FAC blog

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

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Introducing our new working paper series on China & Brazil in African agriculture
February 25, 2015 / FAC blog
These contrasts come out strikingly when reading across the papers. The cases also highlight the diversity of engagements grouped under ‘development cooperation’ in agriculture. Some focus on state-facilitated commercial investments; others are more akin to ‘aid projects’, but often with

Land, dispossession and the law
February 17, 2015 / FAC blog
More about land and biofuels Our research on Land Green grabbing: a new appropriation of nature? Image: martey (Flickr)  

‘Quadruple Wins’: learning from DFID’s evaluation of the Future Agricultures Consortium, 2008-2013
‘Quadruple Wins’: learning from DFID’s evaluation of the Future Agricultures Consortium, 2008-2013
February 11, 2015 / FAC blog
These concluded that FAC’s ‘unique, researcher-led network’ model and its approach to analysing and understanding the political economy of agricultural policy processes provides a ‘quadruple win’ leading to positive impacts and outcomes through synergies between four key areas: High-quality research

6 February 2015: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
February 6, 2015 / FAC blog
China seeks higher profile for its GM crops in global markets Article in Xinhua news that quotes a vice-director of the central agricultural working group as saying that China should not let GM markets be dominated by other countries. The

Can the UN’s land guidelines help Uganda’s threatened fisherfolk?
Can the UN’s land guidelines help Uganda’s threatened fisherfolk?
January 30, 2015 / FAC blog
The FAO Tenure Guidelines: can they help? The most significant global response to the land rush of the past decade has been the creation of the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of the Tenure of Land, Forests and Fisheries in

30 January 2015: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
January 30, 2015 / FAC blog
Southern Africa Beyond the West Conference The journal of Southern African Studies is hosting its 1st Biennial Conference on ‘Southern Africa Beyond the West’ in August 2015 in Livingstone, Zambia. The conference aims to look at the ‘Political, Economic and

How pastoralists innovate: stories from the highlands of China
How pastoralists innovate: stories from the highlands of China
January 10, 2015 / FAC blog
2. What alternative models are there among pastoralists in these provinces? From our fieldwork, an alternative model that we’ve observed is the tradable grazing right system, which we termed the hybrid institutional system. The hybrid system considers both market-based and

8 January 2015: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
January 8, 2015 / FAC blog
What happened to ProSavana? The trilateral agricultural development project between Brazil, Japan and Mozambique has faced a number of setbacks since its inception. This article is a personal reflection by Timothy Wise regarding the stage at which he has found

18 December 2014: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
December 18, 2014 / FAC blog
Review and next steps for Rwanda’s ATDC A meeting was convened last week to review the last 3 years of the Chinese Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre (ATDC) in Rwanda, and to discuss what happens next with the project. The Rwandan

26 November 2014: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
November 26, 2014 / FAC blog
New FAO Credit Line for Mozambican farmers The FAO is said to have opened a new line of credit to reduce pockets of hunger in 36 districts of Maputo, Beira and Nacal with loans becoming available in the first quarter

Challenging misconceptions: Inclusive agricultural economies already exist in Africa
November 19, 2014 / FAC blog
Wegerif went on to highlight how easily this economic activity could be enhanced if the Tanzanian government simply invested in building bicycle paths in and around the city. He told similar stories for milk (45,000 litres of milk delivered daily

19 November 2014: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
November 19, 2014 / FAC blog
ABC interview key figures on South-South cooperation The Agência Brasileira de Cooperação (ABC) has published a series of interviews with people related to its South-South cooperation programmes. Relevant to African cooperation projects, this has included an interview with the Director

7 ways to work for better land rights
November 14, 2014 / FAC blog
Recognise and strengthen customary rights, starting with statutory recognition Most of Africa’s land is held under customary land rights, and many of these property regimes are robust and have local legitimacy. Conventional land administration systems often fail in Africa, as

Does land titling work?
November 14, 2014 / FAC blog
Only 20 studies over the past 30 years met the strict inclusion criteria. Very few studies disaggregated positive effects on women, a clear gap in the available research on tenure reforms. The results showed strong regional variations in the outcomes

Tackling land questions: Searching for systematic solutions amid a web of politics
November 13, 2014 / FAC blog
Amid these tensions, the inaugural Conference on Land Policy in Africa started on Tuesday 11 November 2014 at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa. Contradictions abound: UN and World Bank aficionados praising the technical solutions many African countries are

Land policy for the next decade: Taking stock and moving forward
November 12, 2014 / FAC blog
Her Excellency further observed that, in Africa, about 60% of the population derives its livelihood and incomes from farming, yet Africa’s agriculture is yet to match the needs of its growing population. The Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) is

12 November 2014: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
November 12, 2014 / FAC blog
Brazil resumes swine exports to South Africa Swine exports from Brazil to South Africa have resumed after a 9 year ban. The block was originally imposed by Brazil after a spate of foot and mouth disease in Brazil, and its

7 November 2014: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
November 7, 2014 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / 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