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


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Global land governance: an idea whose time has come?
October 14, 2012 / Our blog
Although these governance processes seem very distant from the local, we know from experience in other fields such as human rights, labour, international trade and environmental standards that transnational and global governance can have a major influence on developments on

How pastoralists get a bad press
October 11, 2012 / Our blog
As Mike explains, simple narratives can help policy-makers make sense of a complex situation, but they can go badly wrong when applied to people ‘at the margins’. The second blog post focuses on the media in Kenya, where pastoralism is

IFPRI: Seminar on ‘Strategies & Priorities for African Agriculture’, 3 October
September 28, 2012 / Our blog
Speakers: Karen Brooks, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (CRP 2), IFPRI. Xinshen Diao, Deputy Director, Development Strategy and Governance Division, IFPRI. Jeff Hill, Bureau for Food Security, US Agency for International Development. Chaired by Ousmane Badiane,

Supply or demand: what ‘drives’ modern agricultural revolutions?
Supply or demand: what ‘drives’ modern agricultural revolutions?
September 26, 2012 / Our blog
This distinction between a supply (Green) and a demand (Livestock) driven agricultural revolution has often been repeated. It’s now inextricably linked to debates and discourse around the Livestock Revolution. However, to say that the Green Revolution was ‘supply driven’ is

“To Di World” – an Olympic effort to tackle hunger?
August 10, 2012 / Our blog
“The challenge is to avoid the fight against malnutrition being a compelling but periodic curiosity (think the Olympic cycling keirin event). The fight will be unglamorous, constant, and difficult – more like the training for the Olympics than the Games

Rio+20: Women’s rights in reverse gear
August 8, 2012 / Our blog
The sustainable development challenges we are facing, such as food and nutrition insecurity, climate change, and social inequalities, are all interlinked. They are problems of complexity and of equity – between countries, generations, social groups, between those with power and

Measuring aid to agriculture and food security
August 8, 2012 / Our blog
There is a prevailing view that aid to agriculture has suffered a steep decline since the 1980s and is only now beginning to recover its share of total aid, following concerns over food price rises and volatility. While this is

Green agriculture: not just for Africa
June 20, 2012 / Our blog
Historically, changes in agricultural practices to meet rising demand include a shift to industrial production and the ‘Green Revolution’ of the 1960s. However, the reliance on large-scale monoculture dependent on mechanisation, irrigation and inputs like fertilisers and pesticides has had

Green agriculture: interests, politics and narratives at Rio+20
June 20, 2012 / Our blog
The FAO’s 2011 State of the World food security report shows that since 2006, the world has witnessed an increase in food insecurity. According to the report, one billion people worldwide – mainly Africans – are food-insecure.  This worrying state

Brazil, China and Africa: options for adaptive cooperation in agriculture
May 31, 2012 / Our blog
Experiences from China and Brazil are also to be shared more with African countries as an alternative to standard bilateral cooperation. For example, following the success of its own food purchasing programme, Brazil will provide 2.37 million dollars for a

What would it take to make Brazil-Africa cooperation work?
May 31, 2012 / Our blog
There is no doubt that Africa’s agriculture requires immediate transformation, and on the basis of tested and proven technologies, expertise and experiences; but I doubt very much whether, in the light of some of the concerns raised at the conference,

Brazilian provision of cooperation in agriculture: politics and paths
May 24, 2012 / Our blog
Brazilian success stories are being told at the onset of post-neoliberalism, post-Iraq invasion and the Chinese protagonism in international development cooperation, thus in a setting marked by traditional donors’ search for reconstructing the legitimacy of the cooperation they provide. This

Should traditional donors be interfering in South-South cooperation?
May 24, 2012 / Our blog
South-South cooperation is now establishing itself as an accepted tool in the development box.  And, we will need every tool in the box – including new kinds of partnerships – if we are collectively to tackle tough global development challenges

After the honeymoon: what would a happy marriage between Brazil and Africa look like?
May 23, 2012 / Our blog
The myth of success. The narrative about Brazil’s agricultural success is widespread, particularly beyond borders. In less than 30 years the country has moved from being a net food importer to a net food exporter. Brazil is also the world’s

A new alliance for food security, or a two-track Africa?
May 21, 2012 / Our blog
Although overshadowed by the financial and political crisis in Europe in the international press, it is important that agriculture and food security is once again at the top of the international agenda. Galvanising the private sector for development of the

Measuring women’s empowerment: A retrograde step?
April 27, 2012 / Our blog
The FAC gender approach (see the discussion paper Gender and Other Social Differences: Implications for FAC?) argues that gender relations are dynamic. Women and men, as spouses, parents, siblings etc, seek both to maintain and change these roles to meet

Actions and gaps: The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change final report
April 18, 2012 / Our blog
Prof Bruce Campbell, CCAFS program director, opened the launch with an introduction to the report, which aims to synthesise 16 reports that have been produced over the past 3 years. Four report commissioners were also present to introduce the report

