APRA Working Paper 71: The Drivers of Medium-Scale Farms and the Emerging Synergies and Contradictions Among Socially-Differentiated Farmers in Northern GhanaOctober 12, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by: Joseph Yaro, Ibrahim Wahab, Gloria Afful-Mensah and Michael Ben Awenam
Since the turn of the century, agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa has been undergoing rapid transformation. Ghana is experiencing an agrarian revolution with increasing farmland sizes, increased mechanisation of production and external input usage, and high levels of commercialisation. In this paper we show the growth of farm sizes, the major drivers of increasing farm sizes, and emerging relations between different scales of farmers. The paper discusses the synergies and contradictions emerging from the processes of agricultural commercialisation in the context of rising farmland sizes and the implications for different social groups.
APRA Working Paper 70: The Rise of Medium-Scale Farms in the Northern Savannah of Ghana: Farmland Invasion or an Inclusive Commercialised Agricultural Revolution?October 12, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by: Joseph Yaro, Ibrahim Wahab, Gloria Afful-Mensah and Michael Ben Awenam
Agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa is undergoing rapid transformation involving major changes in farmland ownership and farm scales from small to medium farms, with the widespread use of mechanisation and agro-inputs. Generally, households are increasing their farm sizes while others are dropping out of agriculture as the non-farm economy grows in both rural and urban areas. This study examined the changes in farmland sizes in two districts in the north of Ghana where agricultural extensification is still possible. Specifically, the study addressed the questions of the historical agrarian context; the magnitude and character of farm structure changes; the emerging spatial manifestation of farms; and the use of factors of production among the emerging socially differentiated farmers.
APRA Working Paper 69: Politics, Power and Social Differentiation in African Agricultural Value Chains: The Effects of COVID-19October 4, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by: Imogen Bellwood-Howard and Helen Dancer
Since the structural adjustment policies of the 1980s, policymaking at a national and continental level has increasingly turned to agricultural commercialisation as the foundation for Africa’s long-term nutrition and food security. However, socio-economic inequalities, land tenure and food insecurity, as well as livelihood and income precarities remain widespread challenges. The effects of shocks, such as COVID-19, have overlaid emergent and entrenched patterns of social differentiation that shape access to resources, markets, and other opportunities for those involved in commercial agriculture. This paper considered the impacts of COVID-19 on value chains in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, to ask: 1) What can political settlements analyses tell us about agricultural value chains and responses to COVID-19 in the countries studied? 2) How are structures and power relations throughout the value chains and actors’ responses to COVID-19 related to social differentiation in the context of African agriculture?
APRA Working Paper 68: Explaining the Weakness of Associational Life in Oil Palm Growing Communities in Southwestern GhanaOctober 4, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by: Dorothy Takyiakwaa, Prince Selorm Kodzo Tetteh and Kofi Takyi Asante
As the second most important industrial crop in Ghana, oil palm holds the potential of improving farmers’ livelihoods and alleviating rural poverty. For smallholder farmers, collective action through farmer-based organisations (FBOs) could provide a pathway to inclusive participation in agricultural commercialisation. There is ample evidence in the literature that collective action can help smallholders gain access to credit, improved inputs, or even networks of social support. Thus, collective action is widely recognised as a viable pathway out of poverty for the agrarian poor. However, our findings show that FBOs were either weak or non-existent. Indeed, we find that economic relations between farmers tend to be more individualised than one would expect to find in rural communities. This paper presents these findings, and explores why this is the case.
APRA Working Paper 67: Sunflower Commercialisation in Singida Region: Pathways for Livelihood ImprovementOctober 4, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by: Aida Isinika, John Jeckoniah, Ntengua Mdoe and Kizito Mwajombe
Sunflower commercialisation in Singida Region, Tanzania has been successful. The successes include increased oilseed production, expanding processing capacity and declining rural poverty. Policies and efforts by development agents to promote sunflower commercialisation have increased the number of actors and service providers. Accumulation from sunflower and other enterprises, including livestock, have not only improved livelihoods, but also contributed to household economic diversity. This paper examines the interactions between activities involved in sunflower production and other livelihood strategies. For example, the paper examines local dynamics in policy and business contexts that have shaped livelihood options available and people’s choices of which option they undertake, and the corresponding outcomes, and reasons for such commercialisation trajectories. The study aims to inform local, regional, and national strategies, to pursue more inclusive and sustainable agriculture development, and widen options and pathways for men and women in Mkalama and Iramba districts of Singida Region.
