FAC blog

Opinions and comments from Future Agricultures researchers on agricultural politics, science and society in Africa


Latest articles

20 years after Zimbabwe’s land reform: what does the future hold?
June 29, 2020 / FAC blog
This blog was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. This is the final post in this blog series, which asks what have been the changes in land reform areas in Masvingo province since 2000, and what are the possible future trajectories?

Loggers on the attack: Cocoa farming in Idanre, Nigeria
June 25, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
Cocoa farmers in Idanre, Ondo State, Nigeria are suffering from the activities of loggers which leads to damaged farms and has a detrimental impact on the livelihoods of farmers. In our latest blog, APRA researcher Bimbo Omopo describes what he

Zimbabwe’s land reform areas twenty years on (6)
June 25, 2020 / FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. Reflections on processes of agrarian change across sites As the previous blogs in this series have shown, there are quite dramatic differences between resettlement sites in our Masvingo sample, with different patterns of

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

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

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

Leveraging on innovation and technology for inclusive growth in Kenya
June 11, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In this blog, Hannington Odame refers to the outcomes from the panel on technology and innovation in agriculture at the Agricultural Industry Forum, 3-5 March 2020. He looks at the challenges linked to knowledge systems faced by smallholder farmers when

Is all work harmful for children?
June 10, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
Written by Neil Howard, Roy Maconachie, Samuel Okyere. Hundreds of millions of pounds are being invested by governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and international agencies in support of the development and roll-out of policies and project interventions to end ‘child labour’.
Zimbabwe’s land reform areas twenty years on (5)
June 8, 2020 / FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland.  What happened on the A2 medium-scale farms? Medium-scale A2 farms were established in a very different way to A1 farms in Masvingo. They were not the result of invasion and occupation

Gender inequalities in Nigerian cocoa production
June 4, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
Women play a key role in the Nigeria cocoa sector, but in a patrilineal society, they are denied access to inheriting family cocoa plantations despite their vital contribution to the industry. In this blog, APRA researcher Tolani Abegunde examines the

Hard work and hazard: youth livelihoods in rural Africa
June 4, 2020 / FAC blog
Written by Jim Sumberg and Thomas Yeboah. This blog was originally published on the Institute of Development Studies website. It is increasingly acknowledged that productive youth employment is among the major development challenges of our time. In Africa, this challenge

Rapid response: how to deal with COVID-19 in rural Africa?
June 1, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
Written by Steve Wiggins. What lessons can be drawn from previous health crises to inform responses to COVID-19 in rural Africa? We reviewed seven previous health crises, plus a couple of economic crises, to think about to counter the effects
Zimbabwe’s land reform areas twenty years on (4)
June 1, 2020 / FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland.  What happened in the villagised, ‘informal’ A1 areas? When land invasions took place during 2000, many areas were invaded and land was claimed. In some instances this was not made official

Agriculture transformation: the role of public-private policy dialogues in Kenya
May 28, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
Gem Argwings-Kodhek, APRA Policy Researcher, speaking at the AIF Hannington Odame refers to the discussions from the panel on policy and investment in agriculture at the Agricultural Industry Forum (AIF), 3-5 March 2020. He analyses the nature of public –private

Zimbabwe’s land reform areas twenty years on (3)
May 28, 2020 / FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland.  What happened in the villagised A1 schemes? This blog focuses on Masvingo’s villagised land reform areas (where people have an individual arable plot, live in villages and share communal grazing). Our

Sustainability of cocoa in Nigeria: preventing the worst case scenarios
May 21, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
The sustainability of cocoa in Nigeria – a very important household cash crop in the country – is under threat and action needs to be taken. In this blog, Oluwabukola E. Ajayi describes the concept of sustainability in cocoa farming,

COVID-19 in West Africa: the impacts for agricultural enterprises
May 18, 2020 / FAC blog
Nigeria’s Government strategies to safeguard the population against COVID-19 and minimise its spread have, so far, been largely effective. But what impact is the country’s strict lockdown having on public food access and fresh produce supply to agribusinesses? Emmanuel Maduka,

Zimbabwe’s land reform areas twenty years on (2)
May 18, 2020 / FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland.  What happened in the ‘self-contained’ A1 resettlement sites This blog focuses on the ‘self-contained’ A1 farms, with a sample size now of 78. These are found in two sites in Gutu

Essentialist vs interconnected: how to grow and sustain youth and women-led agribusinesses
May 14, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog refers to the discussions at a key note panel on youth and women in agribusiness at the Agricultural Industry Forum (AIF), 3-5 March 2020. The forum was hosted by the Agriculture Industry Network, and in partnership with the
Zimbabwe’s land reform areas twenty years on (1): A blog series
May 11, 2020 / FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland Twenty years ago the news was filled with stories about land invasions in Zimbabwe. Since then, a group of us have been working in Masvingo province in particular (but also now in Mazowe in

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

Five lessons from past global influenza outbreaks for COVID-19
May 4, 2020 / FAC blog
Written by Ian Scoones. This blog first appeared on the STEPS website. The COVID-19 pandemic is a rare event in its scale and spread. But in responding to it, people have been looking at lessons from other outbreaks of infectious

