Latest articles

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,
APRA Brief 34: The Political Economy of Agricultural Commercialisation: Insights from Crop Value Chain Studies in Sub-Saharan Africa
April 28, 2022 / APRA Briefs Policy Briefs Publications
Agricultural commercialisation is seen as one of the most important avenues for fundamental structural transformation and development in sub-Saharan Africa, and is assumed to help enhance a wide array of household welfare indicators among rural households whose livelihoods directly derive
Protected areas: national assets or shared heritage?
April 25, 2022 / FAC blog
What are the roles of protected areas in national development? Are parks national, even global, assets preserved for posterity and for protecting biodiversity, or are they part of a shared, local heritage, where nature and human use must be seen

ALRE Working Paper 2: Publishing Evidence: APRA’s Contribution to Knowledge on the Pathways to Inclusive Agricultural Commercialisation in Africa
April 25, 2022 / ALRE Working Paper Publications
Overall, it is considered that the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme has contributed a significant body of additional, rigorous, trusted and accessible published knowledge on the effect of agrarian change on women, youth and poorer households, which is
Far from inclusive: smallholder farmer commercialisation in Malawi
April 21, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
What are the trends and patterns emerging in Malawi’s agricultural commercialisation process? What is the influence of these trends on poverty and food security, and the drivers of the process? How inclusive is agricultural commercialisation in the country? This blog,

A tale of two countries: patterns and drivers of smallholder commercialisation in Ghana and Nigeria
April 19, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
What are the emerging patterns of agricultural commercialisation in Ghana and Nigeria? Are there geographical and gender differences in commercialisation among households? How have poverty levels changed over time? What are the key drivers of agricultural commercialisation in the two

Women and youth in rice and sunflower commercialisation in Tanzania: Inclusiveness, returns on household labour and poverty reduction
April 14, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Over the last two decades, the Government of Tanzania, in collaboration with development agencies, has been supporting rice and sunflower commercialisation to improve livelihoods and reduce poverty among actors in these value chains. At the same time, the support has

Polygamy and agricultural commercialisation in Malawi
April 13, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Agricultural commercialisation is perceived as a positive step towards development and economic growth in Malawi, as well as a source of household income and livelihoods among local communities. However, the process of commercialisation is hindered by a number of factors,

Journal Article: Irrigating Zimbabwe After Land Reform: The Potential of Farmer-Led Systems
April 7, 2022 / Journal articles Publications
Farmer-led irrigation is far more extensive in Zimbabwe than realised by planners and policymakers. This paper explores the pattern of farmer-led irrigation in neighbouring post-land reform smallholder resettlement sites in Zimbabwe’s Masvingo district. Across 49 farmer-led cases, 41.3 hectares of
Journal Article: Young People and Land in Zimbabwe: Livelihood Challenges After Land Reform
April 7, 2022 / Journal articles Publications
This article explores the livelihood challenges and opportunities of young people following Zimbabwe's land reform in 2000. The article explores the life courses of a cohort of men and women, all children of land reform settlers, in two contrasting smallholder
Marriage and agricultural commercialisation in Malawi
April 7, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Despite agricultural commercialisation being considered a positive step towards Malawi’s development and economic growth, as well as a source of household income and livelihoods among local communities, there are a number of factors that impede this process. Our research established

Journal Article: Tobacco Farming Following Land Reform in Zimbabwe: A New Dynamic of Social Differentiation and Accumulation
April 7, 2022 / Journal articles Publications
Tobacco has been central to the agrarian economy of Zimbabwe since the early 1900s, when it became the backbone of the new settler economy following colonisation. Since the land reform of 2000, tobacco has taken on a new impetus, with
APRA Brief 33: Is Rice and Sunflower Commercialisation in Tanzania Inclusive for Women and Youth?
April 7, 2022 / APRA Briefs Policy Briefs Publications
Rice is Tanzania’s third most important staple crop after maize and cassava, and produced by more than 1 million households who are mostly small-scale farmers. Meanwhile sunflower is the most important edible oil crop in Tanzania, also grown mostly by
Journal Article: Is Agricultural Commercialisation Sufficient for Poverty Reduction? Lessons from Rice Commercialisation in Kilombero, Tanzania
April 7, 2022 / Journal articles Publications
Agricultural commercialisation is widely promoted as a solution for poverty alleviation among smallholder farmers because it has been associated with rising cash income, improved nutrition and living standards. In Tanzania, agricultural commercialization is an important component for agricultural transformation to
Patterns and Drivers of Agricultural Commercialisation: Evidence from Ghana, Nigeria and Malawi
April 6, 2022 / Publications Research Papers
Farm households differ in terms of their access to land, capital, labour, skills, as well as access to external services – hence, it is no surprise that the processes of agricultural commercialisation are experienced unevenly across different groups and geographies.