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


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Agricultural investments: Giving back power to the people
March 5, 2014 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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 / Our 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

26 November: China and Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
November 26, 2013 / Our blog
China grants new loan for Zimbabwean power station China’s EXIM Bank has given Zimbabwe $319 million to fund the expansion of Kariba hydropower station from 150MW to 1050MW. This infrastructural support is predicted to have a positive impact on the

South-South Co-operation debate in Brasilia, 26 November 2013
November 25, 2013 / Our blog
Lídia Cabral, researcher on our project about China and Brazil in African Agriculture will be involved in a debate on South-South Co-operation on 26 November. The debate takes place from 9am to 12pm in Brasilia and is organised by Embrapa.

Transparency and governance in the land sector: two sides of the same coin?
November 22, 2013 / Our blog
Transparency served as an immediate umbrella to bring together different initiatives in a very short time in the run-up to the G8 summit 2013 but seems to have been a launch pad rather than the end point. Similarly, the Open

Making Agricultural Investment Work for Africa: parliamentarians from Central Africa respond to the ‘land rush’
Making Agricultural Investment Work for Africa: parliamentarians from Central Africa respond to the ‘land rush’
November 20, 2013 / Our blog
The meeting in Malabo was the third in a series of regional meetings of parliamentarians (previous meetings were held in Cotonou last October, and Kigali in April). The next regional meeting is planned for Johannesburg in 2014. The impetus behind

African agriculture is under pressure from the global politics of climate change
November 18, 2013 / Our blog
The politics of climate change and agriculture Considerable politics revolves around negotiating Parties, organizations’ and sectoral interests as played out in past debates under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and national debates. These debates have, however,

18 November: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
November 18, 2013 / Our blog
Ghana’s president looks forward to Brazil loan Brazil’s loan of $1 billion to Ghana is set to arrive soon, according to President John Dramani Mahama. The loan will be used for a number of projects, including agriculture, energy and infrastructure.

Retail revolutions: the rise and rise of butcheries and informal food selling in Zimbabwe
November 15, 2013 / Our blog
Certainly the growth of butcheries has continued, despite challenges. In a survey in 2006-07 we counted 31 butcheries in Masvingo town (20 in Mucheke township alone) and 9 in Ngundu. All businesses suffered badly at the peak of the economic

Three new ideas to help agriculture take centre stage in climate change negotiations
November 15, 2013 / Our blog
Climate change, above all increased climate variability, threatens the economies of the poorest countries and the livelihoods (and indeed the lives themselves) of the poorest people. Agriculture is the mainstay of most of the world’s poorest, and is both a

Climate compatible development: the politics of ‘triple wins’ and trade-offs
Climate compatible development: the politics of ‘triple wins’ and trade-offs
November 13, 2013 / Our blog
Can adaptation, mitigation and development work together? The idea that climate funding should support multiple climate and development goals has taken root over the last few years. The increasing popularity of terms such as ‘climate compatible development’, ‘climate smart agriculture’,

Beef value chains in Masvingo Province, Zimbabwe
November 6, 2013 / Our blog
Case 1: Mr OM has an A2 farm north of Masvingo of around 250 ha. He runs around 60 cattle there, which are regularly slaughtered. He also milks the cows and sells soured milk locally, and even has plans for

30 October: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
October 30, 2013 / Our blog
MST Speaks out against ProSavana in Maputo MST spokesman, Augusto Juncal, was invited to speak as guest of honour at the Second International Small-scale Farmers Conference on Land in Maputo last week. He warned people “open your eyes, you’ll lose

Influencing CAADP on food and nutrition security
Influencing CAADP on food and nutrition security
October 23, 2013 / Our blog
FOODSECURE is an EU-based research program to explore the future of global food and nutrition security (FNS). It aims to have an impact by strengthening the knowledge base to support EU policy makers and other stakeholders in the design of

“Land belongs to God”: stories from Southern Africa
“Land belongs to God”: stories from Southern Africa
October 23, 2013 / Our blog
The purpose of the Summit, held in Durban on 16-18 October, was to develop an inter-denominational common understanding of the challenges of land grabbing and landlessness, while developing a joint regional platform among churches to work with civil society to

22 October: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
October 22, 2013 / Our blog
China and India’s rising food prices affect world markets Food has become the main driver of inflation in both countries, with inflation expected to increase further this year in China. Data drawn from China’s CPI index showed that the pickup

A new way of bringing ‘farms’ and ‘systems’ together
October 21, 2013 / Our blog
The words ‘farm’ (or ‘farming’) and ‘system’ are used in many combinations, but three of the most common are: a ‘farm system’: referring to the conceptualisation of an individual farm as a system, a set of inter-related, interacting components or

