FAC blog

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


Latest articles

APRA Ghana presents research findings in a dissemination workshop
May 6, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
Key findings emerging from APRA’s research in Ghana were presented to representatives of oil palm farmers and oil palm processing companies, agricultural extension officers, district and regional directors of agriculture, and the media at a workshop on 17 March 2021

Conservation agriculture: latest experiences from Zimbabwe
May 4, 2021 / FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland In the last blog, I introduced the Pfumvudza programme in Zimbabwe, a version of conservation agriculture that has been heavily promoted across the country during the last season. In this blog, I look

Political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania: Socioeconomic impact of trade policies, strategies and programmes
April 29, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 57, as the authors discuss the policies, strategies and programmes implemented since Tanzania’s independence in 1961 to promote rice commercialisation and reduce poverty and food insecurity among smallholder rice farmers, and

The political economy of cocoa value chain in Ghana
April 26, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog presents the findings of APRA Working Paper 53, which adopted the political settlement framework to analyse the political economy dynamics of Ghana’s cocoa value chain. Researchers Joseph Kofi Teye and Ebenezer Nikoi discuss these findings, which indicate that

Can the Pfumvudza conservation agriculture programme deliver food security in Zimbabwe?
April 22, 2021 / FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. It looks like it’s going to be a good harvest this year in Zimbabwe. Early crop assessments suggest that there will be a bumper crop of maize, perhaps the highest since the

COVID-19 and the disappearing tobacco in Zimbabwe: Makoronyera and the new value chains
April 20, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
FAO recognises farmer-led irrigation as a major contributor to agricultural development
April 15, 2021 / FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. Buried deep in a long report on water and agriculture by FAO – the flagship state of food and agriculture report of 2020 – there is a really important section, signalling a big

The Policy Context of the Oil Palm Sector’s Underperformance in Ghana
April 12, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In this blog summarising his research in the newly published APRA Working Paper 54, APRA researcher Kofi Takyi Asante highlights both the historical importance and the future potential of the oil palm industry in Ghana. He outlines the findings from

Land, Investment & Politics
March 29, 2021 / FAC blog
In this blog, Jeremy Lind discusses his new book, Land, Investment and Politics: Reconfiguring Eastern Africa’s Pastoral Drylands. This book explores the consequences of the investment spike which began over a decade ago in the pastoral drylands of Eastern Africa.

Frontier politics in Zimbabwe: the Chilonga case
March 28, 2021 / FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. Chilonga, a small settlement in a dry communal area in Chiredzi district, has been all over the news in Zimbabwe over the past few weeks. A huge controversy over a major new land

Agricultural livelihood paths and their determinants: the role of smallholder farmer commercialisation in central Malawi
March 25, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In this blog summarising APRA Working Paper 50, the APRA researcher Mirriam Matita explores the results of a recent study into the role of smallholder agricultural commercialisation in livelihood trajectories in central Malawi, and examines the longer-term policy implications of

Challenges to commercialisation of the rice and cocoa value chains in Nigeria
March 22, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In this blog summarising his research in the newly published in APRA Working Paper 52, APRA researcher Emmanuel Remi Aiyede highlights the challenges facing the rice and cocoa sector in Nigeria. He outlines the findings from the paper, how COVID-19
Sunflower commercialisation in Tanzania: Everybody benefits but with social difference
March 18, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In this blog, based on research shown in the newly published APRA Working Paper 49, the authors explore the social impacts of sunflower commercialisation in Tanzania. They highlight the key findings from their research, and outline changing livelihoods are affecting

The political economy of rice value chain in Ethiopia: actors, performance, and discourses
March 15, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
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

Vaccine politics in Zimbabwe
March 15, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
Cocoa farming: Experiences beyond the Osun River bank, Ogun State, Nigeria
March 8, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In this blog, the APRA Nigeria Work Stream 2 team examined the different types of land ownership (leasing and borrowing), and the impact of a new generation of young farmers beyond the Osun river bank. They also investigated the effect

The politics of medium-scale A2 farms in Zimbabwe
March 8, 2021 / FAC blog
This blog was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. The findings of our recent open access Journal of Modern African Studies paper, shared in the last blog, show that A2 farmers are not one uniform group. They vary a lot both between

The political economy of land use land cover change in Mvurwi, Zimbabwe, 1984—2018
March 4, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
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

