Zimbabwe


In the last blog, I reviewed the results of our land use analysis using a combination of Landsat satellite imagery, document/archival analysis and field interviews from Mvurwi area in northern Zimbabwe from 1984 to 2018, now out as APRA Working Paper 48. There are some important wider implications that emerge from such an analysis that gets to grips with longitudinal environmental and land use change and its intersecting drivers. In this blog, I identify four themes.

September 20, 2021


APRA features at the Second Scientific Conference held at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania


The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) participated in a scientific conference at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania from 24th May–27th May 2021. Themed ‘Agricultural Technologies, Productivity and Market Competitiveness in Tanzania: Towards an Upper-Middle Income Economy’, the conference provided a platform for scholars to interact and exchange knowledge on the application of science, innovation, and technology in the country’s socio-economic transformation. This blog highlights APRA Tanzania researchers’ contributions to the conference.

September 16, 2021


Dynamic drivers of land use change in Zimbabwe


What are the drivers of land use change and how do they interact over time? Are the changes, uni-directional and linear, or are the dynamics more complex? This is the question we posed for our study site in Mvurwi in northern Zimbabwe for the period 1984 to 2018, now published in APRA Working Paper 48. This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland.

September 13, 2021


Influence of rice commercialisation on poverty reduction levels in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


The commercialisation of smallholder agriculture has been considered a key strategy for sustainably reducing poverty and achieving equitable growth across many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, linking farmers to markets is pursued as an important strategy towards commercialisation and agricultural transformation under the National Development Programme and current Five-year Development Plan for the period 2016 – 2021 and the national vision up to 2025. This blog examines changes in rice commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories that have occurred between 2017 and 2019, as presented in APRA Working Paper 63, based on the findings from Mngeta division, Kilombero Valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, where rice is the most important food and cash crop.

September 9, 2021


APRA Working Paper 63: Rice Commercialisation Effects in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania: Identifying the Underlying Factors


Rice production is the most dominant farming system in Kilombero valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, accounting for more than 80 per cent of cultivated land within the valley. This paper examines changes in rice commercialisation and livelihood outcomes for different categories of farmers in the Mngeta division, Kilombero District, Tanzania. Understanding the underlying factors of agricultural commercialisation enables policymakers to ensure that policy interventions promote inclusive and equitable involvement of all farmers and other value chain actors, especially women and youths, who have been excluded from most development initiatives in the past.

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September 7, 2021


Worker-peasants and peasant-workers: new labour regimes in rural Zimbabwe


Much academic debate about rural farm labour has focused on the idea of linear transitions in labour regimes through processes of agricultural commercialisation. This sees farmworkers as either moving towards a class of wage-labour, profiting from modernising, efficient, large-scale agricultural commercialisation, or into subsistence, peasant-based family farming. Yet data discussed in a new open access paper just out in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies shows that neither of these simple transitions is happening.

September 6, 2021


Are smallholder farms or medium-scale farms more productive in Nigeria?


In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), support for smallholder-led agricultural strategy has been motivated by the stylised fact that smallholder farmers are more productive. This stylised fact is known as inverse relationship (IR) between farm size and productivity, which has been widely observed in developing countries around the world. Broadly, the IR suggests that smaller farms are more productive than larger farms. However, documented evidence of IR in SSA is largely limited to farms operating 5ha or less. This blog looks to a recent study of a greater range of farm sizes in Nigeria to better understand the reality of productivity as it relates to farm size.

September 2, 2021


Ghana’s agricultural commercialisation and food security: An analysis of smallholder farmers across gender and geography


Photo credit: Charles Nyaaba of the Peasant Farmers Association A recent study by Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Ghana researchers addresses the question: under what conditions, and at what scale, does smallholder agricultural commercialisation promote or hinder food security? The study presents an analysis of how gender and spatial inequalities in resource control determine… Read more »

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September 1, 2021


Does sunflower commercialisation empower women in Singida, Tanzania?


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 59, which investigates the influence of sunflower commercialisation and diversity on women empowerment in Singida region, Tanzania. This study assesses the assumption that women engagement along Tanzania’s sunflower value chain empowers them socially, economically, and politically, and its contribution to their sense of individuality, self-respect, and confidence.

August 26, 2021


Rice commercialisation, agrarian change and livelihood trajectories: Transformations on the Fogera Plain of Ethiopia


This blog summarises APRA Working Paper 61, which explores the commercialisation of rice in Ethiopia since its introduction in the early 1970s. This process has evidenced wider agrarian changes that have contributed to the emergence and development of diverse livelihood options. The paper presents the role of increased rice commercialisation for the observed agrarian changes and the livelihood trajectories, based on both primary and secondary data sources generated from the Fogera plain.

August 23, 2021


The politics of mechanisation in Zimbabwe: tractors, accumulation and agrarian change


This article explores whether mechanisation affects patterns of accumulation and differentiation in Zimbabwe’s post land reform where policy consistently disadvantages smallholders. Is the latest mechanisation wave any different? The article considers dynamics of tractor access and accumulation trajectories across and within land use types in Mvurwi area. Larger, richer and well-connected farmers draw on patronage networks to access tractors and accumulate further. Some small to medium-scale farmers generate surpluses and invest in tractors or pay for services. Thus, accumulation from above and below feeds social differentiation. Tractor access remains constrained yet mechanisation is only part of the wider post-2000 story.

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August 16, 2021


Agricultural commercialisation and changing labour regimes in Zimbabwe


Written by: Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba This paper explores the emerging labour regimes and the consequences for agricultural commercialisation across multiple land-use types in post land reform Zimbabwe. The livelihoods of farmworkers, including those still resident in former labour compounds, are explored. The paper examines patterns of employment, land access, crop farming,… Read more »

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End of the road? The future of smallholder farmers in Malawi


This paper reflects on the findings of APRA Working Paper 56 and APRA Working Paper 58 to understand the reality of smallholder farming in Malawi, and what the future can be expected to hold for individuals involved in this sector. Further, the authors assess why the current outlook of smallholder farming is as it is, and seeks to understand the policy landscape that could carve a space for small-scale farmers in Malawi’s agricultural future.


Why it is expensive to produce cocoa in Ghana, a former global leader? APRA Ghana share findings


Cocoa producers in Ghana incur high production costs, but obtain low yields and receive less income. This hampers the country’s cocoa commercialisation efforts, hence requiring adoption of high yielding varieties and innovative financing options and investments in labour and inputs. These were the findings of a study carried out by APRA and the University of Ghana on agricultural commercialisation in Ghana’s cocoa sector. These findings were discussed in a dissemination workshop held on Wednesday July 28, 2021, in Ghana’s Suhum area.

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August 10, 2021


COVID-19 spreads to rural Zimbabwe


The third COVID-19 wave has firmly arrived in Zimbabwe’s rural areas. This is no longer the ‘rich person’s disease’ of those based in town. The number of cases and sadly deaths has surged across our rural study areas in the last month. This is a picture reflected across the country and indeed the region, with large increases since our last report.

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August 9, 2021


Positioning Tanzania in the regional market for rice: Lessons from the East Africa Rice Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In this blog, the fifth in our series on these national workshops, we reflect on the Tanzanian event.

August 5, 2021


Environmental impacts of commercial rice production in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


In Kilombero Valley, Tanzania, rice is increasingly becoming a commercial crop. However, although research findings show that commercial rice production is beneficial, it is also associated with increasing use of modern implements, such as tractors, and use of agrochemicals, such as herbicides. This blog, based on APRA Working Papers 30 and 37, highlights the potential environmental impacts of rice commercialisation in the region, and recommends actions that could be taken to mitigate these impacts.

August 2, 2021


Responses of Rice Farmers Engaged in Vegetable Production: Implications of the Collapse of Vegetable Prices in the Fogera Plain


Written by: Dawit Alemu and Tirhas Kinfe Since the early 1980s, the Fogera Plain has been one of Ethiopia’s major rice production areas. The introduction of rice, its commercialisation and the subsequent increased surplus production has led to the ability of smallholder rice farmers to intensify their production through diverse investments, mainly in supplementary irrigation.… Read more »

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July 27, 2021


The political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 60, investigating the political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria. This study focused on how the political economy dynamics can contribute to understanding the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation in the country, and the government’s role in enhancing this process.

July 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 60: The Political Economy of the Maize Value Chain in Nigeria


Written by, Paul Amaza, Sunday Mailumo, Asenath Silong The aim of this case study is to understand the underlying political economy dynamics of the maize value chain in Nigeria, with a focus on how this can contribute to comprehending the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation. The study is informed by theories of political settlements,… Read more »

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July 15, 2021


Working Paper 59: The Influence of Sunflower Commercialisation and Diversity on Women’s Empowerment: The Case of Iramba and Mkalama Districts, Singida Region


There is a growing body of literature that argues that normally women derive little benefit from cash crops. Some of the barriers leading to women having less benefit from cash crop value chains include cultural norms and power differences in access to, and control over, resources among actors in value chains. It is also argued that women’s participation in different forms of collective action help women to increase benefits to them through their increased agency, hence enabling them to utilise existing and diverse options for their empowerment. This paper explores how women have benefited from their engagement in sunflower commercialisation and how culture has influenced changes in access to, and control over, resources, including land, for their empowerment.

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July 14, 2021


Zimbabwe faces a COVID-19 surge: what is happening in the rural areas?


Vaccination drive at Hippo Valley sugar estate This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The increase in COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe has been significant in the weeks since our last blog. This has been matched by an increase in recorded deaths. The government has responded with a new ‘level 4’ lockdown, imposing a curfew, restricting… Read more »

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July 12, 2021


Inclusive and sustainable rice system to transform Kenya’s food system: Lessons from the East African Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In the second blog of our series exploring the outcomes of each of these national workshops, we turn our attention to Kenya.

July 6, 2021


How is ‘China’ helping to transform ‘Africa’? The need for a more sophisticated debate


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland How is China helping to transform African economies? There are many different narratives cast around in public and policy debate: China as the new imperial power, China as the radical developmentalist, China as just like any other donor/foreign power. None are very convincing. A report synthesising… Read more »

July 1, 2021


Social issues impacting household food security in the epoch of COVID-19


Written by: Loveness Msofi Mgalamadzi The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives and livelihoods around the world, and Malawi is no exception. This blog explores the social and food security issues arising from the implementation of COVID-19 preventive measures at household level in the country. Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented impacts that have… Read more »

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June 28, 2021


Gender and social differentiation in the context of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 58, observing agricultural commercialisation in Malawi and how it differs among various gender and social groups. This study found that female-headed and poorer households are at a disadvantage compared to their male-headed and wealthier counterparts due to differential access to resources and control over decision-making. The following blog provides a deeper look into this reality, and assesses the impact of gender and wealth on several aspects of commercialisation.

June 21, 2021


Journal Article: Medium-scale commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe: the experience of A2 resettlement farms


Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba. 2021. The emergence of medium-scale farms is having important consequences for agricultural commercialisation across Africa. This article examines the role of medium-scale A2 farms allocated following Zimbabwe’s land reform after 2000. While the existing literature focuses on changing farm size distributions, this article investigates processes of social differentiation… Read more »

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June 15, 2021


COVID-19 and economic transformation in rural Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 situation looks uncertain, with localised outbreaks and a rise in infections south of the Limpopo in South Africa. On June 11 there were 191 new cases (including 82 that were reported late) and 3 deaths reported, making a cumulative total of 39,688 cases and… Read more »

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June 14, 2021


Key messages and required actions for Ethiopian rice sector development: Outcomes of a national rice conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. This blog explores the outcomes of Ethiopia’s national workshop, which was held in parallel in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar.

EARC 2021 participants at the International Livestock Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

June 10, 2021


How land reform transformed small towns in Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Our recent paper – small towns and land reform in Zimbabwe – out in the European Journal of Development Research (open access) – explores some of the themes discussed last time for the Zimbabwe setting. Over a number of years, we have been monitoring changes in three small towns in… Read more »

June 7, 2021


Small towns and agricultural development in Africa


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The most recent Africa Agriculture Status Report from AGRA, ‘Feeding Africa’s Cities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Policies for Linking African Farmers with Growing Urban Food Markets’ and led by MSU’s Steve Haggblade, makes the important link between the future of African urban areas and agricultural development. On a… Read more »

May 26, 2021


Disseminating science amid COVID-19 restrictions: lessons from Ghana


The findings of a recent APRA Ghana research project were shared with a range of stakeholders at a dissemination event on Wednesday, 17 March 2021 in Takoradi, Ghana. This workshop included a discussion of the team’s research and the implications of these findings. The outcome of discussions will be incorporated into subsequent analyses and reports on the APRA project, and contribute to informing policy and practices related to rural development, empowerment of women and girls, and food and nutrition security. This will ensure that this research is used to inform effective and relevant policy.

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May 24, 2021


Working Paper 58: Understanding Gender and Social Differentiation in the Context of Agricultural Commercialisation and Implications for Livelihoods in Rural Malawi


Written by, Loveness M. Mgalamadzi, Mirriam Matita, Masautso Chimombo, Blessings Chinsinga, Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa, Stevier Kaiyatsa and Jacob Mazalale Agricultural commercialisation is widely recognised as a catalyst to economic growth and development in low and middle-income countries. This study investigates gender and social differences in agricultural commercialisation in rural Malawi. Specifically, the paper analyses different… Read more »

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May 20, 2021


Rural livelihoods in the pandemic: notes from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Half a million people have now been vaccinated in Zimbabwe, but this is still only 3.5% of the population. The Chinese Sinopharm vaccine has now been fully approved by the WHO for emergency use and Zimbabwe’s vaccination drive is in full swing. Even tourists from South Africa are taking advantage… Read more »

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At the mercy of politics? The groundnut value chain in Malawi


This blog highlights the findings of APRA Working Paper 56, observing the groundnut value chain in Malawi in both historical and contemporary perspectives through qualitative tools of inquiry. This study found that this value chain has experienced notable recovery in terms of productivity, but remains primarily informal and struggles to re-enter the lucrative formal global export markets. The following blog explores why this is the case, as well as examining the socio-economic importance of this crop and what can be done to support it in reaching its full potential moving forward.

May 17, 2021


Political economy of agricultural input subsidies in Tanzania: Who benefitted from the National Input Voucher Scheme?


This blog explores the programmes implemented in Tanzania to promote rice commercialisation since the country’s independence in 1961, as found in the course of a recent APRA study for Working Paper 57, as well as their impact on different socio-economic groups. Specifically, this blog is about agricultural input subsidy programmes implemented since 1967 to support smallholder farmers as part of the ujamaa (“socialism”) model of economic development. It focuses on the National Input Voucher Scheme (NAIVS), the biggest agricultural input subsidy programme implemented in Tanzania.

May 13, 2021


Beyond the silver bullet solution: towards a ‘systems agronomy’ perspective


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The previous two blogs (here and here) have discussed the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme that has become a high-profile, politicised intervention during the last season. In a very wet year, the results have been interesting. Yields have been good on the small plots, but many problems have been… Read more »

May 10, 2021


APRA Ghana presents research findings in a dissemination workshop


Key findings emerging from APRA’s research in Ghana were presented to representatives of oil palm farmers and oil palm processing companies, agricultural extension officers, district and regional directors of agriculture, and the media at a workshop on 17 March 2021 at the Takoradi Library & Office Complex.

May 6, 2021


Conservation agriculture: latest experiences from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland In the last blog, I introduced the Pfumvudza programme in Zimbabwe, a version of conservation agriculture that has been heavily promoted across the country during the last season. In this blog, I look at what happened, based on reflections from our field sites across the country – from… Read more »

May 4, 2021


APRA Research Note: The Covid-19 Pandemic and Household Rice Consumption Patterns in Ethiopia: The Case of Addis Ababa


Written by, Dawit Alemu and Gashaw T. Abate. The outbreak of COVID-19 also resulted in moderate changes to the operation of the domestic rice value chain in Ethiopia. These were caused by changing responses of value chain actors (domestic and others engaged in rice imports) to the COVID-19 prevention measures put in place by the… Read more »

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April 30, 2021


Political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania: Socioeconomic impact of trade policies, strategies and programmes


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 57, as the authors discuss the policies, strategies and programmes implemented since Tanzania’s independence in 1961 to promote rice commercialisation and reduce poverty and food insecurity among smallholder rice farmers, and their impact on different socio-economic groups based on findings from literature review and key informant interviews.

April 29, 2021


The political economy of cocoa value chain in Ghana


This blog presents the findings of APRA Working Paper 53, which adopted the political settlement framework to analyse the political economy dynamics of Ghana’s cocoa value chain. Researchers Joseph Kofi Teye and Ebenezer Nikoi discuss these findings, which indicate that policies implemented in this value chain have gone through several shifts in relation to changing agrarian political economy and distribution of power among interest groups, and highlight the steps that can be taken to harness the cocoa sector’s potential to contribute to economic development in Ghana.