Cocoa commercialisation: findings from Osun state, Nigeria
April 30, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
Written by Olubusayo Olorunkoya Following on from our previous blog on the state of cocoa commercialisation in Ogun state, this blog examines the findings of APRA survey results in Nigeria’s 2nd largest producer of Cocoa: Osun state. Surveying method Taking
COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe: a disaster for farmers
April 30, 2020 / FAC blog
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
Child labour in cocoa from a European ‘doughnut’ perspective
April 27, 2020 / FAC blog
This blog was written by Dorte Thorsen and James Sumberg, and first appeared on the ACHA website Much attention is being given to how best to resurrect economic activity as the COVID-19 crisis subsides. The upheaval caused by the pandemic
The four immediate impacts of Covid-19 regulations on the Mozambican farmers
April 27, 2020 / FAC blog
By Phillan Zamchiya, Clemente Ntauazi and Boaventura Monjane. This blog first appeared on the PLAAS website. In order to guard against the spread of Covid-19, Mozambique declared a state of emergency for 30 days with effect from 1 April 2020.
How SRI technology and irrigation has transformed Anita’s life
April 23, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog was written by Aida Isinika and Ntengua Mdoe Anita’s personal story “SRI changed my life, now I see a brighter future ahead for me and my entire family.”  Anita Israeli Mabena, a farmer from Njage village in Mchombe
Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 lockdown: Ensuring the right to food for the poor
April 20, 2020 / FAC blog
By Phillan Zamchiya, Dewa Mavhinga, Thando Gwinji, Arnold Chamunogwa and Claris Madhuku The Covid-19 global pandemic poses serious challenges to fragile countries such as Zimbabwe, which have weak health systems and constrained social assistance programmes. Such countries must formulate and
The challenges of cocoa bean commercialisation in Ogun state, Nigeria
April 16, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
Mobile money services and rice commercialisation in Tanzania
April 9, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
Youth and a lack of involvement in cocoa production in southwest Nigeria
April 6, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
Living with Coronavirus Uncertainties: Four Lessons from Pastoralists
April 6, 2020 / FAC blog
Written by PASTRES project lead Ian Scoones and core researcher Michele Nori Moments of surprise can expose deep uncertainties and even ignorance. They also uncover issues of contested politics, unequal social relations and the capacities of states and citizens. The
Food in the time of the Coronavirus: Why we should be very, very afraid
April 2, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
Written by Ruth Hall and other researchers at PLAAS The social legitimacy of the ‘COVID-19 lockdown’ in South Africa, government’s regulations imposed to contain the spread of the virus, is most likely to run aground unless an urgent plan can
Surviving COVID-19 in a fragile state: why social resilience is essential
April 2, 2020 / FAC blog
The article below appeared on African Arguments’ Debating Ideas blog last Friday. As of 1 April there were 8 cases, and no further deaths. But there is little doubt that the impending situation in Zimbabwe is serious, and the government is unable to respond.
Njage Farmers preparing to take rice commercialisation to the next level
March 30, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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

Smallholder capacity for agricultural commercialisation
March 26, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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

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

New farm size regulations in Zimbabwe: can they encourage land redistribution?
March 23, 2020 / FAC blog
In mid-February, the Government of Zimbabwe issued a new set of farm size regulations, arguing that this would release new land for land reform. This announcement arrived out of the blue and came as a surprise to many. Was this a
The challenge of getting to Lukilikila village
March 18, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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,

Political economy of agricultural commercialisation in Nigeria
March 16, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
Kneejerk reactions to ending child labour don’t benefit children
March 16, 2020 / FAC blog
Last week in the UK there was a flurry of media interest in two of the world’s coffee giants – Nespresso and Starbucks. A piece in The Guardian newspaper and a Channel 4 Dispatches programme, both focused on children as young as
Herbicides: opportunities and challenges for commercial rice production in Kilombero Valley
March 12, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
Climate change and the future of cocoa in southwest Nigeria
March 9, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
Tanzania makes substantial progress towards meeting CAADP commitments
March 5, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
Zimbabwe’s economy goes from bad to worse
March 5, 2020 / FAC blog
Zimbabwe’s economy continues to decline, with inflation spiralling and the new local currency losing value by the day. The IMF’s recent report makes grim reading, with negative growth recorded for last year, and an expectation of effectively no growth, growing inflation and
Oil palm good, rubber better: a tale from south-western Ghana
February 27, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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,

Can joint ventures and sub-letting unleash Zimbabwe’s agricultural potential?
February 24, 2020 / FAC blog
The under-performance of parts of Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector continues. This mostly applies to large estates and some medium-scale farms that were reallocated under the fast-track land reform as A2 resettlement farms. Last year, as part of the economic reform agenda,
Shaking off decades of stagnation in the Nigeria cocoa sector
February 6, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
Sugar scandals in Zimbabwe’s lowveld
February 4, 2020 / FAC blog
While visiting our research sites in Mkwasine and Hippo Valley in Zimbabwe’s lowveld recently, there was only one topic of conversation among sugar farmers we have been working with in land reform areas: the scandal that has overwhelmed the South African sugar
To farm or not to farm? That’s NOT the question
February 4, 2020 / FAC blog
It is often said that young, rural Africans aren’t interested in farming. Rather, they want to relocate to urban areas where there is a wider array of social, educational and employment opportunities. The suggestion is that widespread migration from rural