Latest articles

Young people, land and agriculture in Zimbabwe: big challenges ahead
September 25, 2019 / FAC blog
A new paper based on our work with young people in post-land land reform resettlement areas is out in the journal, Review of African Political Economy. You can read it in full here. It’s part of a great special issue on Zimbabwe edited by Grasian Mkodzongi

Ethiopia’s incentives to agribusiness investment require a serious rethink
September 19, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
Primarily through its investment promotion agency, Ethiopia has been encouraging business investment for decades. It uses incentives such as import, export and income tax reduction or exemption, and provides investors with access to land. In a recent study, we explored

South Africa’s land report: Zimbabwe lessons?
September 19, 2019 / FAC blog
South Africa’s land panel finally produced its report at the end of July. At 144 pages it’s an impressive document, making all the right noises. South Africa, like Zimbabwe, left the land issue for too long. 25 years after freedom, at least
Ethiopia: revising the national rice research and development strategy
September 17, 2019 / News
Ethiopia is reviewing its national rice research and development plan for the next ten years. The National Rice Research and Development Strategy of Ethiopia (NRRDSE) was developed in 2010 and has been guiding the efforts of the country’s rice sector
Promoting Agribusiness Investment in Ghana: Rethinking Policy Incentives
September 12, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
Agriculture is a major economic activity in Ghana, contributing 20 per cent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In recognition that increased investment can help transform the largely subsistence-based agricultural sector, the government of Ghana and its development partners have implemented

APRA Malawi engages Media on agriculture commercialisation
September 11, 2019 / News
The APRA research team in Malawi engaged with the media on agriculture commercialisation on 31st August 2019 at Ufulu Gardens in Lilongwe. We invited 22 journalists from the print and electronic sectors of the Malawian media. In addition, there was
Robert Mugabe: a complex legacy
Robert Mugabe: a complex legacy
September 10, 2019 / FAC blog
Robert Mugabe died on September 6th in Singapore after a long illness, and the press has been full of commentary about his legacy. There is a deep fascination with him in the UK. Despite the drama of Brexit, his death was top news

Value Chain Participants in Smallholder Commercialisation in Mvurwi: Emerging Business Relations
September 3, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector has experienced radical transformation following a series of land reform programs and an economic meltdown that started in 2000. The implementation of the Fast Track Land Reform Program (FTLRP) led to widespread disruptions in the sophisticated input

Social Dynamics of Agricultural Commercialisation: What are the Community Perceptions?
August 14, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
Agricultural commercialisation is seen by smallholder farmers as a potent means of improving their livelihoods and transforming rural communities. However, the commercialisation-induced rural transformation has the potential to alter both social relations and gender-based power dynamics within rural communities. As

African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2019 – Accra, Ghana, 3-6 September
August 13, 2019 / News
“AGRF is the world’s premier forum for African agriculture, pulling together stakeholders in the agricultural landscape to discuss and commit to programs, investments, and policies to achieve an inclusive and sustainable agricultural transformation across the continent.” AGRF is upon us
6th International Conference of African Association of Agricultural Economists 2019, Abuja, Nigeria
August 13, 2019 / News
“Rising to meet new challenges: Africa’s agricultural development beyond 2020 Vision” is the theme for the 6th  African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE) triennial conference, which will take place on the 23-26th September 2019 at the Sheraton Hotel in Abuja,
A new framework for thinking about technological change
August 7, 2019 / FAC blog
Global development is all about creating change for the better.  One thing is certain:  if we want to address the climate breakdown while achieving a high quality of life for all of the Earth’s citizens, it will take a transformation

A recap of the JPS Annual Summer Writeshop in Critical Agrarian Studies in Beijing
August 7, 2019 / News
What are the structural barriers that hinder the growth of vibrant, well-networked Global South young researchers working in critical agrarian studies along scholar-activist tradition? Can a global network of Global South young researchers working in critical agrarian studies and along

The Future of Cocoa Production in Nigeria: An Account of Adegeye’s Extensive Research Experiences
August 1, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
Cocoa farming is a profitable cash crop due to its economically diverse value chain products, as well as the international acceptance of that. Players and actors in cocoa value chain are the direct beneficiaries of this venture.  Nonetheless, Nigerian cocoa

In memory of Professor Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa
July 29, 2019 / News
Professor Ephraim Chirwa, the Director of Research-Africa of the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme and a founding member of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC), passed away after a sudden illness on the morning of 15 July 2019. An
What are ‘appropriate technologies’? Pathways for mechanising African agriculture.
July 26, 2019 / FAC blog
Capital goods are essential for agriculture, whether for tillage, irrigation or threshing. Mechanisation of agriculture is therefore seen as a core aim for agricultural development, and is widely pushed as a route to increasing production and efficiency. But what scale

Analysing the dynamics of change: Using longitudinal, panel and cross-sectional studies to investigate complex social, environmental and technological issues
July 25, 2019 / News
Due to financial and capacity limitations, a great deal of development-related research involves conducting single studies at one point in time. These ‘snapshots’ can provide useful insights into the people and conditions examined and the impacts of particular processes and
APRA at the EEA Conference: Analysing the Importance of Rice to the Ethiopian Economy
July 22, 2019 / News
APRA engagement at the 17th Ethiopian Economics Association (EEA) Conference on the Ethiopian Economy The Ethiopia Team of the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) participated in the 17th International Conference of the
Can smallholders farm themselves into commercialised agriculture?
July 16, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog is based on Working Paper 26. Smallholder farmers form the bulk of agricultural producers in sub-Saharan Africa, constituting more than 90 percent of the farming community in this region, but they are mostly poor and face food insecurity.