April 26, 2021


The need for rice sector modernisation: a key outcome of the Ethiopian National Rice Platform Meeting


The 2021 Annual National Rice stakeholders’ platform meeting, hosted by the National Rice Secretariat at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), was held on 19 April in both Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar, concurrently.

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April 22, 2021


Can the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme deliver food security in Zimbabwe?


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. It looks like it’s going to be a good harvest this year in Zimbabwe. Early crop assessments suggest that there will be a bumper crop of maize, perhaps the highest since the early 1980s at 2.8 million tonnes, planted across 1.9 million hectares. The season saw heavy rains throughout the… Read more »


COVID-19 and the disappearing tobacco in Zimbabwe: Makoronyera and the new value chains


In this blog summarising APRA Working Paper 55, Toendepi Shonhe discusses the growing prevalence of informal tobacco aggregators, their impact on farmers’ wealth accumulation potential and the changes in this value chain since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shonhe also assesses how Zimbabwe’s government can address the challenges in the chain.

Tags:

April 20, 2021


The Policy Context of the Oil Palm Sector’s Underperformance in Ghana


In this blog summarising his research in the newly published APRA Working Paper 54, APRA researcher Kofi Takyi Asante highlights both the historical importance and the future potential of the oil palm industry in Ghana. He outlines the findings from the paper, explains the political and societal factors that have prevented this value chain from reaching its full potential in the past, and provides insight on how the Ghanaian government can engage stakeholders and take advantage of regional and global demand for this commodity to improve the outlook for this sector moving forward.

April 12, 2021


Working Paper 57: Agricultural commercialisation and the political economy of value chains: Tanzania rice case study


Written by Ntengua S.Y. Mdoe and Glead I. Mlay This paper presents the political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania. It is based on a review of trade policies, regulations, strategies, and programmes implemented since the 1960s to promote rice commercialisation, and the views of key informants. Key findings that emerge from the review of… Read more »

Tags: ,

March 31, 2021


Page 1 of 8

Use these filters to specify your search

  • Select one ore more countries

  • Submit query

Found 396 Results
Page 1 of 8

Does livestock enhance or reduce crop commercialisation? A case of Singida in Central Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in Singida Region in Tanzania, contributing to household income, and reducing poverty in the region. The use of ox-plough to perform farm operations, such as ploughing, and the application of livestock manure are just some ways in which livestock can enhance crop commercialisation. However, livestock production can also reduce the need to expand crop production if livestock earns a farmer higher income, hence inhibiting crop commercialisation in mixed crop-livestock farming systems. This blog explains the differences in commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories, as found in APRA Working Paper 65.

September 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 66: Yield and Commercialisation Effects of SRI Interventions in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania


This paper discusses System of Rice Intensification (SRI) interventions and its potential effects on paddy yield and commercialisation in Mngeta division, Kilombero district in Morogoro region, Tanzania. SRI is an innovative agroecological methodology that aims to improve yields and farmers’ profits by creating the most suitable environment for the rice plant to grow. It comprises the precise set of cultivation practices specifically required for careful management of biophysical needs of the rice plant for producing high yields. To assess the effects, we compare between trained and non-trained farmers, as well as between farmers who are members of SRI associations and non-SRI members, on aspects of adoption of SRI interventions, paddy productivity and yields. In turn, the effects of SRI is evaluated in terms of its influence on rice yield per hectare and commercialisation at household level.

Tags: ,

September 21, 2021


APRA Working Paper 65: Livestock, Crop Commercialisation and Poverty Reduction Among Rural Households in the Singida Region, Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in the Singida Region in Tanzania, directly or indirectly contributing to household income, food security and poverty reduction among rural people in the region. This paper examined the effect of livestock on crop commercialisation and farmers’ livelihoods in the region. The complementarity between crops and livestock in the farming systems of Singida needs to be recognised, enhanced and utilised not only by farmers and livestock keepers, but also by local government authorities and development practitioners.

Tags: ,


Challenging simplistic land degradation and restoration narratives in Zimbabwe


In the last blog, I reviewed the results of our land use analysis using a combination of Landsat satellite imagery, document/archival analysis and field interviews from Mvurwi area in northern Zimbabwe from 1984 to 2018, now out as APRA Working Paper 48. There are some important wider implications that emerge from such an analysis that gets to grips with longitudinal environmental and land use change and its intersecting drivers. In this blog, I identify four themes.

September 20, 2021


APRA features at the Second Scientific Conference held at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania


The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) participated in a scientific conference at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania from 24th May–27th May 2021. Themed ‘Agricultural Technologies, Productivity and Market Competitiveness in Tanzania: Towards an Upper-Middle Income Economy’, the conference provided a platform for scholars to interact and exchange knowledge on the application of science, innovation, and technology in the country’s socio-economic transformation. This blog highlights APRA Tanzania researchers’ contributions to the conference.

September 16, 2021


Dynamic drivers of land use change in Zimbabwe


What are the drivers of land use change and how do they interact over time? Are the changes, uni-directional and linear, or are the dynamics more complex? This is the question we posed for our study site in Mvurwi in northern Zimbabwe for the period 1984 to 2018, now published in APRA Working Paper 48. This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland.

September 13, 2021


Influence of rice commercialisation on poverty reduction levels in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


The commercialisation of smallholder agriculture has been considered a key strategy for sustainably reducing poverty and achieving equitable growth across many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, linking farmers to markets is pursued as an important strategy towards commercialisation and agricultural transformation under the National Development Programme and current Five-year Development Plan for the period 2016 – 2021 and the national vision up to 2025. This blog examines changes in rice commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories that have occurred between 2017 and 2019, as presented in APRA Working Paper 63, based on the findings from Mngeta division, Kilombero Valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, where rice is the most important food and cash crop.

September 9, 2021


APRA Working Paper 63: Rice Commercialisation Effects in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania: Identifying the Underlying Factors


Rice production is the most dominant farming system in Kilombero valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, accounting for more than 80 per cent of cultivated land within the valley. This paper examines changes in rice commercialisation and livelihood outcomes for different categories of farmers in the Mngeta division, Kilombero District, Tanzania. Understanding the underlying factors of agricultural commercialisation enables policymakers to ensure that policy interventions promote inclusive and equitable involvement of all farmers and other value chain actors, especially women and youths, who have been excluded from most development initiatives in the past.

Tags: ,

September 7, 2021


Worker-peasants and peasant-workers: new labour regimes in rural Zimbabwe


Much academic debate about rural farm labour has focused on the idea of linear transitions in labour regimes through processes of agricultural commercialisation. This sees farmworkers as either moving towards a class of wage-labour, profiting from modernising, efficient, large-scale agricultural commercialisation, or into subsistence, peasant-based family farming. Yet data discussed in a new open access paper just out in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies shows that neither of these simple transitions is happening.

September 6, 2021


Are smallholder farms or medium-scale farms more productive in Nigeria?


In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), support for smallholder-led agricultural strategy has been motivated by the stylised fact that smallholder farmers are more productive. This stylised fact is known as inverse relationship (IR) between farm size and productivity, which has been widely observed in developing countries around the world. Broadly, the IR suggests that smaller farms are more productive than larger farms. However, documented evidence of IR in SSA is largely limited to farms operating 5ha or less. This blog looks to a recent study of a greater range of farm sizes in Nigeria to better understand the reality of productivity as it relates to farm size.

September 2, 2021


Ghana’s agricultural commercialisation and food security: An analysis of smallholder farmers across gender and geography


Photo credit: Charles Nyaaba of the Peasant Farmers Association A recent study by Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Ghana researchers addresses the question: under what conditions, and at what scale, does smallholder agricultural commercialisation promote or hinder food security? The study presents an analysis of how gender and spatial inequalities in resource control determine… Read more »

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September 1, 2021


Does sunflower commercialisation empower women in Singida, Tanzania?


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 59, which investigates the influence of sunflower commercialisation and diversity on women empowerment in Singida region, Tanzania. This study assesses the assumption that women engagement along Tanzania’s sunflower value chain empowers them socially, economically, and politically, and its contribution to their sense of individuality, self-respect, and confidence.

August 26, 2021


Rice commercialisation, agrarian change and livelihood trajectories: Transformations on the Fogera Plain of Ethiopia


This blog summarises APRA Working Paper 61, which explores the commercialisation of rice in Ethiopia since its introduction in the early 1970s. This process has evidenced wider agrarian changes that have contributed to the emergence and development of diverse livelihood options. The paper presents the role of increased rice commercialisation for the observed agrarian changes and the livelihood trajectories, based on both primary and secondary data sources generated from the Fogera plain.

August 23, 2021


The politics of mechanisation in Zimbabwe: tractors, accumulation and agrarian change


This article explores whether mechanisation affects patterns of accumulation and differentiation in Zimbabwe’s post land reform where policy consistently disadvantages smallholders. Is the latest mechanisation wave any different? The article considers dynamics of tractor access and accumulation trajectories across and within land use types in Mvurwi area. Larger, richer and well-connected farmers draw on patronage networks to access tractors and accumulate further. Some small to medium-scale farmers generate surpluses and invest in tractors or pay for services. Thus, accumulation from above and below feeds social differentiation. Tractor access remains constrained yet mechanisation is only part of the wider post-2000 story.

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August 16, 2021


Agricultural commercialisation and changing labour regimes in Zimbabwe


Written by: Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba This paper explores the emerging labour regimes and the consequences for agricultural commercialisation across multiple land-use types in post land reform Zimbabwe. The livelihoods of farmworkers, including those still resident in former labour compounds, are explored. The paper examines patterns of employment, land access, crop farming,… Read more »

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End of the road? The future of smallholder farmers in Malawi


This paper reflects on the findings of APRA Working Paper 56 and APRA Working Paper 58 to understand the reality of smallholder farming in Malawi, and what the future can be expected to hold for individuals involved in this sector. Further, the authors assess why the current outlook of smallholder farming is as it is, and seeks to understand the policy landscape that could carve a space for small-scale farmers in Malawi’s agricultural future.


Why it is expensive to produce cocoa in Ghana, a former global leader? APRA Ghana share findings


Cocoa producers in Ghana incur high production costs, but obtain low yields and receive less income. This hampers the country’s cocoa commercialisation efforts, hence requiring adoption of high yielding varieties and innovative financing options and investments in labour and inputs. These were the findings of a study carried out by APRA and the University of Ghana on agricultural commercialisation in Ghana’s cocoa sector. These findings were discussed in a dissemination workshop held on Wednesday July 28, 2021, in Ghana’s Suhum area.

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August 10, 2021


COVID-19 spreads to rural Zimbabwe


The third COVID-19 wave has firmly arrived in Zimbabwe’s rural areas. This is no longer the ‘rich person’s disease’ of those based in town. The number of cases and sadly deaths has surged across our rural study areas in the last month. This is a picture reflected across the country and indeed the region, with large increases since our last report.

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August 9, 2021


Positioning Tanzania in the regional market for rice: Lessons from the East Africa Rice Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In this blog, the fifth in our series on these national workshops, we reflect on the Tanzanian event.

August 5, 2021


Environmental impacts of commercial rice production in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


In Kilombero Valley, Tanzania, rice is increasingly becoming a commercial crop. However, although research findings show that commercial rice production is beneficial, it is also associated with increasing use of modern implements, such as tractors, and use of agrochemicals, such as herbicides. This blog, based on APRA Working Papers 30 and 37, highlights the potential environmental impacts of rice commercialisation in the region, and recommends actions that could be taken to mitigate these impacts.

August 2, 2021


Responses of Rice Farmers Engaged in Vegetable Production: Implications of the Collapse of Vegetable Prices in the Fogera Plain


Written by: Dawit Alemu and Tirhas Kinfe Since the early 1980s, the Fogera Plain has been one of Ethiopia’s major rice production areas. The introduction of rice, its commercialisation and the subsequent increased surplus production has led to the ability of smallholder rice farmers to intensify their production through diverse investments, mainly in supplementary irrigation.… Read more »

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July 27, 2021


The political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 60, investigating the political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria. This study focused on how the political economy dynamics can contribute to understanding the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation in the country, and the government’s role in enhancing this process.

July 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 60: The Political Economy of the Maize Value Chain in Nigeria


Written by, Paul Amaza, Sunday Mailumo, Asenath Silong The aim of this case study is to understand the underlying political economy dynamics of the maize value chain in Nigeria, with a focus on how this can contribute to comprehending the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation. The study is informed by theories of political settlements,… Read more »

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July 15, 2021


Working Paper 59: The Influence of Sunflower Commercialisation and Diversity on Women’s Empowerment: The Case of Iramba and Mkalama Districts, Singida Region


There is a growing body of literature that argues that normally women derive little benefit from cash crops. Some of the barriers leading to women having less benefit from cash crop value chains include cultural norms and power differences in access to, and control over, resources among actors in value chains. It is also argued that women’s participation in different forms of collective action help women to increase benefits to them through their increased agency, hence enabling them to utilise existing and diverse options for their empowerment. This paper explores how women have benefited from their engagement in sunflower commercialisation and how culture has influenced changes in access to, and control over, resources, including land, for their empowerment.

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July 14, 2021


Zimbabwe faces a COVID-19 surge: what is happening in the rural areas?


Vaccination drive at Hippo Valley sugar estate This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The increase in COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe has been significant in the weeks since our last blog. This has been matched by an increase in recorded deaths. The government has responded with a new ‘level 4’ lockdown, imposing a curfew, restricting… Read more »

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July 12, 2021


Inclusive and sustainable rice system to transform Kenya’s food system: Lessons from the East African Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In the second blog of our series exploring the outcomes of each of these national workshops, we turn our attention to Kenya.

July 6, 2021


How is ‘China’ helping to transform ‘Africa’? The need for a more sophisticated debate


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland How is China helping to transform African economies? There are many different narratives cast around in public and policy debate: China as the new imperial power, China as the radical developmentalist, China as just like any other donor/foreign power. None are very convincing. A report synthesising… Read more »

July 1, 2021


Social issues impacting household food security in the epoch of COVID-19


Written by: Loveness Msofi Mgalamadzi The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives and livelihoods around the world, and Malawi is no exception. This blog explores the social and food security issues arising from the implementation of COVID-19 preventive measures at household level in the country. Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented impacts that have… Read more »

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June 28, 2021


Gender and social differentiation in the context of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 58, observing agricultural commercialisation in Malawi and how it differs among various gender and social groups. This study found that female-headed and poorer households are at a disadvantage compared to their male-headed and wealthier counterparts due to differential access to resources and control over decision-making. The following blog provides a deeper look into this reality, and assesses the impact of gender and wealth on several aspects of commercialisation.

June 21, 2021


Journal Article: Medium-scale commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe: the experience of A2 resettlement farms


Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba. 2021. The emergence of medium-scale farms is having important consequences for agricultural commercialisation across Africa. This article examines the role of medium-scale A2 farms allocated following Zimbabwe’s land reform after 2000. While the existing literature focuses on changing farm size distributions, this article investigates processes of social differentiation… Read more »

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June 15, 2021


COVID-19 and economic transformation in rural Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 situation looks uncertain, with localised outbreaks and a rise in infections south of the Limpopo in South Africa. On June 11 there were 191 new cases (including 82 that were reported late) and 3 deaths reported, making a cumulative total of 39,688 cases and… Read more »

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June 14, 2021


Key messages and required actions for Ethiopian rice sector development: Outcomes of a national rice conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. This blog explores the outcomes of Ethiopia’s national workshop, which was held in parallel in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar.

EARC 2021 participants at the International Livestock Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

June 10, 2021


How land reform transformed small towns in Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Our recent paper – small towns and land reform in Zimbabwe – out in the European Journal of Development Research (open access) – explores some of the themes discussed last time for the Zimbabwe setting. Over a number of years, we have been monitoring changes in three small towns in… Read more »

June 7, 2021


Small towns and agricultural development in Africa


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The most recent Africa Agriculture Status Report from AGRA, ‘Feeding Africa’s Cities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Policies for Linking African Farmers with Growing Urban Food Markets’ and led by MSU’s Steve Haggblade, makes the important link between the future of African urban areas and agricultural development. On a… Read more »

May 26, 2021


Disseminating science amid COVID-19 restrictions: lessons from Ghana


The findings of a recent APRA Ghana research project were shared with a range of stakeholders at a dissemination event on Wednesday, 17 March 2021 in Takoradi, Ghana. This workshop included a discussion of the team’s research and the implications of these findings. The outcome of discussions will be incorporated into subsequent analyses and reports on the APRA project, and contribute to informing policy and practices related to rural development, empowerment of women and girls, and food and nutrition security. This will ensure that this research is used to inform effective and relevant policy.