APRA Working Paper 66: Yield and Commercialisation Effects of SRI Interventions in Mngeta, Kilombero District, TanzaniaSeptember 21, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by: Devotha B. Mosha, Gilead Mlay, Colin Poulton and Amrita Saha
This paper discusses System of Rice Intensification (SRI) interventions and its potential effects on paddy yield and commercialisation in Mngeta division, Kilombero district in Morogoro region, Tanzania. SRI is an innovative agroecological methodology that aims to improve yields and farmers’ profits by creating the most suitable environment for the rice plant to grow. It comprises the precise set of cultivation practices specifically required for careful management of biophysical needs of the rice plant for producing high yields. To assess the effects, we compare between trained and non-trained farmers, as well as between farmers who are members of SRI associations and non-SRI members, on aspects of adoption of SRI interventions, paddy productivity and yields. In turn, the effects of SRI is evaluated in terms of its influence on rice yield per hectare and commercialisation at household level.
APRA Working Paper 65: Livestock, Crop Commercialisation and Poverty Reduction Among Rural Households in the Singida Region, TanzaniaSeptember 21, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by: Ntengua Mdoe, Gilead Mlay, Gideon Boniface, Aida Isinika and Christopher Magomba
Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in the Singida Region in Tanzania, directly or indirectly contributing to household income, food security and poverty reduction among rural people in the region. This paper examined the effect of livestock on crop commercialisation and farmers’ livelihoods in the region. The complementarity between crops and livestock in the farming systems of Singida needs to be recognised, enhanced and utilised not only by farmers and livestock keepers, but also by local government authorities and development practitioners.
APRA Working Paper 64: Commercial Tobacco Production and Climate Change Adaptation in Mazowe, ZimbabweSeptember 20, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by: Andrew Newsham, Toendepi Shonhe and Tsitsidzashe Bvute
There has been an increasingly well-documented, rapid rise in tobacco production over the last couple of decades in Mazowe, Zimbabwe, despite growing public health concerns about lung cancer and nicotine’s addictive capacities in the wealthier countries of the West – even affecting the South African market. This has been accompanied by a shift away from its production almost completely on large-scale farms towards predominantly small-scale farms. To date, less consideration has been given to the implications of climate change for tobacco production. Given the hopes that it can make a serious contribution to poverty reduction and food security, it is of increasing importance to understand these implications, to identify the most relevant and/or effective adaptation options and to assess the viability of their successful adoption. This paper presents a fine-grained, qualitative bottom-up analysis of the implications for commercial tobacco production of climate change impacts in Zimbabwe.
APRA Working Paper 63: Rice Commercialisation Effects in Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania: Identifying the Underlying FactorsSeptember 7, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by: Aida Isinika, Gilead Mlay, Ntengua Mdoe, Gideon Boniface, Christopher Magomba and Devotha Kilave
Rice production is the most dominant farming system in Kilombero valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, accounting for more than 80 per cent of cultivated land within the valley. This paper examines changes in rice commercialisation and livelihood outcomes for different categories of farmers in the Mngeta division, Kilombero District, Tanzania. Understanding the underlying factors of agricultural commercialisation enables policymakers to ensure that policy interventions promote inclusive and equitable involvement of all farmers and other value chain actors, especially women and youths, who have been excluded from most development initiatives in the past.
Written by: Andy Catley
Across East Africa’s vast rangelands, pastoralist livestock systems have been commercialising since the early 1900s. Commercialisation has varied widely within and between areas, but now includes substantial livestock exports, regional and cross-border trade, and supply to domestic markets. This policy brief examines some of the key features of pastoralism that affect how commercialisation evolves in pastoralist societies, and why poorer producers often benefit least from new market access. The policy brief draws on a substantial body of research and programme evaluations, and two new APRA research reports on pastoral livestock commercialisation in south-east Ethiopia (Gebresenbet, 2020) and northern Kenya (Roba, 2020).
