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APRA blog

Smallholder capacity for agricultural commercialisation
March 26, 2020

Much of the agricultural economics literature has defined smallholder commercialisation as a virtuous cycle in which small-scale producers increasingly engage and integrate with markets, and as a result, raise their incomes and living standards. Yet, a significant proportion of these farmers face high risks that often result in rather short engagements with markets. Risks stem… Read more »

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‘Donkey to the slaughter’: a classic case of short sighted economic planning
March 23, 2020

Please note: During this time of uncertainty caused by the #COVID19 pandemic, as for many at this time, some of our APRA work may well be affected in coming weeks but we aim to continue to post regular blogs and news updates on #agricultural #policy and #research. Dogs are traditionally known as “Man’s best friend”… Read more »

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The challenge of getting to Lukilikila village
March 18, 2020

Luvilikila village is located within Mngeta division in Kilombero district, about 80km from Ifakala town, the district headquarters and just 13km south of Kilombero Plantation limited (KPL) – a large scale rice farm within Mngeta division. The Kilombero Ramsar site, a protected wetland lies to the south.  Luvilikila village is one among ten villages participating… Read more »

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Political economy of agricultural commercialisation in Nigeria
March 16, 2020

Background The historical and contemporary importance and contributions of agriculture to industrialisation and human development cannot be over-emphasised. Although pre-colonial agriculture in Africa consisted of peasant agriculture, for better accumulation, colonialism brought about a market and export oriented agriculture to Africa. Agricultural commercialisation in Nigeria had roots in the colonial political economy, and is defined… Read more »

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Herbicides: opportunities and challenges for commercial rice production in Kilombero Valley
March 12, 2020

Herbicide application for rice production has risen to a new level, not only in Mngeta division but in the entire Kilombero valley, and is favoured by farmers as it replaces some manual and backbreaking farm implements, such as the hand hoe.  In 2017 when the first wave of data collection under work stream one (WS1)… Read more »

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Climate change and the future of cocoa in southwest Nigeria
March 9, 2020

Cocoa, and products related to it, are an integral part towards the daily life of an average Nigerian. According to the National Bureau Statistics (NBS, 2019), exports of fermented cocoa bean in the first half of 2019 was estimated at N31 billion (£65 million), while raw cocoa beans exports worth N17.15 billion (£37 million) and… Read more »

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Tanzania makes substantial progress towards meeting CAADP commitments
March 5, 2020

The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) is an initiative of the African Union (AU) within the context of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The CAADP provides a framework for African countries to achieve economic growth and food security through the transformation of the agricultural sector. It reflects the commitment of African leaders… Read more »

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Oil palm good, rubber better: a tale from south-western Ghana
February 27, 2020

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, an area predominantly known for large cocoa, oil palm, coconut, and rubber plantations. These crops… Read more »

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Shaking off decades of stagnation in the Nigeria cocoa sector
February 6, 2020

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 percent of global cocoa output, but with significant scope for expansion. This blog highlights critical… Read more »

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The case for integrated organic farms in Nigeria
January 23, 2020

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. This could, in turn, create a situation of unregulated expansion of cultivable land under “conventional… Read more »

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Top Tips from APRA’s Policy friends
January 16, 2020

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 Forum (ANSAF), and independent consultants shared their perspectives and offered advice on how to guarantee… Read more »

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Rural transformation in Ethiopia: the right or wrong end of the stick?
January 9, 2020

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 and to continue to foster dialogue around agricultural and rural development issues.[2] Rural transformation in… Read more »

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APRA Annual Workshop 2019 hosted by CABE
December 19, 2019

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), also participated. The theme of this year’s workshop was Impact, Communications and Engagement (ICE).  It… Read more »

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Unattractive bride – the case of government extension services in Central Malawi
December 5, 2019

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 called District Agricultural Extension Services System (DAESS) that has established structures at District, and community… Read more »

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Livelihood trajectories in the Nigerian cocoa industry: An exploratory study of smallholder cocoa farmers in Ondo State
November 28, 2019

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 to give way to other enterprises; at the same time, there have been reports of… Read more »

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Closing the cocoa frontier in western Ghana. Time to intensify?
November 13, 2019

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 ago. The driver for this expansion has often been older groves being lost to disease, including… Read more »

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The future of cocoa production in south western Nigeria: Stakeholder insights
November 4, 2019

