Latest articles

© IFAD/Bernard Kalu
How important is farm size to agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa?
December 1, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
The finding that smallholder farms are more productive than medium- to large-scale farms has long been documented, and has led to smallholder-led agricultural and development strategies in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). However, evidence for this assertion has been largely limited to

© IFAD/Bernard Kalu
Ethiopia’s import dependence on rice-exporting countries: implications for policy and development responses
November 24, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
With the current instability in global grain markets – mainly due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, and climatic events impacting rice production – major rice-producing Asian countries have been considering steps to protect their domestic

Journal Article: Determinants of Farmer’s Decision to Transit to Medium/Larger Farm Through Expansion of Land Area Under Commercial Tree Crop Plantation in Nigeria
November 15, 2022 / Journal articles Publications
Decision-making is central to farm management. This study assesses key factors influencing land allocation decisions of households with respects to tree crop cultivation in Nigeria. The study uses primary data collected electronically from a sample of 569 small and 495
Why COP27 needs a more sophisticated debate about livestock and climate change
November 14, 2022 / FAC blog
As the climate conference, COP27, kicks of in Sharm el Sheik in Egypt debates about agriculture and land use will be centre stage. And amongst these discussions the role of livestock in the future of food and agricultural systems will

Boosting commercialisation through the production of commercial tree crops in Nigeria
November 7, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog News
Farming in Nigeria has been historically dominated by small-scale farms (SSFs). However, recent evidence suggests that medium-scale farmers (MSFs) are becoming increasingly prominent. One pathway for MSF growth in Nigeria has been identified as the expansion of land area under

How does agricultural commercialisation affect livelihoods in Zimbabwe?
September 27, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
The question of how agricultural commercialisation affects livelihoods has been central to the recently completed APRA programme, which, along with Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania, had work going on in Zimbabwe. The team, led by Chrispen Sukume and involving Godfrey

APRA Working Paper 94: The Farm Size-Productivity Relationship: Evidence From Panel Data Analysis of Small- and Medium-Scale Farms in Nigeria
September 20, 2022 / Publications Working Papers
The finding that smaller farms are more productive than larger farms has long been documented. At present, evidence in the Sub-Saharan African (SSA) region has been largely limited to data from farms operating 5ha and below. Examining changes in farm
Tobacco and agrarian change in southern Africa
September 20, 2022 / FAC blog
A great new special issue – tobacco and transformation – is out in the Journal of Southern African Studies, edited by Martin Prowse and Helena Pérez Niño. With reflections on Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe (mostly), it provides an

The future of Zimbabwe’s agrarian sector: a new book
August 25, 2022 / FAC blog
A new book on land and agriculture Zimbabwe – The Future of Zimbabwe’s Agrarian Sector – is just out with Routledge and edited by Grasian Mkodzongi. It’s fiendishly expensive, but a paperback version is promised soon. Meanwhile be in touch

ALRE Working Paper 7: Informing the Debate on the Rise of Medium-Scale Farmers in Africa
August 4, 2022 / ALRE Working Paper Publications
This case study explores how APRA evidence is informing an emerging debate on medium-scale farmers (MSFs) through stronger empirical evidence of the broad variation across different contexts. This research has generated healthy internal debate between APRA teams which is contributing
Urban agriculture: surviving in a collapsing economy
August 2, 2022 / FAC blog
Over the last few weeks, we have looked at urban agriculture in different parts of Zimbabwe; from a city like Masvingo to small towns and growth points like Chikombedzi, Triangle/Hippo Valley, Maphisa, Chatsworth and Mvurwi. In all cases we see

How to respond to ‘drought’: rethinking standard approaches
August 1, 2022 / FAC blog
Over the last four weeks, a blog series has asked what is the best way to respond to ‘drought’? This is an important question for a country like Zimbabwe, and with climate change the question will become even more important.