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May 24, 2021


Working Paper 58: Understanding Gender and Social Differentiation in the Context of Agricultural Commercialisation and Implications for Livelihoods in Rural Malawi


Written by, Loveness M. Mgalamadzi, Mirriam Matita, Masautso Chimombo, Blessings Chinsinga, Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa, Stevier Kaiyatsa and Jacob Mazalale Agricultural commercialisation is widely recognised as a catalyst to economic growth and development in low and middle-income countries. This study investigates gender and social differences in agricultural commercialisation in rural Malawi. Specifically, the paper analyses different… Read more »

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May 20, 2021


Rural livelihoods in the pandemic: notes from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Half a million people have now been vaccinated in Zimbabwe, but this is still only 3.5% of the population. The Chinese Sinopharm vaccine has now been fully approved by the WHO for emergency use and Zimbabwe’s vaccination drive is in full swing. Even tourists from South Africa are taking advantage… Read more »

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At the mercy of politics? The groundnut value chain in Malawi


This blog highlights the findings of APRA Working Paper 56, observing the groundnut value chain in Malawi in both historical and contemporary perspectives through qualitative tools of inquiry. This study found that this value chain has experienced notable recovery in terms of productivity, but remains primarily informal and struggles to re-enter the lucrative formal global export markets. The following blog explores why this is the case, as well as examining the socio-economic importance of this crop and what can be done to support it in reaching its full potential moving forward.

May 17, 2021


Political economy of agricultural input subsidies in Tanzania: Who benefitted from the National Input Voucher Scheme?


This blog explores the programmes implemented in Tanzania to promote rice commercialisation since the country’s independence in 1961, as found in the course of a recent APRA study for Working Paper 57, as well as their impact on different socio-economic groups. Specifically, this blog is about agricultural input subsidy programmes implemented since 1967 to support smallholder farmers as part of the ujamaa (“socialism”) model of economic development. It focuses on the National Input Voucher Scheme (NAIVS), the biggest agricultural input subsidy programme implemented in Tanzania.

May 13, 2021


Beyond the silver bullet solution: towards a ‘systems agronomy’ perspective


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The previous two blogs (here and here) have discussed the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme that has become a high-profile, politicised intervention during the last season. In a very wet year, the results have been interesting. Yields have been good on the small plots, but many problems have been… Read more »

May 10, 2021


APRA Ghana presents research findings in a dissemination workshop


Key findings emerging from APRA’s research in Ghana were presented to representatives of oil palm farmers and oil palm processing companies, agricultural extension officers, district and regional directors of agriculture, and the media at a workshop on 17 March 2021 at the Takoradi Library & Office Complex.

May 6, 2021


Conservation agriculture: latest experiences from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland In the last blog, I introduced the Pfumvudza programme in Zimbabwe, a version of conservation agriculture that has been heavily promoted across the country during the last season. In this blog, I look at what happened, based on reflections from our field sites across the country – from… Read more »

May 4, 2021


APRA Research Note: The Covid-19 Pandemic and Household Rice Consumption Patterns in Ethiopia: The Case of Addis Ababa


Written by, Dawit Alemu and Gashaw T. Abate. The outbreak of COVID-19 also resulted in moderate changes to the operation of the domestic rice value chain in Ethiopia. These were caused by changing responses of value chain actors (domestic and others engaged in rice imports) to the COVID-19 prevention measures put in place by the… Read more »

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April 30, 2021


Political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania: Socioeconomic impact of trade policies, strategies and programmes


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 57, as the authors discuss the policies, strategies and programmes implemented since Tanzania’s independence in 1961 to promote rice commercialisation and reduce poverty and food insecurity among smallholder rice farmers, and their impact on different socio-economic groups based on findings from literature review and key informant interviews.

April 29, 2021


The political economy of cocoa value chain in Ghana


This blog presents the findings of APRA Working Paper 53, which adopted the political settlement framework to analyse the political economy dynamics of Ghana’s cocoa value chain. Researchers Joseph Kofi Teye and Ebenezer Nikoi discuss these findings, which indicate that policies implemented in this value chain have gone through several shifts in relation to changing agrarian political economy and distribution of power among interest groups, and highlight the steps that can be taken to harness the cocoa sector’s potential to contribute to economic development in Ghana.

April 26, 2021


The need for rice sector modernisation: a key outcome of the Ethiopian National Rice Platform Meeting


The 2021 Annual National Rice stakeholders’ platform meeting, hosted by the National Rice Secretariat at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), was held on 19 April in both Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar, concurrently.

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April 22, 2021


Can the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme deliver food security in Zimbabwe?


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. It looks like it’s going to be a good harvest this year in Zimbabwe. Early crop assessments suggest that there will be a bumper crop of maize, perhaps the highest since the early 1980s at 2.8 million tonnes, planted across 1.9 million hectares. The season saw heavy rains throughout the… Read more »


COVID-19 and the disappearing tobacco in Zimbabwe: Makoronyera and the new value chains


In this blog summarising APRA Working Paper 55, Toendepi Shonhe discusses the growing prevalence of informal tobacco aggregators, their impact on farmers’ wealth accumulation potential and the changes in this value chain since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shonhe also assesses how Zimbabwe’s government can address the challenges in the chain.

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April 20, 2021


The Policy Context of the Oil Palm Sector’s Underperformance in Ghana


In this blog summarising his research in the newly published APRA Working Paper 54, APRA researcher Kofi Takyi Asante highlights both the historical importance and the future potential of the oil palm industry in Ghana. He outlines the findings from the paper, explains the political and societal factors that have prevented this value chain from reaching its full potential in the past, and provides insight on how the Ghanaian government can engage stakeholders and take advantage of regional and global demand for this commodity to improve the outlook for this sector moving forward.

April 12, 2021


Working Paper 57: Agricultural commercialisation and the political economy of value chains: Tanzania rice case study


Written by Ntengua S.Y. Mdoe and Glead I. Mlay This paper presents the political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania. It is based on a review of trade policies, regulations, strategies, and programmes implemented since the 1960s to promote rice commercialisation, and the views of key informants. Key findings that emerge from the review of… Read more »

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March 31, 2021


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Does livestock enhance or reduce crop commercialisation? A case of Singida in Central Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in Singida Region in Tanzania, contributing to household income, and reducing poverty in the region. The use of ox-plough to perform farm operations, such as ploughing, and the application of livestock manure are just some ways in which livestock can enhance crop commercialisation. However, livestock production can also reduce the need to expand crop production if livestock earns a farmer higher income, hence inhibiting crop commercialisation in mixed crop-livestock farming systems. This blog explains the differences in commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories, as found in APRA Working Paper 65.

September 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 66: Yield and Commercialisation Effects of SRI Interventions in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania


This paper discusses System of Rice Intensification (SRI) interventions and its potential effects on paddy yield and commercialisation in Mngeta division, Kilombero district in Morogoro region, Tanzania. SRI is an innovative agroecological methodology that aims to improve yields and farmers’ profits by creating the most suitable environment for the rice plant to grow. It comprises the precise set of cultivation practices specifically required for careful management of biophysical needs of the rice plant for producing high yields. To assess the effects, we compare between trained and non-trained farmers, as well as between farmers who are members of SRI associations and non-SRI members, on aspects of adoption of SRI interventions, paddy productivity and yields. In turn, the effects of SRI is evaluated in terms of its influence on rice yield per hectare and commercialisation at household level.

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September 21, 2021


APRA Working Paper 65: Livestock, Crop Commercialisation and Poverty Reduction Among Rural Households in the Singida Region, Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in the Singida Region in Tanzania, directly or indirectly contributing to household income, food security and poverty reduction among rural people in the region. This paper examined the effect of livestock on crop commercialisation and farmers’ livelihoods in the region. The complementarity between crops and livestock in the farming systems of Singida needs to be recognised, enhanced and utilised not only by farmers and livestock keepers, but also by local government authorities and development practitioners.

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Challenging simplistic land degradation and restoration narratives in Zimbabwe


In the last blog, I reviewed the results of our land use analysis using a combination of Landsat satellite imagery, document/archival analysis and field interviews from Mvurwi area in northern Zimbabwe from 1984 to 2018, now out as APRA Working Paper 48. There are some important wider implications that emerge from such an analysis that gets to grips with longitudinal environmental and land use change and its intersecting drivers. In this blog, I identify four themes.

September 20, 2021


APRA features at the Second Scientific Conference held at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania


The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) participated in a scientific conference at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania from 24th May–27th May 2021. Themed ‘Agricultural Technologies, Productivity and Market Competitiveness in Tanzania: Towards an Upper-Middle Income Economy’, the conference provided a platform for scholars to interact and exchange knowledge on the application of science, innovation, and technology in the country’s socio-economic transformation. This blog highlights APRA Tanzania researchers’ contributions to the conference.

September 16, 2021


Dynamic drivers of land use change in Zimbabwe


What are the drivers of land use change and how do they interact over time? Are the changes, uni-directional and linear, or are the dynamics more complex? This is the question we posed for our study site in Mvurwi in northern Zimbabwe for the period 1984 to 2018, now published in APRA Working Paper 48. This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland.

September 13, 2021


Influence of rice commercialisation on poverty reduction levels in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


The commercialisation of smallholder agriculture has been considered a key strategy for sustainably reducing poverty and achieving equitable growth across many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, linking farmers to markets is pursued as an important strategy towards commercialisation and agricultural transformation under the National Development Programme and current Five-year Development Plan for the period 2016 – 2021 and the national vision up to 2025. This blog examines changes in rice commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories that have occurred between 2017 and 2019, as presented in APRA Working Paper 63, based on the findings from Mngeta division, Kilombero Valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, where rice is the most important food and cash crop.

September 9, 2021


APRA Working Paper 63: Rice Commercialisation Effects in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania: Identifying the Underlying Factors


Rice production is the most dominant farming system in Kilombero valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, accounting for more than 80 per cent of cultivated land within the valley. This paper examines changes in rice commercialisation and livelihood outcomes for different categories of farmers in the Mngeta division, Kilombero District, Tanzania. Understanding the underlying factors of agricultural commercialisation enables policymakers to ensure that policy interventions promote inclusive and equitable involvement of all farmers and other value chain actors, especially women and youths, who have been excluded from most development initiatives in the past.

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September 7, 2021


Worker-peasants and peasant-workers: new labour regimes in rural Zimbabwe


Much academic debate about rural farm labour has focused on the idea of linear transitions in labour regimes through processes of agricultural commercialisation. This sees farmworkers as either moving towards a class of wage-labour, profiting from modernising, efficient, large-scale agricultural commercialisation, or into subsistence, peasant-based family farming. Yet data discussed in a new open access paper just out in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies shows that neither of these simple transitions is happening.

September 6, 2021


Are smallholder farms or medium-scale farms more productive in Nigeria?


In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), support for smallholder-led agricultural strategy has been motivated by the stylised fact that smallholder farmers are more productive. This stylised fact is known as inverse relationship (IR) between farm size and productivity, which has been widely observed in developing countries around the world. Broadly, the IR suggests that smaller farms are more productive than larger farms. However, documented evidence of IR in SSA is largely limited to farms operating 5ha or less. This blog looks to a recent study of a greater range of farm sizes in Nigeria to better understand the reality of productivity as it relates to farm size.

September 2, 2021


Ghana’s agricultural commercialisation and food security: An analysis of smallholder farmers across gender and geography


Photo credit: Charles Nyaaba of the Peasant Farmers Association A recent study by Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Ghana researchers addresses the question: under what conditions, and at what scale, does smallholder agricultural commercialisation promote or hinder food security? The study presents an analysis of how gender and spatial inequalities in resource control determine… Read more »

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September 1, 2021


Does sunflower commercialisation empower women in Singida, Tanzania?


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 59, which investigates the influence of sunflower commercialisation and diversity on women empowerment in Singida region, Tanzania. This study assesses the assumption that women engagement along Tanzania’s sunflower value chain empowers them socially, economically, and politically, and its contribution to their sense of individuality, self-respect, and confidence.

August 26, 2021


Rice commercialisation, agrarian change and livelihood trajectories: Transformations on the Fogera Plain of Ethiopia


This blog summarises APRA Working Paper 61, which explores the commercialisation of rice in Ethiopia since its introduction in the early 1970s. This process has evidenced wider agrarian changes that have contributed to the emergence and development of diverse livelihood options. The paper presents the role of increased rice commercialisation for the observed agrarian changes and the livelihood trajectories, based on both primary and secondary data sources generated from the Fogera plain.

August 23, 2021


The politics of mechanisation in Zimbabwe: tractors, accumulation and agrarian change


This article explores whether mechanisation affects patterns of accumulation and differentiation in Zimbabwe’s post land reform where policy consistently disadvantages smallholders. Is the latest mechanisation wave any different? The article considers dynamics of tractor access and accumulation trajectories across and within land use types in Mvurwi area. Larger, richer and well-connected farmers draw on patronage networks to access tractors and accumulate further. Some small to medium-scale farmers generate surpluses and invest in tractors or pay for services. Thus, accumulation from above and below feeds social differentiation. Tractor access remains constrained yet mechanisation is only part of the wider post-2000 story.

Tags:

August 16, 2021


Agricultural commercialisation and changing labour regimes in Zimbabwe


Written by: Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba This paper explores the emerging labour regimes and the consequences for agricultural commercialisation across multiple land-use types in post land reform Zimbabwe. The livelihoods of farmworkers, including those still resident in former labour compounds, are explored. The paper examines patterns of employment, land access, crop farming,… Read more »

Tags:


End of the road? The future of smallholder farmers in Malawi


This paper reflects on the findings of APRA Working Paper 56 and APRA Working Paper 58 to understand the reality of smallholder farming in Malawi, and what the future can be expected to hold for individuals involved in this sector. Further, the authors assess why the current outlook of smallholder farming is as it is, and seeks to understand the policy landscape that could carve a space for small-scale farmers in Malawi’s agricultural future.


Why it is expensive to produce cocoa in Ghana, a former global leader? APRA Ghana share findings


Cocoa producers in Ghana incur high production costs, but obtain low yields and receive less income. This hampers the country’s cocoa commercialisation efforts, hence requiring adoption of high yielding varieties and innovative financing options and investments in labour and inputs. These were the findings of a study carried out by APRA and the University of Ghana on agricultural commercialisation in Ghana’s cocoa sector. These findings were discussed in a dissemination workshop held on Wednesday July 28, 2021, in Ghana’s Suhum area.

Tags:

August 10, 2021


COVID-19 spreads to rural Zimbabwe


The third COVID-19 wave has firmly arrived in Zimbabwe’s rural areas. This is no longer the ‘rich person’s disease’ of those based in town. The number of cases and sadly deaths has surged across our rural study areas in the last month. This is a picture reflected across the country and indeed the region, with large increases since our last report.

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August 9, 2021


Positioning Tanzania in the regional market for rice: Lessons from the East Africa Rice Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In this blog, the fifth in our series on these national workshops, we reflect on the Tanzanian event.

August 5, 2021


Environmental impacts of commercial rice production in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


In Kilombero Valley, Tanzania, rice is increasingly becoming a commercial crop. However, although research findings show that commercial rice production is beneficial, it is also associated with increasing use of modern implements, such as tractors, and use of agrochemicals, such as herbicides. This blog, based on APRA Working Papers 30 and 37, highlights the potential environmental impacts of rice commercialisation in the region, and recommends actions that could be taken to mitigate these impacts.

August 2, 2021


Responses of Rice Farmers Engaged in Vegetable Production: Implications of the Collapse of Vegetable Prices in the Fogera Plain


Written by: Dawit Alemu and Tirhas Kinfe Since the early 1980s, the Fogera Plain has been one of Ethiopia’s major rice production areas. The introduction of rice, its commercialisation and the subsequent increased surplus production has led to the ability of smallholder rice farmers to intensify their production through diverse investments, mainly in supplementary irrigation.… Read more »

Tags: ,

July 27, 2021


The political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 60, investigating the political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria. This study focused on how the political economy dynamics can contribute to understanding the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation in the country, and the government’s role in enhancing this process.

July 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 60: The Political Economy of the Maize Value Chain in Nigeria


Written by, Paul Amaza, Sunday Mailumo, Asenath Silong The aim of this case study is to understand the underlying political economy dynamics of the maize value chain in Nigeria, with a focus on how this can contribute to comprehending the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation. The study is informed by theories of political settlements,… Read more »

Tags: ,

July 15, 2021


Working Paper 59: The Influence of Sunflower Commercialisation and Diversity on Women’s Empowerment: The Case of Iramba and Mkalama Districts, Singida Region


There is a growing body of literature that argues that normally women derive little benefit from cash crops. Some of the barriers leading to women having less benefit from cash crop value chains include cultural norms and power differences in access to, and control over, resources among actors in value chains. It is also argued that women’s participation in different forms of collective action help women to increase benefits to them through their increased agency, hence enabling them to utilise existing and diverse options for their empowerment. This paper explores how women have benefited from their engagement in sunflower commercialisation and how culture has influenced changes in access to, and control over, resources, including land, for their empowerment.

Tags: ,

July 14, 2021


Zimbabwe faces a COVID-19 surge: what is happening in the rural areas?


