Latest articles

Zimbabwe’s economy goes from bad to worse
March 5, 2020 / FAC blog
Zimbabwe’s economy continues to decline, with inflation spiralling and the new local currency losing value by the day. The IMF’s recent report makes grim reading, with negative growth recorded for last year, and an expectation of effectively no growth, growing inflation and
APRA Tanzania share findings on rice commercialisation and food security at conference
March 2, 2020 / News
“Public and private sector investment for agricultural transformation in Tanzania”, was the theme for the 6th Annual Agricultural Policy Conference (AAPC), which took place 12-14 February 2020 at Dodoma Hotel in Dodoma, Tanzania. The conference was officially opened by the
Oil palm good, rubber better: a tale from south-western Ghana
February 27, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
Cash crop production is widely considered vital for improved incomes in developing countries. In Ghana, the production of cash crops in the past few decades have assumed a greater proportion of farmers’ production in the south-western parts of the country,

Can joint ventures and sub-letting unleash Zimbabwe’s agricultural potential?
February 24, 2020 / FAC blog
The under-performance of parts of Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector continues. This mostly applies to large estates and some medium-scale farms that were reallocated under the fast-track land reform as A2 resettlement farms. Last year, as part of the economic reform agenda,
APRA researchers showcase findings at two key conferences
February 20, 2020 / News
February has been a very productive month for APRA. Already, researchers in Tanzania have kicked off the 2nd round of APRA surveys on commercialisation pathways for Tanzanian rice producers following the successful data collection training for enumerators at Sokaine University.
APRA Malawi successfully engages with the media
February 17, 2020 / News
An engagement and training workshop held with the media in Malawi in 2019 has led to extensive coverage across online media, social media, radio, TV and newspapers. On 31st August 2019, APRA Malawi held a one-day workshop with around 22
APRA to participate in inaugural Agricultural Industry Forum
February 13, 2020 / News
The APRA team based at CABE in Nairobi, Kenya, is participating in the planning and inauguration of the Agricultural Industry Forum. The agribusiness event is being hosted by the Agriculture Industry Network, and in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture
APRA research features in publication on Ethiopian rice development
February 10, 2020 / News
A new book including APRA Ethiopia research has recently been published by the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR). Advances in Rice Research and Development in Ethiopia presents the deliberations from an international conference held in November, 2018 at the
Shaking off decades of stagnation in the Nigeria cocoa sector
February 6, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
Cocoa remains Nigeria’s most important non-oil export commodity. However, in five decades, Nigeria has dropped from the second largest to the fourth largest producer of cocoa in the world, behind Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia. Nigeria is currently contributing 5
Sugar scandals in Zimbabwe’s lowveld
February 4, 2020 / FAC blog
While visiting our research sites in Mkwasine and Hippo Valley in Zimbabwe’s lowveld recently, there was only one topic of conversation among sugar farmers we have been working with in land reform areas: the scandal that has overwhelmed the South African sugar
To farm or not to farm? That’s NOT the question
February 4, 2020 / FAC blog
It is often said that young, rural Africans aren’t interested in farming. Rather, they want to relocate to urban areas where there is a wider array of social, educational and employment opportunities. The suggestion is that widespread migration from rural
UPDATE: Call for applications: JPS Summer 2020 Writeshop in Critical Agrarian Studies and Scholar-Activism
January 23, 2020 / News
UPDATE 5/3/2020: The deadline for applying to the JPS 2020 workshop has been extended to 15 MARCH! Organisers are closely monitoring the #COVID19/#Coronavirus situation. If a change of location is necessary, it will likely move to Cape Town, South Africa
The case for integrated organic farms in Nigeria
January 23, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
Efforts by the Government to reduce food imports, increase food availability and incomes from agriculture could put more pressure on land use through the growth of medium/large scale farms, and an expansion in area cultivated by smallholder farms across Nigeria.
UK-Africa investment must not overlook African entrepreneurs
January 20, 2020 / FAC blog
On 20 January, the UK-Africa Investment Summit takes place in London. According to DFID, the focus is on “investment opportunities”, “lasting partnerships”, “jobs, growth and sustainability”.  A forthcoming paper I have been working on with colleagues from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and the
UK-Africa Investment Summit – Five principles for a progressive trade policy
January 20, 2020 / FAC blog
Today the UK Government is hosting the UK-Africa Investment Summit, which aims to promote the UK as a key investment partner for Africa and ‘create new lasting partnerships that will deliver more investment, jobs and growth.’ Researchers at IDS have been
UK-Africa trade and investment: is it good for development?
January 20, 2020 / FAC blog
Just ten days before Brexit is declared, the UK is hosting a major investment summit, attended by the PM, Boris Johnson and an array of royals. There is much hype about the event (check out, #UKAfricaSummit, #InvestinAfrica, for example), with hopeful, win-win-win rhetoric
Top Tips from APRA’s Policy friends
January 16, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
During APRA’s recent annual meeting in Naivasha from 2-6 December 2019, a panel of distinguished policy voices made up of representatives from Department for International Development (DFID), African Union (AU), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Tegemeo Institute, Agricultural Non-State Actors
Rural transformation in Ethiopia: the right or wrong end of the stick?
January 9, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
The underlying causes of the ethnic and religious conflicts in Ethiopia have had little space for discourse. This blog [1] is aimed at reminding academics, researchers, extension workers and other development practitioners not to be distracted by the on-going events
Research to impact: stories from Zimbabwe
January 9, 2020 / FAC blog
Over a couple of weeks in December, I visited our long-term field sites in A1 resettlement sites in Masvingo province in Zimbabwe. It is now nearly 20 years since land reform and the beginning of our research engagement across these
Zimbabweland’s festive top 20 for 2019
January 9, 2020 / FAC blog
For readers of the blog who want to catch up, the ‘top 20’ most viewed blogs posted this year are listed below. Many looked at older ones too, and there are now over 370 to choose from. As ever, the
Why is there food insecurity in Zimbabwe?
January 9, 2020 / FAC blog
The food situation in Zimbabwe in 2019 was bad. But what was the cause? Drought was part of the story – you just have to see the dramatic pictures from Victoria Falls to realise something is up. But the food crisis is
APRA Annual Workshop 2019 hosted by CABE
December 19, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
The Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE) successfully hosted the APRA Annual Review and Planning Workshop in Naivasha, Kenya from 2-6 December 2019. Members of the three APRA work streams and APRA Consortium, stationed at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS),
Unattractive bride – the case of government extension services in Central Malawi
December 5, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
In 2000, Malawi adopted a pluralistic and demand-driven agricultural extension policy which liberalised agricultural extension provision, allowing multiple stakeholders to freely provide extension services that are coordinated and regulated by the government. This policy is anchored by an implementation system

