FAC blog

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


Latest articles

Impact of COVID-19 on daily labourers and rice commercialisation in Ethiopia (2)
August 13, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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. To view the first
Zimbabwe’s land reform compensation deal agreed at last
August 13, 2020 / FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. It has been 20 years since land reform and the issue of compensation for those who lost land has rumbled on. The government has always said it was committed to compensation

Impact of COVID-19 on daily labourers and rice commercialisation in Ethiopia (1)
August 10, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
Poor rural roads: Is cocoa still a ‘wealth spinning exercise’ in Ondo State, Nigeria?
August 6, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In a previous APRA blog, we explained how unscrupulous activities of loggers in Idanre, Ondo State, Nigeria were causing hardship for many cocoa farms. In this blog, APRA researcher Oluwasegun Ajetunmobi travels to Idanre to examine the poor state of

Matriliny, land tenure and oil palm commercialisation in south western Ghana
August 3, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
Matriliny – the transfer of wealth and inheritance through the female ancestral line – is a driving factor of land tenure practices, land access, use and control in the Ahanta and Mpohor Wassa East districts of the Western Region of

Five ways governments can help small businesses in the informal sector survive COVID-19
July 30, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog was written by Amrita Saha and Opeyemi Abebe. It was first published by the Commonwealth Secretariat. In Africa, micro, small and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs) in the informal economy are particularly vulnerable to economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Viral politics and economics in Zimbabwe
July 30, 2020 / FAC blog
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
Small is beautiful? Agrarian change for resettled farmers in Mvurwi, Zimbabwe
July 27, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog summarises APRA Working Paper 36, which investigates long-standing debate on the efficacy and capacity of the ‘small farm’ versus the ‘large farm ’in terms of meeting household and national food self-sufficiency and help achieving rural livelihoods outcomes. Written

COVID-19: Coping strategies of rice value chain actors in Tanzania (2)
July 23, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In the second of a two-part mini-series, APRA researchers Ntengua Mdoe, Gilead Mlay and Gideon Boniface examine how actors in the rice value chain in Tanzania have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures that were introduced to

COVID-19: Coping strategies of rice value chain actors in Tanzania (1)
July 20, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
Actors in the rice value chain in Tanzania have been hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic and the measures implemented by the government to contain it. In the first of a two blog mini-series, APRA researchers Ntengua Mdoe, Gilead Mlay and
Who are the commercial farmers? A history of Mvurwi area, Zimbabwe
July 13, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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

Dynamics of change in cocoa enterprise in Ile-Oluji, Nigeria
July 9, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
Cocoa production in Ile-Oluji is among the highest in Ondo State, Nigeria. However, this once prosperous crop – vital for the livelihood of farmers and their families – is under threat due to an increase of cash crops, a lack

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