Vaccination drive at Hippo Valley sugar estate This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The increase in COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe has been significant in the weeks since our last blog. This has been matched by an increase in recorded deaths. The government has responded with a new ‘level 4’ lockdown, imposing a curfew, restricting… Read more »

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July 12, 2021


Inclusive and sustainable rice system to transform Kenya’s food system: Lessons from the East African Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In the second blog of our series exploring the outcomes of each of these national workshops, we turn our attention to Kenya.

July 6, 2021


How is ‘China’ helping to transform ‘Africa’? The need for a more sophisticated debate


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland How is China helping to transform African economies? There are many different narratives cast around in public and policy debate: China as the new imperial power, China as the radical developmentalist, China as just like any other donor/foreign power. None are very convincing. A report synthesising… Read more »

July 1, 2021


Social issues impacting household food security in the epoch of COVID-19


Written by: Loveness Msofi Mgalamadzi The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives and livelihoods around the world, and Malawi is no exception. This blog explores the social and food security issues arising from the implementation of COVID-19 preventive measures at household level in the country. Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented impacts that have… Read more »

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June 28, 2021


Gender and social differentiation in the context of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 58, observing agricultural commercialisation in Malawi and how it differs among various gender and social groups. This study found that female-headed and poorer households are at a disadvantage compared to their male-headed and wealthier counterparts due to differential access to resources and control over decision-making. The following blog provides a deeper look into this reality, and assesses the impact of gender and wealth on several aspects of commercialisation.

June 21, 2021


Journal Article: Medium-scale commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe: the experience of A2 resettlement farms


Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba. 2021. The emergence of medium-scale farms is having important consequences for agricultural commercialisation across Africa. This article examines the role of medium-scale A2 farms allocated following Zimbabwe’s land reform after 2000. While the existing literature focuses on changing farm size distributions, this article investigates processes of social differentiation… Read more »

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June 15, 2021


COVID-19 and economic transformation in rural Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 situation looks uncertain, with localised outbreaks and a rise in infections south of the Limpopo in South Africa. On June 11 there were 191 new cases (including 82 that were reported late) and 3 deaths reported, making a cumulative total of 39,688 cases and… Read more »

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June 14, 2021


Key messages and required actions for Ethiopian rice sector development: Outcomes of a national rice conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. This blog explores the outcomes of Ethiopia’s national workshop, which was held in parallel in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar.

EARC 2021 participants at the International Livestock Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

June 10, 2021


How land reform transformed small towns in Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Our recent paper – small towns and land reform in Zimbabwe – out in the European Journal of Development Research (open access) – explores some of the themes discussed last time for the Zimbabwe setting. Over a number of years, we have been monitoring changes in three small towns in… Read more »

June 7, 2021


Small towns and agricultural development in Africa


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The most recent Africa Agriculture Status Report from AGRA, ‘Feeding Africa’s Cities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Policies for Linking African Farmers with Growing Urban Food Markets’ and led by MSU’s Steve Haggblade, makes the important link between the future of African urban areas and agricultural development. On a… Read more »

May 26, 2021


Disseminating science amid COVID-19 restrictions: lessons from Ghana


The findings of a recent APRA Ghana research project were shared with a range of stakeholders at a dissemination event on Wednesday, 17 March 2021 in Takoradi, Ghana. This workshop included a discussion of the team’s research and the implications of these findings. The outcome of discussions will be incorporated into subsequent analyses and reports on the APRA project, and contribute to informing policy and practices related to rural development, empowerment of women and girls, and food and nutrition security. This will ensure that this research is used to inform effective and relevant policy.

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May 24, 2021


Working Paper 58: Understanding Gender and Social Differentiation in the Context of Agricultural Commercialisation and Implications for Livelihoods in Rural Malawi


Written by, Loveness M. Mgalamadzi, Mirriam Matita, Masautso Chimombo, Blessings Chinsinga, Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa, Stevier Kaiyatsa and Jacob Mazalale Agricultural commercialisation is widely recognised as a catalyst to economic growth and development in low and middle-income countries. This study investigates gender and social differences in agricultural commercialisation in rural Malawi. Specifically, the paper analyses different… Read more »

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May 20, 2021


Rural livelihoods in the pandemic: notes from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Half a million people have now been vaccinated in Zimbabwe, but this is still only 3.5% of the population. The Chinese Sinopharm vaccine has now been fully approved by the WHO for emergency use and Zimbabwe’s vaccination drive is in full swing. Even tourists from South Africa are taking advantage… Read more »

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At the mercy of politics? The groundnut value chain in Malawi


This blog highlights the findings of APRA Working Paper 56, observing the groundnut value chain in Malawi in both historical and contemporary perspectives through qualitative tools of inquiry. This study found that this value chain has experienced notable recovery in terms of productivity, but remains primarily informal and struggles to re-enter the lucrative formal global export markets. The following blog explores why this is the case, as well as examining the socio-economic importance of this crop and what can be done to support it in reaching its full potential moving forward.

May 17, 2021


Political economy of agricultural input subsidies in Tanzania: Who benefitted from the National Input Voucher Scheme?


This blog explores the programmes implemented in Tanzania to promote rice commercialisation since the country’s independence in 1961, as found in the course of a recent APRA study for Working Paper 57, as well as their impact on different socio-economic groups. Specifically, this blog is about agricultural input subsidy programmes implemented since 1967 to support smallholder farmers as part of the ujamaa (“socialism”) model of economic development. It focuses on the National Input Voucher Scheme (NAIVS), the biggest agricultural input subsidy programme implemented in Tanzania.

May 13, 2021


Beyond the silver bullet solution: towards a ‘systems agronomy’ perspective


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The previous two blogs (here and here) have discussed the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme that has become a high-profile, politicised intervention during the last season. In a very wet year, the results have been interesting. Yields have been good on the small plots, but many problems have been… Read more »

May 10, 2021


APRA Ghana presents research findings in a dissemination workshop


Key findings emerging from APRA’s research in Ghana were presented to representatives of oil palm farmers and oil palm processing companies, agricultural extension officers, district and regional directors of agriculture, and the media at a workshop on 17 March 2021 at the Takoradi Library & Office Complex.

May 6, 2021


Conservation agriculture: latest experiences from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland In the last blog, I introduced the Pfumvudza programme in Zimbabwe, a version of conservation agriculture that has been heavily promoted across the country during the last season. In this blog, I look at what happened, based on reflections from our field sites across the country – from… Read more »

May 4, 2021


APRA Research Note: The Covid-19 Pandemic and Household Rice Consumption Patterns in Ethiopia: The Case of Addis Ababa


Written by, Dawit Alemu and Gashaw T. Abate. The outbreak of COVID-19 also resulted in moderate changes to the operation of the domestic rice value chain in Ethiopia. These were caused by changing responses of value chain actors (domestic and others engaged in rice imports) to the COVID-19 prevention measures put in place by the… Read more »

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April 30, 2021


Political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania: Socioeconomic impact of trade policies, strategies and programmes


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 57, as the authors discuss the policies, strategies and programmes implemented since Tanzania’s independence in 1961 to promote rice commercialisation and reduce poverty and food insecurity among smallholder rice farmers, and their impact on different socio-economic groups based on findings from literature review and key informant interviews.

April 29, 2021


The political economy of cocoa value chain in Ghana


This blog presents the findings of APRA Working Paper 53, which adopted the political settlement framework to analyse the political economy dynamics of Ghana’s cocoa value chain. Researchers Joseph Kofi Teye and Ebenezer Nikoi discuss these findings, which indicate that policies implemented in this value chain have gone through several shifts in relation to changing agrarian political economy and distribution of power among interest groups, and highlight the steps that can be taken to harness the cocoa sector’s potential to contribute to economic development in Ghana.

April 26, 2021


The need for rice sector modernisation: a key outcome of the Ethiopian National Rice Platform Meeting


The 2021 Annual National Rice stakeholders’ platform meeting, hosted by the National Rice Secretariat at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), was held on 19 April in both Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar, concurrently.

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April 22, 2021


Can the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme deliver food security in Zimbabwe?


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. It looks like it’s going to be a good harvest this year in Zimbabwe. Early crop assessments suggest that there will be a bumper crop of maize, perhaps the highest since the early 1980s at 2.8 million tonnes, planted across 1.9 million hectares. The season saw heavy rains throughout the… Read more »


COVID-19 and the disappearing tobacco in Zimbabwe: Makoronyera and the new value chains


In this blog summarising APRA Working Paper 55, Toendepi Shonhe discusses the growing prevalence of informal tobacco aggregators, their impact on farmers’ wealth accumulation potential and the changes in this value chain since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shonhe also assesses how Zimbabwe’s government can address the challenges in the chain.

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April 20, 2021


The Policy Context of the Oil Palm Sector’s Underperformance in Ghana


In this blog summarising his research in the newly published APRA Working Paper 54, APRA researcher Kofi Takyi Asante highlights both the historical importance and the future potential of the oil palm industry in Ghana. He outlines the findings from the paper, explains the political and societal factors that have prevented this value chain from reaching its full potential in the past, and provides insight on how the Ghanaian government can engage stakeholders and take advantage of regional and global demand for this commodity to improve the outlook for this sector moving forward.

April 12, 2021


Working Paper 57: Agricultural commercialisation and the political economy of value chains: Tanzania rice case study


Written by Ntengua S.Y. Mdoe and Glead I. Mlay This paper presents the political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania. It is based on a review of trade policies, regulations, strategies, and programmes implemented since the 1960s to promote rice commercialisation, and the views of key informants. Key findings that emerge from the review of… Read more »

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March 31, 2021


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Does livestock enhance or reduce crop commercialisation? A case of Singida in Central Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in Singida Region in Tanzania, contributing to household income, and reducing poverty in the region. The use of ox-plough to perform farm operations, such as ploughing, and the application of livestock manure are just some ways in which livestock can enhance crop commercialisation. However, livestock production can also reduce the need to expand crop production if livestock earns a farmer higher income, hence inhibiting crop commercialisation in mixed crop-livestock farming systems. This blog explains the differences in commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories, as found in APRA Working Paper 65.

September 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 66: Yield and Commercialisation Effects of SRI Interventions in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania


This paper discusses System of Rice Intensification (SRI) interventions and its potential effects on paddy yield and commercialisation in Mngeta division, Kilombero district in Morogoro region, Tanzania. SRI is an innovative agroecological methodology that aims to improve yields and farmers’ profits by creating the most suitable environment for the rice plant to grow. It comprises the precise set of cultivation practices specifically required for careful management of biophysical needs of the rice plant for producing high yields. To assess the effects, we compare between trained and non-trained farmers, as well as between farmers who are members of SRI associations and non-SRI members, on aspects of adoption of SRI interventions, paddy productivity and yields. In turn, the effects of SRI is evaluated in terms of its influence on rice yield per hectare and commercialisation at household level.

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September 21, 2021


APRA Working Paper 65: Livestock, Crop Commercialisation and Poverty Reduction Among Rural Households in the Singida Region, Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in the Singida Region in Tanzania, directly or indirectly contributing to household income, food security and poverty reduction among rural people in the region. This paper examined the effect of livestock on crop commercialisation and farmers’ livelihoods in the region. The complementarity between crops and livestock in the farming systems of Singida needs to be recognised, enhanced and utilised not only by farmers and livestock keepers, but also by local government authorities and development practitioners.

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Challenging simplistic land degradation and restoration narratives in Zimbabwe


In the last blog, I reviewed the results of our land use analysis using a combination of Landsat satellite imagery, document/archival analysis and field interviews from Mvurwi area in northern Zimbabwe from 1984 to 2018, now out as APRA Working Paper 48. There are some important wider implications that emerge from such an analysis that gets to grips with longitudinal environmental and land use change and its intersecting drivers. In this blog, I identify four themes.

September 20, 2021


APRA features at the Second Scientific Conference held at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania


The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) participated in a scientific conference at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania from 24th May–27th May 2021. Themed ‘Agricultural Technologies, Productivity and Market Competitiveness in Tanzania: Towards an Upper-Middle Income Economy’, the conference provided a platform for scholars to interact and exchange knowledge on the application of science, innovation, and technology in the country’s socio-economic transformation. This blog highlights APRA Tanzania researchers’ contributions to the conference.

September 16, 2021


Dynamic drivers of land use change in Zimbabwe


What are the drivers of land use change and how do they interact over time? Are the changes, uni-directional and linear, or are the dynamics more complex? This is the question we posed for our study site in Mvurwi in northern Zimbabwe for the period 1984 to 2018, now published in APRA Working Paper 48. This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland.

September 13, 2021


Influence of rice commercialisation on poverty reduction levels in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


The commercialisation of smallholder agriculture has been considered a key strategy for sustainably reducing poverty and achieving equitable growth across many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, linking farmers to markets is pursued as an important strategy towards commercialisation and agricultural transformation under the National Development Programme and current Five-year Development Plan for the period 2016 – 2021 and the national vision up to 2025. This blog examines changes in rice commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories that have occurred between 2017 and 2019, as presented in APRA Working Paper 63, based on the findings from Mngeta division, Kilombero Valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, where rice is the most important food and cash crop.

September 9, 2021


APRA Working Paper 63: Rice Commercialisation Effects in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania: Identifying the Underlying Factors


Rice production is the most dominant farming system in Kilombero valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, accounting for more than 80 per cent of cultivated land within the valley. This paper examines changes in rice commercialisation and livelihood outcomes for different categories of farmers in the Mngeta division, Kilombero District, Tanzania. Understanding the underlying factors of agricultural commercialisation enables policymakers to ensure that policy interventions promote inclusive and equitable involvement of all farmers and other value chain actors, especially women and youths, who have been excluded from most development initiatives in the past.

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September 7, 2021


Worker-peasants and peasant-workers: new labour regimes in rural Zimbabwe


Much academic debate about rural farm labour has focused on the idea of linear transitions in labour regimes through processes of agricultural commercialisation. This sees farmworkers as either moving towards a class of wage-labour, profiting from modernising, efficient, large-scale agricultural commercialisation, or into subsistence, peasant-based family farming. Yet data discussed in a new open access paper just out in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies shows that neither of these simple transitions is happening.

September 6, 2021


Are smallholder farms or medium-scale farms more productive in Nigeria?


In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), support for smallholder-led agricultural strategy has been motivated by the stylised fact that smallholder farmers are more productive. This stylised fact is known as inverse relationship (IR) between farm size and productivity, which has been widely observed in developing countries around the world. Broadly, the IR suggests that smaller farms are more productive than larger farms. However, documented evidence of IR in SSA is largely limited to farms operating 5ha or less. This blog looks to a recent study of a greater range of farm sizes in Nigeria to better understand the reality of productivity as it relates to farm size.

September 2, 2021


Ghana’s agricultural commercialisation and food security: An analysis of smallholder farmers across gender and geography


Photo credit: Charles Nyaaba of the Peasant Farmers Association A recent study by Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Ghana researchers addresses the question: under what conditions, and at what scale, does smallholder agricultural commercialisation promote or hinder food security? The study presents an analysis of how gender and spatial inequalities in resource control determine… Read more »

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September 1, 2021


Does sunflower commercialisation empower women in Singida, Tanzania?


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 59, which investigates the influence of sunflower commercialisation and diversity on women empowerment in Singida region, Tanzania. This study assesses the assumption that women engagement along Tanzania’s sunflower value chain empowers them socially, economically, and politically, and its contribution to their sense of individuality, self-respect, and confidence.

August 26, 2021


Rice commercialisation, agrarian change and livelihood trajectories: Transformations on the Fogera Plain of Ethiopia


This blog summarises APRA Working Paper 61, which explores the commercialisation of rice in Ethiopia since its introduction in the early 1970s. This process has evidenced wider agrarian changes that have contributed to the emergence and development of diverse livelihood options. The paper presents the role of increased rice commercialisation for the observed agrarian changes and the livelihood trajectories, based on both primary and secondary data sources generated from the Fogera plain.

August 23, 2021


The politics of mechanisation in Zimbabwe: tractors, accumulation and agrarian change


This article explores whether mechanisation affects patterns of accumulation and differentiation in Zimbabwe’s post land reform where policy consistently disadvantages smallholders. Is the latest mechanisation wave any different? The article considers dynamics of tractor access and accumulation trajectories across and within land use types in Mvurwi area. Larger, richer and well-connected farmers draw on patronage networks to access tractors and accumulate further. Some small to medium-scale farmers generate surpluses and invest in tractors or pay for services. Thus, accumulation from above and below feeds social differentiation. Tractor access remains constrained yet mechanisation is only part of the wider post-2000 story.

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August 16, 2021


Agricultural commercialisation and changing labour regimes in Zimbabwe


Written by: Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba This paper explores the emerging labour regimes and the consequences for agricultural commercialisation across multiple land-use types in post land reform Zimbabwe. The livelihoods of farmworkers, including those still resident in former labour compounds, are explored. The paper examines patterns of employment, land access, crop farming,… Read more »

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End of the road? The future of smallholder farmers in Malawi


This paper reflects on the findings of APRA Working Paper 56 and APRA Working Paper 58 to understand the reality of smallholder farming in Malawi, and what the future can be expected to hold for individuals involved in this sector. Further, the authors assess why the current outlook of smallholder farming is as it is, and seeks to understand the policy landscape that could carve a space for small-scale farmers in Malawi’s agricultural future.


