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


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7 November 2014: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
November 7, 2014 / Our blog
‘Where is the evidence that land grabs are good for economic progress?’ This article questions whether land relocations will really benefit resource-rich countries. This is an interest question to be raised within the remit of the project, both concerning countries

31 October 2014: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
October 31, 2014 / Our blog
  BRICS UN Nutrition meeting focuses on hunger and malnutrition BRICS countries met at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), ahead of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) scheduled to take place in November 2014. “Hunger” was the

Journal of Peasant Studies new special issue: critical perspectives on Food Sovereignty
October 22, 2014 / Our blog
Related articles Food Sovereignty: a critical dialogue – event in January 2014 Missing politics and food sovereignty by Ian Scoones, 27 January 2014 (Future Agricultures blog) Food sovereignty: a growing activist and intellectual movement by Ruth Hall, 27 January 2014

World Food Day 2014: Seven new papers unpick debates on African agriculture and rural development
October 16, 2014 / Our blog
A new form of Afro-optimism IIED, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) have teamed up to explore these debates by commissioning research with funding from the Department for International Development (DFID) and the International

To improve access to seeds for African farmers, we need more than technical solutions
September 26, 2014 / Our blog
These include: Promoting entrepreneurship: ISSD Africa sees a challenge in promoting entrepreneurship in more than just the typical seed value chains, such as maize. Improving access: unless we improve access to those varieties developed in the public domain, they are

16 September 2014: China and Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
September 16, 2014 / Our blog
‘Brazil risks its image in Africa with neo-colonial practices’ This article looks at how Brazilian multinationals have become the main actors within Brazil-Africa relations. It argues that despite Brazilian government narratives of justice and equality, Brazil’s multinationals are now driving

New research on land reform in Zimbabwe: summary of ASAUK2014
September 15, 2014 / Our blog
The session kicked off with an excellent paper by Leila Sinclair-Bright who discussed the changing social relations between ‘new farmers’ on an A1 resettlement area in Mazowe and farmworkers. Through a deep, focused ethnographic approach she looked at changing notions

Inclusive business model? The Case of Sugarcane Production in Tanzania
September 10, 2014 / Our blog
As suggested in a number of voluntary guidelines, including the African Union Framework and Guidelines, and the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, the rights of women and

Talking Zimbabwe & Land Reform at ASAUK14 this Wednesday
September 5, 2014 / Our blog
  The six papers that will be presented and discussed are listed below. Shiela Chikulo, ‘Emerging market discourses in a changing ‘agrarian economy’? The case of the fresh vegetable markets in Zimbabwe’, Ruzivo Trust, Harare. Marleen Dekker, ‘Navigating through times

2 September 2014: China and Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
September 2, 2014 / Our blog
Mugabe secures Chinese support Seeking to find $4 billion worth of funding to reinvigorate the Zimbabwean economy, Mugabe went on an official state visit to China last week. It is unclear how much was agreed upon, but a 9 large-scale

20 August: China and Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
August 20, 2014 / Our blog
‘Emerging powers, state capitalism and the oil sector in Africa’ The September 2014 edition of ‘Review of African Political Economy’ includes an article by Ian Taylor with the above title. “The global development landscape is rapidly changing with the acceleration

The challenges of agriculture: attitudes of Senegalese young people from the Afrobarometer Round 5 Survey
August 16, 2014 / Our blog
For the four first questions, regarded as categorical variables, the 7 possible answers were as following: -1 Missing 1 Agree very strongly with 1 2 Agree with 1 3 Agree with 2 4 Agree very strongly with 2 5 Agree

15 August: China and Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
August 15, 2014 / Our blog
6th China-IFAD South-South Cooperation Conference August 4: the Vice-Chairman of China’s Ministry of Finance took part in the 6th China-IFAD South-South Cooperation Conference in Maputo. It involved the participation of Mozambique, Burundi, Ethiopia, Egypt and 13 other African countries, along

Engaging parliamentarians on large scale land investments in Africa
August 15, 2014 / Our blog
The conference was the fourth and final one in a process that has taken place in the four sub regional parliaments of West, East, Southern and Central Africa African parliaments respectively. The Pan African Parliamentarians were appraised of the achievements

Livelihood pathways after land reform in Zimbabwe
August 13, 2014 / Our blog
There is no simple story, and there’s much complexity. Diverse livelihood pathways can be identified: some have gained from land reform, while others have not. Outcomes are dependent on access to assets, income from off-farm activities, as well as hard

«Ne mangent seulement ceux qui peuvent se le permettre»: La sécurité alimentaire dans un contexte d’agriculture industrielle
August 13, 2014 / Our blog
Faisant écho à Constance Mogale, le Prof. Ruth Hall (PLAAS, Future Agricultures) a expliqué que les investissements fonciers à grande échelle ne représentent pas seulement une perte de terres mais aussi une restructuration de l’ensemble du système alimentaire vers un modèle