Written by: Toendepi Shonhe
This article explores whether mechanisation affects patterns of accumulation and differentiation in Zimbabwe’s post land reform where policy consistently disadvantages smallholders. Is the latest mechanisation wave any different? The article considers dynamics of tractor access and accumulation trajectories across and within land use types in Mvurwi area. Larger, richer and well-connected farmers draw on patronage networks to access tractors and accumulate further. Some small to medium-scale farmers generate surpluses and invest in tractors or pay for services. Thus, accumulation from above and below feeds social differentiation. Tractor access remains constrained yet mechanisation is only part of the wider post-2000 story.
Written by: Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba
This paper explores the emerging labour regimes and the consequences for agricultural commercialisation across multiple land-use types in post land reform Zimbabwe. The livelihoods of farmworkers, including those still resident in former labour compounds, are explored. The paper examines patterns of employment, land access, crop farming, asset ownership and off-farm activities, highlighting the diversification of livelihoods. The old pattern of wage-employed, permanent farmworkers is increasingly rare, as autonomous, flexible combinations of wage work, farming and a range of entrepreneurial and informal activities emerge. The paper thus engages with the wider debate about the changing nature of ‘work’ and ‘employment’, alongside discussions about the class implications of ‘working people’ and ‘fractured classes of labour’ in transforming agrarian economies. Without a captive, resident workforce, commercial agriculture must mobilise labour in new ways, as the farm work and workers have been refashioned in the new agrarian setting.
APRA Working Paper 62: Agricultural Investment Corridors in Africa: Does Smallholder and Women’s Participation Count?August 12, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by: Rebecca Smalley, Emmanuel Sulle, Ngala Chome, Ana Duarte and Euclide Gonçalves
Agricultural development corridors and clusters are highly complex projects that have been driven in Africa by agribusiness and mining corporations, host governments, international donors and development finance institutions. There is interest in whether these projects can support inclusive agribusiness. Evidence shows that involvement of small-scale economic actors in such initiatives is often impeded by a failure to grant them participation or a voice. We therefore investigated if and how recent corridors and clusters in Africa have been able to achieve the meaningful engagement of small-scale economic actors, with a focus on smallholders, including pastoralists, and the women among them.
APRA Working Paper 61: Rice Commercialisation, Agrarian Change and Livelihood Trajectories: Transformations on the Fogera Plain of EthiopiaAugust 6, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by: Dawit Alemu, John Thompson and Abebaw Assaye
Rice was considered a minor crop in Ethiopia, rarely consumed by many households in Sub-Saharan Africa. In recent decades, however, it has become the most rapidly growing staple food source in the country. This paper presents an historical analysis of rice commercialisation and the observed agrarian changes that have resulted from its introduction and spread in Ethiopia. The paper analyses the role of the state, private actors and development partners in promoting improvements in rice production and value chain upgrading, as well as examines the impacts of small-scale commercialisation on local livelihoods and rural economies.
Written by: Martin Whiteside
The Institute of Development Studies has led consortia of UK and African organisations in two large programmes of agricultural policy research: the original Future Agricultures Consortium programme, running from 2005 to 2014, and the successive Agricultural Policy Research in Africa programme, from 2016 to 2022. These programmes involved African field research teams, linked to African Universities, and conducting policy-relevant research into key issues relative to the future of agriculture in Africa and inclusive agricultural commercialisation (APRA). A component of both programmes was to use the evidence collected to influence the policy environment in favour of productive, sustainable, and inclusive agriculture. This paper explores what has been learnt in these two programmes about using field research evidence to improve agricultural policy.
Responses of Rice Farmers Engaged in Vegetable Production: Implications of the Collapse of Vegetable Prices in the Fogera PlainJuly 27, 2021 / APRA research note Publications
Written by: Dawit Alemu and Tirhas Kinfe
Since the early 1980s, the Fogera Plain has been one of Ethiopia’s major rice production areas. The introduction of rice, its commercialisation and the subsequent increased surplus production has led to the ability of smallholder rice farmers to intensify their production through diverse investments, mainly in supplementary irrigation. This has also enabled rice farmers to diversify crop production, mainly during the off-season, through the production of high-value crops like vegetables. Despite this expansion, a recent visit to the Fogera Plain by the authors revealed that most smallholder rice farmers were not able to sell their onions due to the collapse of local markets. To investigate this collapse further, this paper follows the authors’ investigation of farmer investments in producing onion, their responses to the collapse of the onion market, and the implications for rural livelihood improvement within the Fogera Plain.