The Future of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP): A Political Economy Inquiry
April 11, 2012 / Our blog
The meeting brought together over 100 participants from Non Governmental Organisations, government agencies and donor community. The main purpose was to chart out the possible future of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) from a political economy perspective, drawing from

Engaging young people in agriculture
April 6, 2012 / Our blog
If we clarify this from the outset we may have better strategies for engaging with them.  Some examples or strategies of positive engagement from the presentations at the Young People, Farming and Food conference were: Building on viable groups based

What kinds of agricultural research will deliver the (public) goods?
April 5, 2012 / Our blog
The argument is usually made in terms of market failure: left to the market, we can expect to see less than optimal investment in crop research, and particularly in relation to the food crops on which smallholder farmers depend. From

Aspirations and race relations: young people and livelihoods
April 5, 2012 / Our blog
Getnet Tadele presented perceptions of farming as a livelihood in Ethiopia where the government in various policies is emphasizing the need to cultivate a new generation of literate farmers. Christine Okali presented a case study of livelihood building in rural

What turns rural young people into migrant workers?
April 5, 2012 / Our blog
Is poverty the main driver for youth to decide to migrate? In general, lack of investments, to improve decent work prospects for young people in rural areas, often results in lower living standards and the consequent de-population of rural areas.

Education for young people, farming and food: a mismatch?
April 5, 2012 / Our blog
Even though it can be a way to empower people, education has also been framed as preparing young people for the wrong employers, leading to educated unemployed young people engaged in ‘time-pass’ – waiting, often for long periods, for opportunities

Youth, tea and appropriate jobs: aspirations in agriculture
March 21, 2012 / Our blog
The big messages coming out of the research that seemed to particularly hit home include: 1.    Young people’s aspirations towards the agri-food sector are as varied as young people themselves. It was clear from the papers and the ensuing discussion

Young People, Farming & Food: Do young men and women want to work within agricultural food chains?
March 21, 2012 / Our blog
As in the first livelihood session on day 1, we were provided with some exciting signs of ongoing processes of change within the agri-food sector in which young men and women had been able to identify with, and respond to,

The need to change young people’s attitudes towards agriculture
March 20, 2012 / Our blog
Speaking in the same session, Professor Ramatu Al-Hassan, of the department of agribusiness and agriculture economics at the University of Ghana, said: “it’s important to support young people to take advantage of agricultural opportunities in Africa.” That will involve breaking

Urban Myths and Rural Futures for Africa’s Young People
February 24, 2012 / Our blog
This view is reinforced by the frequently heard assertion that urbanisation levels are rising faster in sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else in the world, as migrants, including many young people, move in large numbers from rural to urban areas. But

Young people and agrifood in Africa: is it time for some good old fashioned planning?
February 24, 2012 / Our blog
What’s important in both those examples is that they start with an analysis of the types of skills that will be needed in the future, and the likely demand for these skills. Just as important is the ability to identify

2012 Call for Proposals: Grant Awards for Global Environmental Change Research in Africa
February 24, 2012 / Our blog
The theme for the 2011 GEC projects is climate change, agriculture and food security with an emphasis on the sustainability of ecosystem services. The 16 selected projects address issues related to climate change and its linkages with agriculture and food

Food price volatility – debating causes and consequences
February 17, 2012 / Our blog
The issue provokes heated debate. Some argue that speculators have affected both the level and volatility of prices, with major development consequences. Opponents argue the exact opposite: ‘speculators’ bring liquidity to markets, lower farmers’ hedging costs and reduce volatility, and

New book: Contested Agronomy, by Jim Sumberg and John Thompson
February 13, 2012 / Our blog
Contested Agronomy explores, through a series of case studies, the basis for a much needed ‘political agronomy’ analysis that highlights the impacts of problem framing and narratives, historical disjunctures, epistemic communities and the increasing pressure to demonstrate ‘success’ on both

Can trading in tree gum & resin save drought-hit northern Kenya?
February 10, 2012 / Our blog
The collection of gums and resins for commercial and domestic use is a centuries-old practice in the Horn of Africa, and in northern Kenya in particular. The importance of this activity takes precedence during the drought period when the income

African Union Research Grants: 2012 Open Call for Proposals
February 10, 2012 / Our blog
The full Guidelines for Applicants, Application form and other supporting documents are available for downloading from the following Internet Sites: http://www.africahrst.org/stict/rgp http://www.au.int/researchgrant http://webgate.ec.europa.eu/europeaid/online-services/index.cfm?do=publi.welcome The deadline for submission of proposals is April 20, 2012 at 1700 hours (+3 GMT) Addis Ababa

