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


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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

Investing in land: a commentary on the World Bank report
Investing in land: a commentary on the World Bank report
September 16, 2010 / Our blog
Overall, the report certainly offers a useful compilation of existing data and provides a selective review of other studies. Like other research, the report shows how the global ‘land grab’ is complex, often involving multiple actors, including national governments. It

Hungry for Results: Improving the Governance of the Global Food System to Address Structural Hunger
September 15, 2010 / Our blog
There are two principal reasons for the decline in the total number of hungry people and both have to do with the reversal of two recent crises: the reduction of food prices from their peak levels of 2007-8 and the

Meat and markets: Can a global trade in livestock deliver southern Africa out of poverty?
August 12, 2010 / Our blog
Economic growth and employment Ian Scoones, Professorial Fellow at IDS and Co-Director of the STEPS Centre, explained: ‘The idea seems simple. Africa has significant comparative advantage in a range of important commodities with global demand. The growth of such industries

Why agriculture and food security are central to meeting DFID’s new Structural Reform Plan
August 4, 2010 / Our blog
I want to argue, however, that support for agriculture and food security must be central to the implementation of this new plan and that, across the departmental priorities, a focus on support for agriculture, food systems and rural livelihoods must

Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant: Agricultural Development in the Guinea Savannah
June 30, 2010 / Our blog
The workshop debated the pitfalls and potentials of the ‘Sleeping Giant’ thesis from multiple viewpoints. The lead author of the report, Hans Binswanger, argued that the northeast Thailand pathway was both efficient and desirable, building on the comparative advantages of

A New Manifesto for Innovation, Sustainability and Development
June 16, 2010 / Our blog
The starting point for the Manifesto is the massive disconnect between ever expanding volumes of research and development in science and technology (S&T) and the persistence of poverty, social injustice and environmental damage. How can these resources be made to

A New Manifesto for Innovation, Sustainability and Development
A New Manifesto for Innovation, Sustainability and Development
June 16, 2010 / Our blog
Yesterday the Royal Society hosted the launch of the STEPS Centre Manifesto on Innovation, Sustainability and Development. STEPS is supported by the ESRC and hosted by IDS and by SPRU at the University of Sussex.The Manifesto draws on work that

Politics of the global land grab
June 8, 2010 / Our blog
Conference focus The focus of the conference will be on the politics of global land grabbing and agrarian change. Papers should address some of the most urgent and strategic questions around global land grab, including: What is the nature and

Changing climates, changing lives: the need to focus on processes of change for adaptation
Changing climates, changing lives: the need to focus on processes of change for adaptation
June 4, 2010 / Our blog
The report’s focus is on perceptions of changes among pastoralists and agropastoralists in Borana, Ethiopia and Gao and Mopti, Mali. Perceptions of changes in climate patterns were compared with response patterns and changes in the availability of support to tackle

Steve Wiggins at the High Level Expert Forum on ‘How to Feed the World in 2050’
May 13, 2010 / Our blog
The discussions covered the following questions – Can the world be fed in 2050? Quantitative models suggest it can, even if this will probably mean raising agricultural output by 70% and growing another 1 billion tonnes of grain. Most of

New Site Features
May 10, 2010 / Our blog
Some of the many features include: Our full collection of policy briefs, working papers, occasional papers, etc. A growing list of relevant RSS feeds (e.g. ELDIS, R4D, GFAR, IFPRI, etc.) An events calendar of key African agriculturee-debates A new FAC blog and user comment

Test Links
May 10, 2010 / Our blog
TEST Links:internal to projecttesting subdomain: Future Farmers internal to relative: docman – communications: here internal via wysiwyg editor to blog menu: here internal via wysiwyg editor to countries: here link to html page: A Global Land Grab? link to www.future-agricultures.org

Fellowships for Afrcian scholars
May 6, 2010 / Our blog
Today, FAC is launching a cooperative programme to bolster the upcoming African agriculture researchers. In a partnership with the Collaborative Masters Program in Agricultural and Applied Economics (CMAAE), FAC launches a  three-year capacity building programme that will be available to early

What is CAADP?
March 25, 2010 / Our blog
An outcome of the 2003 Maputo Declaration CAADP is based on two overarching principles: The pursuit of six percent average annual growth in the agricultural sector at national level; and, Allocation of ten percent of national budgets to agriculture. A

What is CAADP?
What is CAADP?
March 25, 2010 / Our blog
The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) is the most ambitious and comprehensive agricultural reform effort ever undertaken in Africa. An initiative of the African Union (AU) and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), it represents a fundamental shift toward

ReSAKKS Conference
ReSAKKS Conference
March 25, 2010 / Our blog
The Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS) Africa-wide conference, Agriculture-led Development for Africa: Exploring New Opportunities and Strategic Alternatives to Inform African Agricultural Development, Planning and Policy took place November 23-24, 2009 at the headquarters of the United

Views: Global Food Crisis
Views: Global Food Crisis
March 9, 2010 / Our blog
In February 2009, FAC researchers spoke out about the causes, the results, and the remedies of the global food crisis. {japopup type=”youtube” content=”http://www.youtube.com/v/s7TsyRH7F8A&hl=en&fs=1″ width=”640″ height=”380″ title=”Amdissa Teshome”}Amdissa Teshome – Country Coordinator for Ethiopia {/japopup} {japopup type=”youtube” content=”http://www.youtube.com/v/AnaAyrEBZ00&hl=en&fs=1″ width=”640″ height=”380″ title=”Andrew

DFID Strengthens Partnership with FAC
February 16, 2010 / Our blog
DFID’s renewal of its partnership for FAC’s work means the Consortium can now: Deepen its agriculture research and policy engagement activities in East and Southern Africa. Reinforce its core research themes of: – Policy Processes – Agricultural Commercialisation – Growth

