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APRA blog

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

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 the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. This blog explores the outcomes of Ethiopia’s national workshop, which was held in parallel in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar.

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From field research to policy influencing – what have we learned?
June 3, 2021

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 about policy influencing through these programmes.

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Disseminating science amid COVID-19 restrictions: lessons from Ghana
May 24, 2021

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 of these findings. The outcome of discussions will be incorporated into subsequent analyses and reports on the APRA project, and contribute to informing policy and practices related to rural development, empowerment of women and girls, and food and nutrition security. This will ensure that this research is used to inform effective and relevant policy.

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At the mercy of politics? The groundnut value chain in Malawi
May 17, 2021

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 terms of productivity, but remains primarily informal and struggles to re-enter the lucrative formal global export markets. The following blog explores why this is the case, as well as examining the socio-economic importance of this crop and what can be done to support it in reaching its full potential moving forward.

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

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 groups. Specifically, this blog is about agricultural input subsidy programmes implemented since 1967 to support smallholder farmers as part of the ujamaa (“socialism”) model of economic development. It focuses on the National Input Voucher Scheme (NAIVS), the biggest agricultural input subsidy programme implemented in Tanzania.

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

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 at the Takoradi Library & Office Complex.

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Political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania: Socioeconomic impact of trade policies, strategies and programmes
April 29, 2021

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 their impact on different socio-economic groups based on findings from literature review and key informant interviews.

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The political economy of cocoa value chain in Ghana
April 26, 2021

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 policies implemented in this value chain have gone through several shifts in relation to changing agrarian political economy and distribution of power among interest groups, and highlight the steps that can be taken to harness the cocoa sector’s potential to contribute to economic development in Ghana.

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COVID-19 and the disappearing tobacco in Zimbabwe: Makoronyera and the new value chains
April 20, 2021

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 also assesses how Zimbabwe’s government can address the challenges in the chain.

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

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 the paper, explains the political and societal factors that have prevented this value chain from reaching its full potential in the past, and provides insight on how the Ghanaian government can engage stakeholders and take advantage of regional and global demand for this commodity to improve the outlook for this sector moving forward.

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Agricultural livelihood paths and their determinants: the role of smallholder farmer commercialisation in central Malawi
March 25, 2021

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 such findings.

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Challenges to commercialisation of the rice and cocoa value chains in Nigeria
March 22, 2021

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 has impacted the value chains, and provides policy advice on how Nigerian governments can improve the outlook for these two core agricultural crops.

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Sunflower commercialisation in Tanzania: Everybody benefits but with social difference
March 18, 2021

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 different actors in the sunflower value chain. They then offer policy advice to the government and development partners on the most sustainable way forward.

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The political economy of rice value chain in Ethiopia: actors, performance, and discourses
March 15, 2021

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 contributed to the poor performance of Ethiopia’s rice sector, along with suggestions on how to promote its commercialisation. They also look at how COVID-19 has affected the sector.

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Vaccine politics in Zimbabwe
March 15, 2021

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 trying to show their benevolence towards Africa, reaping soft power diplomatic benefits in return. In… Read more »

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Cocoa farming: Experiences beyond the Osun River bank, Ogun State, Nigeria
March 8, 2021

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 structured marketing systems, labour arrangements for the large force of migrant workers, and challenges to cocoa production in the area. The APRA team also gave their thoughts on the field trip.

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The political economy of land use land cover change in Mvurwi, Zimbabwe, 1984—2018
March 4, 2021

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 between 1984 and 2018. The study complements the longitudinal analysis of agricultural commercialisation in APRA Working Paper 35.

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Emerging dynamics as result of COVID-19 in Mngeta Division in Morogoro, Tanzania
March 1, 2021

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 the government and development partners can do to help.

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The triple drivers of rice commercialisation in Fumbisi Valley, northern Ghana (2)
February 25, 2021

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 demand, roads and other infrastructure, state policy, and land availability.

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Rising farm sizes in the Fumbisi Valley of northern Ghana (1)
February 22, 2021

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 February, assess the triple drivers of rice commercialisation in the area.

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Added challenges for the rice sector in Ethiopia caused by COVID-19
February 18, 2021

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 looking at the way forward for the industry.

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Impact of COVID-19 on food systems and rural livelihoods in south-western Ghana
February 15, 2021

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 second rounds of three expected surveys.

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COVID-19 preventative measures disrupt small-scale farmer production, marketing and livelihoods in Zambia
February 11, 2021

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 can help to make life easier.

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The unintended consequences of COVID-19 lockdowns in Nigeria (2)
February 8, 2021

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 and well-being in rural Nigeria.