Emerging dynamics as result of COVID-19 in Mngeta Division in Morogoro, Tanzania
March 1, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog uses data from recent APRA surveys to examine the changing situation among farmers resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The authors look at how the farmers are responding to such changes, how their livelihoods have altered, and what
The triple drivers of rice commercialisation in Fumbisi Valley, northern Ghana (2)
February 25, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog looks at how the triple drivers of mechanisation, weedicide/herbicides and improved seeds play an integral role in rice commercialisation in northern Ghana. The author explores how, and why, they are so important, alongside other factors such as market

Rising farm sizes in the Fumbisi Valley of northern Ghana (1)
February 22, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In our new two-part series on agricultural commercialism in the Fumbisi Valley of northern Ghana, this blog looks at the growing farm sizes, why rice is so popular, and details the different categories of farms. Part two, available on 25

Medium-scale commercial farming in Zimbabwe: how has it fared since land reform?
February 22, 2021 / FAC blog
This blog was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. We have a new open access paper out in the Journal of Modern African Studies – “Medium-scale commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe: The experience of A2 resettlement farms”. Contrary to assertions that A2 medium-scale farms

Added challenges for the rice sector in Ethiopia caused by COVID-19
February 18, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
Impact of COVID-19 on food systems and rural livelihoods in south-western Ghana
February 15, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog highlights the findings of a recent study that seeks to estimate the impact of COVID-19 on food systems and livelihoods in south-western Ghana and provides insights based on household-level and key informant data gathered in the first and
COVID-19 preventative measures disrupt small-scale farmer production, marketing and livelihoods in Zambia
February 11, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog highlights how COVID-19 preventative measures have affected small-scale farmers surrounding the Mkushi farm block in Zambia, focusing particularly how such measures have disrupted production, marketing and livelihoods. The authors then look at how the government and cooperating partners
The unintended consequences of COVID-19 lockdowns in Nigeria (2)
February 8, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog presents a snapshot of the efforts of Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) to help stakeholders to track the initial impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic on agricultural commercialisation, food and nutrition security, labour and employment, and poverty
The rich people’s virus? Latest reflections from Zimbabwe
February 8, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. A few weeks back Oxfam released a major report, ‘The Inequality Virus’, documenting the way COVID-19 has affected different populations and parts of the world. The now well-established impacts on the
Can relaxed COVID-19 restrictions ease food insecurity among the rural population in Kenya?
February 4, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In our latest blog, John Olwande and Miltone Ayieko of the Tegemeo Institute examine the results of recent APRA studies and assess the impact of an easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in Kenya on the livelihoods of small-scale farming households.
Rural gender inequalities (2): feminisation of agriculture and COVID-19
February 1, 2021 / FAC blog
In the previous blog, demographic factors that leave rural women more susceptible to socio-economic marginalisation were highlighted. In this blog, we focus on the socio-economic participation of rural women, including the “feminisation of agriculture” phenomenon and the impact of crises
Can South Africa help find a way out of Zimbabwe’s on-going crises?
February 1, 2021 / FAC blog
I don’t know how many times this blog has commented on the worsening economic and political crises in Zimbabwe. It seems to be never-ending and still getting worse. The misplaced expectations that the ‘new dispensation’ would provide an escape route

Perceptions and misconceptions of smallholder farmers of COVID-19 in central Malawi
January 28, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog focuses on the perceptions of Malawians in the rural districts of Mchinji and Ntchisi towards COVID-19 and their perception of risk and vulnerability based on the qualitative APRA interviews. It highlights the difficult task faced by authorities in
Rural gender inequalities (1): demographic factors, women’s economic participation, and implications for rural development
January 25, 2021 / FAC blog
This blog looks at gender inequalities in rural areas, with the aim to sketch how they are shaped by demographic factors; highlight consequences for rural women’s economic participation; and outline broader implications for agriculture, food security and sustainable rural development.