Written by, Martin Whiteside
This paper presents some of the learning on efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability generated by an accompanied learning process; which supported the latter part of a six-year research programme on agricultural commercialisation covering nine African countries and involving multiple research and policy influencing teams.
Written by, Paul Amaza, Sunday Mailumo, Asenath Silong
The aim of this case study is to understand the underlying political economy dynamics of the maize value chain in Nigeria, with a focus on how this can contribute to comprehending the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation. The study is informed by theories of political settlements, rents, and policy processes. It asks questions around (1) the key actors and interests: who participates and how do they benefit? (2) Rules and policies: who makes the rules, and who wins and loses? And (3), what are the implications across different social groups?
Working Paper 59: The Influence of Sunflower Commercialisation and Diversity on Women’s Empowerment: The Case of Iramba and Mkalama Districts, Singida RegionJuly 14, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by, Devotha B. Mosha, John Jeckoniah, Aida Isinika and Gideon Boniface
There is a growing body of literature that argues that normally women derive little benefit from cash crops. Some of the barriers leading to women having less benefit from cash crop value chains include cultural norms and power differences in access to, and control over, resources among actors in value chains. It is also argued that women’s participation in different forms of collective action help women to increase benefits to them through their increased agency, hence enabling them to utilise existing and diverse options for their empowerment. This paper explores how women have benefited from their engagement in sunflower commercialisation and how culture has influenced changes in access to, and control over, resources, including land, for their empowerment.
E Ronner, J Sumberg, D Glover, KKE Descheemaeker, CJM Almekinders, BIG Haussmann, TW Kuyper, H Posthumus, P Ebanyat, KE Giller. 2021.
How to stimulate technological change to enhance agricultural productivity and reduce poverty remains an area of vigorous debate. In the face of heterogeneity among farm households and rural areas, one proposition is to offer potential users a ‘basket of options’ – a range of agricultural technologies from which potential users may select the ones that are best suited to their specific circumstances. While the idea of a basket of options is now generally accepted, it has attracted little critical attention. In this paper, we reflect on outstanding questions: the appropriate dimensions of a basket, its contents and how they are identified, and how a basket might be presented. We conceive a basket of options in terms of its depth (number of options related to a problem or opportunity) and breadth (the number of different problems or opportunities addressed). The dimensions of a basket should reflect the framing of the problem or opportunity at hand and the objective in offering the basket. We recognise that increasing the number of options leads to a trade-off by decreasing the fraction of those options that are relevant to an individual user. Farmers might try out, adapt or use one or more of the options in a basket, possibly leading to a process of technological change. We emphasise that the selection (or not) of specific options from the basket, and potential adaptation of the options, provide important opportunities for learning. Baskets of options can therefore be understood as important boundary concepts that invite critical engagement, comparison and discussion. Significant knowledge gaps remain, however, about the best ways to present the basket and to guide potential users to select the options that are most relevant to them.
Journal Article: Medium-scale commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe: the experience of A2 resettlement farmsJune 15, 2021 / Journal articles
Toendepi Shonhe, Ian Scoones and Felix Murimbarimba. 2021.
The emergence of medium-scale farms is having important consequences for agricultural commercialisation across Africa. This article examines the role of medium-scale A2 farms allocated following Zimbabwe’s land reform after 2000. While the existing literature focuses on changing farm size distributions, this article investigates processes of social differentiation across medium-scale farms, based on qualitative-quantitative studies in two contrasting sites (Mvurwi and Masvingo-Gutu). Diverse processes of accumulation are identified across commercial, aspiring and struggling farmers, and linked to contrasting patterns of agricultural production and sale, asset ownership, employment and finance. The ability to mobilise finance, influenced by the state of the macro-economy, as well as forms of political patronage, is identified as a crucial driver. Contrary to assertions that A2 farms are largely occupied by ‘cronies’ and that they are unproductive and under-utilised, a more differentiated picture emerges, with important implications for policy and the wider politics of Zimbabwe’s countryside following land reform.
