FAC blog

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

Latest articles

Youth, tea and appropriate jobs: aspirations in agriculture
March 21, 2012 / FAC blog
The big messages coming out of the research that seemed to particularly hit home include: 1.    Young people’s aspirations towards the agri-food sector are as varied as young people themselves. It was clear from the papers and the ensuing discussion

Young People, Farming & Food: Do young men and women want to work within agricultural food chains?
March 21, 2012 / FAC blog
As in the first livelihood session on day 1, we were provided with some exciting signs of ongoing processes of change within the agri-food sector in which young men and women had been able to identify with, and respond to,

The need to change young people’s attitudes towards agriculture
March 20, 2012 / FAC blog
Speaking in the same session, Professor Ramatu Al-Hassan, of the department of agribusiness and agriculture economics at the University of Ghana, said: “it’s important to support young people to take advantage of agricultural opportunities in Africa.” That will involve breaking

Urban Myths and Rural Futures for Africa’s Young People
February 24, 2012 / FAC blog
This view is reinforced by the frequently heard assertion that urbanisation levels are rising faster in sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else in the world, as migrants, including many young people, move in large numbers from rural to urban areas. But

Young people and agrifood in Africa: is it time for some good old fashioned planning?
February 24, 2012 / FAC blog
What’s important in both those examples is that they start with an analysis of the types of skills that will be needed in the future, and the likely demand for these skills. Just as important is the ability to identify

2012 Call for Proposals: Grant Awards for Global Environmental Change Research in Africa
February 24, 2012 / FAC blog
The theme for the 2011 GEC projects is climate change, agriculture and food security with an emphasis on the sustainability of ecosystem services. The 16 selected projects address issues related to climate change and its linkages with agriculture and food

Food price volatility – debating causes and consequences
February 17, 2012 / FAC blog
The issue provokes heated debate. Some argue that speculators have affected both the level and volatility of prices, with major development consequences. Opponents argue the exact opposite: ‘speculators’ bring liquidity to markets, lower farmers’ hedging costs and reduce volatility, and

New book: Contested Agronomy, by Jim Sumberg and John Thompson
February 13, 2012 / FAC blog
Contested Agronomy explores, through a series of case studies, the basis for a much needed ‘political agronomy’ analysis that highlights the impacts of problem framing and narratives, historical disjunctures, epistemic communities and the increasing pressure to demonstrate ‘success’ on both

Can trading in tree gum & resin save drought-hit northern Kenya?
February 10, 2012 / FAC blog
The collection of gums and resins for commercial and domestic use is a centuries-old practice in the Horn of Africa, and in northern Kenya in particular. The importance of this activity takes precedence during the drought period when the income

African Union Research Grants: 2012 Open Call for Proposals
February 10, 2012 / FAC blog
The full Guidelines for Applicants, Application form and other supporting documents are available for downloading from the following Internet Sites: http://www.africahrst.org/stict/rgp http://www.au.int/researchgrant http://webgate.ec.europa.eu/europeaid/online-services/index.cfm?do=publi.welcome The deadline for submission of proposals is April 20, 2012 at 1700 hours (+3 GMT) Addis Ababa

Climate Smart Agriculture: The new Holy Grail of agricultural development?
Climate Smart Agriculture: The new Holy Grail of agricultural development?
December 5, 2011 / FAC blog
Agriculture is high on the political agenda at COP-17 in Durban. Many would argue that this is as it should be: agriculture will be key to any strategy to adapt to climate change, particularly in an African context, and the

Young people and agriculture in Africa: where is the evidence?
October 24, 2011 / FAC blog
During the last decade the language of evidence-based policy began to permeate the world of African agricultural policy. At its best the evidence-based policy movement encourages us to think critically about the nature of evidence and the ‘evidence base(s)’, and