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The rich people’s virus? Latest reflections from Zimbabwe
February 8, 2021

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 already-marginalised are presented, alongside how the rich have benefited. But the debate in Zimbabwe is… Read more »

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Can relaxed COVID-19 restrictions ease food insecurity among the rural population in Kenya?
February 4, 2021

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.

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Perceptions and misconceptions of smallholder farmers of COVID-19 in central Malawi
January 28, 2021

This blog focuses on the perceptions of Malawians in the rural districts of Mchinji and Ntchisi towards COVID-19 and their perception of risk and vulnerability based on the qualitative APRA interviews. It highlights the difficult task faced by authorities in Malawi as they try to curb the threat of the pandemic across the country.

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Analysing the impact of COVID-19 on food systems and livelihoods in Africa
January 21, 2021

To better understand the impact that COVID-19 is having on food systems and rural livelihoods in the region, APRA researchers have been conducting a rolling series of telephone-based household surveys and key informant interviews. This blog is based on the findings of these two reports, that were written by Amrita Saha, Marco Carreras and John… Read more »

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COVID-19 and price uncertainties in grain marketing in Malawi
January 14, 2021

In the third and final blog of the series on grain marketing in Malawi, APRA researcher Stevier Kaiyatsa looks at the contributing effects of COVID-19 on grain price instability, the implication of this, and what the Malawian government can do to tackle the problem. Part one examined the role played by small-scale traders in the… Read more »

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How small-scale traders exploit farmers in Malawi
January 11, 2021

In the second of a three-part blog series on grain marketing in Malawi, APRA researchers Stevier Kaiyatsa and Mphatso Susuwele examine the methods used by some small-scale traders are taking advantage of farmers who produce a market surplus, and what the government should do to help. Part one looked more closely at the vital role… Read more »

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Lockdown politics: reflections from Zimbabwe
January 11, 2021

This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. Last week, the blog looked at the COVID-19 situation in Zimbabwe. The situation continues to get worse. On 9 January, there were 20499 reported cases and 483 deaths – 6000 more cases and over 100 more deaths in just a week. It looks like the South African ‘new… Read more »

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Understanding small-scale grain traders in Malawi
January 7, 2021

In the first of a three-part blog series on grain marketing in Malawi, APRA researchers Stevier Kaiyatsa and Mphatso Susuwele examine the vital role played by small-scale traders in Malawi in the grain supply chains, how they are classified, and why understanding them is key for any kind of programme intervention that aims to improve… Read more »

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eDialogue: What Future for Small-Scale Farming? Policy Options
January 4, 2021

By Jim Woodhill, Ken Giller and John Thompson The final eDialogue in our five-part series on the ‘What Future for Small-Scale Farming?’ finished off by exploring policy implications for the inclusive transformation of small-scale agriculture in challenging times. A stellar panel of experts from five continents brought a rich and insightful set of perspectives to the table. We asked: “Is… Read more »

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Can Zimbabwe survive a second wave of COVID-19?
January 4, 2021

This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. On January 2nd, Vice-President and Minister of Health, Constantino Chiwenga, announced another strict lockdown on the whole country. As in March, non-essential businesses are shut, travel is restricted and schools are closed. Everyone is urged to stay at home. In the last week, there have been… Read more »

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Armed conflicts, land expansion and resilience: evidence from Nigeria
December 17, 2020

In this blog, APRA researchers Adesoji Adelaja and Justin George summarise their two latest working papers on the role of resilience factors in mitigating the negative effects of conflict on land expansion, and how conflicts affect land expansion by smallholder farmers in Nigeria. They condense the findings from both studies and offer policy recommendations on… Read more »

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Zimbabweland’s 2020 wrap-up
December 17, 2020

This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. 2020 has been quite a year in Zimbabwe and across the world. The blog has had two major series of posts, and this wrap-up features both – now with the links all working. One series has followed the COVID-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe, and particularly the consequences… Read more »

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Drivers of market orientation among farm households in Nigeria
December 14, 2020

APRA academics Adebayo Aromolaran, Milu Muyanga and Thomas Jayne summarise their latest working paper to look the drivers of market-orientated land use decisions among farm households in Nigeria, with particular focus on Ogun and Kaduna states.  The authors then suggest possible government interventions in order to increase access to input and output markets. This blog… Read more »

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Rice value chain: has life returned to normal after lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in Tanzania? (2)
December 10, 2020

In part two of this blog series, APRA Tanzania researchers Ntengua Mdoe, Gilead Mlay and Gideon Boniface use data from follow-up interviews with raw rice traders and the hospitality business in Morogoro and Mbeye regions, before drawing a conclusion on the way forward. For the first blog on their interviews with farmers, processors and input… Read more »