Working Paper 58: Understanding Gender and Social Differentiation in the Context of Agricultural Commercialisation and Implications for Livelihoods in Rural MalawiMay 20, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by, Loveness M. Mgalamadzi, Mirriam Matita, Masautso Chimombo, Blessings Chinsinga, Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa, Stevier Kaiyatsa and Jacob Mazalale
Agricultural commercialisation is widely recognised as a catalyst to economic growth and development in low and middle-income countries. This study investigates gender and social differences in agricultural commercialisation in rural Malawi. Specifically, the paper analyses different levels of agricultural commercialisation among gender and wealth categories; the specific gender and social issues that facilitate or impede agricultural commercialisation among gender and wealth categories; and their implications for commercialisation and livelihoods among gender and wealth categories.
APRA Research Note: The Covid-19 Pandemic and Household Rice Consumption Patterns in Ethiopia: The Case of Addis AbabaApril 30, 2021 / APRA research note Publications
Written by, Dawit Alemu and Gashaw T. Abate.
The outbreak of COVID-19 also resulted in moderate changes to the operation of the domestic rice value chain in Ethiopia. These were caused by changing responses of value chain actors (domestic and others engaged in rice imports) to the COVID-19 prevention measures put in place by the government. These changes increased the price of rice, which favoured rice producers and adversely affected urban consumers. This research note assesses household rice consumption patterns in Addis Ababa by comparing the situation before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, using a representative sample of households.
Working Paper 57: Agricultural commercialisation and the political economy of value chains: Tanzania rice case studyMarch 31, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by Ntengua S.Y. Mdoe and Glead I. Mlay
This paper presents the political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania. It is based on a review of trade policies, regulations, strategies, and programmes implemented since the 1960s to promote rice commercialisation, and the views of key informants. Key findings that emerge from the review of literature and key informant interviews indicate that the performance of the value chain over time has been negatively affected by the combined effects of the policies, regulations, strategies, and programmes implemented concurrently.
Working Paper 56: The political economy of the groundnut value chain in Malawi: Its re-emergence amidst policy chaos, strategic neglect, and opportunismMarch 31, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by Blessings Chinsinga and Mirriam Matita
This paper explores the political economy of the groundnut value chain in Malawi. The paper uses a combination of insights from the theoretical perspectives of political settlement, rents and policymaking to examine this value chain. Fused together, these theoretical perspectives underpin a political economy analysis framework, which entails systematically mapping all key actors in an issue area; identifying their interests and recognising their forms of power (political, economic, social, and ideological); understanding their relationships with each other; and appreciating the issues, narratives, and ideas that shape how and why they interact with each other.
Working Paper 55: COVID-19 and the political economy of tobacco and maize commodity circuits: Makoronyera, the ‘connected’ and agrarian accumulation in ZimbabweMarch 31, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by Toendepi Shonhe
This paper analyses the global commodity circuits – value chains – for maize and tobacco in Zimbabwe, in the context of a reconfigured agrarian economy and COVID-19 induced shocks. The study focuses on the political economy dynamics of agricultural commodity circuits to reveal how they can contribute to understanding the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation in Zimbabwe. This paper traces the circuits of maize and tobacco, the two major crops for food security and foreign currency earnings in Zimbabwe.
Written by Kofi Takyi Asante
Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) is of strategic importance to the Ghanaian economy. It is the second most important industrial crop after cocoa and is used widely in local food preparation as well as in industrial processing. In spite of its importance, however, oil palm has consistently underperformed since the early twentieth century. This paper conducts a value chain analysis of the crop, foregrounding the political economy factors that shape the performance of the sector. It draws on a combination of in-depth interviews conducted in March 2020 with a variety of value chain actors and a review of the secondary literature. Additionally, between late May and early June 2020, twelve further interviews were conducted as part of a rapid market survey to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the value chain.
