Latest articles

Gender transformative change critical for nurturing an equitable rice sector in Africa
June 24, 2021 / FAC blog
In this blog, originally published for the CGIAR Gender Platform, gender experts present evidence and policy lessons on gender and youth integration in rice-based agri-food systems from Africa.

Gender and social differentiation in the context of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi
June 21, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
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

COVID-19 and economic transformation in rural Zimbabwe
June 14, 2021 / FAC blog
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
EARC 2021 participants at the International Livestock Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Key messages and required actions for Ethiopian rice sector development: Outcomes of a national rice conference
June 10, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
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

How land reform transformed small towns in Zimbabwe
June 7, 2021 / FAC blog
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.

From field research to policy influencing – what have we learned?
June 3, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) has led consortia of UK and African organisations in two large programmes of policy research on the future of agriculture in Africa and inclusive commercialisation since 2005. This blog explores what we have learned

Small towns and agricultural development in Africa
May 26, 2021 / FAC blog
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

Disseminating science amid COVID-19 restrictions: lessons from Ghana
May 24, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
Rural livelihoods in the pandemic: notes from Zimbabwe
May 20, 2021 / FAC blog
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
East Africa Rice Conference 2021 kicks off
May 19, 2021 / News
Yesterday (18 May, 2021) saw the start of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), with in-country workshops across six East African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aims to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice
At the mercy of politics? The groundnut value chain in Malawi
May 17, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
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

Political economy of agricultural input subsidies in Tanzania: Who benefitted from the National Input Voucher Scheme?
May 13, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
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

Beyond the silver bullet solution: towards a ‘systems agronomy’ perspective
May 10, 2021 / FAC blog
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

APRA Ghana presents research findings in a dissemination workshop
May 6, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
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

Conservation agriculture: latest experiences from Zimbabwe
May 4, 2021 / FAC blog
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

Youth and the Rural Economy in Africa: New book explores current realities
April 30, 2021 / News
In a new book edited by IDS researcher, James Sumberg, and published by the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International, authors examine the engagement of youth in the rural economy. The book, entitled ‘Youth and the Rural Economy in Africa’,
Political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania: Socioeconomic impact of trade policies, strategies and programmes
April 29, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
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

The political economy of cocoa value chain in Ghana
April 26, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
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

The need for rice sector modernisation: a key outcome of the Ethiopian National Rice Platform Meeting
April 22, 2021 / News
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.
Can the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme deliver food security in Zimbabwe?
April 22, 2021 / FAC blog
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

COVID-19 and the disappearing tobacco in Zimbabwe: Makoronyera and the new value chains
April 20, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
FAO recognises farmer-led irrigation as a major contributor to agricultural development
April 15, 2021 / FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. Buried deep in a long report on water and agriculture by FAO – the flagship state of food and agriculture report of 2020 – there is a really important section, signalling a big

The Policy Context of the Oil Palm Sector’s Underperformance in Ghana
April 12, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
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

Working Paper 57: Agricultural commercialisation and the political economy of value chains: Tanzania rice case study
March 31, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
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
Working Paper 56: The political economy of the groundnut value chain in Malawi: Its re-emergence amidst policy chaos, strategic neglect, and opportunism
March 31, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by Blessings Chinsinga and Mirriam Matita This paper explores the political economy of the groundnut value chain in Malawi. The paper uses a combination of insights from the theoretical perspectives of political settlement, rents and policymaking to examine this
Working Paper 55: COVID-19 and the political economy of tobacco and maize commodity circuits: Makoronyera, the ‘connected’ and agrarian accumulation in Zimbabwe
March 31, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by Toendepi Shonhe This paper analyses the global commodity circuits – value chains – for maize and tobacco in Zimbabwe, in the context of a reconfigured agrarian economy and COVID-19 induced shocks. The study focuses on the political economy
Working Paper 54: Political economy of the oil palm value chain in Ghana
March 31, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by Kofi Takyi Asante Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) is of strategic importance to the Ghanaian economy. It is the second most important industrial crop after cocoa and is used widely in local food preparation as well as in industrial
Land, Investment & Politics
March 29, 2021 / FAC blog
In this blog, Jeremy Lind discusses his new book, Land, Investment and Politics: Reconfiguring Eastern Africa’s Pastoral Drylands. This book explores the consequences of the investment spike which began over a decade ago in the pastoral drylands of Eastern Africa.

Frontier politics in Zimbabwe: the Chilonga case
March 28, 2021 / FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. Chilonga, a small settlement in a dry communal area in Chiredzi district, has been all over the news in Zimbabwe over the past few weeks. A huge controversy over a major new land

Agricultural livelihood paths and their determinants: the role of smallholder farmer commercialisation in central Malawi
March 25, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In this blog summarising APRA Working Paper 50, the APRA researcher Mirriam Matita explores the results of a recent study into the role of smallholder agricultural commercialisation in livelihood trajectories in central Malawi, and examines the longer-term policy implications of

Challenges to commercialisation of the rice and cocoa value chains in Nigeria
March 22, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In this blog summarising his research in the newly published in APRA Working Paper 52, APRA researcher Emmanuel Remi Aiyede highlights the challenges facing the rice and cocoa sector in Nigeria. He outlines the findings from the paper, how COVID-19
Sunflower commercialisation in Tanzania: Everybody benefits but with social difference
March 18, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In this blog, based on research shown in the newly published APRA Working Paper 49, the authors explore the social impacts of sunflower commercialisation in Tanzania. They highlight the key findings from their research, and outline changing livelihoods are affecting

