FAC blog

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


Latest articles

Investing in social media pays big dividends
June 27, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Over the past six years, the use of social media has been a vital part of the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA’s) communications strategy in raising awareness of the programme’s activities and outputs. The Impact, Communication and Engagement (ICE)

Raising the profile of agricultural policy research
June 20, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Throughout the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium, country research teams were encouraged to engage at district and national levels. Towards the end of APRA, during the latter part of 2021, each country team

e-Dialogues spark debate on the dynamics of agricultural commercialisation
June 16, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
In early 2022, as the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) was coming to an end, an e-Dialogue series, Towards an Equitable and Sustainable Transformation of Food Systems, was held in partnership with

The power of blogs to share research and communicate policy lessons
June 9, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Over the course of the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme, researchers produced over 150 publications, including Working Papers, Briefs, COVID-19 Papers, Journal Articles and several books. The intended audience of these publications varied, from the academic community to

Changing farm structure and agricultural commercialisation in Nigeria
June 6, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Much of sub‐Saharan Africa, including Nigeria, is experiencing major changes in farmland ownership patterns. Among all farms below 100ha in size, the share of land on small‐scale farms (SSFs) under 5ha has declined over the last two decades. Medium‐scale farms

Farming with variability: mobilising responses to drought uncertainties in Zimbabwe
June 6, 2022 / FAC blog
Climate change is generating greater variability within and across seasons. This is requiring new responses among farmers in Masvingo province in Zimbabwe. Today, farmers must adapt, be flexible and agile and respond to uncertain seasons as they unfold. This requires

Agricultural commercialisation and rural employment
May 26, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
The seasonal nature of agricultural production under rainfed conditions in most parts of rural Ghana, as in other sub-Saharan countries, makes employment in small-scale agriculture alone inadequate for improving the wellbeing of most rural households. Boosting commercial agriculture could be

Diversification and food security in crop-livestock farming systems of Singida Region, Tanzania
May 25, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Diversification is a key strategy for coping with risks associated with climate change and variability among households in Africa’s semi-arid areas. The extent of diversification varies across households, but the crop and livestock enterprises undertaken comprise of at least one

Agricultural commercialisation and rural employment
May 23, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
The seasonal nature of agricultural production under rainfed conditions in most parts of rural Ghana, as in other sub-Saharan countries, makes employment in small-scale agriculture alone inadequate for improving the wellbeing of most rural households. Boosting commercial agriculture could be

Medium-scale farming as a policy tool for agricultural commercialisation and small-scale farm transformation in Nigeria
May 12, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Land ownership patterns are changing in sub-Saharan Africa. In Ghana, Kenya and Zambia, medium-scale farms (MSFs), of between 5 and 100ha now account for more land than large-scale investors. Most African countries' national agricultural investment plans and policy strategies officially

What are the gender-focused challenges within agriculture and commercialisation, and how can we approach tackling these?
May 5, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Agriculture remains the dominant employment activity among most households in Ghana, which currently engages 61% of the economically active population aged 15 years and above. However, returns to agrarian livelihood remain lower than gains from other sectors of the economy.

Protected areas: national assets or shared heritage?
April 25, 2022 / FAC blog
What are the roles of protected areas in national development? Are parks national, even global, assets preserved for posterity and for protecting biodiversity, or are they part of a shared, local heritage, where nature and human use must be seen

Far from inclusive: smallholder farmer commercialisation in Malawi
April 21, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
What are the trends and patterns emerging in Malawi’s agricultural commercialisation process? What is the influence of these trends on poverty and food security, and the drivers of the process? How inclusive is agricultural commercialisation in the country? This blog,

A tale of two countries: patterns and drivers of smallholder commercialisation in Ghana and Nigeria
April 19, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
What are the emerging patterns of agricultural commercialisation in Ghana and Nigeria? Are there geographical and gender differences in commercialisation among households? How have poverty levels changed over time? What are the key drivers of agricultural commercialisation in the two

Women and youth in rice and sunflower commercialisation in Tanzania: Inclusiveness, returns on household labour and poverty reduction
April 14, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Over the last two decades, the Government of Tanzania, in collaboration with development agencies, has been supporting rice and sunflower commercialisation to improve livelihoods and reduce poverty among actors in these value chains. At the same time, the support has