Analysing the impact of COVID-19 on food systems and livelihoods in Africa
January 21, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
To better understand the impact that COVID-19 is having on food systems and rural livelihoods in the region, APRA researchers have been conducting a rolling series of telephone-based household surveys and key informant interviews. This blog is based on the
‘The land is the economy, the economy is the land’, but does this include young people? Reflections from Zimbabwe
January 18, 2021 / FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. There has been a flurry of studies on young people and agriculture in recent years, including in Zimbabwe. The wider critical literature has challenged the standard narratives around youth specific policy

COVID-19 and price uncertainties in grain marketing in Malawi
January 14, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In the third and final blog of the series on grain marketing in Malawi, APRA researcher Stevier Kaiyatsa looks at the contributing effects of COVID-19 on grain price instability, the implication of this, and what the Malawian government can do
How small-scale traders exploit farmers in Malawi
January 11, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In the second of a three-part blog series on grain marketing in Malawi, APRA researchers Stevier Kaiyatsa and Mphatso Susuwele examine the methods used by some small-scale traders are taking advantage of farmers who produce a market surplus, and what

Lockdown politics: reflections from Zimbabwe
January 11, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
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

Understanding small-scale grain traders in Malawi
January 7, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
In the first of a three-part blog series on grain marketing in Malawi, APRA researchers Stevier Kaiyatsa and Mphatso Susuwele examine the vital role played by small-scale traders in Malawi in the grain supply chains, how they are classified, and

eDialogue: What Future for Small-Scale Farming? Policy Options
January 4, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
By Jim Woodhill, Ken Giller and John Thompson The final eDialogue in our five-part series on the ‘What Future for Small-Scale Farming?’ finished off by exploring policy implications for the inclusive transformation of small-scale agriculture in challenging times. A stellar panel of experts from five

Can Zimbabwe survive a second wave of COVID-19?
January 4, 2021 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
Armed conflicts, land expansion and resilience: evidence from Nigeria
December 17, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In this blog, APRA researchers Adesoji Adelaja and Justin George summarise their two latest working papers on the role of resilience factors in mitigating the negative effects of conflict on land expansion, and how conflicts affect land expansion by smallholder

Zimbabweland’s 2020 wrap-up
December 17, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
Drivers of market orientation among farm households in Nigeria
December 14, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
APRA academics Adebayo Aromolaran, Milu Muyanga and Thomas Jayne summarise their latest working paper to look the drivers of market-orientated land use decisions among farm households in Nigeria, with particular focus on Ogun and Kaduna states.  The authors then suggest

Rice value chain: has life returned to normal after lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in Tanzania? (2)
December 10, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In part two of this blog series, APRA Tanzania researchers Ntengua Mdoe, Gilead Mlay and Gideon Boniface use data from follow-up interviews with raw rice traders and the hospitality business in Morogoro and Mbeye regions, before drawing a conclusion on
COVID-19 reinforces pre-existing market risks for pastoralists in northern Kenya
December 7, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
Following his blog on the winners and losers in livestock commercialisation in northern Kenya and the accompanying working paper, researcher, pastoral development and dryland management specialist Guyo Roba examines the impact of COVID-19 market risks, explaining how strengthening their resilience
Unequal land, unequal societies
December 7, 2020 / FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. A really important report from the International Land Coalition and Oxfam is just out called ‘Uneven Ground: Land Inequality at the Heart of Unequal Societies’, along with 17 supporting papers. Through new

Rice value chain: has life returned to normal after lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in Tanzania? (1)
November 30, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In the first of a two part blog series, researchers from APRA Tanzania follow up on their earlier blog series on the COVID-19 coping strategies of rice value chain actors. In this blog, they use data from follow-up interviews with
eDialogue: What Future for Small-Scale Farming? Emerging themes
November 25, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
5th eDialogue, ‘Wrap-up and Policy Implications’,25th November By Jim Woodhill, Ken Giller and John Thompson Tuesday 10 November was another fantastic session of our eDialogue series on ‘What Future for Small-Scale Farming?: Inclusive Transformation in Challenging Times’. The panellists explored the complementary roles

Abdel Ismail: Is small-scale farming changing for the better?
November 23, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
The final blog in a four-part series highlights the reflections of Abdelbagi Ismail, Principal Researcher at IRRI, on the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Foresight4Food, IFAD and APRA eDialogue session on the future of small-scale farming in Africa.

Land and compensation in Zimbabwe: frequently asked questions
November 23, 2020 / FAC blog
This blog was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. The debate about compensation of former white farmers in Zimbabwe continues to rage. The compensation agreement signed in July agreed a total amount of US$3.5 billion to pay for ‘improvements’ to