African Union High Level Policy Forum on Foreign Direct Investments
October 17, 2011 / FAC blog
Land is the basic livelihood resource for a growing number of increasingly poor proportions of Africa’s population. The resource provides the livelihood base, identity and is a contentious socio-political asset. Lately the land resource in Africa has come under increasing

A New Leader & New Beginning for the FAO?
June 29, 2011 / FAC blog
Graziano da Silva, 61, the former Brazilian Minister of Food Security, will replace Jacques Diouf, who has served as the head of the biggest UN agency for 18 years, in January 2012. Graziano received 92 votes against 88 for Spain’s

A Missed Opportunity: The G20 Action Plan on Food Price Volatility and Agriculture
June 28, 2011 / FAC blog
The 24-page communiqué, called the ‘Action Plan on Food Price Volatility and Agriculture’, was published following the first ever meeting of the G20 agriculture ministers, held in Paris on 22-23 June 2011, after France made global food security and commodities

Reframing the ‘young people – agriculture nexus’
April 19, 2011 / FAC blog
A number of framing assumptions can be identified including: Agriculture has the potential to provide young people and others in rural areas with a reasonable livelihood and opportunities for accumulation. Young people, the agricultural sector, the rural economy and rural

New Directions for Smallholder Agriculture
February 3, 2011 / FAC blog
So what were the main issues discussed? Here are six that caught my attention: This was, in many respects, building on the main ideas of the World Development Report 2008 http://econ.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTDEC/EXTRESEARCH/EXTWDRS/EXTWDR2008/0,,menuPK:2795178~pagePK:64167702~piPK:64167676~theSitePK:2795143,00.html]. Yes, agricultural development matters, in many cases small-scale farmers

Agribusiness, FAC and young people
January 4, 2011 / FAC blog
There is of course another view. Those who see technology, inputs and engagement with new markets as critical for the enhancement of agricultural productivity in SSA tend to look differently upon the potential contribution of agribusiness. Indeed, from their perspective,

Ouagadougou colloquium closes
December 8, 2010 / FAC blog
FAC’s Jim Sumberg presented research on Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programs and their link with social protection measures. This research is available in FAC Working Paper. FAC was also part of a colloquium delegation invited to meet with the

What agriculture? Two hundred agriculture researchers search for an answer
December 8, 2010 / FAC blog
Much of the research is presently underway by institutions that are investing in important agriculture issues like increased production and market liberalisation, climate change adaptation, local food consumption, the continent’s important and growing middle class, agricultural technologies  and the role

Biosafety regulation in Kenya
Biosafety regulation in Kenya
November 17, 2010 / FAC blog
Background to the workshop Debates about transgenic crops have become highly polarised across the globe. In the process, civil society organisations and social movements have played an important role, alongside governmental and ‘expert’ science institutions, in debates about agricultural biotechnology.

EU Cooperation for Agricultural Development in Africa is Vital to Millions of People: Insights from the Launch of the Montpellier Panel Report.
October 28, 2010 / FAC blog
In SSA the average annual growth in agriculture has been over 3% for the period 2000-2008. Despite this momentum, hunger and poverty are still a great problem, with more than 200 million Africans chronically malnourished. The need for international cooperation

Is Agriculture the Key to Development?
Is Agriculture the Key to Development?
October 27, 2010 / FAC blog
There is much truth in these arguments. Poverty and lack of entitlements are the fundamental causes of hunger, and we would do well to remember that. Rural poverty is more widespread and deeper than urban poverty, and exits from farming

Is Agriculture the Key to Development?
Is Agriculture the Key to Development?
October 27, 2010 / FAC blog
There is much truth in these arguments. Poverty and lack of entitlements are the fundamental causes of hunger, and we would do well to remember that. Rural poverty is more widespread and deeper than urban poverty, and exits from farming

2010 ECFP recipients
October 18, 2010 / FAC blog
  Leocardia Nabwire Uganda   Conrad Murendo Zimbabwe   Yasin Salah Kenya   Maru Bekele Ethiopia   Nancy Laibuni Kenya   Delight Moyo Zimbabwe   Jimah Kipo Ghana   Clare Delpeuch France   Opportuna Kweka Tanzania

