FAC blog

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


Latest articles

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

Jemimah Njuki looks to an inclusive future for small-holder farming in Africa
November 19, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In the third of a four-part blog series following the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Foresight4Food, IFAD and APRA eDialogue session on the future of small-scale farming, Jemimah Njuki, the International Food Policy Research Institute’s Director for Africa, reflects on

Martin Muchero’s perspective: small-scale farming, its challenges and how to address them
November 16, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
The second instalment of a four-part blog series highlights the experiences and takeaways of independent consultant Martin Muchero, expert panellist from the Africa Regional Perspectives session of the third UN Sustainable Development Solutions Networks, Foresight4Food, IFAD and APRA eDialogue, regarding

Aida Isinika: reflections on the eDialogue
November 12, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In the first of a four-part blog series,  – Aida Isinika, APRA Tanzania Country Lead and Professor, Sokoine University of Agriculture, shares her experience of the third UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Foresight4Food, IFAD & APRA eDialogue session, all about

Devastating effect of floods on rice production and commercialisation in the Fogera plain
November 9, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In September 2020, the northern Amhara region of Ethiopia was hit hard again by floods, already displacing 300,000 people, according to the UN. APRA researchers Dawit Alemu and Abebaw Assaye assess the extent of the damage on rice production and

Women and young people in Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 economy
November 9, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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
What is the future for rice as a strategic crop in Ethiopia?
November 5, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In our latest blog, APRA academics Dawit Alemu and John Thompson summarise their latest working paper to look at the future of rice in Ethiopia. They look at the economic importance of the crop and examine the trends in production,

Dilemmas of smallholder oil palm farmers in south-western Ghana
November 2, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog utilises the latest research to look at the different choices and outcomes facing small-scale oil palm farmers in south-western Ghana. The authors then examine household participation, transactions and trust, the welfare effects, and the implications of their research

Do those not enrolled in Fairtrade arrangements in Malawi still benefit? (2)
October 29, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In the second of a two-part blog series, APRA researcher Stevier Kaiyatsa examines the Fairtrade groundnut arrangement in Mchinji, Malawi, and asks whether farmers not enrolled it still benefit? For part one on whether smallholder farmers in Malawi benefit from

Land reform in Matabeleland: the challenges of living in a harsh, variable environment
October 29, 2020 / FAC blog
This blog was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. The land reform story in Matabeleland has been under-researched, but now there are some new findings being published. This blog profiles two papers focusing on Matobo district, also one of our study

Do farmers benefit when they sell to small-scale traders in the rural market in Malawi? (1)
October 26, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In the first of a two-part blog series, APRA researcher Stevier Kaiyatsa examines new APRA research and determines whether smallholder farmers in Malawi that operate in isolation benefit from selling their agricultural produce to the small-scale traders in rural markets.

Can medium scale farms contribute to smallholder commercialisation and welfare in Nigeria?
October 22, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
APRA researchers Lenis Saweda O. Liverpool-Tasie and Salim Nuhu summarise their team’s effort to explore the beneficial relationship between small-scale and medium-scale farms in Nigeria, where frequent interactions between the two are boosting the productivity and welfare of small scale

Women empowerment, agriculture commercialisation and gender relations in Mvurwi, Zimbabwe
October 19, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
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.

Policy options for expanding land under commercial tree crops cultivation in Nigeria
October 15, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
Tree crops are key to Nigeria’s economy, yet the production yield of crops such as cocoa is falls well below the demand. In our latest blog, APRA researcher Adebayo B. Aromolaran and his colleagues examine the different options available to

The return of fortress conservation: why excluding people means biodiversity conservation will fail
October 15, 2020 / FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. The recent UN biodiversity summit reported disappointing results. Not one of the 20 indicators set a decade before were met. In many quarters, there is a growing cry for more assertive measures to protect and

Reflections on the winners and losers in livestock commercialisation in northern Kenya
October 12, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In this blog, researcher, pastoral development and dryland management specialist Guyo Roba reflects upon and summarises his recent working paper on how livestock commercialisation has impacted different actors and different wealth groups in Isiolo and Marsabit counties. He then provides

Agricultural-based livelihood implications of COVID-19 in Ghana (2)
October 5, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In the second of a two-part blog series, APRA researchers Louis Hodey, Kofi Asante & Fred Dzanku look at the responses of agribusinesses and farm households to the pandemic, how the Ghanaian government has responded, and offer policy recommendations for
Agricultural-based livelihood implications of COVID-19 in Ghana (1)
September 28, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In the latest of a series of COVID19-related blogs, APRA Ghana researchers Louis Hodey, Kofi Asante & Fred Dzanku examine the implications of the pandemic on agriculture-based livelihoods in the first of a two-part blog series, including the impact on