APRA Contributes to a Pivotal International Conference on the State of the Ethiopian Economy
July 12, 2019 / News
The Ethiopia Team of the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) is preparing for their participation in the 17th International Conference of the Ethiopian Economics Association (EEA) on the Ethiopian Economy (https://www.eeaecon.org/), which
Collective Action within Poor Farming Communities in Western Ghana
July 10, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
Attempts to improve rural livelihoods tend to emphasise private sector and informal economic arrangements or social protection mechanisms, in the hope that these would spur local self-help initiatives among the poor. Underlying such thinking is the assumption that success in

Why radical land reform is needed in the UK
July 8, 2019 / FAC blog
Half of the land is owned by 1% of the people. Getting information on who owns what land it is nigh on impossible. Tax arrangements favour land speculation. Ordinary people cannot get access to land to grow food. Where is

Responding to uncertainty: who are the experts?
July 1, 2019 / FAC blog
Uncertainties are everywhere, part of life. But how to respond? Who are the experts? These are questions that we are debating this week at an ESRC STEPS Centre symposium. But they are also questions very pertinent to daily life in Zimbabwe,

Evidence uptake and use to transform Africa: Lessons from the “Utafiti Sera” model
May 29, 2019 / FAC blog
APRA members from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria attended a two-day convening meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, which was organised by Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR). The main objective of the meeting was to bring together 120 participants
Youth engagement with commercialisation hotspots in Zimbabwe
May 23, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
My interest in youth and agriculture commercialisation stemmed from two pivotal moments in the past decade. One from an ‘accidental finding’ from a 10-year longitudinal study of land beneficiaries of the Fast Track Land Reform (FTLRP) in Sanyati District, Zimbabwe

Are African youth innovative?
May 22, 2019 / FAC blog
This is the question that we address in a new article published in the Journal of Rural Studies. Entitled ‘Are African rural youth innovative? Claims, evidence and implications’, the paper is open access and free to download. Our interest in
A lever for agricultural commercialisation? A critical look at the agricultural extension system in Malawi.
May 20, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
In this assessment, we ask the question: is the extension services system in Malawi doing enough to facilitate agricultural commercialisation among smallholder farmers? This question arrives amidst concerns that commercial agriculture in Malawi, especially among small-scale farmers, has not really

The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative: what’s in it for Africa?
May 15, 2019 / FAC blog
The huge Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Forum recently concluded in Beijing. 37 heads of state attended, along with droves of policy advisors and numerous thinktanks and research institutes, including IDS where I work. Monica Mutsvanga, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services,
Challenging desertification myths
May 10, 2019 / FAC blog
Tales of desertification across the world’s drylands are a recurrent theme in policy. This week’s blog reviews an excellent book that takes issue with many of the assumptions around desertification – The End of Desertification? Disputing Environmental Change in the Drylands.
Seeing Conflict at the Margins: understanding community experiences through social research and digital narrative in Kenya and Madagascar.
May 8, 2019 / News
This month a new website is being launched for a project called ‘Seeing Conflict at the Margins: understanding community experiences through social research and digital narrative in Kenya and Madagascar.’ Their activities and some links are introduced below – for

APRA involved at the event: Towards a Pan-African Transformation: Innovative Approaches to Evidence uptake and use in Africa.
May 3, 2019 / APRA blog Events News
Date: 02 May 2019 – 03 May 2019 CABE Africa (https://www.cabe-africa.org/) are hosting Utafiti Sera, a policy research community of practice, via PASGR (Partnership for African Social & Governance Research). Hannigton Odame of APRA is conducting a presentation: “Charting the
It is impossible to commercialise agriculture in Malawi: A quick political economy audit
May 3, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
Introduction Agriculture is the mainstay of Malawi’s economy; it contributes between 30 to 40 % of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP); employs 85 % of the workforce; accounts for about 60 % of rural income; and, contributes about 90 %

EVENT – APRA Public Debate on the Character of the Agrarian Question in the Contemporary Africa
May 3, 2019 / APRA blog Events News
The event will take place on 14 May 2019, from 13:00-15:00 at the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa.
Cyclone Idai hits Agriculture in Beira Corridor: Preparing for the Future
May 1, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
ESA: “This Copernicus Sentinel-1 image indicates where the flood waters are finally beginning to recede west of the port city of Beira in Mozambique. The image merges three separate satellite radar images from before the storm on 13 March, from