Written by, Joseph Kofi Teye and Ebenezer Nikoi.
The cocoa sector has, historically, been the backbone of the Ghanaian economy. Many households depend directly on the cocoa sector for livelihoods, and aspects of the cocoa industry, such as input supplies to farmers and cocoa pricing, have historically featured prominently in national and local politics. This paper examines the basic underlying political economy dynamics of the cocoa value chain, with particular focus on how the interests, powers and interactions of various actors along the value chain have contributed to agricultural commercialisation in Ghana. The paper also explores the challenges affecting the cocoa value chain, social difference within the chain, and how various segments of the cocoa value chain have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Ghana since March 2020.
Working Paper 52: Agricultural Commercialisation and the Political Economy of Cocoa and Rice Value Chains in NigeriaMarch 15, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by, Emmanuel Remi Aiyede.
Nigeria has sought to diversify its economy away from dependence on oil as a major source of government revenue through agricultural commercialisation. Agriculture has been a priority sector because it has very high growth potential and the greatest potential for employment and export revenue. The cocoa and rice value chains are central to the government’s engagement with agriculture to achieve these objectives. This paper sets out to investigate the underlying political economy dynamics of the commercialisation of the cocoa and rice value chains in Nigeria in terms of smallholder farm households’ shift from semi-subsistence agriculture to production primarily for market, and predominantly commercial medium- and large-scale farm enterprises complementing or replacing smallholder farm households.
Working Paper 51: The Political Economy of the Rice Value Chain in Ethiopia: Actors, Performance, and DiscoursesMarch 15, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by, Dawit Alemu and Abebaw Assaye.
The goal of this working paper is to identify the core challenges that have contributed to the poor performance of Ethiopia’s rice sector, and highlight approaches to successfully promote the commercialisation of the rice value chain. The authors achieve this by emphasising the underlying political economy dynamics of the rice value chain in Ethiopia, and how these can offer a better understanding of the drivers and constraints of agricultural commercialisation in the country. The paper also discusses the performance of, and challenges faced by, actors involved in the rice value chain. In addition, it looks at the role of development partners in promoting the rice value chain, the role of rice in the rural labour market, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on the various actors.
Working Paper 50: Determinants of Smallholder Farmers’ Livelihood Trajectories: Evidence from Rural MalawiMarch 15, 2021 / Publications Working Papers
Written by, Mirriam Matita, Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa, Stevier Kaiyatsa, Jacob Mazalale, Masautso Chimombo, Loveness Msofi Mgalamadzi and Blessings Chinsinga.
The authors of this paper attempt use quantitative methods to determine the different factors of livelihood trajectories in the context of agricultural commercialisation. To do this, they draw on primary evidence from household surveys conducted over a span of ten years in Mchinji and Ntchisi districts, in rural Malawi. The authors hypothesise that households that are more commercialised are more likely to expand their investments in agriculture and/or take up livelihoods outside of agriculture. Crucially, they find that factors driving livelihood trajectories are not the same for farmers in different pathways, and highlight the need for policymakers to study findings emphasise the need to adopt context-dependent development approaches, in order to provide sustainable relief from poverty for farming households.
Written by, Aida C. Isinika and John Jeckoniah.
This paper looks at the challenges and shortcomings facing the sunflower sub-sector in Tanzania. It showcases the political economy of sunflower based on analyses of the performance of the sector over a 30-year period since the early 1990s, also studying the relations between the importers of edible oil, and the local actors of the sunflower value chain (farmers and processors). In addition, the authors discuss how disparities in accessing resources for production were established across gender, age, wealth status, which led to social differentiation. Following this, they examine how restrictions introduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected activities and relations along the sunflower value chain.
Ken Giller, Renske Hijbeek, Jens. Andersson, and James Sumberg.