Climate Smart Agriculture: The new Holy Grail of agricultural development?
Climate Smart Agriculture: The new Holy Grail of agricultural development?
December 5, 2011 / Our blog
Agriculture is high on the political agenda at COP-17 in Durban. Many would argue that this is as it should be: agriculture will be key to any strategy to adapt to climate change, particularly in an African context, and the

Young people and agriculture in Africa: where is the evidence?
October 24, 2011 / Our blog
During the last decade the language of evidence-based policy began to permeate the world of African agricultural policy. At its best the evidence-based policy movement encourages us to think critically about the nature of evidence and the ‘evidence base(s)’, and

African Union High Level Policy Forum on Foreign Direct Investments
October 17, 2011 / Our blog
Land is the basic livelihood resource for a growing number of increasingly poor proportions of Africa’s population. The resource provides the livelihood base, identity and is a contentious socio-political asset. Lately the land resource in Africa has come under increasing

A New Leader & New Beginning for the FAO?
June 29, 2011 / Our blog
Graziano da Silva, 61, the former Brazilian Minister of Food Security, will replace Jacques Diouf, who has served as the head of the biggest UN agency for 18 years, in January 2012. Graziano received 92 votes against 88 for Spain’s

A Missed Opportunity: The G20 Action Plan on Food Price Volatility and Agriculture
June 28, 2011 / Our blog
The 24-page communiqué, called the ‘Action Plan on Food Price Volatility and Agriculture’, was published following the first ever meeting of the G20 agriculture ministers, held in Paris on 22-23 June 2011, after France made global food security and commodities

Reframing the ‘young people – agriculture nexus’
April 19, 2011 / Our blog
A number of framing assumptions can be identified including: Agriculture has the potential to provide young people and others in rural areas with a reasonable livelihood and opportunities for accumulation. Young people, the agricultural sector, the rural economy and rural

New Directions for Smallholder Agriculture
February 3, 2011 / Our blog
So what were the main issues discussed? Here are six that caught my attention: This was, in many respects, building on the main ideas of the World Development Report 2008 http://econ.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTDEC/EXTRESEARCH/EXTWDRS/EXTWDR2008/0,,menuPK:2795178~pagePK:64167702~piPK:64167676~theSitePK:2795143,00.html]. Yes, agricultural development matters, in many cases small-scale farmers

Agribusiness, FAC and young people
January 4, 2011 / Our blog
There is of course another view. Those who see technology, inputs and engagement with new markets as critical for the enhancement of agricultural productivity in SSA tend to look differently upon the potential contribution of agribusiness. Indeed, from their perspective,

Ouagadougou colloquium closes
December 8, 2010 / Our blog
FAC’s Jim Sumberg presented research on Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programs and their link with social protection measures. This research is available in FAC Working Paper. FAC was also part of a colloquium delegation invited to meet with the

What agriculture? Two hundred agriculture researchers search for an answer
December 8, 2010 / Our blog
Much of the research is presently underway by institutions that are investing in important agriculture issues like increased production and market liberalisation, climate change adaptation, local food consumption, the continent’s important and growing middle class, agricultural technologies  and the role

Biosafety regulation in Kenya
Biosafety regulation in Kenya
November 17, 2010 / Our blog
Background to the workshop Debates about transgenic crops have become highly polarised across the globe. In the process, civil society organisations and social movements have played an important role, alongside governmental and ‘expert’ science institutions, in debates about agricultural biotechnology.

EU Cooperation for Agricultural Development in Africa is Vital to Millions of People: Insights from the Launch of the Montpellier Panel Report.
October 28, 2010 / Our blog
In SSA the average annual growth in agriculture has been over 3% for the period 2000-2008. Despite this momentum, hunger and poverty are still a great problem, with more than 200 million Africans chronically malnourished. The need for international cooperation

Is Agriculture the Key to Development?
Is Agriculture the Key to Development?
October 27, 2010 / Our blog
There is much truth in these arguments. Poverty and lack of entitlements are the fundamental causes of hunger, and we would do well to remember that. Rural poverty is more widespread and deeper than urban poverty, and exits from farming

Is Agriculture the Key to Development?
Is Agriculture the Key to Development?
October 27, 2010 / Our blog
There is much truth in these arguments. Poverty and lack of entitlements are the fundamental causes of hunger, and we would do well to remember that. Rural poverty is more widespread and deeper than urban poverty, and exits from farming

2010 ECFP recipients
October 18, 2010 / Our blog
  Leocardia Nabwire Uganda   Conrad Murendo Zimbabwe   Yasin Salah Kenya   Maru Bekele Ethiopia   Nancy Laibuni Kenya   Delight Moyo Zimbabwe   Jimah Kipo Ghana   Clare Delpeuch France   Opportuna Kweka Tanzania

Will wheat prices spike again?
October 4, 2010 / Our blog
The grain trade reacted strongly: spot prices are up by US$50 a tonne in a month, and by US$70 a tonne for some export wheats. These increases are the fastest seen since, says the FT, 1973. That year saw the