Why it is expensive to produce cocoa in Ghana, a former global leader? APRA Ghana share findings


Cocoa producers in Ghana incur high production costs, but obtain low yields and receive less income. This hampers the country’s cocoa commercialisation efforts, hence requiring adoption of high yielding varieties and innovative financing options and investments in labour and inputs. These were the findings of a study carried out by APRA and the University of Ghana on agricultural commercialisation in Ghana’s cocoa sector. These findings were discussed in a dissemination workshop held on Wednesday July 28, 2021, in Ghana’s Suhum area.

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August 10, 2021


COVID-19 spreads to rural Zimbabwe


The third COVID-19 wave has firmly arrived in Zimbabwe’s rural areas. This is no longer the ‘rich person’s disease’ of those based in town. The number of cases and sadly deaths has surged across our rural study areas in the last month. This is a picture reflected across the country and indeed the region, with large increases since our last report.

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August 9, 2021


Positioning Tanzania in the regional market for rice: Lessons from the East Africa Rice Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In this blog, the fifth in our series on these national workshops, we reflect on the Tanzanian event.

August 5, 2021


Environmental impacts of commercial rice production in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


In Kilombero Valley, Tanzania, rice is increasingly becoming a commercial crop. However, although research findings show that commercial rice production is beneficial, it is also associated with increasing use of modern implements, such as tractors, and use of agrochemicals, such as herbicides. This blog, based on APRA Working Papers 30 and 37, highlights the potential environmental impacts of rice commercialisation in the region, and recommends actions that could be taken to mitigate these impacts.

August 2, 2021


Responses of Rice Farmers Engaged in Vegetable Production: Implications of the Collapse of Vegetable Prices in the Fogera Plain


Written by: Dawit Alemu and Tirhas Kinfe Since the early 1980s, the Fogera Plain has been one of Ethiopia’s major rice production areas. The introduction of rice, its commercialisation and the subsequent increased surplus production has led to the ability of smallholder rice farmers to intensify their production through diverse investments, mainly in supplementary irrigation.… Read more »

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July 27, 2021


The political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 60, investigating the political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria. This study focused on how the political economy dynamics can contribute to understanding the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation in the country, and the government’s role in enhancing this process.

July 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 60: The Political Economy of the Maize Value Chain in Nigeria


Written by, Paul Amaza, Sunday Mailumo, Asenath Silong The aim of this case study is to understand the underlying political economy dynamics of the maize value chain in Nigeria, with a focus on how this can contribute to comprehending the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation. The study is informed by theories of political settlements,… Read more »

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July 15, 2021


Working Paper 59: The Influence of Sunflower Commercialisation and Diversity on Women’s Empowerment: The Case of Iramba and Mkalama Districts, Singida Region


There is a growing body of literature that argues that normally women derive little benefit from cash crops. Some of the barriers leading to women having less benefit from cash crop value chains include cultural norms and power differences in access to, and control over, resources among actors in value chains. It is also argued that women’s participation in different forms of collective action help women to increase benefits to them through their increased agency, hence enabling them to utilise existing and diverse options for their empowerment. This paper explores how women have benefited from their engagement in sunflower commercialisation and how culture has influenced changes in access to, and control over, resources, including land, for their empowerment.

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July 14, 2021


Zimbabwe faces a COVID-19 surge: what is happening in the rural areas?


Vaccination drive at Hippo Valley sugar estate This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The increase in COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe has been significant in the weeks since our last blog. This has been matched by an increase in recorded deaths. The government has responded with a new ‘level 4’ lockdown, imposing a curfew, restricting… Read more »

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July 12, 2021


Inclusive and sustainable rice system to transform Kenya’s food system: Lessons from the East African Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In the second blog of our series exploring the outcomes of each of these national workshops, we turn our attention to Kenya.

July 6, 2021


How is ‘China’ helping to transform ‘Africa’? The need for a more sophisticated debate


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland How is China helping to transform African economies? There are many different narratives cast around in public and policy debate: China as the new imperial power, China as the radical developmentalist, China as just like any other donor/foreign power. None are very convincing. A report synthesising… Read more »

July 1, 2021


Social issues impacting household food security in the epoch of COVID-19


Written by: Loveness Msofi Mgalamadzi The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives and livelihoods around the world, and Malawi is no exception. This blog explores the social and food security issues arising from the implementation of COVID-19 preventive measures at household level in the country. Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented impacts that have… Read more »

Tags:

June 28, 2021


Gender and social differentiation in the context of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 58, observing agricultural commercialisation in Malawi and how it differs among various gender and social groups. This study found that female-headed and poorer households are at a disadvantage compared to their male-headed and wealthier counterparts due to differential access to resources and control over decision-making. The following blog provides a deeper look into this reality, and assesses the impact of gender and wealth on several aspects of commercialisation.

June 21, 2021


Journal Article: Medium-scale commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe: the experience of A2 resettlement farms


Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba. 2021. The emergence of medium-scale farms is having important consequences for agricultural commercialisation across Africa. This article examines the role of medium-scale A2 farms allocated following Zimbabwe’s land reform after 2000. While the existing literature focuses on changing farm size distributions, this article investigates processes of social differentiation… Read more »

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June 15, 2021


COVID-19 and economic transformation in rural Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 situation looks uncertain, with localised outbreaks and a rise in infections south of the Limpopo in South Africa. On June 11 there were 191 new cases (including 82 that were reported late) and 3 deaths reported, making a cumulative total of 39,688 cases and… Read more »

Tags:

June 14, 2021


Key messages and required actions for Ethiopian rice sector development: Outcomes of a national rice conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. This blog explores the outcomes of Ethiopia’s national workshop, which was held in parallel in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar.

EARC 2021 participants at the International Livestock Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

June 10, 2021


How land reform transformed small towns in Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Our recent paper – small towns and land reform in Zimbabwe – out in the European Journal of Development Research (open access) – explores some of the themes discussed last time for the Zimbabwe setting. Over a number of years, we have been monitoring changes in three small towns in… Read more »

June 7, 2021


Small towns and agricultural development in Africa


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The most recent Africa Agriculture Status Report from AGRA, ‘Feeding Africa’s Cities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Policies for Linking African Farmers with Growing Urban Food Markets’ and led by MSU’s Steve Haggblade, makes the important link between the future of African urban areas and agricultural development. On a… Read more »

May 26, 2021


Disseminating science amid COVID-19 restrictions: lessons from Ghana


The findings of a recent APRA Ghana research project were shared with a range of stakeholders at a dissemination event on Wednesday, 17 March 2021 in Takoradi, Ghana. This workshop included a discussion of the team’s research and the implications of these findings. The outcome of discussions will be incorporated into subsequent analyses and reports on the APRA project, and contribute to informing policy and practices related to rural development, empowerment of women and girls, and food and nutrition security. This will ensure that this research is used to inform effective and relevant policy.

Tags:

May 24, 2021


Working Paper 58: Understanding Gender and Social Differentiation in the Context of Agricultural Commercialisation and Implications for Livelihoods in Rural Malawi


Written by, Loveness M. Mgalamadzi, Mirriam Matita, Masautso Chimombo, Blessings Chinsinga, Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa, Stevier Kaiyatsa and Jacob Mazalale Agricultural commercialisation is widely recognised as a catalyst to economic growth and development in low and middle-income countries. This study investigates gender and social differences in agricultural commercialisation in rural Malawi. Specifically, the paper analyses different… Read more »

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May 20, 2021


Rural livelihoods in the pandemic: notes from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Half a million people have now been vaccinated in Zimbabwe, but this is still only 3.5% of the population. The Chinese Sinopharm vaccine has now been fully approved by the WHO for emergency use and Zimbabwe’s vaccination drive is in full swing. Even tourists from South Africa are taking advantage… Read more »

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At the mercy of politics? The groundnut value chain in Malawi


This blog highlights the findings of APRA Working Paper 56, observing the groundnut value chain in Malawi in both historical and contemporary perspectives through qualitative tools of inquiry. This study found that this value chain has experienced notable recovery in terms of productivity, but remains primarily informal and struggles to re-enter the lucrative formal global export markets. The following blog explores why this is the case, as well as examining the socio-economic importance of this crop and what can be done to support it in reaching its full potential moving forward.

May 17, 2021


Political economy of agricultural input subsidies in Tanzania: Who benefitted from the National Input Voucher Scheme?


This blog explores the programmes implemented in Tanzania to promote rice commercialisation since the country’s independence in 1961, as found in the course of a recent APRA study for Working Paper 57, as well as their impact on different socio-economic groups. Specifically, this blog is about agricultural input subsidy programmes implemented since 1967 to support smallholder farmers as part of the ujamaa (“socialism”) model of economic development. It focuses on the National Input Voucher Scheme (NAIVS), the biggest agricultural input subsidy programme implemented in Tanzania.

May 13, 2021


Beyond the silver bullet solution: towards a ‘systems agronomy’ perspective


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The previous two blogs (here and here) have discussed the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme that has become a high-profile, politicised intervention during the last season. In a very wet year, the results have been interesting. Yields have been good on the small plots, but many problems have been… Read more »

May 10, 2021


APRA Ghana presents research findings in a dissemination workshop


Key findings emerging from APRA’s research in Ghana were presented to representatives of oil palm farmers and oil palm processing companies, agricultural extension officers, district and regional directors of agriculture, and the media at a workshop on 17 March 2021 at the Takoradi Library & Office Complex.

May 6, 2021


Conservation agriculture: latest experiences from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland In the last blog, I introduced the Pfumvudza programme in Zimbabwe, a version of conservation agriculture that has been heavily promoted across the country during the last season. In this blog, I look at what happened, based on reflections from our field sites across the country – from… Read more »

May 4, 2021


APRA Research Note: The Covid-19 Pandemic and Household Rice Consumption Patterns in Ethiopia: The Case of Addis Ababa


Written by, Dawit Alemu and Gashaw T. Abate. The outbreak of COVID-19 also resulted in moderate changes to the operation of the domestic rice value chain in Ethiopia. These were caused by changing responses of value chain actors (domestic and others engaged in rice imports) to the COVID-19 prevention measures put in place by the… Read more »

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April 30, 2021


Political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania: Socioeconomic impact of trade policies, strategies and programmes


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 57, as the authors discuss the policies, strategies and programmes implemented since Tanzania’s independence in 1961 to promote rice commercialisation and reduce poverty and food insecurity among smallholder rice farmers, and their impact on different socio-economic groups based on findings from literature review and key informant interviews.

April 29, 2021


The political economy of cocoa value chain in Ghana


This blog presents the findings of APRA Working Paper 53, which adopted the political settlement framework to analyse the political economy dynamics of Ghana’s cocoa value chain. Researchers Joseph Kofi Teye and Ebenezer Nikoi discuss these findings, which indicate that policies implemented in this value chain have gone through several shifts in relation to changing agrarian political economy and distribution of power among interest groups, and highlight the steps that can be taken to harness the cocoa sector’s potential to contribute to economic development in Ghana.

April 26, 2021


The need for rice sector modernisation: a key outcome of the Ethiopian National Rice Platform Meeting


The 2021 Annual National Rice stakeholders’ platform meeting, hosted by the National Rice Secretariat at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), was held on 19 April in both Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar, concurrently.

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April 22, 2021


Can the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme deliver food security in Zimbabwe?


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. It looks like it’s going to be a good harvest this year in Zimbabwe. Early crop assessments suggest that there will be a bumper crop of maize, perhaps the highest since the early 1980s at 2.8 million tonnes, planted across 1.9 million hectares. The season saw heavy rains throughout the… Read more »


COVID-19 and the disappearing tobacco in Zimbabwe: Makoronyera and the new value chains


In this blog summarising APRA Working Paper 55, Toendepi Shonhe discusses the growing prevalence of informal tobacco aggregators, their impact on farmers’ wealth accumulation potential and the changes in this value chain since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shonhe also assesses how Zimbabwe’s government can address the challenges in the chain.

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April 20, 2021


The Policy Context of the Oil Palm Sector’s Underperformance in Ghana


In this blog summarising his research in the newly published APRA Working Paper 54, APRA researcher Kofi Takyi Asante highlights both the historical importance and the future potential of the oil palm industry in Ghana. He outlines the findings from the paper, explains the political and societal factors that have prevented this value chain from reaching its full potential in the past, and provides insight on how the Ghanaian government can engage stakeholders and take advantage of regional and global demand for this commodity to improve the outlook for this sector moving forward.

April 12, 2021


Working Paper 57: Agricultural commercialisation and the political economy of value chains: Tanzania rice case study


Written by Ntengua S.Y. Mdoe and Glead I. Mlay This paper presents the political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania. It is based on a review of trade policies, regulations, strategies, and programmes implemented since the 1960s to promote rice commercialisation, and the views of key informants. Key findings that emerge from the review of… Read more »

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March 31, 2021


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Does livestock enhance or reduce crop commercialisation? A case of Singida in Central Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in Singida Region in Tanzania, contributing to household income, and reducing poverty in the region. The use of ox-plough to perform farm operations, such as ploughing, and the application of livestock manure are just some ways in which livestock can enhance crop commercialisation. However, livestock production can also reduce the need to expand crop production if livestock earns a farmer higher income, hence inhibiting crop commercialisation in mixed crop-livestock farming systems. This blog explains the differences in commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories, as found in APRA Working Paper 65.

September 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 66: Yield and Commercialisation Effects of SRI Interventions in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania


This paper discusses System of Rice Intensification (SRI) interventions and its potential effects on paddy yield and commercialisation in Mngeta division, Kilombero district in Morogoro region, Tanzania. SRI is an innovative agroecological methodology that aims to improve yields and farmers’ profits by creating the most suitable environment for the rice plant to grow. It comprises the precise set of cultivation practices specifically required for careful management of biophysical needs of the rice plant for producing high yields. To assess the effects, we compare between trained and non-trained farmers, as well as between farmers who are members of SRI associations and non-SRI members, on aspects of adoption of SRI interventions, paddy productivity and yields. In turn, the effects of SRI is evaluated in terms of its influence on rice yield per hectare and commercialisation at household level.

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September 21, 2021


APRA Working Paper 65: Livestock, Crop Commercialisation and Poverty Reduction Among Rural Households in the Singida Region, Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in the Singida Region in Tanzania, directly or indirectly contributing to household income, food security and poverty reduction among rural people in the region. This paper examined the effect of livestock on crop commercialisation and farmers’ livelihoods in the region. The complementarity between crops and livestock in the farming systems of Singida needs to be recognised, enhanced and utilised not only by farmers and livestock keepers, but also by local government authorities and development practitioners.

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Challenging simplistic land degradation and restoration narratives in Zimbabwe


In the last blog, I reviewed the results of our land use analysis using a combination of Landsat satellite imagery, document/archival analysis and field interviews from Mvurwi area in northern Zimbabwe from 1984 to 2018, now out as APRA Working Paper 48. There are some important wider implications that emerge from such an analysis that gets to grips with longitudinal environmental and land use change and its intersecting drivers. In this blog, I identify four themes.

September 20, 2021


APRA features at the Second Scientific Conference held at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania


The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) participated in a scientific conference at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania from 24th May–27th May 2021. Themed ‘Agricultural Technologies, Productivity and Market Competitiveness in Tanzania: Towards an Upper-Middle Income Economy’, the conference provided a platform for scholars to interact and exchange knowledge on the application of science, innovation, and technology in the country’s socio-economic transformation. This blog highlights APRA Tanzania researchers’ contributions to the conference.

September 16, 2021


Dynamic drivers of land use change in Zimbabwe


What are the drivers of land use change and how do they interact over time? Are the changes, uni-directional and linear, or are the dynamics more complex? This is the question we posed for our study site in Mvurwi in northern Zimbabwe for the period 1984 to 2018, now published in APRA Working Paper 48. This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland.

September 13, 2021


Influence of rice commercialisation on poverty reduction levels in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


The commercialisation of smallholder agriculture has been considered a key strategy for sustainably reducing poverty and achieving equitable growth across many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, linking farmers to markets is pursued as an important strategy towards commercialisation and agricultural transformation under the National Development Programme and current Five-year Development Plan for the period 2016 – 2021 and the national vision up to 2025. This blog examines changes in rice commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories that have occurred between 2017 and 2019, as presented in APRA Working Paper 63, based on the findings from Mngeta division, Kilombero Valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, where rice is the most important food and cash crop.

September 9, 2021


APRA Working Paper 63: Rice Commercialisation Effects in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania: Identifying the Underlying Factors


Rice production is the most dominant farming system in Kilombero valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, accounting for more than 80 per cent of cultivated land within the valley. This paper examines changes in rice commercialisation and livelihood outcomes for different categories of farmers in the Mngeta division, Kilombero District, Tanzania. Understanding the underlying factors of agricultural commercialisation enables policymakers to ensure that policy interventions promote inclusive and equitable involvement of all farmers and other value chain actors, especially women and youths, who have been excluded from most development initiatives in the past.