PLAAS hosting new roundtable: ‘What is the character of the Agrarian Question in contemporary Africa?’
April 30, 2019 / APRA blog Events News
The APRA South Africa Hub at the Institute of Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) is hosting a roundtable on the question: ‘What is the character of the Agrarian Question in contemporary Africa? Perspectives from East, West and Southern Africa’?
Building Livelihoods: Young People and Agricultural Commercialisation – Tanzania Country Study
April 18, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
With many African young people living in rural areas, their economies are characterised by small manufacturers and high rates of youth unemployment. Unemployment has been a major concern especially for graduates who seek formal employment in the urban areas. However,
Consultation, Involvement, and Ownership: Key Messages from a Dissemination event on Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) study.
April 17, 2019 / News
On 14 February 2019, in partnership with the Rift Valley Forum, the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) of the University of Western Cape, and APRA conducted a panel discussion to disseminate a new report – ‘Participation, Voice
Credit: Neil Palmer (CIAT)
So Near Yet So Far: Some Reflections on Land Reforms in Southern Africa
April 12, 2019 / FAC blog
Land is the most critical productive asset in southern Africa, yet it remains a subject of unending contestations. The protracted land efforts in most of these countries have not yielded acceptable outcomes to all stakeholders. The land question is very
Credit: Milu Muyanga
The Changing Face of African Agriculture: Farm Size Distributions in Sub-Saharan Africa
April 10, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
In Jeffrey Herbst’s seminal book, States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control, African states and local traditional authorities are struggling over control of land.  Herbst’s prescient observation, written in 2000, continues to unfold in dramatic ways

Agricultural Commercialisation Pathways and Household Outcomes: The Tale of Four Oil Palm Output Sales Arrangements in South-Western Ghana
April 3, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
The availability of well-developed markets for agricultural output is crucial for boosting commercialisation and reducing poverty in rural sub-Saharan Africa. Oil palm, Ghana’s most important traditional export crop besides cocoa is widely produced in south-western Ghana, particularly the Ahanta West

Farmers shelling groundnuts_ Credit Linvell Chirwa
At what level is market participation by smallholder farmers considered commercial farming?
March 27, 2019 / FAC blog
There is consensus in literature that smallholder agriculture commercialisation occurs when farmers produce more output per unit of land and labour by using improved technologies, such as improved seed and inorganic fertiliser; produce greater surpluses; and, increase their market participation,
Irrigating Africa: can small-scale farmers lead the way?
Irrigating Africa: can small-scale farmers lead the way?
March 22, 2019 / FAC blog
Ian Scoones, University of Sussex We often hear that irrigation in Africa is too limited, and that the key to a “green revolution” on the continent is to expand to levels seen in Asia. But what if there is much
Credit Neil Palmer - CIAT
Youth engagement with commercialisation hotspots in Ghana
March 21, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
Youth unemployment and underemployment are key development challenges facing many developing countries, especially in Africa. In working to address these challenges, there is a belief among policymakers and development practitioners that the rural economy – built around agriculture, but encompassing

Models for integrated resource assessment: biases and uncertainties
March 20, 2019 / FAC blog
What are the most appropriate ways of understanding changes in natural resource change in rural areas, particularly in the context of climate change? How can we make use of data that is patchy and uncertain? How can models help decision-making
Ruia Tractor
Animal vs tractor power: emerging mechanisation dynamics in Mvurwi
March 15, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
Debate on agricultural mechanisation has largely been framed as policy choices between markets versus state intervention. Within the market conceptualization, adoption of tractors is seen as a derivative of changes in the costs within factors of production such as land,

Photo credit: Tapiwa Chatikobo.
The politics of land occupations in Zimbabwe
March 13, 2019 / FAC blog
How land was invaded and occupied during Zimbabwe’s land reform in 2000 remains a contentious issue. The lack of detailed empirical work uncovering the histories of occupations has hampered the debate, but this is now changing. To date, there have

An Invisible Sugar Subsidy: Distress Cattle Sales by Bodi Agro-Pastoralists in Southern Ethiopia
March 7, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
In South Omo in 2011, the Ethiopian government commenced its flagship sugar industrialisation project – one of the most controversial elements of its broader ambitions to build a developmental state. The plantations were planned to cover about 175,000 hectares of

Ghana, cocoa, farming, agriculture, commercialisation, APRA
Cocoa Commercialisation in Ghana: History and Social Values
March 1, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
Agricultural commercialisation is by no means new to Africa and emerged in the early 19th century, with the development of export crops for the European market. Since the cocoa industry has developed across various policy epochs, this history can provide

Injera supplier to restaurants
Injera: Is Rice Commercialisation Changing Traditional Ethiopian Recipes?
February 21, 2019 / APRA blog FAC blog
The most traditional food item commonly found on the table of Ethiopians for breakfast, lunch and dinner is injera, which is made from teff. However, there appears to be a change occurring – and not only in the extent of

Corridors Mini-Series: Agricultural Commercialisation along Mozambique’s Growth Corridors
February 14, 2019 / FAC blog
People cannot eat gas, oil or coal Since he took office in 2015, president Filipe Nyusi has sought to redirect the attention of Mozambicans, from the prospect of wealth associated with the exploration of natural resources, to increasing agricultural production