Polygamy and agricultural commercialisation in Malawi
April 13, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Agricultural commercialisation is perceived as a positive step towards development and economic growth in Malawi, as well as a source of household income and livelihoods among local communities. However, the process of commercialisation is hindered by a number of factors,

Marriage and agricultural commercialisation in Malawi
April 7, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Despite agricultural commercialisation being considered a positive step towards Malawi’s development and economic growth, as well as a source of household income and livelihoods among local communities, there are a number of factors that impede this process. Our research established

APRA e-Dialogue summary: Strategies and pathways for supporting more equitable and resilient food systems in Africa
March 31, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
On 23 March 2022, representatives from APRA, along with fellow researchers and associates, came together virtually to discuss challenges that currently exist around equity and resilience within African food systems, and potential measures to negate these. The two-hour long session

Artisanal Palm Oil Processing in an Industrial Enclave in Ghana: Resilience, Resistance and Elision
March 29, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Artisanal and industrial palm oil processing have co-existed within Ghana’s production enclaves for a long time. The relationship between them tends to be complex, reflecting resistance, resilience, and systematic elision of artisanal processors in agricultural and trade policy. This was

Cocoa can still provide a living, but it’s a struggle
March 17, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Since cocoa began to be cultivated in the 1880s in southern Ghana, it has created jobs, incomes and prosperity for the many farmers growing the crop. Until recently, cocoa farmers could make use of highly favourable conditions when clearing forests

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

Mixed fortunes for central Malawi’s farmer producer organisations
March 10, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Malawi’s agriculture sector has a multiplicity of different types of farmer producer organisations (FPOs), operating at different levels. Farmer clubs, farmer associations, and farmer cooperatives are among the various names that FPOs are known as in Malawi, but what they

Climate-smart agriculture practices as a pathway to livelihood improvement in central Malawi
March 8, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices, used to promote sustainable agriculture, include technologies for soil fertility improvement, soil and water conservation and agroforestry tree cultivation. Their adoption, whilst patchy across Africa and particularly in Malawi, have the potential to support increases in

Cocoa in Ghana: a smallholder sector
March 3, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
In recent years there has been an increased focus in African agricultural research on the emergence of medium-scale farmers and their role in promoting the uptake of agricultural commercialisation. However, the social composition of farmers varies between food commodity chains;

Did enforcement of farm-gate minimum prices lead to a maize marketing crisis in Malawi?
March 1, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
During the 2020/21 growing season, the Government of Malawi made a bold move to protect small-scale farmers from unscrupulous traders who buy farm produce without licenses, use uncertified scales and buy at very low prices below the farm-gate set prices.

Cocoa Commercialisation in Nigeria: Issues and Prospects
February 24, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Cocoa remains a relevant cash crop in Nigeria and is produced largely by small-scale farmers dominant in the country’s southwest region. Insights from historical trends, from 1807 when the crop was introduced until the millennium era, indicated myriads of challenges

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

Drawing lessons and policy messages from APRA research in Tanzania
February 17, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
With a goal to share feedback on their research process and the outcomes of their studies in terms of publications, policy messages, and policy engagements, APRA Tanzania researchers gathered members of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office in Tanzania

The effects of COVID-19 on local food systems and rural livelihoods: An e-Dialogue overview
February 15, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
As COVID-19 took hold in March 2020, the main focus was on ensuring we stayed healthy and safe from infection. However, it soon became clear that the pandemic would have much further reaching effects than just the disease itself –
‘Living under contract’: reflections after 25 years
February 10, 2022 / FAC blog
Contract farming in different forms has become increasingly common in farming systems across the world, not least in Zimbabwe, but does it benefit smallholder farmers or exploit them?