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September 7, 2021


Worker-peasants and peasant-workers: new labour regimes in rural Zimbabwe


Much academic debate about rural farm labour has focused on the idea of linear transitions in labour regimes through processes of agricultural commercialisation. This sees farmworkers as either moving towards a class of wage-labour, profiting from modernising, efficient, large-scale agricultural commercialisation, or into subsistence, peasant-based family farming. Yet data discussed in a new open access paper just out in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies shows that neither of these simple transitions is happening.

September 6, 2021


Are smallholder farms or medium-scale farms more productive in Nigeria?


In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), support for smallholder-led agricultural strategy has been motivated by the stylised fact that smallholder farmers are more productive. This stylised fact is known as inverse relationship (IR) between farm size and productivity, which has been widely observed in developing countries around the world. Broadly, the IR suggests that smaller farms are more productive than larger farms. However, documented evidence of IR in SSA is largely limited to farms operating 5ha or less. This blog looks to a recent study of a greater range of farm sizes in Nigeria to better understand the reality of productivity as it relates to farm size.

September 2, 2021


Ghana’s agricultural commercialisation and food security: An analysis of smallholder farmers across gender and geography


Photo credit: Charles Nyaaba of the Peasant Farmers Association A recent study by Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Ghana researchers addresses the question: under what conditions, and at what scale, does smallholder agricultural commercialisation promote or hinder food security? The study presents an analysis of how gender and spatial inequalities in resource control determine… Read more »

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September 1, 2021


Does sunflower commercialisation empower women in Singida, Tanzania?


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 59, which investigates the influence of sunflower commercialisation and diversity on women empowerment in Singida region, Tanzania. This study assesses the assumption that women engagement along Tanzania’s sunflower value chain empowers them socially, economically, and politically, and its contribution to their sense of individuality, self-respect, and confidence.

August 26, 2021


Rice commercialisation, agrarian change and livelihood trajectories: Transformations on the Fogera Plain of Ethiopia


This blog summarises APRA Working Paper 61, which explores the commercialisation of rice in Ethiopia since its introduction in the early 1970s. This process has evidenced wider agrarian changes that have contributed to the emergence and development of diverse livelihood options. The paper presents the role of increased rice commercialisation for the observed agrarian changes and the livelihood trajectories, based on both primary and secondary data sources generated from the Fogera plain.

August 23, 2021


The politics of mechanisation in Zimbabwe: tractors, accumulation and agrarian change


This article explores whether mechanisation affects patterns of accumulation and differentiation in Zimbabwe’s post land reform where policy consistently disadvantages smallholders. Is the latest mechanisation wave any different? The article considers dynamics of tractor access and accumulation trajectories across and within land use types in Mvurwi area. Larger, richer and well-connected farmers draw on patronage networks to access tractors and accumulate further. Some small to medium-scale farmers generate surpluses and invest in tractors or pay for services. Thus, accumulation from above and below feeds social differentiation. Tractor access remains constrained yet mechanisation is only part of the wider post-2000 story.

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August 16, 2021


Agricultural commercialisation and changing labour regimes in Zimbabwe


Written by: Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba This paper explores the emerging labour regimes and the consequences for agricultural commercialisation across multiple land-use types in post land reform Zimbabwe. The livelihoods of farmworkers, including those still resident in former labour compounds, are explored. The paper examines patterns of employment, land access, crop farming,… Read more »

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End of the road? The future of smallholder farmers in Malawi


This paper reflects on the findings of APRA Working Paper 56 and APRA Working Paper 58 to understand the reality of smallholder farming in Malawi, and what the future can be expected to hold for individuals involved in this sector. Further, the authors assess why the current outlook of smallholder farming is as it is, and seeks to understand the policy landscape that could carve a space for small-scale farmers in Malawi’s agricultural future.


Why it is expensive to produce cocoa in Ghana, a former global leader? APRA Ghana share findings


Cocoa producers in Ghana incur high production costs, but obtain low yields and receive less income. This hampers the country’s cocoa commercialisation efforts, hence requiring adoption of high yielding varieties and innovative financing options and investments in labour and inputs. These were the findings of a study carried out by APRA and the University of Ghana on agricultural commercialisation in Ghana’s cocoa sector. These findings were discussed in a dissemination workshop held on Wednesday July 28, 2021, in Ghana’s Suhum area.

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August 10, 2021


COVID-19 spreads to rural Zimbabwe


The third COVID-19 wave has firmly arrived in Zimbabwe’s rural areas. This is no longer the ‘rich person’s disease’ of those based in town. The number of cases and sadly deaths has surged across our rural study areas in the last month. This is a picture reflected across the country and indeed the region, with large increases since our last report.

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August 9, 2021


Positioning Tanzania in the regional market for rice: Lessons from the East Africa Rice Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In this blog, the fifth in our series on these national workshops, we reflect on the Tanzanian event.

August 5, 2021


Environmental impacts of commercial rice production in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


In Kilombero Valley, Tanzania, rice is increasingly becoming a commercial crop. However, although research findings show that commercial rice production is beneficial, it is also associated with increasing use of modern implements, such as tractors, and use of agrochemicals, such as herbicides. This blog, based on APRA Working Papers 30 and 37, highlights the potential environmental impacts of rice commercialisation in the region, and recommends actions that could be taken to mitigate these impacts.

August 2, 2021


Responses of Rice Farmers Engaged in Vegetable Production: Implications of the Collapse of Vegetable Prices in the Fogera Plain


Written by: Dawit Alemu and Tirhas Kinfe Since the early 1980s, the Fogera Plain has been one of Ethiopia’s major rice production areas. The introduction of rice, its commercialisation and the subsequent increased surplus production has led to the ability of smallholder rice farmers to intensify their production through diverse investments, mainly in supplementary irrigation.… Read more »

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July 27, 2021


The political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 60, investigating the political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria. This study focused on how the political economy dynamics can contribute to understanding the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation in the country, and the government’s role in enhancing this process.

July 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 60: The Political Economy of the Maize Value Chain in Nigeria


Written by, Paul Amaza, Sunday Mailumo, Asenath Silong The aim of this case study is to understand the underlying political economy dynamics of the maize value chain in Nigeria, with a focus on how this can contribute to comprehending the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation. The study is informed by theories of political settlements,… Read more »

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July 15, 2021


Working Paper 59: The Influence of Sunflower Commercialisation and Diversity on Women’s Empowerment: The Case of Iramba and Mkalama Districts, Singida Region


There is a growing body of literature that argues that normally women derive little benefit from cash crops. Some of the barriers leading to women having less benefit from cash crop value chains include cultural norms and power differences in access to, and control over, resources among actors in value chains. It is also argued that women’s participation in different forms of collective action help women to increase benefits to them through their increased agency, hence enabling them to utilise existing and diverse options for their empowerment. This paper explores how women have benefited from their engagement in sunflower commercialisation and how culture has influenced changes in access to, and control over, resources, including land, for their empowerment.

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July 14, 2021


Zimbabwe faces a COVID-19 surge: what is happening in the rural areas?


Vaccination drive at Hippo Valley sugar estate This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The increase in COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe has been significant in the weeks since our last blog. This has been matched by an increase in recorded deaths. The government has responded with a new ‘level 4’ lockdown, imposing a curfew, restricting… Read more »

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July 12, 2021


Inclusive and sustainable rice system to transform Kenya’s food system: Lessons from the East African Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In the second blog of our series exploring the outcomes of each of these national workshops, we turn our attention to Kenya.

July 6, 2021


How is ‘China’ helping to transform ‘Africa’? The need for a more sophisticated debate


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland How is China helping to transform African economies? There are many different narratives cast around in public and policy debate: China as the new imperial power, China as the radical developmentalist, China as just like any other donor/foreign power. None are very convincing. A report synthesising… Read more »

July 1, 2021


Social issues impacting household food security in the epoch of COVID-19


Written by: Loveness Msofi Mgalamadzi The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives and livelihoods around the world, and Malawi is no exception. This blog explores the social and food security issues arising from the implementation of COVID-19 preventive measures at household level in the country. Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented impacts that have… Read more »

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June 28, 2021


Gender and social differentiation in the context of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 58, observing agricultural commercialisation in Malawi and how it differs among various gender and social groups. This study found that female-headed and poorer households are at a disadvantage compared to their male-headed and wealthier counterparts due to differential access to resources and control over decision-making. The following blog provides a deeper look into this reality, and assesses the impact of gender and wealth on several aspects of commercialisation.

June 21, 2021


Journal Article: Medium-scale commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe: the experience of A2 resettlement farms


Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba. 2021. The emergence of medium-scale farms is having important consequences for agricultural commercialisation across Africa. This article examines the role of medium-scale A2 farms allocated following Zimbabwe’s land reform after 2000. While the existing literature focuses on changing farm size distributions, this article investigates processes of social differentiation… Read more »

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June 15, 2021


COVID-19 and economic transformation in rural Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 situation looks uncertain, with localised outbreaks and a rise in infections south of the Limpopo in South Africa. On June 11 there were 191 new cases (including 82 that were reported late) and 3 deaths reported, making a cumulative total of 39,688 cases and… Read more »

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June 14, 2021


Key messages and required actions for Ethiopian rice sector development: Outcomes of a national rice conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. This blog explores the outcomes of Ethiopia’s national workshop, which was held in parallel in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar.

EARC 2021 participants at the International Livestock Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

June 10, 2021


How land reform transformed small towns in Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Our recent paper – small towns and land reform in Zimbabwe – out in the European Journal of Development Research (open access) – explores some of the themes discussed last time for the Zimbabwe setting. Over a number of years, we have been monitoring changes in three small towns in… Read more »

June 7, 2021


Small towns and agricultural development in Africa


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The most recent Africa Agriculture Status Report from AGRA, ‘Feeding Africa’s Cities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Policies for Linking African Farmers with Growing Urban Food Markets’ and led by MSU’s Steve Haggblade, makes the important link between the future of African urban areas and agricultural development. On a… Read more »

May 26, 2021


Disseminating science amid COVID-19 restrictions: lessons from Ghana


The findings of a recent APRA Ghana research project were shared with a range of stakeholders at a dissemination event on Wednesday, 17 March 2021 in Takoradi, Ghana. This workshop included a discussion of the team’s research and the implications of these findings. The outcome of discussions will be incorporated into subsequent analyses and reports on the APRA project, and contribute to informing policy and practices related to rural development, empowerment of women and girls, and food and nutrition security. This will ensure that this research is used to inform effective and relevant policy.

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May 24, 2021


Working Paper 58: Understanding Gender and Social Differentiation in the Context of Agricultural Commercialisation and Implications for Livelihoods in Rural Malawi


Written by, Loveness M. Mgalamadzi, Mirriam Matita, Masautso Chimombo, Blessings Chinsinga, Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa, Stevier Kaiyatsa and Jacob Mazalale Agricultural commercialisation is widely recognised as a catalyst to economic growth and development in low and middle-income countries. This study investigates gender and social differences in agricultural commercialisation in rural Malawi. Specifically, the paper analyses different… Read more »

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May 20, 2021


Rural livelihoods in the pandemic: notes from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Half a million people have now been vaccinated in Zimbabwe, but this is still only 3.5% of the population. The Chinese Sinopharm vaccine has now been fully approved by the WHO for emergency use and Zimbabwe’s vaccination drive is in full swing. Even tourists from South Africa are taking advantage… Read more »

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At the mercy of politics? The groundnut value chain in Malawi


This blog highlights the findings of APRA Working Paper 56, observing the groundnut value chain in Malawi in both historical and contemporary perspectives through qualitative tools of inquiry. This study found that this value chain has experienced notable recovery in terms of productivity, but remains primarily informal and struggles to re-enter the lucrative formal global export markets. The following blog explores why this is the case, as well as examining the socio-economic importance of this crop and what can be done to support it in reaching its full potential moving forward.

May 17, 2021


Political economy of agricultural input subsidies in Tanzania: Who benefitted from the National Input Voucher Scheme?


This blog explores the programmes implemented in Tanzania to promote rice commercialisation since the country’s independence in 1961, as found in the course of a recent APRA study for Working Paper 57, as well as their impact on different socio-economic groups. Specifically, this blog is about agricultural input subsidy programmes implemented since 1967 to support smallholder farmers as part of the ujamaa (“socialism”) model of economic development. It focuses on the National Input Voucher Scheme (NAIVS), the biggest agricultural input subsidy programme implemented in Tanzania.

May 13, 2021


Beyond the silver bullet solution: towards a ‘systems agronomy’ perspective


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The previous two blogs (here and here) have discussed the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme that has become a high-profile, politicised intervention during the last season. In a very wet year, the results have been interesting. Yields have been good on the small plots, but many problems have been… Read more »

May 10, 2021


APRA Ghana presents research findings in a dissemination workshop


Key findings emerging from APRA’s research in Ghana were presented to representatives of oil palm farmers and oil palm processing companies, agricultural extension officers, district and regional directors of agriculture, and the media at a workshop on 17 March 2021 at the Takoradi Library & Office Complex.

May 6, 2021


Conservation agriculture: latest experiences from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland In the last blog, I introduced the Pfumvudza programme in Zimbabwe, a version of conservation agriculture that has been heavily promoted across the country during the last season. In this blog, I look at what happened, based on reflections from our field sites across the country – from… Read more »

May 4, 2021


APRA Research Note: The Covid-19 Pandemic and Household Rice Consumption Patterns in Ethiopia: The Case of Addis Ababa


Written by, Dawit Alemu and Gashaw T. Abate. The outbreak of COVID-19 also resulted in moderate changes to the operation of the domestic rice value chain in Ethiopia. These were caused by changing responses of value chain actors (domestic and others engaged in rice imports) to the COVID-19 prevention measures put in place by the… Read more »

Tags: ,

April 30, 2021


Political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania: Socioeconomic impact of trade policies, strategies and programmes


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 57, as the authors discuss the policies, strategies and programmes implemented since Tanzania’s independence in 1961 to promote rice commercialisation and reduce poverty and food insecurity among smallholder rice farmers, and their impact on different socio-economic groups based on findings from literature review and key informant interviews.

April 29, 2021


The political economy of cocoa value chain in Ghana


This blog presents the findings of APRA Working Paper 53, which adopted the political settlement framework to analyse the political economy dynamics of Ghana’s cocoa value chain. Researchers Joseph Kofi Teye and Ebenezer Nikoi discuss these findings, which indicate that policies implemented in this value chain have gone through several shifts in relation to changing agrarian political economy and distribution of power among interest groups, and highlight the steps that can be taken to harness the cocoa sector’s potential to contribute to economic development in Ghana.

April 26, 2021


The need for rice sector modernisation: a key outcome of the Ethiopian National Rice Platform Meeting


The 2021 Annual National Rice stakeholders’ platform meeting, hosted by the National Rice Secretariat at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), was held on 19 April in both Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar, concurrently.

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April 22, 2021


Can the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme deliver food security in Zimbabwe?


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. It looks like it’s going to be a good harvest this year in Zimbabwe. Early crop assessments suggest that there will be a bumper crop of maize, perhaps the highest since the early 1980s at 2.8 million tonnes, planted across 1.9 million hectares. The season saw heavy rains throughout the… Read more »


COVID-19 and the disappearing tobacco in Zimbabwe: Makoronyera and the new value chains


In this blog summarising APRA Working Paper 55, Toendepi Shonhe discusses the growing prevalence of informal tobacco aggregators, their impact on farmers’ wealth accumulation potential and the changes in this value chain since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shonhe also assesses how Zimbabwe’s government can address the challenges in the chain.

Tags:

April 20, 2021


The Policy Context of the Oil Palm Sector’s Underperformance in Ghana


In this blog summarising his research in the newly published APRA Working Paper 54, APRA researcher Kofi Takyi Asante highlights both the historical importance and the future potential of the oil palm industry in Ghana. He outlines the findings from the paper, explains the political and societal factors that have prevented this value chain from reaching its full potential in the past, and provides insight on how the Ghanaian government can engage stakeholders and take advantage of regional and global demand for this commodity to improve the outlook for this sector moving forward.

April 12, 2021


Working Paper 57: Agricultural commercialisation and the political economy of value chains: Tanzania rice case study


Written by Ntengua S.Y. Mdoe and Glead I. Mlay This paper presents the political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania. It is based on a review of trade policies, regulations, strategies, and programmes implemented since the 1960s to promote rice commercialisation, and the views of key informants. Key findings that emerge from the review of… Read more »

Tags: ,

March 31, 2021


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Use these filters to specify your search

  • Select one ore more countries

  • Submit query

Found 396 Results
Page 1 of 8

Does livestock enhance or reduce crop commercialisation? A case of Singida in Central Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in Singida Region in Tanzania, contributing to household income, and reducing poverty in the region. The use of ox-plough to perform farm operations, such as ploughing, and the application of livestock manure are just some ways in which livestock can enhance crop commercialisation. However, livestock production can also reduce the need to expand crop production if livestock earns a farmer higher income, hence inhibiting crop commercialisation in mixed crop-livestock farming systems. This blog explains the differences in commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories, as found in APRA Working Paper 65.