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COVID-19 reinforces pre-existing market risks for pastoralists in northern Kenya
December 7, 2020

Following his blog on the winners and losers in livestock commercialisation in northern Kenya and the accompanying working paper, researcher, pastoral development and dryland management specialist Guyo Roba examines the impact of COVID-19 market risks, explaining how strengthening their resilience is a key priority. Access this previous blog, and Working Paper 39, here. This blog… Read more »

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Rice value chain: has life returned to normal after lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in Tanzania? (1)
November 30, 2020

In the first of a two part blog series, researchers from APRA Tanzania follow up on their earlier blog series on the COVID-19 coping strategies of rice value chain actors. In this blog, they use data from follow-up interviews with farmers, processors & input suppliers in Morogoro and Mbeya regions to determine what difference there… Read more »

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eDialogue: What Future for Small-Scale Farming? Emerging themes
November 25, 2020

5th eDialogue, ‘Wrap-up and Policy Implications’,25th November By Jim Woodhill, Ken Giller and John Thompson Tuesday 10 November was another fantastic session of our eDialogue series on ‘What Future for Small-Scale Farming?: Inclusive Transformation in Challenging Times’. The panellists explored the complementary roles of commercialisation, food production for self-consumption and social protection in tackling farming household poverty and… Read more »

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Abdel Ismail: Is small-scale farming changing for the better?
November 23, 2020

The final blog in a four-part series highlights the reflections of Abdelbagi Ismail, Principal Researcher at IRRI, on the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Foresight4Food, IFAD and APRA eDialogue session on the future of small-scale farming in Africa.

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Jemimah Njuki looks to an inclusive future for small-holder farming in Africa
November 19, 2020

In the third of a four-part blog series following the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Foresight4Food, IFAD and APRA eDialogue session on the future of small-scale farming, Jemimah Njuki, the International Food Policy Research Institute’s Director for Africa, reflects on the discussion and emphasises the importance of this sector’s social dimensions. Written by Jemimah Njuki… Read more »

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Martin Muchero’s perspective: small-scale farming, its challenges and how to address them
November 16, 2020

The second instalment of a four-part blog series highlights the experiences and takeaways of independent consultant Martin Muchero, expert panellist from the Africa Regional Perspectives session of the third UN Sustainable Development Solutions Networks, Foresight4Food, IFAD and APRA eDialogue, regarding the future for small-scale farming. Written by Martin Muchero The eDialogue session focusing on Africa… Read more »

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Aida Isinika: reflections on the eDialogue
November 12, 2020

In the first of a four-part blog series,  – Aida Isinika, APRA Tanzania Country Lead and Professor, Sokoine University of Agriculture, shares her experience of the third UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Foresight4Food, IFAD & APRA eDialogue session, all about African regional perspectives on the future for small-scale farming. Click below for links to eDialogue… Read more »

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Devastating effect of floods on rice production and commercialisation in the Fogera plain
November 9, 2020

In September 2020, the northern Amhara region of Ethiopia was hit hard again by floods, already displacing 300,000 people, according to the UN. APRA researchers Dawit Alemu and Abebaw Assaye assess the extent of the damage on rice production and commercialisation in the Fogera plain, government measures to counter the floods, and the impacts on… Read more »

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Women and young people in Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 economy
November 9, 2020

This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. I had another catch-up with colleagues in Zimbabwe recently, reflecting on the COVID-19 situation and its consequences across our sites in Masvingo, Gutu, Mwenezi, Matobo and Mvurwi. This is now the fifth update since March/April (see summary so far here). The pandemic has not proceeded as some… Read more »

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What is the future for rice as a strategic crop in Ethiopia?
November 5, 2020

In our latest blog, APRA academics Dawit Alemu and John Thompson summarise their latest working paper to look at the future of rice in Ethiopia. They look at the economic importance of the crop and examine the trends in production, imports and domestic consumption. Finally, they list the challenges that hold back development in the… Read more »

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Dilemmas of smallholder oil palm farmers in south-western Ghana
November 2, 2020

This blog utilises the latest research to look at the different choices and outcomes facing small-scale oil palm farmers in south-western Ghana. The authors then examine household participation, transactions and trust, the welfare effects, and the implications of their research on oil palm commercialisation. This blog is based on APRA Working Paper 43. Access it,… Read more »

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Do those not enrolled in Fairtrade arrangements in Malawi still benefit? (2)
October 29, 2020

In the second of a two-part blog series, APRA researcher Stevier Kaiyatsa examines the Fairtrade groundnut arrangement in Mchinji, Malawi, and asks whether farmers not enrolled it still benefit? For part one on whether smallholder farmers in Malawi benefit from selling their goods small-scale traders in rural markets, click here. This blog is based on… Read more »

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