FAC blog

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


Latest articles

‘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
“Know your epidemic”: Reflections from Zimbabwe
September 28, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
This blog was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland. “Know your epidemic, act on its politics” was a lesson learned in the HIV/AIDS pandemic. As Alex De Waal argued back in March, it’s just as important for COVID-19. The pandemic is

To farm or not to farm? That’s NOT the question
September 21, 2020 / FAC blog
Written by James Sumberg and first appeared on the Institute of Development Studies website. This blog features a short film – including a new French language version – that explores how young people engage with the rural economy in sub-Saharan

How is COVID-19 shaping agricultural production and commodity marketing among smallholders in Zimbabwe?
September 17, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In this blog, APRA researcher Vine Mutyasira examines the impact of lockdown measures on smallholder farmers in Mvurwi and Concession, Zimbabwe. He examines how these restrictions have hit agricultural production and commodity marketing, and gives recommendations on how to combat
The unintended consequences of COVID19 lockdown in Nigeria
September 10, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
Although the COVID19 pandemic has not yet affected Nigeria to the same extent as some countries, the Nigerian Government introduced strict lockdown measures across the country to restrict the spread of the virus. In our latest blog, APRA researchers Adebayo
Innovation in the pandemic: an update from Zimbabwe
September 10, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland I had the latest long discussion on responses to COVID-19 in our rural study areas across the country on 5 September. Check out the earlier updates from 27 July, 15 June and 27 April The pandemic

When global capital met pastoralism: learning from a decade of large-scale investment in dryland Africa
September 7, 2020 / FAC blog
By Jeremy Lind, Doris Okenwa and Ian Scoones In recent years, the gaze of global investment has been directed to Africa’s land and resources. Over the past decade, global capital from Europe, the Near East, China and elsewhere poured into

Still debating land tenure reform in Zimbabwe
September 7, 2020 / FAC blog
This blog was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland As part of the on-going discussions about Zimbabwe’s new land policy, land tenure is a central concern. Zimbabwe has a multi-form land tenure system, involving different legal arrangements and different forms of authority.

What role does the hand hoe have in rice production in Morogoro, Tanzania?
September 3, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
Basic hand hoes have always played a key part in rice production in Morogoro, Tanzania – but as ox-ploughs and tractors become more widely used, is there still a place for the traditional farm implement? Using information from a recent

How COVID-19 has affected Liliyan’s Catering Services in Morogoro, Tanzania
August 24, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In our latest blog, APRA researchers Ntengua Mdoe, Gilead Mlay and Gideon Boniface examine the negative effect of the pandemic on Liliyan’s Catering Services Enterprise, and how it is bouncing back and coping with the financial hit. The researchers then
Impact of COVID-19 on daily labourers and rice commercialisation in Ethiopia (3)
August 17, 2020 / APRA blog FAC blog
In the final blog of a three-part series, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research researcher Agajie Tesfaye looks ahead and provides seven key recommendations on how the Ethiopian government can lessen the negative impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on day labourers, farmers
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. Check below for the
Zimbabwe’s land reform compensation deal agreed at last
August 13, 2020 / FAC blog
This blog 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.