APRA blog

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Ethiopia’s import dependence on rice-exporting countries: implications for policy and development responses
November 24, 2022

With the current instability in global grain markets – mainly due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, and climatic events impacting rice production – major rice-producing Asian countries have been considering steps to protect their domestic markets. This blog reflects on the possible implications of export bans or taxation measures taken by rice exporting countries on rice production and marketing in Ethiopia, along with the extent of policy and development interventions made by policymakers to mitigate the impacts.

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Hired labour use, productivity, and commercialisation: the case of rice in the Fogera Plain of Ethiopia
March 15, 2022

Rice production is labour intensive with critical peak periods, which forces smallholder rice farmers to use hired labour in addition to family labour and emergence of rural labour market. This blog presents a summary of APRA Working Paper 83, which explores the characteristics of rural labour markets, trends in hired labour use and the impact of hired labour on smallholder farmers’ rice productivity and commercialisation.

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Do smallholders face disadvantages to reaping gains from rice commercialisation in Ethiopia?
February 22, 2022

The introduction of rice into Ethiopia in the early 1970s provided a potential solution to widespread food insecurity. Moreover, it held high hopes for positive impacts on the incomes and opportunities of smallholders, through increasing commercialisation. Recent national policy continues to emphasise this relationship. In retrospect, this initiative has been hugely successful, as the region where rice has been introduced has been transformed from heavily relying on food aid to becoming a thriving commercial centre. This transformation owes much to the increase in the production, consumption and commercial value of rice. However, it appears that the benefits of rice commercialisation have been unequally distributed. This seeming paradox is central to APRA Working Paper 78, which finds that farmers with very small amounts of farm land devote high proportions of their land to rice production. Yet, these same farmers have lower levels of commercialisation – in other words, they do not reap the benefits of selling rice to the market.

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A way forward for Ethiopia’s rice sector: Outcomes of a national event
February 3, 2022

This blog is the second in our two-part series on the APRA Ethiopia team’s recent national event, entitled “Rice Sector Transformation Event in Ethiopia – Lessons from APRA Programme”, which aimed to discuss the country’s rice sector, including the trends in the production, import and consumption of rice, the key challenges facing the sector, and the policy and development lessons for addressing the identified challenges. The previous blog reflected on the key findings and takeaways of the synthesis presentation given during the event, which was followed by a lively discussion among the speakers and attendees around the pathways to improving Ethiopia’s rice sector. This blog presents the key topics and conclusions of these discussions.

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Agrarian change and rural transformation in sub-Saharan Africa: Emerging challenges and regional realities
January 27, 2022

On 20 January 2022, an e-dialogue was convened to analyse the dynamics of agricultural commercialisation and agrarian change across East, West, and Southern Africa. The programme began with participants engaging in three parallel regional presentations and discussions, and culminated in a continental-level panel involving expert commentators and audience questions.

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Transforming the rice sector in Ethiopia: Lessons from APRA Programme
January 25, 2022

The APRA Ethiopia team held a national event to discuss the country’s rice sector, including the trends in the production, import and consumption of rice, the key challenges facing the sector, and the policy and development lessons for addressing the identified challenges. This blog presents the key discussion points and takeaways resulting from this event, titled “Rice Sector Transformation Event in Ethiopia – Lessons from APRA Programme”. The event, held on 29th November 2021 at the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), was a critical presentation of the APRA Ethiopia team’s research over the last five years.

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Can agrarian transformation in Ethiopia’s Fogera Plain be scaled? Lessons from a national engagement workshop
December 16, 2021

Ethiopia is facing a decline in national rice self-sufficiency and rice imports, which cost the country about US$200 million in 2019. However, there is a pathway to reversing this trend and recovering the national rice sector… The solution? An effective policy framework. This was the conclusion reached at a national engagement event held by the APRA Ethiopia team to discuss the country’s rice value chain with key stakeholders. The meeting, held on 29 November 2021, was convened by APRA Ethiopia to share the team’s research findings from studies on the transformation of the national rice sector with government officials, fellow researchers, development partners and more.

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A multi-phase assessment of the effects of COVID-19 on food systems and rural livelihoods in Ethiopia: The case of Fogera Plain
November 25, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only led to the loss of human life and resulted in an unprecedented challenge to public health, but has also seriously affected food systems and work opportunities.Following the confirmation of the first COVID-19 case in Ethiopia on 13 March 2020, and concerns about the sharp increase in cases, the federal government put in place different measures to prevent and control the pandemic that have affected the food system and rural livelihoods. This blog reflects on the findings of APRA’s Multi-Phase Assessment of the Effects of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Ethiopia: The Case of Fogera Plain, which presents the characteristics and awareness of the country’s different public measures, the responses to these measures, their effect on farming and marketing, food and nutritional security on smallholders, and perceived/self-assessed household level of poverty, drawing on primary data generated from three rounds of surveys and key informant interviews of rice farmers and other actors in the Fogera Plain of Ethiopia.