Making the most of the media
July 6, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
To disseminate policy-relevant messages based on the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) research at country and regional levels, the Information and Communication and Engagement (ICE) team encouraged country teams to build relationships with the media from early on in

Communicating new evidence through working papers and briefs
July 2, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Through in-depth, interdisciplinary, comparative research across nine countries, the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) has generated high-quality evidence and policy-relevant insights on more inclusive pathways to agricultural commercialisation. To disseminate its research findings and policy messages, APRA had a

Investing in social media pays big dividends
June 27, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Over the past six years, the use of social media has been a vital part of the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA’s) communications strategy in raising awareness of the programme’s activities and outputs. The Impact, Communication and Engagement (ICE)

Raising the profile of agricultural policy research
June 20, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Throughout the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium, country research teams were encouraged to engage at district and national levels. Towards the end of APRA, during the latter part of 2021, each country team

e-Dialogues spark debate on the dynamics of agricultural commercialisation
June 16, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
In early 2022, as the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) was coming to an end, an e-Dialogue series, Towards an Equitable and Sustainable Transformation of Food Systems, was held in partnership with

ALRE Research Note 6: ALRE Report on Evidence Demand on Inclusive Agricultural Commercialisation in Africa
June 9, 2022 / ALRE Research Note Publications
The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme has generated new evidence and insights into different pathways to inclusive agricultural commercialisation. As part of APRA, the Accompanied Learning on Relevance and Effectiveness (ALRE) team worked to understand how evidence demand
The power of blogs to share research and communicate policy lessons
June 9, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Over the course of the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme, researchers produced over 150 publications, including Working Papers, Briefs, COVID-19 Papers, Journal Articles and several books. The intended audience of these publications varied, from the academic community to

Changing farm structure and agricultural commercialisation in Nigeria
June 6, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Much of sub‐Saharan Africa, including Nigeria, is experiencing major changes in farmland ownership patterns. Among all farms below 100ha in size, the share of land on small‐scale farms (SSFs) under 5ha has declined over the last two decades. Medium‐scale farms

Farming with variability: mobilising responses to drought uncertainties in Zimbabwe
June 6, 2022 / FAC blog
Climate change is generating greater variability within and across seasons. This is requiring new responses among farmers in Masvingo province in Zimbabwe. Today, farmers must adapt, be flexible and agile and respond to uncertain seasons as they unfold. This requires

ALRE Research Note 5: Lessons Learnt From Delivering the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme
June 6, 2022 / ALRE Research Note Publications
The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme was a six-year (2016–2022), £7 million research initiative of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC), to produce high-quality evidence to inform policy and practice on future agricultural commercialisation options and investments in sub-Saharan
Journal Article: Does Women’s Engagement in Sunflower Commercialization Empower Them? Experience From Singida region, Tanzania 
June 1, 2022 / Journal articles Publications
Empowering women within sunflower value chains can create significant development opportunities for them and generate benefits for their families. This paper asks whether women’s engagement in sunflower commercialization influences their levels of empowerment. The paper uses data from a 2018
ALRE Working Paper 6: Rice: APRA’s Contribution to Informing and Influencing Policy Debates Around Rice in East Africa
May 30, 2022 / ALRE Working Paper Publications
Rice production across Africa varies in many aspects due to socio-political, climatic, and environmental differences in the region. The research and outreach activities of the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme aimed to generate policy-relevant insights on more inclusive
ALRE Working Paper 5: Accompanied Learning: Reflections on How ALRE Enhanced APRA’s Relevance and Effectiveness
May 30, 2022 / ALRE Working Paper Publications
This case study explores the claim that the Accompanied Learning for Relevance and Effectiveness (ALRE) approach contributed to stronger relevance and effectiveness of the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) research programme. This report outlines the accompanied learning function of
APRA ICE Insight 6: Raising the Profile of Agricultural Policy Research: National Engagement as a Pathway to Change
May 30, 2022 / APRA ICE Insight Publications
Throughout the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium, country research teams were encouraged to engage at district and national levels. Towards the end of APRA, during 2021, each country team held final district and
Agricultural commercialisation and rural employment
May 26, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
The seasonal nature of agricultural production under rainfed conditions in most parts of rural Ghana, as in other sub-Saharan countries, makes employment in small-scale agriculture alone inadequate for improving the wellbeing of most rural households. Boosting commercial agriculture could be

