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APRA blog

COVID-19 underlines frailties in Zimbabwe’s food systems
February 8, 2022

Zimbabwe enforced its first lockdown on 30 March 2020 in an attempt to contain the further spread of COVID-19. On that day, the Ministry of Health and Child Care had officially recorded eight confirmed cases and a single death. The government had declared the COVID-19 crisis a national disaster a few days earlier, on 27 March 2020, allowing it to focus state resources towards fighting the pandemic. Several statutory instruments and a raft of measures were developed to support the lockdown, which closed most sectors of the economy, including informal markets, while allowing only a few ‘essential services’ to operate. To examine how COVID-19 affected food systems and rural livelihoods, APRA Zimbabwe conducted a series of rapid assessment studies. The results of the three survey rounds are presented in A Multi-Phase Assessment of the Effects of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Zimbabwe.

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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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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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Lessons from Zimbabwe’s tobacco farmers for the COP26 climate change talks
October 28, 2021

Zimbabwe holds important lessons for the COP26 global climate change talks. This blog, originally published in The Conversation, reflects on the findings of APRA Working Paper 64.

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Challenging simplistic land degradation and restoration narratives in Zimbabwe
September 20, 2021

In the last blog, I reviewed the results of our land use analysis using a combination of Landsat satellite imagery, document/archival analysis and field interviews from Mvurwi area in northern Zimbabwe from 1984 to 2018, now out as APRA Working Paper 48. There are some important wider implications that emerge from such an analysis that gets to grips with longitudinal environmental and land use change and its intersecting drivers. In this blog, I identify four themes.

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Dynamic drivers of land use change in Zimbabwe
September 13, 2021

What are the drivers of land use change and how do they interact over time? Are the changes, uni-directional and linear, or are the dynamics more complex? This is the question we posed for our study site in Mvurwi in northern Zimbabwe for the period 1984 to 2018, now published in APRA Working Paper 48. This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Women empowerment, agriculture commercialisation and gender relations in Mvurwi, Zimbabwe
October 19, 2020

In this blog, APRA researcher Hazel M. Kwaramba looks at the different areas in which women in Mvurwi, Zimbabwe seek to construct livelihood – particularly strawberries, poultry and sweet potatoes – to examine pathways towards women empowerment, including policy recommendations. This blog is based on APRA Working Paper 42. Access it, for free, here. Written by Hazel… Read more »

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“Know your epidemic”: Reflections from Zimbabwe
September 28, 2020

This blog was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. “Know your epidemic, act on its politics” was a lesson learned in the HIV/AIDS pandemic. As Alex De Waal argued back in March, it’s just as important for COVID-19. The pandemic is playing out in very different ways in different places, yet the public health responses tend… Read more »

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How is COVID-19 shaping agricultural production and commodity marketing among smallholders in Zimbabwe?
September 17, 2020

In this blog, APRA researcher Vine Mutyasira examines the impact of lockdown measures on smallholder farmers in Mvurwi and Concession, Zimbabwe. He examines how these restrictions have hit agricultural production and commodity marketing, and gives recommendations on how to combat problems, such as the decline in extension services to farmers. This blog is linked to… Read more »

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Innovation in the pandemic: an update from Zimbabwe
September 10, 2020

This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland I had the latest long discussion on responses to COVID-19 in our rural study areas across the country on 5 September. Check out the earlier updates from 27 July, 15 June and 27 April The pandemic continues to take a hold in Zimbabwe, and the case numbers are rising (total 6837 reported cases… Read more »

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Viral politics and economics in Zimbabwe
July 30, 2020

This blog was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. COVID-19 has taken hold in Zimbabwe with a significant growth in community transmission observed in the past weeks. On July 24th, the total reported cases were 2296, with 32 deaths. This is likely the tip of a much bigger iceberg given under-reporting and limiting testing.… Read more »

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Who are the commercial farmers? A history of Mvurwi area, Zimbabwe
July 13, 2020

This blog was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. For some the answer to who are the commercial farmers in Zimbabwe is obvious. The image of the rugged, (male) white farmer in shorts, surveying his family’s land carved out through hard labour and skill from the African bush is etched on the popular imagination. But… Read more »

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COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe: ‘we are good at surviving, but things are really tough’
June 15, 2020

This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. On the 13th June I had a follow up conversation on how people are coping with the COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe. As with the previous discussion on April 23rd it was based on a compilation of insights and reflections from across our rural field sites – from Chikombedzi, to… Read more »

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Agricultural commercialisation and food security in rural communities: Insights from Zimbabwe
May 7, 2020

Written by Vine Mutyasira The debate over the effects of export-led commercialisation of agriculture on household food security has been ongoing for years. Tobacco has become the most commonly grown export crop in Zimbabwe, with an estimated 145,000 growers producing the “golden leaf” during the 2018/19 farming season (TIMB, 2020). Yet, there are still knowledge… Read more »

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COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe: a disaster for farmers
April 30, 2020

Written by Ian Scoones Over the last few weeks we have been tracking what’s been happening in our rural study sites in Zimbabwe as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown (see the earlier blog too). Last week, I caught up with a colleague in Masvingo who had been recently in touch with others in our team in… 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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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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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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Youth engagement with commercialisation hotspots in Zimbabwe
May 23, 2019

My interest in youth and agriculture commercialisation stemmed from two pivotal moments in the past decade. One from an ‘accidental finding’ from a 10-year longitudinal study of land beneficiaries of the Fast Track Land Reform (FTLRP) in Sanyati District, Zimbabwe for my doctoral study. Here, young people (children of the first settlers and those from… Read more »

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Ruia Tractor
Animal vs tractor power: emerging mechanisation dynamics in Mvurwi
March 15, 2019

Debate on agricultural mechanisation has largely been framed as policy choices between markets versus state intervention. Within the market conceptualization, adoption of tractors is seen as a derivative of changes in the costs within factors of production such as land, labour and capital. A rise in labour costs and/or shortage leads to the adoption of… Read more »

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Reinvestment of agricultural proceeds shaping mechanisation in Zimbabwe
July 25, 2018

Historically, Zimbabwe’s agricultural mechanisation efforts have been shaped by state-capital relations, in which powerful and connected groups tended to benefit. After the Fast Track Land Reform, technological innovation is now being reconfigured by accumulation from below on the back of expanding medium- and small-scale farming sectors. The APRA survey held in 2017/18 shows that the… Read more »

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Navigating Fast Track: From Bust to Boom in Mvurwi, Zimbabwe
June 28, 2018

Background Commercial farming in the Mvurwi farming area in Zimbabwe – one of the hotspots for white-led commercial agriculture dating back to the 1930s – was expected to go bust after the implementation of Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP) in 2000. The FTLRP resulted in major agrarian transformation in Zimbabwe’s rural landscape, where… Read more »

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Combining capital and labour to help farmers commercialise in Mvurwi, Zimbabwe
June 25, 2018

Written by Toendepi Shonhe Patterns of agricultural commercialisation have changed over time in Zimbabwe – as the APRA Zimbabwe team observed during field studies in 2017, family farming in subdivided farms is on the increase across differentiated settlement models in the Mvurwi farming area, Mazowe District. Mvurwi comprises remaining large-scale commercial farms (LSCF), some medium-scale farms… Read more »

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