FAC blog

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


Latest articles

17 July: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
July 17, 2014 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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

Agricultural investments: Giving back power to the people
March 5, 2014 / FAC blog
The objectives of the conference are threefold: One, it aims to build a common understanding of why gender is important in dealing with agricultural investment and learn about options, promising approaches and good practices as well as challenges; secondly,  to

Land investments in Africa: It’s all about responsible governance
March 3, 2014 / FAC blog
In the midst of all the controversy, there is likely to be agreement that LSLBI have come to occupy center stage of the land debate in many parts of Africa – rightly or wrongly. I say rightly or wrongly because

26 February 2014: China & Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
26 February 2014: China & Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
February 26, 2014 / FAC blog
This news roundup has been collected on behalf of the China and Brazil in African Agriculture (CBAA) project. For regular updates from theproject, sign up to the CBAA newsletter. Chinese ambassador to Ghana launches agriculture projectMr Jung Gong has launched

What does the International Year of Family Farming mean for women?
February 24, 2014 / FAC blog
Rural families and the organisation of farming The functioning of households and families can be, and has been, taken for granted when devising policies. Reference might be made to households and families, and possibly simply to ‘farmers’. But what is

18 February 2014: China & Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
February 18, 2014 / FAC blog
Mozambique to increase wood production Mozambique is expected to produce 150,000m­­2 of wooden logs in 2014, up 50,000 against 2013. China is the biggest consumer of the country’s logging industry, having imported 85% of the country’s total exports between 2000

11 February 2014: China and Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
February 11, 2014 / FAC blog
The Environmental Costs of Zimbabwe’s Tobacco Boom This blog by Ian Scoones looks at the environmental impacts of Zimbabwe’s recent tobacco boom. It looks at how the flue-cured drying method has led to a noticeable degree of deforestation in the

4 February 2014: China and Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
February 4, 2014 / FAC blog
President Mugabe voted deputy chair of the AU Zimbabwe President, Robert Mugabe, has been elected as first deputy chair of the African Union, thereby implying that he will be attending the EU-AU summit in April. The EU had not invited

Rethinking agricultural extension in Zimbabwe
February 3, 2014 / FAC blog
Many qualified staff left or passed away (the ravages of HIV/AIDS hit many government services very badly), posts are unfilled, the transport capacity virtually non-existent and the ability to offer up-to-date advice severely hampered by the parallel decimation of government

African agriculture is growing, but is it transforming?
African agriculture is growing, but is it transforming?
February 3, 2014 / FAC blog
The concerns were discussed last month in Nairobi at a meeting convened jointly by ACET and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). A strong driver of growth and development is manufacturing, according to evidence (pdf) from OECD countries and

29 January 2014: China and Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
January 29, 2014 / FAC blog
Chinese company in Mozambique to address labour concerns The China Road and Bridge Corporation has been given 15 days by the Mozambican General Labour Inspectorate to address labour concerns raised by its workers. Poor health and safety are the greatest

Missing politics and food sovereignty
January 27, 2014 / FAC blog
I was intrigued to find out where the food sovereignty debate had got to, what political strategies were emerging and whether, in different and diverse contexts, the ideals were in fact realisable. The ISS event opened with an impressive keynote

Agricultural input subsidies: the recent Malawi experience
Agricultural input subsidies: the recent Malawi experience
January 24, 2014 / FAC blog
We were also keen to draw on our separate and combined experience of Malawian agriculture to set the FISP in the context of evolving Malawian livelihoods, politics, and agricultural policies – a context that is critical for understanding the design,

22 January 2014: China and Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
January 22, 2014 / FAC blog
Ethiopian Investment Agency withdraws 3,000 investment permits The EIA has withdrawn 3,000 permits from foreign and Ethiopian companies that have been too slow in making headway on planned projects. This affects Chinese investors among others. (The article speaks of land

15 January 2014: China and Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
January 15, 2014 / FAC blog
Chinese agricultural delegation visits Zimbabwe A 15-person Chinese delegation visited Zimbabwe for a feasibility study on areas of agricultural cooperation. The delegation includes experts in grain crops, environment, agriculture produce processing and livestock among others from the Ministry of Agriculture

Why isn’t Nigeria researching the impact of its protectionist policies for everyday foods?
January 10, 2014 / FAC blog
For example, there can be little doubt about the importance of rice, chicken and tomatoes (and tomato paste) in the everyday diets of both urban and rural Nigerians. In protecting domestic producers of those commodities through import bans and tariffs,

8 January 2014: China and Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
January 8, 2014 / FAC blog
Zambian Mining Union Wins Wage increase with Chinese company “Zambia’s biggest mining union agreed to a 12 percent wage increase with Jinchuan Group Ltd. in a deal that sets a benchmark for the rest of the industry in Africa’s biggest

Future Diets – the rise of obesity and other health problems in developing countries
January 6, 2014 / FAC blog
There has been a dramatic increase in the numbers of overweight or obese people in the past 30 years. Previously considered a problem in richer countries, the biggest rises are in middle income countries and the developing world. The ODI

The modernisation agenda in African agriculture: responding to AGRA’s Africa Agriculture Status Report 2013
December 18, 2013 / FAC blog
AGRA’s proposals are not new in African agriculture debates. In the 1980s the World Bank also sought to ‘modernise’ African agriculture in this way. AGRA and the World Bank share in common the underlying ideology that existing agricultural practices in

To achieve food security, we need to talk about politics and power in the food system
December 11, 2013 / FAC blog
I’ve previously written about the focus on agriculture to meet food and nutrition security and the same argument holds for the agenda at the 2013 AFC conference. However, if we take it as given that there was very little discussion

5 December: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
December 5, 2013 / FAC blog
Japanese civil society call for immediate suspension and review of ProSavana Japanese civil society organisations have written a joint statement calling for the immediate suspension and review of the ProSavana project in Mozambique. “This statement is based on the gravity