Can Ethiopia Realise a Better Agriculture in its ‘Third Millennium’? The Role and Dilemma of Farm Prices
January 25, 2010 / Our blog
Farmers have responded positively to Government reforms that include a strong extension and credit-led push for intensification of food staples production through the use of modern seed and fertiliser. Agricultural growth has been impressive over the last decade, especially when

Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture: Beyond the Hype? November 2007
January 25, 2010 / Our blog
The evidence from existing literature on the impacts of low-external-input techniques on poverty reduction is ambiguous. As with many technologies, access to labour, skills and contacts very often favour better resourced households and individuals. The new book ‘Self-sufficient agriculture’ by

Seasonality: four seasons, four solutions?
January 25, 2010 / Our blog
Families with undiversified livelihoods must survive all year long mainly on the crops that they consume as food and sell for income, and a single failed harvest can destitute a poor family with limited savings or assets. Where markets are

To subsidise or not to subsidise? Debating the effectiveness of state subsidies for fertiliser in Malawi.
January 25, 2010 / Our blog
Resources: Working Paper:Lessons Learned from the 2005/06 Malawi Input Subsidy Programmeby Blessings Chinsinga Discussion Paper:Rethinking Agricultural Input Subsidies in Poor Rural Economiesby Andrew Dorward, Peter Hazell and Colin Poulton FAC Briefing: FAC Briefing:The Malawi Fertiliser Subsidy Programme: politics and pragmatism

Fiddling in Rome While the World Burns?
January 25, 2010 / Our blog
When the Chief Executives Board of the United Nations met in Bern, Switzerland, in late April 2008 to assess how the international community could best contribute to combating the global food crisis, they agreed to set up a High Level

The Role of Agriculture in Growth Revisited for Africa
January 25, 2010 / Our blog
This is clearly not the case. Neither the WDR nor any other informed development economists are advocating such an approach. Indeed, the WDR argues that, over a generation, many people will have to move out of agriculture to escape poverty.

Growth Linkages in Agriculture
January 25, 2010 / Our blog
Where has this argument come from and what are its limitations and pitfalls? The argument for agriculture-led growth of course has a long lineage, dating to the classic work of John Mellor and Bruce Johnson at Cornell and Stanford, taken

The Role of Agriculture in Growth Revisited for Africa
January 25, 2010 / Our blog
Read: Opinion piece by Stefan Dercon and Kareen El Beyrouty Comment by Michigan State University Food Security Group

Aid Modalities to Agriculture: The end of the SWAp?
January 25, 2010 / Our blog
SWAps arose in the early to mid-1990s as a response to the perceived failure of existing aid practices and delivery mechanisms. The approach was intended to enhance aid effectiveness and recipient government’s ownership. SWAps developed mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa, in

Transforming Agriculture through Farmer-Centred Innovation
January 25, 2010 / Our blog
Since that time, methodological, institutional and policy experiments have unfolded around the world. Farmer First Revisited returns to the debates about farmer participation in agricultural R&D and looks to the future. With over 60 contributions from across the world, the

Will Formalising Property Rights Reduce Poverty?
January 25, 2010 / Our blog
A new commission – The High Level Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor – sets out, according to its website “to explore how nations can reduce poverty through reforms that expand access to legal protection and opportunities for all”.

Global Assessments and the Politics of Knowledge
January 25, 2010 / Our blog
They are often presented as transparent, objective exercises where the politics of knowledge and debates about the legitimacy, credibility and salience of different points of view are set aside in favour of building a consensus towards scientifically informed policy making.

An African Green Revolution? Some Personal Reflections
January 25, 2010 / Our blog
It is not clear to me, however, that the many different players and promoters in this are agreed on what, in the words of Kofi Annan, a ‘uniquely African green revolution’ involves and what it should achieve. From my observation

In Search of Africa’s Future Farmers
January 12, 2010 / Our blog
Against this backdrop, we also have the largest population ever of young people in the developing world. In all, there are roughly 1.5 billion people aged 12-24 worldwide, 1.3 billion of whom live in developing countries. Sub-Saharan Africa is home

Nairobi hosts food security meeting
December 2, 2009 / Our blog
The lessons and ideas are to be used as an input into country-driven development of the agricultural and rural sector, he said. The five day forum is under the theme The Bottom of the Pyramid: Agricultural Development for the Vulnerable.

Nairobi hosts food security meeting
Nairobi hosts food security meeting
December 2, 2009 / Our blog
By Lucas Barasa*Nairobi, 2nd December 2009 - A major conference to help enhance food security in Africa and share lessons on best practices entered its third day in Nairobi Wednesday.The Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) head Richard Mkandawire who

2009 CAADP Africa Forum
November 30, 2009 / Our blog
The forum opened with addresses from Kenya’s Minister of Agriculture, Hon. William Ruto and Kenya’s Permanent Secretary for agriculture, Hon. Romano Kiome who outlined five priorities for Kenya agriculture, largely focused on improving access and all requiring leadership, efficiency, and

2009 CAADP Africa Forum
2009 CAADP Africa Forum
November 30, 2009 / Our blog
The Bottom of the Pyramid: Agriculture Development for the Vulnerable.On November 30 in Nairobi, more than 160 delegates from across Africa met for the fourth CAADP Africa Forum, organized by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) from 30 November-4

Millennium Villages: Is this at last the solution to African poverty?
April 14, 2008 / Our blog
It sounds great. And the prime advocate of the programme, Jeffrey Sachs, tells a convincing story; sufficiently convincing indeed to have raised approaching US$20m from generous philanthropists, foundations, corporations and governments (notably the Japanese), and encouraged the participation at the