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Agricultural commercialisation in Africa, COVID-19 and social difference
November 15, 2021

African policymaking has turned to agricultural commercialisation as an engine of growth in the 21st century. But the effects have not been the same for everyone, entrenching long-term social difference based on gender, wealth, age and generation, ethnicity and citizenship. Social differentiation within commercial agriculture is shaped by power dynamics and the distribution of benefits between elites, and their relationship with the formal and informal institutions that underpin political systems. This idea of a ‘political settlement’ in the way that power is exercised between groups, often to avoid conflict or to give preferential access to a specific resource, gives different groups of people different standing within agricultural value chains. COVID-19 as a type of shock also shapes political settlements and the resilience of different actors in their response to the pandemic. It can also reinforce pre-existing trends in social differentiation. APRA’s research showed how this has happened across Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, and APRA Working Paper 69 presents the research findings.

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The role of small-scale processors in supporting agricultural commercialisation among smallholder rice farmers in East Africa: Lessons from Ethiopia and Tanzania
November 10, 2021

Until recently, attention to upgrading the rice value chain has been limited in many of Eastern Africa’s rice-producing countries. Yet, it is this mid-stream section (the millers and traders) – the so-called ‘hidden middle’ – which is essential to sustaining rice value chains’ capacity to contribute to food security in the region, as it fulfils a crucial intermediary role between supply and demand. This blog reflects on the findings of APRA Working Paper 74, which presents the characteristics and role of rice processors as key actors in rice sector development in East Africa as well as what challenges and opportunities they face, drawing on primary data generated from surveys and key informant interviews in Ethiopia and Tanzania.

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Rice commercialisation, agrarian change and livelihood trajectories: Transformations on the Fogera Plain of Ethiopia
August 23, 2021

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 options. The paper presents the role of increased rice commercialisation for the observed agrarian changes and the livelihood trajectories, based on both primary and secondary data sources generated from the Fogera plain.

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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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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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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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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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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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Impact of COVID-19 on daily labourers and rice commercialisation in Ethiopia (3)
August 17, 2020

In the final blog of a three-part series, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research researcher Agajie Tesfaye looks ahead and provides seven key recommendations on how the Ethiopian government can lessen the negative impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on day labourers, farmers and rice commercialisation. Look below for the previous blogs: Part one: Presents preliminary findings and… Read more »

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Impact of COVID-19 on daily labourers and rice commercialisation in Ethiopia (2)
August 13, 2020

In the second of a three-part blog series, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research researcher Agajie Tesfaye examines effects of COVID-19 on labour wages, service providers to labourers, rice production and the future implications on rice commercialisation. Check below for the other two blogs of this series: Part one: Preliminary findings and statistical analysis of research… Read more »

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Impact of COVID-19 on daily labourers and rice commercialisation in Ethiopia (1)
August 10, 2020

In the first blog of a three-part series, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research researcher Agajie Tesfaye presents the preliminary findings and statistical analysis of research assessments that were conducted to examine the impact of COVID-19 on the labour supply of rice farm workers and rice commercialisation in Fogera plain, Ethiopia. Check out the other two… Read more »

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COVID-19: responses of rice farmers and processors in the Fogera Plain, Ethiopia
June 22, 2020

In our second in a series of blogs of the impact of COVID-19 in Ethiopia, APRA researchers Dawit Alemu and Abewaw Assaye examine the reaction of rice farmers and processors on the Fogera Plain to the lockdown measures, and whether they adapted to new circumstances. Read more on the Impact of COVID-19 on Food Systems… Read more »

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Does Ethiopia have a social protection system to respond to COVID-19?
June 18, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is leaving a huge economic and social burden in Ethiopia, where there is already a large number of vulnerable people dependent on social support. In the first of a series of two blogs on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Ethiopia, independent consultant and social science researcher Amdissa Teshome examines the… 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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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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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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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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Injera supplier to restaurants
Injera: Is Rice Commercialisation Changing Traditional Ethiopian Recipes?
February 21, 2019

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 injera consumption, but also in its composition. With globalisation, increased investment in agriculture research and… Read more »

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Can Rice Commercialisation Transform Agrarian Society in Ethiopia?
November 27, 2018

Driving through the Fogera Plain on a sunny September morning, lush paddy fields strewn out in front of us, it is hard to imagine we are in Ethiopia – the land of teff, a native grain crop which has been used for centuries to make injera, the country’s traditional flatbread. Arriving in Woreta town of… Read more »

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Ethiopia: enriching livelihoods with rice research
October 5, 2018

The history of rice in Ethiopia Beginning in the 1970s, the production of rice in Ethiopian agriculture has expanded steadily across the country, with the total land area under rice cultivation rising from about 10,000 ha in 2006, to over 50,000 ha in 2018. Rice is a strategic food security commodity in Ethiopia, and its… Read more »

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