Uncertainty and the Zimbabwean economy
December 5, 2019 / FAC blog
Over the last month there have been a number of reviews of progress – or the lack of it – since the ‘coup’ of November 2017 (see, for example, a recent BSR here). President Mnangagwa arrived in post on the back of much
Livelihood trajectories in the Nigerian cocoa industry: An exploratory study of smallholder cocoa farmers in Ondo State
November 28, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
The Nigerian cocoa industry has seen a resurgence with the recognition of agriculture in national economic development. However, its level of growth, especially with regards to commercialisation has been limited. There have been reported cases of cocoa farms being sold
What does pro-poor rural development mean for Zimbabwe?
November 28, 2019 / FAC blog
During last year’s election campaign, Tendai Biti from the opposition MDC, characterised the rural areas as ‘reservoirs of poverty’ in need of ‘liquidation’. Such a characterisation of course is a huge generalisation. Any rural policy must take a more differentiated view, and
Closing the cocoa frontier in western Ghana. Time to intensify?
November 13, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
Ever since the 1880s when cocoa began to be planted in southern Ghana, new land has been acquired for cocoa trees. These have expanded westwards from the first lands planted below the Akwapim ridge, just north of Accra, 130 years
Conservation in northern Kenya: conflicts over community land in the pastoral margins
November 13, 2019 / FAC blog
With growing economic, environmental, and conservation pressures, it is imperative that the question of community land ownership in the pastoral areas of northern Kenya be addressed; otherwise, chaos and conflict will likely ensue.  Land ownership is a core concern of
Water, sanitation and energy supply in Masvingo’s communal areas
November 13, 2019 / FAC blog
When we started our research on the new resettlement areas in the early 2000s, one of the things people frequently said to us was that they were happy about the new land and the opportunities is brought, but found the
Institutions, social relations and rural development in Zimbabwe
November 13, 2019 / FAC blog
Social and political relations are central to land and agricultural production. Unlike in the resettlement areas, where new institutions and relations had to be built following land reform, those in the communal areas draw on longer traditions. Like in the resettlements,
APRA Nigeria board: final report published
November 11, 2019 / News
APRA Nigeria have published a final report from the meeting where a new advisory board was created, at Rockview Hotel, Abuja on September 27, 2019. In the report, Prof Aromolaran explains that the purpose of the meeting was three-fold: To
Agricultural commercialisation pathways: teams review latest research findings
November 7, 2019 / News
Members of the APRA Work Stream 1 team from Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe met with colleagues from the APRA Data Management Support Team met at IDS on 7-11 October. These studies are using a combination of detailed household surveys
The future of cocoa production in south western Nigeria: Stakeholder insights
November 4, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
Background Agricultural enterprise in Nigeria’s economy has played a key participatory role by addressing the issues of poverty, food insecurity, unemployment and foreign revenue acquisition. Cocoa has been integral to  championing the agricultural economy as it remains the top most
Off-farm work and diversified livelihoods in Zimbabwe’s communal areas
November 3, 2019 / FAC blog
With low agricultural output, off-farm work is an essential complement to agricultural production in Zimbabwe’s communal areas. Working away has always been part and parcel of communal area livelihoods; indeed these were established as ‘labour reserves’ in the colonial era.
Time to reimagine the agrarian system
November 3, 2019 / FAC blog
“We are wasting our time talking about living wages and inspectors and new technologies. We need to talk about the fact that our government has sold the livelihoods of ordinary people to big corporates.” These were the words of Constance
Livestock production: the limits of extensive systems in Zimbabwe
October 30, 2019 / FAC blog
As the previous blog described, the communal area sites we have been studying in Masvingo rarely produced sufficient crops to cover even subsistence needs, and then if so only very occasionally, as with the Mwenezi experience in 2016-17. So what about livestock
DFID funds programme on Children’s Harmful Work in African Agriculture
October 24, 2019 / News
The majority of children’s work in Africa is within the agricultural sector. However, there is insufficient evidence on the prevalence of harmful children’s work across different agricultural value chains, farming systems and agro-ecologies. Furthermore, little is understood about the effects
Agriculture in Masvingo’s communal areas: limited prospects
October 24, 2019 / FAC blog
We investigated agricultural production across our communal area sites throughout Masvingo province during the 2016 and 2017 harvest seasons. These were relatively good rainfall years, with 690 mm recorded in Masvingo town in 2016-17, for instance. Compared to the past
APRA presents at AAAE conference
October 14, 2019 / APRA blog
“Rising to meet new challenges: Africa’s agricultural development beyond 2020 Vision” was the theme for the 6th  African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE) triennial conference, which took place on the 23-26th September 2019 at the Sheraton Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria. Professor G. B. Ayoola,
The farm workers who produce our food are the most vulnerable to hunger
October 14, 2019 / FAC blog
For information on the National Conference on the Future of Farm Workers, including live blog posts from the event, please see below this blog. It is tragic and outrageous that the people who produce the food that we eat in