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 exported cash crop, alongside oil palm and rubber, accounting for 58.4 per cent of Nigerian… Read more »

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Time to reimagine the agrarian system
November 3, 2019

“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 Mogale from the Alliance for Rural Democracy, speaking on the final day of the Future… Read more »

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APRA presents at AAAE conference
October 14, 2019

“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 President at Farm & Infrastructure Foundation (FIF) chaired the 6th AAAE Conference Local Organising Committee. In… Read more »

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Oil Palm Processing in Ghana: Hanging In, Stepping Up and Stepping Out
October 3, 2019

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 fall or rise with production quantities. However, this is not always the case, as the… Read more »

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The contemporary agrarian question in West Africa
September 25, 2019

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 controlled food processing. Although there is a growing presence of medium-scale farms and acquisition of… Read more »

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Ethiopia’s incentives to agribusiness investment require a serious rethink
September 19, 2019

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 the effectiveness of these incentives on agribusiness investment and found that – comparable to other… Read more »

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Promoting Agribusiness Investment in Ghana: Rethinking Policy Incentives
September 12, 2019

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 a number of programmes, including fiscal incentives, to attract private investors into the sector. As… Read more »

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Value Chain Participants in Smallholder Commercialisation in Mvurwi: Emerging Business Relations
September 3, 2019

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 supply system, altered agrarian relations and generally caused changes in the functioning of input and… Read more »

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Social Dynamics of Agricultural Commercialisation: What are the Community Perceptions?
August 14, 2019

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 communities commercialise and realign production practices with the demands of the markets, they increasingly embrace… Read more »

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African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2019 – Accra, Ghana, 3-6 September
August 13, 2019

“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 again, with this year’s theme of “Grow Digital: Leveraging Digital Transformation to Drive Sustainable Food… Read more »

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6th International Conference of African Association of Agricultural Economists 2019, Abuja, Nigeria
August 13, 2019

“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, Nigeria. The AAAE have stated that “the conference will explore the recent developments in agricultural… Read more »

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In memory of Professor Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa
July 29, 2019

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 economist by training (with degrees from the Universities of Malawi, Cambridge and East Anglia), his… Read more »

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Analysing the dynamics of change: Using longitudinal, panel and cross-sectional studies to investigate complex social, environmental and technological issues
July 25, 2019

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 interventions. But they often present a rather static picture of these contexts and fail to… Read more »

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APRA at the EEA Conference: Analysing the Importance of Rice to the Ethiopian Economy
July 22, 2019

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 Ethiopian Economics Association (EEA) on the Ethiopian Economy. The conference was held from July 18… Read more »

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APRA Contributes to a Pivotal International Conference on the State of the Ethiopian Economy
July 12, 2019

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 will be held from 18-20 July 2019 at the EEA Multi-Purpose Building Conference Hall in… Read more »

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A lever for agricultural commercialisation? A critical look at the agricultural extension system in Malawi.
May 20, 2019

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 taken off as farmers struggle to produce and sell their produce. That situation occurred despite… Read more »

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Seeing Conflict at the Margins: understanding community experiences through social research and digital narrative in Kenya and Madagascar.
May 8, 2019

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 further details, visit them at: http://seeingconflict.org They will be announcing their new website on social… Read more »

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APRA involved at the event: Towards a Pan-African Transformation: Innovative Approaches to Evidence uptake and use in Africa.
May 3, 2019

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 Path for a Youth Apprenticeship Policy: Lessons from Utafiti Sera House on Youth Employment Creation… Read more »

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It is impossible to commercialise agriculture in Malawi: A quick political economy audit
May 3, 2019

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 % of total export earnings. The main challenge however, is that the agricultural sector is not… Read more »

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EVENT – APRA Public Debate on the Character of the Agrarian Question in the Contemporary Africa
May 3, 2019

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.

