Latest articles

Worker-peasants and peasant-workers: new labour regimes in rural Zimbabwe
September 6, 2021 / FAC blog
Much academic debate about rural farm labour has focused on the idea of linear transitions in labour regimes through processes of agricultural commercialisation. This sees farmworkers as either moving towards a class of wage-labour, profiting from modernising, efficient, large-scale agricultural

Are smallholder farms or medium-scale farms more productive in Nigeria?
September 2, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), support for smallholder-led agricultural strategy has been motivated by the stylised fact that smallholder farmers are more productive. This stylised fact is known as inverse relationship (IR) between farm size and productivity, which has been widely

Ghana’s agricultural commercialisation and food security: An analysis of smallholder farmers across gender and geography
September 1, 2021 / News
Photo credit: Charles Nyaaba of the Peasant Farmers Association A recent study by Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Ghana researchers addresses the question: under what conditions, and at what scale, does smallholder agricultural commercialisation promote or hinder food security?
Enhancing nutrition for a stronger, sustainable post-COVID-19 rice sector in Africa
August 31, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In the second blog of a series following APRA’s participation in an Independent Food Systems Dialogue on sustainable value chains for Africa’s rice sector in a post-COVID 19 context, we examine the nutrition-related outcomes of the dialogue. The event, which
Does sunflower commercialisation empower women in Singida, Tanzania?
August 26, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 59, which investigates the influence of sunflower commercialisation and diversity on women empowerment in Singida region, Tanzania. This study assesses the assumption that women engagement along Tanzania’s sunflower value chain empowers

APRA Brief 27: Commercialising Pastoralist Livestock Systems in East Africa
August 23, 2021 / APRA Briefs Policy Briefs Publications
Across East Africa’s vast rangelands, pastoralist livestock systems have been commercialising since the early 1900s. Commercialisation has varied widely within and between areas, but now includes substantial livestock exports, regional and cross-border trade, and supply to domestic markets. This policy
Rice commercialisation, agrarian change and livelihood trajectories: Transformations on the Fogera Plain of Ethiopia
August 23, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog summarises APRA Working Paper 61, which explores the commercialisation of rice in Ethiopia since its introduction in the early 1970s. This process has evidenced wider agrarian changes that have contributed to the emergence and development of diverse livelihood

Building sustainable post COVID-19 value chains for Africa’s rice sector: Outcomes of an East African Dialogue
August 19, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog reflects on the recent East Africa Independent Food Systems Dialogue, which brought together rice producers, the research and academic community, donors and investors, the private sector and farmers which aimed to discuss and develop pathways to building sustainable
Agricultural commercialisation and changing labour regimes in Zimbabwe
August 16, 2021 / Publications
Written by: Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba This paper explores the emerging labour regimes and the consequences for agricultural commercialisation across multiple land-use types in post land reform Zimbabwe. The livelihoods of farmworkers, including those still resident in
End of the road? The future of smallholder farmers in Malawi
August 16, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This paper reflects on the findings of APRA Working Paper 56 and APRA Working Paper 58 to understand the reality of smallholder farming in Malawi, and what the future can be expected to hold for individuals involved in this sector.

Unmasking the socio-economic potential of rice in Burundi: Outcomes of the East Africa Rice Conference 2021
August 12, 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

APRA Working Paper 62: Agricultural Investment Corridors in Africa: Does Smallholder and Women’s Participation Count?
August 12, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Agricultural development corridors and clusters are highly complex projects that have been driven in Africa by agribusiness and mining corporations, host governments, international donors and development finance institutions. There is interest in whether these projects can support inclusive agribusiness. Evidence
Why it is expensive to produce cocoa in Ghana, a former global leader? APRA Ghana share findings
August 10, 2021 / Events News
Cocoa producers in Ghana incur high production costs, but obtain low yields and receive less income. This hampers the country’s cocoa commercialisation efforts, hence requiring adoption of high yielding varieties and innovative financing options and investments in labour and inputs.
Upcoming webinar: Development corridors in Africa: whose voices count?
August 9, 2021 / Events News
An upcoming webinar on development corridors in Africa will be held virtually on Thursday 12 August from 1300-1400 SAST/CAT.
COVID-19 spreads to rural Zimbabwe
August 9, 2021 / FAC blog
The third COVID-19 wave has firmly arrived in Zimbabwe’s rural areas. This is no longer the ‘rich person’s disease’ of those based in town. The number of cases and sadly deaths has surged across our rural study areas in the
APRA Working Paper 61: Rice Commercialisation, Agrarian Change and Livelihood Trajectories: Transformations on the Fogera Plain of Ethiopia
August 6, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by: Dawit Alemu, John Thompson and Abebaw Assaye Rice was considered a minor crop in Ethiopia, rarely consumed by many households in Sub-Saharan Africa. In recent decades, however, it has become the most rapidly growing staple food source in
Positioning Tanzania in the regional market for rice: Lessons from the East Africa Rice Conference
August 5, 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

Journal Article: Agricultural Commercialisation and Changing Labour Regimes in Zimbabwe
August 3, 2021 / Journal articles Publications
This paper explores the emerging labour regimes and the consequences for agricultural commercialisation across multiple land-use types in post land reform Zimbabwe. The livelihoods of farmworkers, including those still resident in former labour compounds, are explored. The paper examines patterns
Environmental impacts of commercial rice production in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania
August 2, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In Kilombero Valley, Tanzania, rice is increasingly becoming a commercial crop. However, although research findings show that commercial rice production is beneficial, it is also associated with increasing use of modern implements, such as tractors, and use of agrochemicals, such