Congratulations! You have successfully installed EasyBlog!
August 12, 2014 / Our blog
With EasyBlog, you can be assured of quality blogging with the following features: Blog now, post laterYou can compose a blog now, suffer temporal writer’s block, save and write again, later. Social media sharingAutomatically post into your Twitter, Facebook and

Land Rush, Day 1: Food availability doesn’t always equal food access
August 12, 2014 / Our blog
Echoing Constance Mogale’s point, Prof Ruth Hall (PLAAS/Future Agricultures) explained that large scale land deals are not just creating land loss, but are actually restructuring the entire food system towards a model in which the food system is controlled and

7 August: China and Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
August 7, 2014 / Our blog
Zimbabwe in talks for $4bn Chinese loan The Zimbabwean government is currently in discussions with China over a $4bn bailout loan. This loans comes at an important time as Zimbabwe tries to stabilise its current economic slump. As part of

Can Sub-Saharan Africa’s plural seed systems survive?
August 6, 2014 / Our blog
Participants at the Regional Dialogue on Strengthening African Seed Systems held last month in Nairobi sought to address to this question from a political economy perspective. Many participants raised doubts about the ability of scientists and policy analysts to influence

17 July: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
July 17, 2014 / Our blog
New IDS Bulletin: ‘China and International Development’ This IDS Bulletin focuses on China’s development strategy and its own development experience, its increasing involvement in development activities in low- and middle-income countries, as well as its collaboration with OECD-DAC members in

A culture of extraction and exclusion: How philanthropy impoverishes the vulnerable
July 11, 2014 / Our blog
Mining: what counts as development? In extractive industries like mining, despite using development language, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes are problematic. For example, regarding mining companies in Zambia, Tomas Frederikson (right) argued that while CSR models were changing to become

Missionary discourses: can the green economy bring climate justice to the South?
July 11, 2014 / Our blog
The Kariba carbon project in Zimbabwe, for instance, claims that it will alleviate poverty, help people have food, education and health and at the same time provide enormous ecological benefits in terms of reduced degradation and wildlife protection. Similar arguments

Why we should care about developing a Green Economy in the global South
July 7, 2014 / Our blog
The conference themes, including eco-tourism, biofuels, ecosystem payments, large-scale farming and the spread of GMOs in Africa, are topical and controversial both among academics and practitioners. One of the aims of the event is to bring together field-based research with

7 July: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
July 7, 2014 / Our blog
Brazil seeks greater agro-business ties with Angola The Brazilian ambassador to Angola recently stressed the need for stronger ties between the two countries, during which she stressed the potential role of agro-business. She also spoke of a biofuel project in

25 June: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
June 25, 2014 / Our blog
‘No to ProSAVANA’ campaign video The ‘No to ProSAVANA’ campaign has made a video about their protest aimed at recruiting more farmers and supporters to their cause. It accuses the ProSAVANA project of neo-colonialism and portrays the situation as a

IFAMA 2014: Is Africa’s future ‘upstream’ and ‘post-farm’?
IFAMA 2014: Is Africa’s future ‘upstream’ and ‘post-farm’?
June 24, 2014 / Our blog
Sessions at the forum had a strong focus on the so-called ‘talent factor’, those bright young students who are being groomed to become the next generation of scientists, technology developers, supply-chain specialists and CEO’s of multi-national companies. The future, it

Sustainable intensification: a new buzzword to feed the world?
June 19, 2014 / Our blog
To answer this, we have to probe a bit further and ask what analytical frameworks underpin the concept and its definition, and what policy narratives flow from it? The Science article, and the Oxford Martin School report which preceded it,

16 June: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
June 16, 2014 / Our blog
Chinese agricultural engagements in Mozambique The Chinese news agency Xinhua has published a series of articles on Chinese engagements in Mozambican agriculture. They all report successes of Chinese projects in the region and two of the articles cite Sergio Chichava,

GM crops: continuing controversy
June 16, 2014 / Our blog
Most sensible scientists would not go so far. Indeed these days much of the advocacy of GM crops is presented in terms of seemingly balanced positions on technology choices. The same lead author of the recent advisers’ report also led

4 June: China and Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
June 4, 2014 / Our blog
China’s investments in Zimbabwe up 5000% in 5 years According to the Chinese embassy in Harare, Chinese investments have risen from $11.2mil to $602mil in just 5 years. Zimbabwe’s proportion of Chinese investments into Africa went up from 0.8% of

Are livestock destroying the planet?
June 2, 2014 / Our blog
The debate is actually hopelessly confused, and confusing. The data in the PNAS article is clear. Inefficient feed systems result in more greenhouse gases being produced during production than more intensive systems (essentially more belching and farting). And white meat

29 May: China and Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
May 29, 2014 / Our blog
Lula’s Agricultural pledges in West Africa May 8: In a meeting with Ghanaian and Beninois Presidents Mahama and Yayi, former Brazilian President Lula has pledged support for Ghana’s development infrastructure, including a focus on Agriculture. These meetings were conducted during