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PLAAS hosting new roundtable: ‘What is the character of the Agrarian Question in contemporary Africa?’
April 30, 2019

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’? The event shall be attended by renowned scholars of the field: Professor Issa Shivji, the… Read more »

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Building Livelihoods: Young People and Agricultural Commercialisation – Tanzania Country Study
April 18, 2019

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, realities support the proposition that only the rural economy – built around agriculture, but encompassing… Read more »

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Consultation, Involvement, and Ownership: Key Messages from a Dissemination event on Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) study.
April 17, 2019

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 and Governance in investment corridors in Africa: the case of LAPSSET’. The report examines the… Read more »

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Credit: Milu Muyanga
The Changing Face of African Agriculture: Farm Size Distributions in Sub-Saharan Africa
April 10, 2019

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 today.  Traditional authorities, historically the custodians of customary land, are selling it to those with… Read more »

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An Invisible Sugar Subsidy: Distress Cattle Sales by Bodi Agro-Pastoralists in Southern Ethiopia
March 7, 2019

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 land, directly impacting the Bodi, the Mursi, and the Nyangatom of South Omo. The Bodi,… Read more »

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Corridors Mini-Series: Accumulation and Contested Commercialisation in Tanzania
February 13, 2019

Tanzania, like many other African countries, needs significant investment in agriculture to achieve key development goals – poverty alleviation, economic growth and industrialisation, food security and improved nutrition. Since the late 2000s, the Tanzanian government, in partnership with donor agencies and the private sector, launched several initiatives, including the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania… Read more »

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APRA Annual Review Workshop 2018
January 11, 2019

From 3–6 December 2018, APRA staff met in Accra, Ghana for the annual APRA review workshop. With the broad scope of the APRA programme – comprising studies being undertaken across six African countries within three work streams – the annual review workshop provides a critical opportunity for APRA researchers to come together to share the… Read more »

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Journal of Peasant Studies 2019 Summer Writeshop-Workshop in Critical Agrarian Studies and Scholar-Activism: Call for Application
January 9, 2019

Call for Application The Journal of Peasant Studies (JPS), College of Humanities and Development Studies (COHD) of China Agricultural University (Beijing), and Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) are jointly organizing a new initiative: JPS Annual Summer Writeshop-Workshop in Critical Agrarian Studies and Scholar-Activism for PhD students and young researchers (up to 5 years from PhD completion)… Read more »

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The First National Rice Promotion Event: Is rice getting more attention in Ethiopia?
January 9, 2019

Ethiopia’s first National Rice Promotion Event was held on 21 December 2018 in Addis Ababa, to examine the current status of rice research and development in Ethiopia, and to identify key issues that demand interventions. Specifically, the event – and the future annual events – take three primary focuses: (i) to deliberate on prevailing policy… Read more »

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Isene Village, Tanzania: A Story of Sunflowers and Empowerment
November 12, 2018

It is often the case that when crops or enterprises become commercialised, women lose out as men step in and take control of resources as well as selling produce. Unless such practices are addressed, emerging opportunities for female empowerment will almost always be taken over by men, even if women were the initial beneficiaries of… Read more »

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An Interview with APRA Nigeria Researcher, Thomas Jayne
November 5, 2018

In a recent interview for SciDev.net, APRA Nigeria researcher Thomas Jayne discusses the state of agricultural commercialisation in Africa, with specific reference to emerging technological innovations. “There’s a lot more capital moving into agriculture than there used to be,” Jayne explains, citing the considerable amount of capital being fed into the country’s agricultural sector from… Read more »

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Policy and Advocacy Forum: Empowerment of Women in Agriculture
October 30, 2018

On 6 September 2018, APRA Malawi team member Loveness Msofi Mgalamadzi attended the ‘Policy and Advocacy Forum: Empowerment of Women in Agriculture’, held in Lilongwe, Malawi. This one-day meeting was organized by the Civil Society Agricultural Network (CISANET), with support from the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and BADEA. The forum attracted various stakeholders working… Read more »

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Malawi Tracker Study: Experiences from the Field
October 22, 2018

The APRA Malawi team is finally in the field after months of meticulous preparations to get the ‘tracker’ study going. The subject of this tracker is groundnut commercialisation in Malawi’s central districts of Ntchisi and Mchinji. The goal is to understand the drivers of groundnut commercialisation in these two districts, from both a historical and… Read more »

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APRA Nigeria Stakeholder Meeting, Abuja
October 19, 2018

On 11 September, APRA Nigeria researchers met with a number of stakeholders at Yar’Adua Centre in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. Stakeholders from all sectors relevant to the APRA research programme were represented, including 15 State Ministry officials, 9 industry group representatives and 6 Michigan State University (MSU)-APRA community leaders/medium-scale farmers. The meeting was convened to spread… Read more »

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