Diversification and food security in crop-livestock farming systems of Singida Region, Tanzania
May 25, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Diversification is a key strategy for coping with risks associated with climate change and variability among households in Africa’s semi-arid areas. The extent of diversification varies across households, but the crop and livestock enterprises undertaken comprise of at least one

Agricultural commercialisation and rural employment
May 23, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
The seasonal nature of agricultural production under rainfed conditions in most parts of rural Ghana, as in other sub-Saharan countries, makes employment in small-scale agriculture alone inadequate for improving the wellbeing of most rural households. Boosting commercial agriculture could be

APRA Working Paper 93: Changing Farm Structure and Agricultural Commercialisation: Implications for Livelihood Improvements Among Small-Scale Farmers in Nigeria
May 23, 2022 / Publications Working Papers
Research in several African countries shows the rapid rise of a medium-scale farming (MSF) sector. While national development policy strategies within the region officially regard the smallholder farming sector as an important (if not the main) vehicle for achieving agricultural
APRA Working Paper 92: Livelihood Outcomes of Agricultural Commercialisation, Women’s Empowerment and Rural Employment
May 23, 2022 / Publications Working Papers
Across Ghana, mixed-crop-livestock enterprises dominate the farming systems with most farmers producing both food staples and non-food cash crops. However, this paper focuses mainly on oil palm-producing farmers because oil palm is Ghana’s second most important industrial crop (aside from
Medium-scale farming as a policy tool for agricultural commercialisation and small-scale farm transformation in Nigeria
May 12, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Land ownership patterns are changing in sub-Saharan Africa. In Ghana, Kenya and Zambia, medium-scale farms (MSFs), of between 5 and 100ha now account for more land than large-scale investors. Most African countries' national agricultural investment plans and policy strategies officially

APRA Working Paper 91: Effects of Commercialisation on Seaonsal Hunger: Evidence from Smallholder Resettlement Areas, Mazowe Distrct, Zimbabwe
May 12, 2022 / Publications Working Papers
Agricultural transformation towards intensive commercial production is a key facet of current development strategies pursued by African governments, aimed at improving welfare outcomes of farm households. However, in Zimbabwe, there is concern that increased commercialisation, especially through tobacco production, may
Journal Article: Livestock, Crop Commercialization and Poverty Reduction in Crop-Livestock Farming Systems in Singida Region, Tanzania
May 12, 2022 / Journal articles Publications
Livestock is an important component of crop-livestock farming systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This paper examined the effect of livestock on crop commercialization and poverty reduction among smallholder farmers in crop-livestock farming systems in Singida Region, Tanzania. It was hypothesized
Journal Article: Choice of Tillage Technologies and Impact on Paddy Yield and Food Security in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania
May 11, 2022 / Journal articles Publications
This paper analyses choice of alternative tillage technology options and their impact on paddy yield and food security in Kilombero valley of Morogoro Region, Tanzania. The results show that the choice of any tillage technology option combining hand hoe with
ALRE Working Paper 4: COVID-19: APRA’s Contribution to Understanding the Effects in Rural Africa
May 5, 2022 / ALRE Working Paper Publications
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 initiated a remarkable pivot within APRA in which a new COVID focussed research programme was rapidly designed, approved and launched. The first APRA COVID-19 blogs appeared in April 2020, a comprehensive
ALRE Working Paper 3: African Media Coverage: APRA’s Contribution to Understanding of Agricultural Change
May 5, 2022 / ALRE Working Paper Publications
The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme made significant efforts to engage with the local/national media as a way of disseminating research findings and consequent policy implications. This was assisted by early planning as part of the Participatory Impact
What are the gender-focused challenges within agriculture and commercialisation, and how can we approach tackling these?
May 5, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Agriculture remains the dominant employment activity among most households in Ghana, which currently engages 61% of the economically active population aged 15 years and above. However, returns to agrarian livelihood remain lower than gains from other sectors of the economy.