September 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 66: Yield and Commercialisation Effects of SRI Interventions in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania


This paper discusses System of Rice Intensification (SRI) interventions and its potential effects on paddy yield and commercialisation in Mngeta division, Kilombero district in Morogoro region, Tanzania. SRI is an innovative agroecological methodology that aims to improve yields and farmers’ profits by creating the most suitable environment for the rice plant to grow. It comprises the precise set of cultivation practices specifically required for careful management of biophysical needs of the rice plant for producing high yields. To assess the effects, we compare between trained and non-trained farmers, as well as between farmers who are members of SRI associations and non-SRI members, on aspects of adoption of SRI interventions, paddy productivity and yields. In turn, the effects of SRI is evaluated in terms of its influence on rice yield per hectare and commercialisation at household level.

Tags: ,

September 21, 2021


APRA Working Paper 65: Livestock, Crop Commercialisation and Poverty Reduction Among Rural Households in the Singida Region, Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in the Singida Region in Tanzania, directly or indirectly contributing to household income, food security and poverty reduction among rural people in the region. This paper examined the effect of livestock on crop commercialisation and farmers’ livelihoods in the region. The complementarity between crops and livestock in the farming systems of Singida needs to be recognised, enhanced and utilised not only by farmers and livestock keepers, but also by local government authorities and development practitioners.

Tags: ,


Challenging simplistic land degradation and restoration narratives in Zimbabwe


In the last blog, I reviewed the results of our land use analysis using a combination of Landsat satellite imagery, document/archival analysis and field interviews from Mvurwi area in northern Zimbabwe from 1984 to 2018, now out as APRA Working Paper 48. There are some important wider implications that emerge from such an analysis that gets to grips with longitudinal environmental and land use change and its intersecting drivers. In this blog, I identify four themes.

September 20, 2021


APRA features at the Second Scientific Conference held at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania


The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) participated in a scientific conference at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania from 24th May–27th May 2021. Themed ‘Agricultural Technologies, Productivity and Market Competitiveness in Tanzania: Towards an Upper-Middle Income Economy’, the conference provided a platform for scholars to interact and exchange knowledge on the application of science, innovation, and technology in the country’s socio-economic transformation. This blog highlights APRA Tanzania researchers’ contributions to the conference.

September 16, 2021


Dynamic drivers of land use change in Zimbabwe


What are the drivers of land use change and how do they interact over time? Are the changes, uni-directional and linear, or are the dynamics more complex? This is the question we posed for our study site in Mvurwi in northern Zimbabwe for the period 1984 to 2018, now published in APRA Working Paper 48. This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland.

September 13, 2021


Influence of rice commercialisation on poverty reduction levels in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


The commercialisation of smallholder agriculture has been considered a key strategy for sustainably reducing poverty and achieving equitable growth across many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, linking farmers to markets is pursued as an important strategy towards commercialisation and agricultural transformation under the National Development Programme and current Five-year Development Plan for the period 2016 – 2021 and the national vision up to 2025. This blog examines changes in rice commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories that have occurred between 2017 and 2019, as presented in APRA Working Paper 63, based on the findings from Mngeta division, Kilombero Valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, where rice is the most important food and cash crop.

September 9, 2021


APRA Working Paper 63: Rice Commercialisation Effects in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania: Identifying the Underlying Factors


Rice production is the most dominant farming system in Kilombero valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, accounting for more than 80 per cent of cultivated land within the valley. This paper examines changes in rice commercialisation and livelihood outcomes for different categories of farmers in the Mngeta division, Kilombero District, Tanzania. Understanding the underlying factors of agricultural commercialisation enables policymakers to ensure that policy interventions promote inclusive and equitable involvement of all farmers and other value chain actors, especially women and youths, who have been excluded from most development initiatives in the past.

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September 7, 2021


Worker-peasants and peasant-workers: new labour regimes in rural Zimbabwe


Much academic debate about rural farm labour has focused on the idea of linear transitions in labour regimes through processes of agricultural commercialisation. This sees farmworkers as either moving towards a class of wage-labour, profiting from modernising, efficient, large-scale agricultural commercialisation, or into subsistence, peasant-based family farming. Yet data discussed in a new open access paper just out in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies shows that neither of these simple transitions is happening.

September 6, 2021


Are smallholder farms or medium-scale farms more productive in Nigeria?


In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), support for smallholder-led agricultural strategy has been motivated by the stylised fact that smallholder farmers are more productive. This stylised fact is known as inverse relationship (IR) between farm size and productivity, which has been widely observed in developing countries around the world. Broadly, the IR suggests that smaller farms are more productive than larger farms. However, documented evidence of IR in SSA is largely limited to farms operating 5ha or less. This blog looks to a recent study of a greater range of farm sizes in Nigeria to better understand the reality of productivity as it relates to farm size.

September 2, 2021


Ghana’s agricultural commercialisation and food security: An analysis of smallholder farmers across gender and geography


Photo credit: Charles Nyaaba of the Peasant Farmers Association A recent study by Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Ghana researchers addresses the question: under what conditions, and at what scale, does smallholder agricultural commercialisation promote or hinder food security? The study presents an analysis of how gender and spatial inequalities in resource control determine… Read more »

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September 1, 2021


Does sunflower commercialisation empower women in Singida, Tanzania?


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 59, which investigates the influence of sunflower commercialisation and diversity on women empowerment in Singida region, Tanzania. This study assesses the assumption that women engagement along Tanzania’s sunflower value chain empowers them socially, economically, and politically, and its contribution to their sense of individuality, self-respect, and confidence.

August 26, 2021


Rice commercialisation, agrarian change and livelihood trajectories: Transformations on the Fogera Plain of Ethiopia


This blog summarises APRA Working Paper 61, which explores the commercialisation of rice in Ethiopia since its introduction in the early 1970s. This process has evidenced wider agrarian changes that have contributed to the emergence and development of diverse livelihood options. The paper presents the role of increased rice commercialisation for the observed agrarian changes and the livelihood trajectories, based on both primary and secondary data sources generated from the Fogera plain.

August 23, 2021


The politics of mechanisation in Zimbabwe: tractors, accumulation and agrarian change


This article explores whether mechanisation affects patterns of accumulation and differentiation in Zimbabwe’s post land reform where policy consistently disadvantages smallholders. Is the latest mechanisation wave any different? The article considers dynamics of tractor access and accumulation trajectories across and within land use types in Mvurwi area. Larger, richer and well-connected farmers draw on patronage networks to access tractors and accumulate further. Some small to medium-scale farmers generate surpluses and invest in tractors or pay for services. Thus, accumulation from above and below feeds social differentiation. Tractor access remains constrained yet mechanisation is only part of the wider post-2000 story.

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August 16, 2021


Agricultural commercialisation and changing labour regimes in Zimbabwe


Written by: Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba This paper explores the emerging labour regimes and the consequences for agricultural commercialisation across multiple land-use types in post land reform Zimbabwe. The livelihoods of farmworkers, including those still resident in former labour compounds, are explored. The paper examines patterns of employment, land access, crop farming,… Read more »

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End of the road? The future of smallholder farmers in Malawi


This paper reflects on the findings of APRA Working Paper 56 and APRA Working Paper 58 to understand the reality of smallholder farming in Malawi, and what the future can be expected to hold for individuals involved in this sector. Further, the authors assess why the current outlook of smallholder farming is as it is, and seeks to understand the policy landscape that could carve a space for small-scale farmers in Malawi’s agricultural future.


Why it is expensive to produce cocoa in Ghana, a former global leader? APRA Ghana share findings


Cocoa producers in Ghana incur high production costs, but obtain low yields and receive less income. This hampers the country’s cocoa commercialisation efforts, hence requiring adoption of high yielding varieties and innovative financing options and investments in labour and inputs. These were the findings of a study carried out by APRA and the University of Ghana on agricultural commercialisation in Ghana’s cocoa sector. These findings were discussed in a dissemination workshop held on Wednesday July 28, 2021, in Ghana’s Suhum area.

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August 10, 2021


COVID-19 spreads to rural Zimbabwe


The third COVID-19 wave has firmly arrived in Zimbabwe’s rural areas. This is no longer the ‘rich person’s disease’ of those based in town. The number of cases and sadly deaths has surged across our rural study areas in the last month. This is a picture reflected across the country and indeed the region, with large increases since our last report.

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August 9, 2021


Positioning Tanzania in the regional market for rice: Lessons from the East Africa Rice Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In this blog, the fifth in our series on these national workshops, we reflect on the Tanzanian event.

August 5, 2021


Environmental impacts of commercial rice production in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


In Kilombero Valley, Tanzania, rice is increasingly becoming a commercial crop. However, although research findings show that commercial rice production is beneficial, it is also associated with increasing use of modern implements, such as tractors, and use of agrochemicals, such as herbicides. This blog, based on APRA Working Papers 30 and 37, highlights the potential environmental impacts of rice commercialisation in the region, and recommends actions that could be taken to mitigate these impacts.

August 2, 2021


Responses of Rice Farmers Engaged in Vegetable Production: Implications of the Collapse of Vegetable Prices in the Fogera Plain


Written by: Dawit Alemu and Tirhas Kinfe Since the early 1980s, the Fogera Plain has been one of Ethiopia’s major rice production areas. The introduction of rice, its commercialisation and the subsequent increased surplus production has led to the ability of smallholder rice farmers to intensify their production through diverse investments, mainly in supplementary irrigation.… Read more »

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July 27, 2021


The political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 60, investigating the political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria. This study focused on how the political economy dynamics can contribute to understanding the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation in the country, and the government’s role in enhancing this process.

July 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 60: The Political Economy of the Maize Value Chain in Nigeria


Written by, Paul Amaza, Sunday Mailumo, Asenath Silong The aim of this case study is to understand the underlying political economy dynamics of the maize value chain in Nigeria, with a focus on how this can contribute to comprehending the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation. The study is informed by theories of political settlements,… Read more »

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July 15, 2021


Working Paper 59: The Influence of Sunflower Commercialisation and Diversity on Women’s Empowerment: The Case of Iramba and Mkalama Districts, Singida Region


There is a growing body of literature that argues that normally women derive little benefit from cash crops. Some of the barriers leading to women having less benefit from cash crop value chains include cultural norms and power differences in access to, and control over, resources among actors in value chains. It is also argued that women’s participation in different forms of collective action help women to increase benefits to them through their increased agency, hence enabling them to utilise existing and diverse options for their empowerment. This paper explores how women have benefited from their engagement in sunflower commercialisation and how culture has influenced changes in access to, and control over, resources, including land, for their empowerment.

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July 14, 2021


Zimbabwe faces a COVID-19 surge: what is happening in the rural areas?


Vaccination drive at Hippo Valley sugar estate This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The increase in COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe has been significant in the weeks since our last blog. This has been matched by an increase in recorded deaths. The government has responded with a new ‘level 4’ lockdown, imposing a curfew, restricting… Read more »

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July 12, 2021


Inclusive and sustainable rice system to transform Kenya’s food system: Lessons from the East African Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In the second blog of our series exploring the outcomes of each of these national workshops, we turn our attention to Kenya.

July 6, 2021


How is ‘China’ helping to transform ‘Africa’? The need for a more sophisticated debate


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland How is China helping to transform African economies? There are many different narratives cast around in public and policy debate: China as the new imperial power, China as the radical developmentalist, China as just like any other donor/foreign power. None are very convincing. A report synthesising… Read more »

July 1, 2021


Social issues impacting household food security in the epoch of COVID-19


Written by: Loveness Msofi Mgalamadzi The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives and livelihoods around the world, and Malawi is no exception. This blog explores the social and food security issues arising from the implementation of COVID-19 preventive measures at household level in the country. Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented impacts that have… Read more »

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June 28, 2021


Gender and social differentiation in the context of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 58, observing agricultural commercialisation in Malawi and how it differs among various gender and social groups. This study found that female-headed and poorer households are at a disadvantage compared to their male-headed and wealthier counterparts due to differential access to resources and control over decision-making. The following blog provides a deeper look into this reality, and assesses the impact of gender and wealth on several aspects of commercialisation.

June 21, 2021


Journal Article: Medium-scale commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe: the experience of A2 resettlement farms


Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba. 2021. The emergence of medium-scale farms is having important consequences for agricultural commercialisation across Africa. This article examines the role of medium-scale A2 farms allocated following Zimbabwe’s land reform after 2000. While the existing literature focuses on changing farm size distributions, this article investigates processes of social differentiation… Read more »

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June 15, 2021


COVID-19 and economic transformation in rural Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 situation looks uncertain, with localised outbreaks and a rise in infections south of the Limpopo in South Africa. On June 11 there were 191 new cases (including 82 that were reported late) and 3 deaths reported, making a cumulative total of 39,688 cases and… Read more »

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June 14, 2021


Key messages and required actions for Ethiopian rice sector development: Outcomes of a national rice conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. This blog explores the outcomes of Ethiopia’s national workshop, which was held in parallel in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar.

EARC 2021 participants at the International Livestock Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

June 10, 2021


How land reform transformed small towns in Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Our recent paper – small towns and land reform in Zimbabwe – out in the European Journal of Development Research (open access) – explores some of the themes discussed last time for the Zimbabwe setting. Over a number of years, we have been monitoring changes in three small towns in… Read more »

June 7, 2021


Small towns and agricultural development in Africa


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The most recent Africa Agriculture Status Report from AGRA, ‘Feeding Africa’s Cities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Policies for Linking African Farmers with Growing Urban Food Markets’ and led by MSU’s Steve Haggblade, makes the important link between the future of African urban areas and agricultural development. On a… Read more »

May 26, 2021


Disseminating science amid COVID-19 restrictions: lessons from Ghana


The findings of a recent APRA Ghana research project were shared with a range of stakeholders at a dissemination event on Wednesday, 17 March 2021 in Takoradi, Ghana. This workshop included a discussion of the team’s research and the implications of these findings. The outcome of discussions will be incorporated into subsequent analyses and reports on the APRA project, and contribute to informing policy and practices related to rural development, empowerment of women and girls, and food and nutrition security. This will ensure that this research is used to inform effective and relevant policy.

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May 24, 2021


Working Paper 58: Understanding Gender and Social Differentiation in the Context of Agricultural Commercialisation and Implications for Livelihoods in Rural Malawi


Written by, Loveness M. Mgalamadzi, Mirriam Matita, Masautso Chimombo, Blessings Chinsinga, Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa, Stevier Kaiyatsa and Jacob Mazalale Agricultural commercialisation is widely recognised as a catalyst to economic growth and development in low and middle-income countries. This study investigates gender and social differences in agricultural commercialisation in rural Malawi. Specifically, the paper analyses different… Read more »

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May 20, 2021


Rural livelihoods in the pandemic: notes from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Half a million people have now been vaccinated in Zimbabwe, but this is still only 3.5% of the population. The Chinese Sinopharm vaccine has now been fully approved by the WHO for emergency use and Zimbabwe’s vaccination drive is in full swing. Even tourists from South Africa are taking advantage… Read more »

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At the mercy of politics? The groundnut value chain in Malawi


This blog highlights the findings of APRA Working Paper 56, observing the groundnut value chain in Malawi in both historical and contemporary perspectives through qualitative tools of inquiry. This study found that this value chain has experienced notable recovery in terms of productivity, but remains primarily informal and struggles to re-enter the lucrative formal global export markets. The following blog explores why this is the case, as well as examining the socio-economic importance of this crop and what can be done to support it in reaching its full potential moving forward.

May 17, 2021


Political economy of agricultural input subsidies in Tanzania: Who benefitted from the National Input Voucher Scheme?


This blog explores the programmes implemented in Tanzania to promote rice commercialisation since the country’s independence in 1961, as found in the course of a recent APRA study for Working Paper 57, as well as their impact on different socio-economic groups. Specifically, this blog is about agricultural input subsidy programmes implemented since 1967 to support smallholder farmers as part of the ujamaa (“socialism”) model of economic development. It focuses on the National Input Voucher Scheme (NAIVS), the biggest agricultural input subsidy programme implemented in Tanzania.

May 13, 2021


Beyond the silver bullet solution: towards a ‘systems agronomy’ perspective


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The previous two blogs (here and here) have discussed the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme that has become a high-profile, politicised intervention during the last season. In a very wet year, the results have been interesting. Yields have been good on the small plots, but many problems have been… Read more »

May 10, 2021


APRA Ghana presents research findings in a dissemination workshop


Key findings emerging from APRA’s research in Ghana were presented to representatives of oil palm farmers and oil palm processing companies, agricultural extension officers, district and regional directors of agriculture, and the media at a workshop on 17 March 2021 at the Takoradi Library & Office Complex.