APRA Ghana team to present findings in dissemination workshop
March 15, 2021 / News
The findings of a recent APRA Ghana research project will be shared with a range of stakeholders at a forthcoming event. This workshop will include a discussion of the team’s research, the implications of these findings. The outcome of discussions
The political economy of rice value chain in Ethiopia: actors, performance, and discourses
March 15, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog summarises APRA Working Paper 51, which shows the importance of rice in Ethiopia since its introduction the 1970s covering trends in terms of actors engaged, domestic consumption and policy attention. The authors identify the key challenges that have

Vaccine politics in Zimbabwe
March 15, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. If you didn’t know already, vaccines are political. And in southern Africa perhaps particularly so as the Chinese, Russians, Indians and the so-called international community through the COVAX facility jostle for position, each
Cocoa farming: Experiences beyond the Osun River bank, Ogun State, Nigeria
March 8, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In this blog, the APRA Nigeria Work Stream 2 team examined the different types of land ownership (leasing and borrowing), and the impact of a new generation of young farmers beyond the Osun river bank. They also investigated the effect

The politics of medium-scale A2 farms in Zimbabwe
March 8, 2021 / FAC blog
This blog was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. The findings of our recent open access Journal of Modern African Studies paper, shared in the last blog, show that A2 farmers are not one uniform group. They vary a lot both between

The political economy of land use land cover change in Mvurwi, Zimbabwe, 1984—2018
March 4, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In this blog summarising APRA Working Paper 48, the authors explore the effects of variable rainfall and the land reforms of 2000 alongside other political and economic factors, to determine how land use land cover in Mvurwi, Zimbabwe has changed

Emerging dynamics as result of COVID-19 in Mngeta Division in Morogoro, Tanzania
March 1, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog uses data from recent APRA surveys to examine the changing situation among farmers resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The authors look at how the farmers are responding to such changes, how their livelihoods have altered, and what
APRA present findings at webinar on the impact of COVID-19 on the rice sector
March 1, 2021 / News
The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Work Stream 2 team have continued to attend events, despite the technical challenges brought by pandemic-related lockdowns. Dawit Alemu, Ethiopia-based academic, participated on behalf of APRA at the Zoom Webinar “COVID-19 Impact and
The triple drivers of rice commercialisation in Fumbisi Valley, northern Ghana (2)
February 25, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog looks at how the triple drivers of mechanisation, weedicide/herbicides and improved seeds play an integral role in rice commercialisation in northern Ghana. The author explores how, and why, they are so important, alongside other factors such as market

Rising farm sizes in the Fumbisi Valley of northern Ghana (1)
February 22, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In our new two-part series on agricultural commercialism in the Fumbisi Valley of northern Ghana, this blog looks at the growing farm sizes, why rice is so popular, and details the different categories of farms. Part two, available on 25

Medium-scale commercial farming in Zimbabwe: how has it fared since land reform?
February 22, 2021 / FAC blog
This blog was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. We have a new open access paper out in the Journal of Modern African Studies – “Medium-scale commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe: The experience of A2 resettlement farms”. Contrary to assertions that A2 medium-scale farms

Added challenges for the rice sector in Ethiopia caused by COVID-19
February 18, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog uses new APRA research to explain how COVID-19 has increased the pressure on the Ethiopian rice sector. The authors provide details the APRA study, the impact on rice production, before examining the decline in household rice production and
Impact of COVID-19 on food systems and rural livelihoods in south-western Ghana
February 15, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog highlights the findings of a recent study that seeks to estimate the impact of COVID-19 on food systems and livelihoods in south-western Ghana and provides insights based on household-level and key informant data gathered in the first and
COVID-19 preventative measures disrupt small-scale farmer production, marketing and livelihoods in Zambia
February 11, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog highlights how COVID-19 preventative measures have affected small-scale farmers surrounding the Mkushi farm block in Zambia, focusing particularly how such measures have disrupted production, marketing and livelihoods. The authors then look at how the government and cooperating partners
The unintended consequences of COVID-19 lockdowns in Nigeria (2)
February 8, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog presents a snapshot of the efforts of Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) to help stakeholders to track the initial impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic on agricultural commercialisation, food and nutrition security, labour and employment, and poverty
The rich people’s virus? Latest reflections from Zimbabwe
February 8, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. A few weeks back Oxfam released a major report, ‘The Inequality Virus’, documenting the way COVID-19 has affected different populations and parts of the world. The now well-established impacts on the
Can relaxed COVID-19 restrictions ease food insecurity among the rural population in Kenya?
February 4, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In our latest blog, John Olwande and Miltone Ayieko of the Tegemeo Institute examine the results of recent APRA studies and assess the impact of an easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in Kenya on the livelihoods of small-scale farming households.
Rural gender inequalities (2): feminisation of agriculture and COVID-19
February 1, 2021 / FAC blog
In the previous blog, demographic factors that leave rural women more susceptible to socio-economic marginalisation were highlighted. In this blog, we focus on the socio-economic participation of rural women, including the “feminisation of agriculture” phenomenon and the impact of crises