ALRE Working Paper 1: From Field Research to Policy Change – Lessons from FAC and APRA
August 2, 2021 / ALRE Working Paper Publications
Written by: Martin Whiteside The Institute of Development Studies has led consortia of UK and African organisations in two large programmes of agricultural policy research: the original Future Agricultures Consortium programme, running from 2005 to 2014, and the successive Agricultural
Land reform in England?
July 29, 2021 / FAC blog
Illustration by Nick Hayes for Landscapes of Freedom This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Access to land is not only a concern in places like Zimbabwe. In England, less than 1% of the population own half the land

Responses of Rice Farmers Engaged in Vegetable Production: Implications of the Collapse of Vegetable Prices in the Fogera Plain
July 27, 2021 / APRA research note Publications
Written by: Dawit Alemu and Tirhas Kinfe Since the early 1980s, the Fogera Plain has been one of Ethiopia’s major rice production areas. The introduction of rice, its commercialisation and the subsequent increased surplus production has led to the ability
Journal Article: The politics of mechanisation in Zimbabwe: tractors, accumulation and agrarian change
July 26, 2021 / Journal articles Publications
This article explores whether mechanisation affects patterns of accumulation and differentiation in Zimbabwe's post land reform where policy consistently disadvantages smallholders. Is the latest mechanisation wave any different? The article considers dynamics of tractor access and accumulation trajectories across and
The political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria
July 22, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 60, investigating the political economy of the maize value chain in Nigeria. This study focused on how the political economy dynamics can contribute to understanding the drivers and constraints of agricultural

Rice set to improve Uganda’s food and nutrition security
July 19, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
Written by: Mr. Paul Lubega, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Uganda 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

Journal Article: Tractors, States, Markets and Agrarian Change in Africa
July 16, 2021 / Journal articles Publications
Mechanisation has made a comeback to agricultural policy in Africa, encouraging scholars to revisit seminal literature on induced innovation. Recent studies emphasise the role for markets in addressing Africa’s mechanisation gaps and warn about past government failures to be avoided.
Research to Policy Influencing – Lessons from APRA on Efficiency, Effectiveness and Sustainability
July 15, 2021 / ALRE Research Note Publications
Written by, Martin Whiteside This paper presents some of the learning on efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability generated by an accompanied learning process; which supported the latter part of a six-year research programme on agricultural commercialisation covering nine African countries and
APRA Working Paper 60: The Political Economy of the Maize Value Chain in Nigeria
July 15, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by, Paul Amaza, Sunday Mailumo, Asenath Silong The aim of this case study is to understand the underlying political economy dynamics of the maize value chain in Nigeria, with a focus on how this can contribute to comprehending the
Covid-19 and food security: What is the way forward?
July 15, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
Covid-19 is having a major impact on livelihoods and food security across the globe, with women and those who work in informal economies often the hardest hit. This is the focus of our latest Research for Policy and Practice Report
Working Paper 59: The Influence of Sunflower Commercialisation and Diversity on Women’s Empowerment: The Case of Iramba and Mkalama Districts, Singida Region
July 14, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
There is a growing body of literature that argues that normally women derive little benefit from cash crops. Some of the barriers leading to women having less benefit from cash crop value chains include cultural norms and power differences in
Journal Article: Insights into Smallholder Capacity for Agricultural Commercialisation: Evidence from Four African Contexts
July 13, 2021 / Journal articles Publications
Over the last 15 years, the agricultural economics and development literature has amply highlighted success stories of smallholder farmers in developing countries, illustrating their increased engagement and integration with markets, in other words, higher rates of commercialisation. Yet, this seeming
Zimbabwe faces a COVID-19 surge: what is happening in the rural areas?
July 12, 2021 / FAC blog
Vaccination drive at Hippo Valley sugar estate This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland The increase in COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe has been significant in the weeks since our last blog. This has been matched by an increase in
Journal Article: Basket of options: Unpacking the concept
July 9, 2021 / Journal articles Publications
How to stimulate technological change to enhance agricultural productivity and reduce poverty remains an area of vigorous debate. In the face of heterogeneity among farm households and rural areas, one proposition is to offer potential users a ‘basket of options’

Roadmap for Rwanda’s rice sector development
July 8, 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

Inclusive and sustainable rice system to transform Kenya’s food system: Lessons from the East African Conference
July 6, 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 is ‘China’ helping to transform ‘Africa’? The need for a more sophisticated debate
July 1, 2021 / FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland How is China helping to transform African economies? There are many different narratives cast around in public and policy debate: China as the new imperial power, China as the radical developmentalist,

Social issues impacting household food security in the epoch of COVID-19
June 28, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
Written by: Loveness Msofi Mgalamadzi The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives and livelihoods around the world, and Malawi is no exception. This blog explores the social and food security issues arising from the implementation of COVID-19 preventive measures at household
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.

Journal Article: A Revisit of Farm Size and Productivity: Empirical Evidence from a Wide Range of Farm Sizes in Nigeria
June 4, 2021 / Journal articles Publications
The relationship between farm size and productivity has been studied extensively in the agricultural and development economics literature. However, most of the documented evidence in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is based on samples of small-scale farms operating 5 ha or less,
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 / Events 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