Malawi’s agriculture subsidies: book launch, London, 29 May
May 27, 2014 / Our blog
Background: Agricultural input subsidies have been adopted on a large scale across different African countries in the last few years. However global experience with input subsidies has been mixed, and there are concerns that current input subsidies are expensive political

Mourning the death of Professor Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere
May 21, 2014 / Our blog
Prof Asenso-Okyere was appointed to FAC’s International Advisory Council in 2013, and together with other members of the Advisory Council, launched the three regional hubs of FAC-Africa. He participated in the first Advisory Council meeting in Pretoria, South Africa and

The Graduation and Social Protection conference: What did we learn?
May 20, 2014 / Our blog
Graduation that is defined as exiting from a social protection programme after a certain time period, or after reaching a threshold level of income or assets, risks having people falling back into poverty when the support is withdrawn and the

‘African Farmer’: more than just a game
‘African Farmer’: more than just a game
April 28, 2014 / Our blog
These insights led me to seek out collaborators in the Department of Informatics at the University of Sussex – Judith Good, Jim Jackson and Ellie Martin – to help design and develop a new computer game that would simulate farmer

15 April: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
April 15, 2014 / Our blog
UK Government accused of fuelling a corporate scramble for Africa The World Development Movement has launched a campaign in criticism of The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition that was set up by G8 countries in 2012. The campaign

Innovation and commitment are vital for gender-equitable and inclusive investments
Innovation and commitment are vital for gender-equitable and inclusive investments
April 15, 2014 / Our blog
The conference was organized by FAO in partnership with the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), Future Agricultures Consortium, the Land Policy Initiative (LPI), African Union, African Development Bank and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. The event

After 10 years, does CAADP understand political economy?
April 2, 2014 / Our blog
The event’s overriding goal was to contribute to efforts to sustain CAADP’s momentum in the next decade or so through mutual learning and experience-sharing among countries. The idea was to strengthen and deepen country engagements and ownership in a bid

26 March: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
March 26, 2014 / Our blog
Global Agribusiness Forum 2014 March 24-25: The Global Agribusiness Forum is taking place in São Paulo this year. It involves some high-profile speakers including the director of EMBRAPA, the WTO director general, Roberto de Azevêdo, and Brazil’s representative at the

Dams, flooding and displacement: the Tokwe Mukorsi dam
March 21, 2014 / Our blog
It has been declared a national emergency, and considerable resources have been deployed in response. Funds from the US as well as China have been offered, and whole fleets of CMED vehicles have been commandeered to move people. Emergency camps

21 March 2014: China & Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
March 21, 2014 / Our blog
CAADP conference invites Brazilian observers The 10th annual conference of the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), begins on 18 March 2014, and has invited two representatives from Brazil’s Lula Institute to attend. They will participate as observers to the

Competing narratives on sustainable agriculture: what is the future that women want?
March 20, 2014 / Our blog
One view sees the expansion of commercial agriculture and high input agricultural value chains as the only way forward — a “green revolution” offering promising opportunities for smallholders to farm as a business. The other side passionately disagrees with this

‘Commuter farmers’ in Tanzania’s valley of sugar and rice
March 19, 2014 / Our blog
The plots are used to grow rice or maize – for the outgrowers, that’s in addition to the sugarcane they grow at home, but for the other farmers, it might be their only crops except for what they grow in

11 March 2014: China & Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
March 11, 2014 / Our blog
Can the World Feed China? China’s grain imports have been growing enormously in recent years, set to make it one of the world’s leading grain importers. The article mentions the political sensitivity in China surrounding questions raised around food security,

Engendering CAADP: What must be done in the next 10 years?
March 7, 2014 / Our blog
There is widespread consensus that African countries still invest too little in agriculture. Only 7 of 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have consistently reached the Maputo Declaration budget target of 10% investment in agriculture. Smallholders dominate in agriculture, but not

Agricultural investment models for replication and scaling up: Ways forward for achieving gender equitable agricultural commercialisation?
March 7, 2014 / Our blog
Identifying successful models for replication and scaling up One key message rising from the multiple case studies is that there are many different schemes, some of which have changed in structure since they were started: different companies and individual investors

Doing business with farmers: Is there a good model?
March 6, 2014 / Our blog
The first presentation by Emmanuel Sulle looked at the out-grower scheme model that has been adopted by sugar companies in Tanzania, specifically the  case of Kilombero Sugar Company. The company promoted the out-grower scheme as source of cheap loans to

How are women and men differently affected by commercial investments in primary agriculture in Africa?
March 6, 2014 / Our blog
In one session, we witnessed three contrasting experiences – from Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia – which suggested that, while commercial investments could benefit women, these benefits were far from certain, and whether or not benefits would in fact accrue to