The Effects of COVID-19 on Food Equity and Nutrition Security in sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons from a Multi-Phase Assessment
May 4, 2022 / COVID Country Report Publications
The COVID-19 pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa has elicited reactions that are also seen worldwide: widespread and indefinite health effects, and deep reverberations on almost all parts of daily life, from livelihoods, to freedom of movement and the availability of foods
A Multi-Phase Assessment of the Effects of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa – Synthesis Report 3
May 4, 2022 / COVID Country Report Publications
Since it began in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led to considerable concerns about the viability of local food systems and rural livelihoods across sub-Saharan Africa. This paper presents the results of a three-round assessment of the effects of COVID-19
APRA ICE Insight 5: The Power of Blogs to Share Research and Communicate Policy Lessons
May 4, 2022 / APRA ICE Insight Publications
Over the course of the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme (2016-22), researchers produced over 150 publications, including Working Papers, Briefs, COVID-19 Papers, Journal Articles and several books. The intended audience of these publications varied, from the academic community
APRA ICE Insight 4: e-Dialogues Spark Debate on the Dynamics of Agricultural Commercialisation
May 4, 2022 / APRA ICE Insight Publications
In early 2022, the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC), in partnership with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Foresight4Food, held an e-Dialogue series: Towards an Equitable and Sustainable Transformation of
APRA ICE Insight 3: Communicating New Evidence Through APRA Working Papers and Briefs
May 4, 2022 / APRA ICE Insight Publications
Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) has been a six-year research programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC), aiming to identify the most effective pathways to agricultural commercialisation that empower women, reduce rural poverty and improve nutrition and security in
APRA ICE Insight 2: Making the Most of the Media
May 4, 2022 / APRA ICE Insight Publications
To disseminate policy-relevant messages based on APRA research at country and regional levels, the Information and Communication and Engagement (ICE) team encouraged country teams to build relationships with the media from early on in the programme. This is not something
APRA ICE Insight 1: Investing in Social Media Pays Big Dividends
May 4, 2022 / APRA ICE Insight Publications
Over the past six years, the use of social media, including Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, has been a vital part of APRA’s Communications Strategy in raising awareness of the programme’s activities and outputs. Since 2016, APRA’s social media profile has
APRA Working Paper 90: Agricultural Commercialisation Pathways and Gendered Livelihood Outcomes in Rural South-Western Ghana
May 4, 2022 / Publications Working Papers
It is widely assumed that agricultural commercialisation leads to increased incomes and therefore better livelihood outcomes for farmers, including smallholders. But are the gains from commercial agriculture equitably distributed? Are there pathways to agricultural commercialisation that are more effective than
APRA Working Paper 89: Impact of Commercialisation Pathways on Income and Asset Accumulation: Evidence from Smallholder Farming in Zimbabwe
May 4, 2022 / Publications Working Papers
Smallholder agricultural commercialisation has been seen as an important pathway out of rural poverty in developing countries. However, little empirical evidence is available in sub-Saharan Africa that examines the relationship between commercialisation pathways taken by farmers and welfare outcomes, such
APRA Working Paper 88: Agricultural Commercialisation, Gender Relations and Women’s Empowerment in Smallholder Farm Households: Evidence from Zimbabwe
May 4, 2022 / Publications Working Papers
Agricultural commercialisation has been identified as an important part of the structural transformation process, as the economy grows from subsistence to highly commercialised entities that rely on the market for both inputs and for the sale of crops. However, this
APRA Brief 36: Pathways to Inclusive Smallholder Agricultural Commercialisation: Which Way Now?
May 4, 2022 / APRA Briefs Policy Briefs Publications
Agricultural commercialisation has the potential to provide a number of beneficial outcomes, including higher incomes and living standards for smallholder farmers. However, for these outcomes to be achieved, commercialisation must be inclusive and broad-based so as to link a large
APRA Brief 35: The Dilemma of Climate-resilient Agricultural Commercialisation in Tanzania and Zimbabwe
May 4, 2022 / APRA Briefs Policy Briefs Publications
The implications of climate change for agricultural commercialisation – and the implications of agricultural commercialisation for climate change – are profound. On the one hand, agricultural production is, by nature, highly sensitive to climate change and variability. On the other,