Women and climate change: another special relationship?
October 21, 2013 / Our blog
It is commonly argued that women undertake the bulk of the work in agriculture, fisheries and livestock keeping, and as a consequence are particularly knowledgeable about the natural resource base. This is the basis of the idea that African rural

Do property rights protect the poor?
October 21, 2013 / Our blog
These messages are punchy and well articulated. Reading it from the perspective of the China and Brazil in African Agriculture research project I’m currently working on, it was also interesting to get a sense of where most of these land

18 October: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
October 18, 2013 / Our blog
Japanese NGOs call for review of ProSavana Five Japanese NGOs have called for a suspension of ProSavana and review of the project during a press conference in Tokyo. Their appeal was made following a field visit to Mozambique and involved

Agricultural commercialisation: who wins and who loses?
Agricultural commercialisation: who wins and who loses?
October 16, 2013 / Our blog
Models of commercialisation The LACA project explores the implications of three models of commercialisation in three case study sites in each country. The first year of the project has involved qualitative research in all 9 study sites. While these models

Old powers and new powers: agriculture and investment in Africa
October 14, 2013 / Our blog
Our panel was on food and agriculture, and included the inevitable discussion about ‘land grabs’, large and small farm models, and how investment in Africa could be increased, but also guided and regulated. The panel included two investors in farm

Ghana’s beautiful fruit and its commercialising mango farmers
Ghana’s beautiful fruit and its commercialising mango farmers
October 8, 2013 / Our blog
This is one of the larger commercial mango farms in the area. While mangoes have always been among the traditional crops of the area, ‘the introduction of new varieties of mangoes was in 1996 by ARDA (the US-based Adventist Development

Across Africa: how Future Agricultures works together on Land and CAADP
Across Africa: how Future Agricultures works together on Land and CAADP
October 4, 2013 / Our blog
Supporting CAADP Future Agricultures CAADP coordinator Sam Asuming-Brempong (left), Regional hub coordinator for Southern Africa, Ruth Hall (centre), and Regional hub coordinator for West Africa, George Kwadzo (right) On the agenda for the meeting was taking stock of the research

2 October: China and Brazil in African agriculture: news roundup
October 2, 2013 / Our blog
Guinea Bissau to receive Chinese investment in cotton farming A delegation of Chinese entrepreneurs and investors from Liaoning Province have visited Guinea Bissau’s eastern Bafata region with a view to revive cotton farming in the region. The region previously grew

Climate change in Kenya: narratives and dilemmas
September 27, 2013 / Our blog
Kenya has been ahead of many other countries in developing a national climate change strategy, and agriculture is one of the key critical sectors of interest. The National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS) dates from 2010, and the National Climate

25 September: China and Brazil in African Agriculture: news roundup
September 25, 2013 / Our blog
Pan-African Land Grab Conference The first ever pan-African land grab hearing of its kind took place Johannesburg last month, co-hosted by Future Agricultures. Panellists discussed their experiences from all over the continent, discussing issues of policy failure, transparency and gender

17 September: China and Brazil in African agriculture: news roundup
September 17, 2013 / Our blog
ProSavana launches website The ProSavana agricultural project in Mozambique has set up a website. Its aim is to be regularly updated with news and information regarding the project, presumably as part of an effort to counter criticisms of transparency. It

Technology for African agriculture: more than just a text message
September 16, 2013 / Our blog
In fact, the take-over of the technology agenda by the cell phone and SMS promoters was so complete that we were asked to believe that the ‘know how’ and ‘how to’ of African agriculture could be reduced to a series

Africa needs to feed herself first, then the world
September 6, 2013 / Our blog
The symposium consisted of five topics – Ideology, Technology, the African Farmer, Gender and Youth – with a speaker and respondents for each theme. From the outset, it became apparent that speakers, respondents and the audience were agreed on the

Has a ‘policy space’ for pastoralism been opened up in Kenya?
September 5, 2013 / Our blog
You can watch the authors explaining the story in this seminar at the Institute of Development Studies in May 2013: Formed in April 2008, the Ministry picked up on a growing recognition that the region’s economic potential had been overlooked.

4 September: China and Brazil in African agriculture: news roundup
September 4, 2013 / Our blog
111 Ghanaian students awarded scholarships to China 111 Ghanaian students have been awarded scholarships to study in China this year; twice as many as last year. According to the embassy, 549 Ghanaian students have been awarded with Chinese government scholarships