Land and tenure in Zimbabwe’s communal areas: why land reform was needed
October 14, 2019 / FAC blog
Access to land is central to the livelihoods of rural people, but in the communal areas this is highly constrained outside the land-extensive Lowveld site of Mwenezi. Even in dryland Chivi average holdings are only 2.1 hectares, while in Gutu
Economic chaos is causing a food security and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe
October 14, 2019 / FAC blog
Ian Scoones, University of Sussex Since Zimbabwe’s land reform of 2000 – when around 8 million hectares of formerly large-scale commercial farmland was distributed to about 175,000 households – debates about the consequences for food security have raged. A standard

Livelihoods assets: differentiated development in Zimbabwe
October 14, 2019 / FAC blog
The last blog introduced this blog series on communal area development in Zimbabwe, and the comparisons with resettlement areas. This week’s blog continues the series with a look at the distribution of assets people have and their importance in building livelihoods.

It’s a miracle! The worrying rise of faith-based agronomy
October 9, 2019 / FAC blog
There is a dark tension at the heart of development-oriented crop and soil science. It pits systematic research, respect for evidence, and incremental improvement, against the imperative to construct and claim success and impact ‘at scale’. This tension can be
APRA Nigeria advisory board created
October 7, 2019 / News
APRA Nigeria has received a boost following the creation of a new advisory board, at Rockview Hotel, Abuja on September 27, 2019. APRA Nigeria Workstream 1 Research Team (WS1) aims to study the potential opportunities and challenges associated with medium-scale
Oil Palm Processing in Ghana: Hanging In, Stepping Up and Stepping Out
October 3, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
Oil palm production has been a lifelong activity for many farmers in south-western Ghana. Although oil palm could be harvested throughout the year, production peaks from January to May.  Like other crops of this nature, one would expect prices to

Are communal areas in Zimbabwe too poor for development?
October 3, 2019 / FAC blog
Communal areas are where the majority of rural people live in Zimbabwe. With an estimated population of 1.1 million households and a land area of 16.4 million hectares, these areas far exceed those allocated land in the resettlements. This blog
APRA researcher at Agri4D
October 2, 2019 / News
APRA was recently represented by Dr Fred Dzanku, research fellow at the University of Ghana’s Institute of Statistical, Social & Economic Research, as one of eight keynote speakers at the biennial Agricultural Research for Development Conference, Agri4D 2019 held on
Tribute to Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa: Concept Note and Call for Papers
September 26, 2019 / News
Malawi Journal of Economics: Special Issue Please note: The deadline for submitting a concept note for this call for papers has now passed. 1. Introduction Following the shocking and untimely loss of Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa on 15 July 2019, the
The contemporary agrarian question in West Africa
September 25, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
The agrarian question in West Africa is dominated by the integration of peasant agriculture or smallholder farming into agribusiness markets, which includes contract farming, but also other mechanisms to encourage uptake of inputs and the incorporation of farmers into corporate