May 6, 2021


Conservation agriculture: latest experiences from Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland In the last blog, I introduced the Pfumvudza programme in Zimbabwe, a version of conservation agriculture that has been heavily promoted across the country during the last season. In this blog, I look at what happened, based on reflections from our field sites across the country – from… Read more »

May 4, 2021


APRA Research Note: The Covid-19 Pandemic and Household Rice Consumption Patterns in Ethiopia: The Case of Addis Ababa


Written by, Dawit Alemu and Gashaw T. Abate. The outbreak of COVID-19 also resulted in moderate changes to the operation of the domestic rice value chain in Ethiopia. These were caused by changing responses of value chain actors (domestic and others engaged in rice imports) to the COVID-19 prevention measures put in place by the… Read more »

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April 30, 2021


Political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania: Socioeconomic impact of trade policies, strategies and programmes


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 57, as the authors discuss the policies, strategies and programmes implemented since Tanzania’s independence in 1961 to promote rice commercialisation and reduce poverty and food insecurity among smallholder rice farmers, and their impact on different socio-economic groups based on findings from literature review and key informant interviews.

April 29, 2021


The political economy of cocoa value chain in Ghana


This blog presents the findings of APRA Working Paper 53, which adopted the political settlement framework to analyse the political economy dynamics of Ghana’s cocoa value chain. Researchers Joseph Kofi Teye and Ebenezer Nikoi discuss these findings, which indicate that policies implemented in this value chain have gone through several shifts in relation to changing agrarian political economy and distribution of power among interest groups, and highlight the steps that can be taken to harness the cocoa sector’s potential to contribute to economic development in Ghana.

April 26, 2021


The need for rice sector modernisation: a key outcome of the Ethiopian National Rice Platform Meeting


The 2021 Annual National Rice stakeholders’ platform meeting, hosted by the National Rice Secretariat at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), was held on 19 April in both Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar, concurrently.

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April 22, 2021


Can the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme deliver food security in Zimbabwe?


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. It looks like it’s going to be a good harvest this year in Zimbabwe. Early crop assessments suggest that there will be a bumper crop of maize, perhaps the highest since the early 1980s at 2.8 million tonnes, planted across 1.9 million hectares. The season saw heavy rains throughout the… Read more »


COVID-19 and the disappearing tobacco in Zimbabwe: Makoronyera and the new value chains


In this blog summarising APRA Working Paper 55, Toendepi Shonhe discusses the growing prevalence of informal tobacco aggregators, their impact on farmers’ wealth accumulation potential and the changes in this value chain since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shonhe also assesses how Zimbabwe’s government can address the challenges in the chain.

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April 20, 2021


The Policy Context of the Oil Palm Sector’s Underperformance in Ghana


In this blog summarising his research in the newly published APRA Working Paper 54, APRA researcher Kofi Takyi Asante highlights both the historical importance and the future potential of the oil palm industry in Ghana. He outlines the findings from the paper, explains the political and societal factors that have prevented this value chain from reaching its full potential in the past, and provides insight on how the Ghanaian government can engage stakeholders and take advantage of regional and global demand for this commodity to improve the outlook for this sector moving forward.

April 12, 2021


Working Paper 57: Agricultural commercialisation and the political economy of value chains: Tanzania rice case study


Written by Ntengua S.Y. Mdoe and Glead I. Mlay This paper presents the political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania. It is based on a review of trade policies, regulations, strategies, and programmes implemented since the 1960s to promote rice commercialisation, and the views of key informants. Key findings that emerge from the review of… Read more »

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March 31, 2021


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Does livestock enhance or reduce crop commercialisation? A case of Singida in Central Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in Singida Region in Tanzania, contributing to household income, and reducing poverty in the region. The use of ox-plough to perform farm operations, such as ploughing, and the application of livestock manure are just some ways in which livestock can enhance crop commercialisation. However, livestock production can also reduce the need to expand crop production if livestock earns a farmer higher income, hence inhibiting crop commercialisation in mixed crop-livestock farming systems. This blog explains the differences in commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories, as found in APRA Working Paper 65.

September 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 66: Yield and Commercialisation Effects of SRI Interventions in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania


This paper discusses System of Rice Intensification (SRI) interventions and its potential effects on paddy yield and commercialisation in Mngeta division, Kilombero district in Morogoro region, Tanzania. SRI is an innovative agroecological methodology that aims to improve yields and farmers’ profits by creating the most suitable environment for the rice plant to grow. It comprises the precise set of cultivation practices specifically required for careful management of biophysical needs of the rice plant for producing high yields. To assess the effects, we compare between trained and non-trained farmers, as well as between farmers who are members of SRI associations and non-SRI members, on aspects of adoption of SRI interventions, paddy productivity and yields. In turn, the effects of SRI is evaluated in terms of its influence on rice yield per hectare and commercialisation at household level.

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September 21, 2021


APRA Working Paper 65: Livestock, Crop Commercialisation and Poverty Reduction Among Rural Households in the Singida Region, Tanzania


Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in the Singida Region in Tanzania, directly or indirectly contributing to household income, food security and poverty reduction among rural people in the region. This paper examined the effect of livestock on crop commercialisation and farmers’ livelihoods in the region. The complementarity between crops and livestock in the farming systems of Singida needs to be recognised, enhanced and utilised not only by farmers and livestock keepers, but also by local government authorities and development practitioners.

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Challenging simplistic land degradation and restoration narratives in Zimbabwe


In the last blog, I reviewed the results of our land use analysis using a combination of Landsat satellite imagery, document/archival analysis and field interviews from Mvurwi area in northern Zimbabwe from 1984 to 2018, now out as APRA Working Paper 48. There are some important wider implications that emerge from such an analysis that gets to grips with longitudinal environmental and land use change and its intersecting drivers. In this blog, I identify four themes.

September 20, 2021


APRA features at the Second Scientific Conference held at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania


The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) participated in a scientific conference at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania from 24th May–27th May 2021. Themed ‘Agricultural Technologies, Productivity and Market Competitiveness in Tanzania: Towards an Upper-Middle Income Economy’, the conference provided a platform for scholars to interact and exchange knowledge on the application of science, innovation, and technology in the country’s socio-economic transformation. This blog highlights APRA Tanzania researchers’ contributions to the conference.

September 16, 2021


Dynamic drivers of land use change in Zimbabwe


What are the drivers of land use change and how do they interact over time? Are the changes, uni-directional and linear, or are the dynamics more complex? This is the question we posed for our study site in Mvurwi in northern Zimbabwe for the period 1984 to 2018, now published in APRA Working Paper 48. This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland.

September 13, 2021


Influence of rice commercialisation on poverty reduction levels in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


The commercialisation of smallholder agriculture has been considered a key strategy for sustainably reducing poverty and achieving equitable growth across many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, linking farmers to markets is pursued as an important strategy towards commercialisation and agricultural transformation under the National Development Programme and current Five-year Development Plan for the period 2016 – 2021 and the national vision up to 2025. This blog examines changes in rice commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories that have occurred between 2017 and 2019, as presented in APRA Working Paper 63, based on the findings from Mngeta division, Kilombero Valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, where rice is the most important food and cash crop.

September 9, 2021


APRA Working Paper 63: Rice Commercialisation Effects in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania: Identifying the Underlying Factors


Rice production is the most dominant farming system in Kilombero valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, accounting for more than 80 per cent of cultivated land within the valley. This paper examines changes in rice commercialisation and livelihood outcomes for different categories of farmers in the Mngeta division, Kilombero District, Tanzania. Understanding the underlying factors of agricultural commercialisation enables policymakers to ensure that policy interventions promote inclusive and equitable involvement of all farmers and other value chain actors, especially women and youths, who have been excluded from most development initiatives in the past.

Tags: ,

September 7, 2021


Worker-peasants and peasant-workers: new labour regimes in rural Zimbabwe


Much academic debate about rural farm labour has focused on the idea of linear transitions in labour regimes through processes of agricultural commercialisation. This sees farmworkers as either moving towards a class of wage-labour, profiting from modernising, efficient, large-scale agricultural commercialisation, or into subsistence, peasant-based family farming. Yet data discussed in a new open access paper just out in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies shows that neither of these simple transitions is happening.

September 6, 2021


Are smallholder farms or medium-scale farms more productive in Nigeria?


In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), support for smallholder-led agricultural strategy has been motivated by the stylised fact that smallholder farmers are more productive. This stylised fact is known as inverse relationship (IR) between farm size and productivity, which has been widely observed in developing countries around the world. Broadly, the IR suggests that smaller farms are more productive than larger farms. However, documented evidence of IR in SSA is largely limited to farms operating 5ha or less. This blog looks to a recent study of a greater range of farm sizes in Nigeria to better understand the reality of productivity as it relates to farm size.

September 2, 2021


Ghana’s agricultural commercialisation and food security: An analysis of smallholder farmers across gender and geography


Photo credit: Charles Nyaaba of the Peasant Farmers Association A recent study by Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Ghana researchers addresses the question: under what conditions, and at what scale, does smallholder agricultural commercialisation promote or hinder food security? The study presents an analysis of how gender and spatial inequalities in resource control determine… Read more »

Tags: ,

September 1, 2021


Does sunflower commercialisation empower women in Singida, Tanzania?


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 59, which investigates the influence of sunflower commercialisation and diversity on women empowerment in Singida region, Tanzania. This study assesses the assumption that women engagement along Tanzania’s sunflower value chain empowers them socially, economically, and politically, and its contribution to their sense of individuality, self-respect, and confidence.

August 26, 2021


Rice commercialisation, agrarian change and livelihood trajectories: Transformations on the Fogera Plain of Ethiopia


This blog summarises APRA Working Paper 61, which explores the commercialisation of rice in Ethiopia since its introduction in the early 1970s. This process has evidenced wider agrarian changes that have contributed to the emergence and development of diverse livelihood options. The paper presents the role of increased rice commercialisation for the observed agrarian changes and the livelihood trajectories, based on both primary and secondary data sources generated from the Fogera plain.

August 23, 2021


The politics of mechanisation in Zimbabwe: tractors, accumulation and agrarian change


This article explores whether mechanisation affects patterns of accumulation and differentiation in Zimbabwe’s post land reform where policy consistently disadvantages smallholders. Is the latest mechanisation wave any different? The article considers dynamics of tractor access and accumulation trajectories across and within land use types in Mvurwi area. Larger, richer and well-connected farmers draw on patronage networks to access tractors and accumulate further. Some small to medium-scale farmers generate surpluses and invest in tractors or pay for services. Thus, accumulation from above and below feeds social differentiation. Tractor access remains constrained yet mechanisation is only part of the wider post-2000 story.

Tags:

August 16, 2021


Agricultural commercialisation and changing labour regimes in Zimbabwe


Written by: Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba This paper explores the emerging labour regimes and the consequences for agricultural commercialisation across multiple land-use types in post land reform Zimbabwe. The livelihoods of farmworkers, including those still resident in former labour compounds, are explored. The paper examines patterns of employment, land access, crop farming,… Read more »

Tags:


End of the road? The future of smallholder farmers in Malawi


This paper reflects on the findings of APRA Working Paper 56 and APRA Working Paper 58 to understand the reality of smallholder farming in Malawi, and what the future can be expected to hold for individuals involved in this sector. Further, the authors assess why the current outlook of smallholder farming is as it is, and seeks to understand the policy landscape that could carve a space for small-scale farmers in Malawi’s agricultural future.


Why it is expensive to produce cocoa in Ghana, a former global leader? APRA Ghana share findings


Cocoa producers in Ghana incur high production costs, but obtain low yields and receive less income. This hampers the country’s cocoa commercialisation efforts, hence requiring adoption of high yielding varieties and innovative financing options and investments in labour and inputs. These were the findings of a study carried out by APRA and the University of Ghana on agricultural commercialisation in Ghana’s cocoa sector. These findings were discussed in a dissemination workshop held on Wednesday July 28, 2021, in Ghana’s Suhum area.

Tags:

August 10, 2021


COVID-19 spreads to rural Zimbabwe


The third COVID-19 wave has firmly arrived in Zimbabwe’s rural areas. This is no longer the ‘rich person’s disease’ of those based in town. The number of cases and sadly deaths has surged across our rural study areas in the last month. This is a picture reflected across the country and indeed the region, with large increases since our last report.

Tags:

August 9, 2021


Positioning Tanzania in the regional market for rice: Lessons from the East Africa Rice Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In this blog, the fifth in our series on these national workshops, we reflect on the Tanzanian event.

August 5, 2021


Environmental impacts of commercial rice production in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania


In Kilombero Valley, Tanzania, rice is increasingly becoming a commercial crop. However, although research findings show that commercial rice production is beneficial, it is also associated with increasing use of modern implements, such as tractors, and use of agrochemicals, such as herbicides. This blog, based on APRA Working Papers 30 and 37, highlights the potential environmental impacts of rice commercialisation in the region, and recommends actions that could be taken to mitigate these impacts.

August 2, 2021


Responses of Rice Farmers Engaged in Vegetable Production: Implications of the Collapse of Vegetable Prices in the Fogera Plain


Written by: Dawit Alemu and Tirhas Kinfe Since the early 1980s, the Fogera Plain has been one of Ethiopia’s major rice production areas. The introduction of rice, its commercialisation and the subsequent increased surplus production has led to the ability of smallholder rice farmers to intensify their production through diverse investments, mainly in supplementary irrigation.… Read more »

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July 27, 2021


The political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria


This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 60, investigating the political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria. This study focused on how the political economy dynamics can contribute to understanding the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation in the country, and the government’s role in enhancing this process.

July 22, 2021


APRA Working Paper 60: The Political Economy of the Maize Value Chain in Nigeria


Written by, Paul Amaza, Sunday Mailumo, Asenath Silong The aim of this case study is to understand the underlying political economy dynamics of the maize value chain in Nigeria, with a focus on how this can contribute to comprehending the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation. The study is informed by theories of political settlements,… Read more »

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July 15, 2021


Working Paper 59: The Influence of Sunflower Commercialisation and Diversity on Women’s Empowerment: The Case of Iramba and Mkalama Districts, Singida Region


There is a growing body of literature that argues that normally women derive little benefit from cash crops. Some of the barriers leading to women having less benefit from cash crop value chains include cultural norms and power differences in access to, and control over, resources among actors in value chains. It is also argued that women’s participation in different forms of collective action help women to increase benefits to them through their increased agency, hence enabling them to utilise existing and diverse options for their empowerment. This paper explores how women have benefited from their engagement in sunflower commercialisation and how culture has influenced changes in access to, and control over, resources, including land, for their empowerment.

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July 14, 2021


Zimbabwe faces a COVID-19 surge: what is happening in the rural areas?


Vaccination drive at Hippo Valley sugar estate This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The increase in COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe has been significant in the weeks since our last blog. This has been matched by an increase in recorded deaths. The government has responded with a new ‘level 4’ lockdown, imposing a curfew, restricting… Read more »

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July 12, 2021


Inclusive and sustainable rice system to transform Kenya’s food system: Lessons from the East African Conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In the second blog of our series exploring the outcomes of each of these national workshops, we turn our attention to Kenya.

July 6, 2021


How is ‘China’ helping to transform ‘Africa’? The need for a more sophisticated debate


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland How is China helping to transform African economies? There are many different narratives cast around in public and policy debate: China as the new imperial power, China as the radical developmentalist, China as just like any other donor/foreign power. None are very convincing. A report synthesising… Read more »

July 1, 2021


Social issues impacting household food security in the epoch of COVID-19


Written by: Loveness Msofi Mgalamadzi The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives and livelihoods around the world, and Malawi is no exception. This blog explores the social and food security issues arising from the implementation of COVID-19 preventive measures at household level in the country. Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented impacts that have… Read more »

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June 28, 2021


Gender and social differentiation in the context of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi


This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 58, observing agricultural commercialisation in Malawi and how it differs among various gender and social groups. This study found that female-headed and poorer households are at a disadvantage compared to their male-headed and wealthier counterparts due to differential access to resources and control over decision-making. The following blog provides a deeper look into this reality, and assesses the impact of gender and wealth on several aspects of commercialisation.

June 21, 2021


Journal Article: Medium-scale commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe: the experience of A2 resettlement farms


Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba. 2021. The emergence of medium-scale farms is having important consequences for agricultural commercialisation across Africa. This article examines the role of medium-scale A2 farms allocated following Zimbabwe’s land reform after 2000. While the existing literature focuses on changing farm size distributions, this article investigates processes of social differentiation… Read more »

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June 15, 2021


COVID-19 and economic transformation in rural Zimbabwe


This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 situation looks uncertain, with localised outbreaks and a rise in infections south of the Limpopo in South Africa. On June 11 there were 191 new cases (including 82 that were reported late) and 3 deaths reported, making a cumulative total of 39,688 cases and… Read more »

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June 14, 2021


Key messages and required actions for Ethiopian rice sector development: Outcomes of a national rice conference


As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. This blog explores the outcomes of Ethiopia’s national workshop, whi