Will wheat prices spike again?
October 4, 2010 / FAC blog
The grain trade reacted strongly: spot prices are up by US$50 a tonne in a month, and by US$70 a tonne for some export wheats. These increases are the fastest seen since, says the FT, 1973. That year saw the

Investing in land: a commentary on the World Bank report
Investing in land: a commentary on the World Bank report
September 16, 2010 / FAC blog
Overall, the report certainly offers a useful compilation of existing data and provides a selective review of other studies. Like other research, the report shows how the global ‘land grab’ is complex, often involving multiple actors, including national governments. It

Hungry for Results: Improving the Governance of the Global Food System to Address Structural Hunger
September 15, 2010 / FAC blog
There are two principal reasons for the decline in the total number of hungry people and both have to do with the reversal of two recent crises: the reduction of food prices from their peak levels of 2007-8 and the

Meat and markets: Can a global trade in livestock deliver southern Africa out of poverty?
August 12, 2010 / FAC blog
Economic growth and employment Ian Scoones, Professorial Fellow at IDS and Co-Director of the STEPS Centre, explained: ‘The idea seems simple. Africa has significant comparative advantage in a range of important commodities with global demand. The growth of such industries

Why agriculture and food security are central to meeting DFID’s new Structural Reform Plan
August 4, 2010 / FAC blog
I want to argue, however, that support for agriculture and food security must be central to the implementation of this new plan and that, across the departmental priorities, a focus on support for agriculture, food systems and rural livelihoods must

Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant: Agricultural Development in the Guinea Savannah
June 30, 2010 / FAC blog
The workshop debated the pitfalls and potentials of the ‘Sleeping Giant’ thesis from multiple viewpoints. The lead author of the report, Hans Binswanger, argued that the northeast Thailand pathway was both efficient and desirable, building on the comparative advantages of

A New Manifesto for Innovation, Sustainability and Development
June 16, 2010 / FAC blog
The starting point for the Manifesto is the massive disconnect between ever expanding volumes of research and development in science and technology (S&T) and the persistence of poverty, social injustice and environmental damage. How can these resources be made to

A New Manifesto for Innovation, Sustainability and Development
A New Manifesto for Innovation, Sustainability and Development
June 16, 2010 / FAC blog
Yesterday the Royal Society hosted the launch of the STEPS Centre Manifesto on Innovation, Sustainability and Development. STEPS is supported by the ESRC and hosted by IDS and by SPRU at the University of Sussex.The Manifesto draws on work that

Politics of the global land grab
June 8, 2010 / FAC blog
Conference focus The focus of the conference will be on the politics of global land grabbing and agrarian change. Papers should address some of the most urgent and strategic questions around global land grab, including: What is the nature and

Changing climates, changing lives: the need to focus on processes of change for adaptation
June 4, 2010 / FAC blog
The report’s focus is on perceptions of changes among pastoralists and agropastoralists in Borana, Ethiopia and Gao and Mopti, Mali. Perceptions of changes in climate patterns were compared with response patterns and changes in the availability of support to tackle

Steve Wiggins at the High Level Expert Forum on ‘How to Feed the World in 2050’
May 13, 2010 / FAC blog
The discussions covered the following questions – Can the world be fed in 2050? Quantitative models suggest it can, even if this will probably mean raising agricultural output by 70% and growing another 1 billion tonnes of grain. Most of

New Site Features
May 10, 2010 / FAC blog
Some of the many features include: Our full collection of policy briefs, working papers, occasional papers, etc. A growing list of relevant RSS feeds (e.g. ELDIS, R4D, GFAR, IFPRI, etc.) An events calendar of key African agriculturee-debates A new FAC blog and user comment