The differential effects of COVID-19 on food systems and livelihoods in Africa
February 9, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
The COVID-19 crisis has caused severe disruptions to agri-food systems across the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, where many people already suffer from shocks and stresses related to climate change, conflict and poverty, the pandemic further threatened the economic and nutritional
COVID-19 underlines frailties in Zimbabwe’s food systems
February 8, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
Assessing the impacts of COVID-19 on food systems and livelihoods in Mngeta division, Tanzania
February 8, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Since the onset of COVID-19, which was first announce in Tanzania early in March 2020, consecutive waves of the pandemic have resulted in a series of health, social and economic impacts. This was revealed in A Multi-Phase Assessment of The
A way forward for Ethiopia’s rice sector: Outcomes of a national event
February 3, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
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

Food insecurity and cost of living in Kenya’s rural population amid relaxation of COVID-19 containment measures
February 1, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
After Kenya confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 12, 2020, the country underwent a series of movement restrictions and closures to stymie the spread of COVID-19 infections. The containment measures helped to slow the local spread of coronavirus,
Agrarian change and rural transformation in sub-Saharan Africa: Emerging challenges and regional realities
January 27, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
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

Omicron for Christmas: what was the experience in rural Zimbabwe?
January 26, 2022 / FAC blog
The Omicron wave peaked in Zimbabwe just before Christmas. With people moving about for the festive season and large numbers coming back from South Africa and elsewhere for the holidays, the fear was that the spread would be dramatic, with
Transforming the rice sector in Ethiopia: Lessons from APRA Programme
January 25, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
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

A multi-phase assessment of the effects of COVID-19 on food systems and rural livelihoods in Nigeria
January 17, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria, there have been serious concerns about the impact of the pandemic on agri-food systems, given that most of the population depend directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods. These concerns are compounded
Hard pressed but not crushed: A story of resilience and adaptation to COVID in Ghana
January 12, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed and destroyed – not only lives – but livelihoods as well. The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted food systems in Ghana since its emergence in the country in March 2020. According to the United Nations World
As Omicron sweeps through Zimbabwe, how are people responding?
January 10, 2022 / FAC blog
It was just a few weeks ago that our last report noted the arrival of a new variant identified in South Africa. In the interim Omicron has swept through the country. This initially resulted in panic, with a rush to
A multi-phase assessment of the effects of COVID-19 on food systems and rural livelihoods in Zambia: The case of small-scale farmers surrounding Mkushi Farming Block
January 6, 2022 / APRA blog FAC blog
Following the identification of the first COVID-19 case in Zambia on 18 March 2020, the government announced some lockdown measures intended to prevent the spread of pandemic. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has not only led to loss of human
The story of Ghana’s cocoa and oil palm commercialisation outcomes retold at a national dissemination workshop
December 20, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
Together with stakeholders from public and private institutions countrywide, the APRA Ghana family gathered at ALISA Hotel in Accra to discuss the key findings emerging from three streams of APRA studies since 2016. Historically, cocoa and oil palm have remained

Beyond impressive results: Are we ready to act?
December 20, 2021 / APRA blog Events FAC blog
In its efforts to disseminate the results of a five-year research project, the APRA Malawi team held a national dissemination event at Ufulu Gardens in Lilongwe on 30 November 2021. The event brought together stakeholders from government, donor, civil society,

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

Ogun State community meetings push for policy on medium-scale farming
December 13, 2021 / APRA blog Events FAC blog
Following the conclusion of their research into the opportunities and challenges of medium-scale farming as a pathway to inclusive agricultural commercialisation and improved livelihood outcomes for farming families across Nigeria, researchers on the APRA Nigeria Work Stream 1 (WS1) team

New COVID uncertainties in Zimbabwe
December 10, 2021 / FAC blog
The unfolding drama of the pandemic continues. With a new variant identified in the region (Omicron) thanks to the effective work of South African genomics monitoring, Zimbabwe has been subjected to international travel restrictions. However, despite the global concern about
Prospects for smallholder commercialisation in Malawi
December 8, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog is based on APRA Working Paper 75, which presents a historical and contemporary agrarian inquiry into the reality of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi. The study’s key message is that smallholder agricultural commercialisation is possible, but it cannot be

APRA Malawi research team shares research findings
December 6, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
Since 2016, the APRA Malawi team has been working to understand the underlying factors of smallholder commercialisation in the groundnut value chain in Mchinji and Ntchisi. Now, following the publication of their research findings, the team is turning its attention

Streetwise explanations for extremely low new COVID-19 cases in Malawi
December 2, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
From September, throughout October and as we now enter November, Malawi has seen its new daily COVID-19 cases sharply reduce to an all-time low. In fact, zero new daily COVID-19 cases have become very common during this period as reported