FAC blog

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


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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

26 November: China and Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
November 26, 2013 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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 / FAC 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

The Pan African Land Hearings could be a model for future dialogue
September 2, 2013 / FAC blog
The location of the hearings in Southern Africa was sobering, said Oxfam’s Marc Wegerif, as 2013 marks the Centenary of the 1913 Land Act. The outcomes of that process are still to be addressed: inequitable land distribution where the communities are

1 September: China and Brazil in African agriculture: news roundup
September 1, 2013 / FAC blog
China-Australia scientific research project on African sorghum A joint Australian and Chinese research project on African sorghum has found it to have a large amount of genetic variation that could support future work on developing drought adaption mechanisms. This research

Trois raisons de repenser la jeunesse, l’agriculture et le développement au Sénégal
Trois raisons de repenser la jeunesse, l’agriculture et le développement au Sénégal
August 28, 2013 / FAC blog
A la fin de la première semaine du mois d’août, le PNUD décidait d’allouer 15 milliards de francs CFA au Sénégal dans le cadre de trois programmes : santé maternelle et infantile, violences basées sur le genre et emploi des jeunes

Three reasons why Senegal needs to rethink youth, farming and development
Three reasons why Senegal needs to rethink youth, farming and development
August 28, 2013 / FAC blog
At the end of the first week of August, the UNDP decided to allocate CFA 15 billion francs to Senegal under three programmes: maternal and child health, gender-based violenceand youth employment integrating the migration variable. On Saturday August 12, the

Our IDS Bulletin on China & Brazil in African agriculture quoted in The Guardian
August 27, 2013 / FAC blog
The Guardian quotes our recent IDS Bulletin in an article on China and Brazil in African agriculture, alongside remarks made by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. In an article published 27 August 2013, Mark Tran writes: “China and Brazil

20 August: China and Brazil in African Agriculture: news roundup
August 20, 2013 / FAC blog
ProSavana meeting highlights policy objective differences On 8 August, civil society groups and senior politicians met to discuss the ProSavana project. The National Director of Economy in Mozambique’s Ministry of Agriculture gave a speech contradicting ProSavana’s master plan, leaked several

African women speak out on land grabs (Pan African Land Hearings day 2)
August 19, 2013 / FAC blog
The event builds on the academic conferences hosted by the Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI): Global Land Grabbing, which took place in April 2011 at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, UK, and Global Land Grabbing

Invest in African farmers, don’t take their land (Pan African Land Hearings day 1)
August 14, 2013 / FAC blog
The majority of land in Africa is not titled, yet this does not mean it is not the property of the people who hold it. Lamine said, “We want to see consultation with communities, fairness and equity” whenever there are

Can ‘value chains’ and ‘innovation platforms’ boost African agriculture? 11 reasons to be sceptical
August 7, 2013 / FAC blog
What are innovation platforms? In practice, value chain approaches often include the creation of ‘multi-stakeholder platforms’ (also called Inter-Professional Bodies). The idea is that these platforms re-group the various actors in a particular value chain (i.e. everyone from producers through

6 August: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
August 6, 2013 / FAC blog
Brazil & Ghana work together on cowpea yields SciDev.Net also carries an article looking at a Brazil-Ghana joint-research project focused on boosting cowpea yields.(SciDev.Net) Bamboo charcoal technology introduced to Ghana The International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) is promoting

For food security to work, women and men in Africa need more open and flexible policies, not stereotypes
August 2, 2013 / FAC blog
At the same time, there have been parallel – if not conflicting – calls for women to engage in ‘new’, often regional and even global markets, or at least to commercialise their farm production. But longstanding, well-documented concerns about women’s

1 August: China and Brazil in African agriculture – news roundup
August 1, 2013 / FAC blog
Comparing Chinese aid with Western aid Li Xiaoyun has had an article published in the China Daily’s African edition looking at the differences and complementarities between Chinese and Western aid (attached). On the same page is an article by Zhang

How China and Brazil are engaging in African agriculture deserves a closer look
How China and Brazil are engaging in African agriculture deserves a closer look
July 15, 2013 / FAC blog
Much recent work on ‘the BRICS in Africa’ has emphasised the geopolitical scale, as these new players engage in areas dominated in the past by western donors and companies. However, as the IDS Bulletin shows, the countries grouped together under

5 July: China and Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
July 5, 2013 / FAC blog
Lessons for ProSavana from Mozfoods This FT article looking at ProSavana’s challenges draws on a UK-based company’s experiences in Mozambique to highlight the challenges faced in turning a profit on agricultural developments in the region. The article concludes that finding

Five new articles on the problems of counting and reporting land grabs
July 5, 2013 / FAC blog
This ‘land rush’ has been accompanied by a ‘literature rush’, with a fast-growing body of reports, articles, tables and books with varied purposes, metrics and methods. Land grabbing remains a hot political topic around the world, discussed amongst the highest

Rural young people, agriculture and work in Africa: new thinking about an old problem
July 5, 2013 / FAC blog
Four types of work The basic idea is that work opportunities can be seen to fall into four categories: Protective work, such as food-for-work and labour intensive public works schemes, provides relief from the immediate effects of deprivation. These opportunities

26 June: China and Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup
June 26, 2013 / FAC blog
Donor conditions on Mozambique and Chinese logging The 19 donors and funding agencies who provide direct financial support to the Mozambique state budget have pledged around $580 mil for 2014, but have warned they want to see progress in corruption

Exposing the political journey of climate change evidence from Exeter to Africa
June 24, 2013 / FAC blog
It was a fascinating process, not just because of the mystery of the sophisticated computer programmes through which vast data sets gradually became simple pictures of the future world, but also because of the way that understandings and meanings became

Is the G8 writing politics out of hunger?
June 14, 2013 / FAC blog
In a blog for the Guardian, Raj Patel argues that the G8’s vision for tackling hunger is ignoring the politics of malnutrition – and that the link between hunger and poverty is being written out of public statements. “One of