Fellowships for Afrcian scholars
May 6, 2010 / FAC blog
Today, FAC is launching a cooperative programme to bolster the upcoming African agriculture researchers. In a partnership with the Collaborative Masters Program in Agricultural and Applied Economics (CMAAE), FAC launches a  three-year capacity building programme that will be available to early

What is CAADP?
March 25, 2010 / FAC blog
An outcome of the 2003 Maputo Declaration CAADP is based on two overarching principles: The pursuit of six percent average annual growth in the agricultural sector at national level; and, Allocation of ten percent of national budgets to agriculture. A

What is CAADP?
What is CAADP?
March 25, 2010 / FAC blog
The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) is the most ambitious and comprehensive agricultural reform effort ever undertaken in Africa. An initiative of the African Union (AU) and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), it represents a fundamental shift toward

ReSAKKS Conference
ReSAKKS Conference
March 25, 2010 / FAC blog
The Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS) Africa-wide conference, Agriculture-led Development for Africa: Exploring New Opportunities and Strategic Alternatives to Inform African Agricultural Development, Planning and Policy took place November 23-24, 2009 at the headquarters of the United

Views: Global Food Crisis
Views: Global Food Crisis
March 9, 2010 / FAC blog
In February 2009, FAC researchers spoke out about the causes, the results, and the remedies of the global food crisis. {japopup type=”youtube” content=”http://www.youtube.com/v/s7TsyRH7F8A&hl=en&fs=1″ width=”640″ height=”380″ title=”Amdissa Teshome”}Amdissa Teshome – Country Coordinator for Ethiopia {/japopup} {japopup type=”youtube” content=”http://www.youtube.com/v/AnaAyrEBZ00&hl=en&fs=1″ width=”640″ height=”380″ title=”Andrew

DFID Strengthens Partnership with FAC
February 16, 2010 / FAC blog
DFID’s renewal of its partnership for FAC’s work means the Consortium can now: Deepen its agriculture research and policy engagement activities in East and Southern Africa. Reinforce its core research themes of: – Policy Processes – Agricultural Commercialisation – Growth

Can Ethiopia Realise a Better Agriculture in its ‘Third Millennium’? The Role and Dilemma of Farm Prices
January 25, 2010 / FAC blog
Farmers have responded positively to Government reforms that include a strong extension and credit-led push for intensification of food staples production through the use of modern seed and fertiliser. Agricultural growth has been impressive over the last decade, especially when

Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture: Beyond the Hype? November 2007
January 25, 2010 / FAC blog
The evidence from existing literature on the impacts of low-external-input techniques on poverty reduction is ambiguous. As with many technologies, access to labour, skills and contacts very often favour better resourced households and individuals. The new book ‘Self-sufficient agriculture’ by

Seasonality: four seasons, four solutions?
January 25, 2010 / FAC blog
Families with undiversified livelihoods must survive all year long mainly on the crops that they consume as food and sell for income, and a single failed harvest can destitute a poor family with limited savings or assets. Where markets are

To subsidise or not to subsidise? Debating the effectiveness of state subsidies for fertiliser in Malawi.
January 25, 2010 / FAC blog
Resources: Working Paper:Lessons Learned from the 2005/06 Malawi Input Subsidy Programmeby Blessings Chinsinga Discussion Paper:Rethinking Agricultural Input Subsidies in Poor Rural Economiesby Andrew Dorward, Peter Hazell and Colin Poulton FAC Briefing: FAC Briefing:The Malawi Fertiliser Subsidy Programme: politics and pragmatism

Fiddling in Rome While the World Burns?
January 25, 2010 / FAC blog
When the Chief Executives Board of the United Nations met in Bern, Switzerland, in late April 2008 to assess how the international community could best contribute to combating the global food crisis, they agreed to set up a High Level

The Role of Agriculture in Growth Revisited for Africa
January 25, 2010 / FAC blog
This is clearly not the case. Neither the WDR nor any other informed development economists are advocating such an approach. Indeed, the WDR argues that, over a generation, many people will have to move out of agriculture to escape poverty.