Outlook on Agriculture
Agriculture is in crisis. Soil health is collapsing. Biodiversity faces the sixth mass extinction. Crop yields are plateauing. Against this crisis narrative swells a clarion call for Regenerative Agriculture. But what is Regenerative Agriculture, and why is it gaining such prominence? Which problems does it solve, and how? Here we address these questions from an agronomic perspective. The term Regenerative Agriculture has actually been in use for some time, but there has been a resurgence of interest over the past 5 years. It is supported from what are often considered opposite poles of the debate on agriculture and food. Regenerative Agriculture has been promoted strongly by civil society and NGOs as well as by many of the major multi-national food companies. Many practices promoted as regenerative, including crop residue retention, cover cropping and reduced tillage are central to the canon of ‘good agricultural practices’, while others are contested and at best niche (e.g. permaculture, holistic grazing). Worryingly, these practices are generally promoted with little regard to context. Practices most often encouraged (such as no tillage, no pesticides or no external nutrient inputs) are unlikely to lead to the benefits claimed in all places. We argue that the resurgence of interest in Regenerative Agriculture represents a re-framing of what have been considered to be two contrasting approaches to agricultural futures, namely agroecology and sustainable intensification, under the same banner. This is more likely to confuse than to clarify the public debate. More importantly, it draws attention away from more fundamental challenges. We conclude by providing guidance for research agronomists who want to engage with Regenerative Agriculture.
Working Paper 48: The Political Economy of Land Use and Land Cover Change in Mvurwi Area Zimbabwe, 1984–2018March 1, 2021 / Working Papers
Written by, Caleb Maguranyanga, Keen Marozva, Ian Scoones and Toendepi Shonhe.
An analysis of the variations in land use and land cover over the past four decades in the Mvurwi area, Mazowe district, Zimbabwe illustrates how socio-economic dynamics and natural factors combine to shape environmental change. Land use and cover changes (LULCC) were assessed using a combination of quantitative analysis (satellite imagery) of land cover and a grounded analysis of the social, economic and political factors. Explanations for the changes observed in this study highlight social, economic and political drivers that have changed over time. A simple, linear explanation of land use and land cover change is inappropriate as multiple drivers intersect, and environmental change must always be understood as co-constituted with social dynamics and political economy.
Rapid Assessment of the Impact of Covid-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa – Synthesis Report 2January 14, 2021 / APRA research note Evidence Review Publications
Written by, Marco Carreras, Amrita Saha and John Thompson.
This report presents a summary of findings emerging from the second round of a three-wave rapid assessment led by the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) in October-November 2020 to examine how COVID-19 is affecting food systems and rural livelihoods in eight countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It builds on a set of phone-based household surveys and key informant interviews conducted in those countries in June-July 2020, which served as the baseline for this research.1 APRA will continue to monitor the situation as the
response to the pandemic unfolds through the third round of data collection and analysis planned for the first quarter of 2021.
Written by, Chrispin Matenga and Munguzwe Hichaambwa.
To assess the impact of COVID-19 on local food systems and livelihoods, a total of 115 small-scale farming households (102 male- and 13 female headed) were interviewed from five communities (Lilanda, Luang (Mankanda), Masansa, Nshinso and Miloso (Tazara Corridor) surrounding the Mkushi Farm Block in the Central Province of Zambia between 30 September and 6 November 2020. The respondents were selected as a random sample, targeting 20-25 households per community or village. The small-scale farmers in these areas benefit from linkages with commercial farmers in the block.
Written by, Mirriam Matita and Masautso Chimombo.
COVID-19 continues to impact households and economies worldwide. For this reason, in June 2020 APRA started assessing its likely effects on food systems and livelihoods in Malawi. This report presents insights from the second round (R2) of data collection in October 2020. Data was collected from a stratified random sample of 111 households (59 female and 52 male respondents) drawn from an APRA household survey of groundnut producers in Mchinji and Ntchisi districts, Central Region, as well as from eight key informants. One additional round of research is planned for the first half of 2021.
Written by, Vine Mutyasira.
In response to COVID-19, the Government of Zimbabwe enforced a nationwide lockdown on 30 March 2020, closing most sectors of the economy, including informal markets. However, with limited cases, lockdown movement restrictions were eased and supermarkets, restaurants and vegetable markets allowed to reopen. Between 3-13 October 2020, a second-round (R2) of surveys was conducted, targeting farming communities in Mvurwi and Concession Areas of Mazowe District, to assess COVID-19 impacts on food production systems, supply chains and general livelihoods. This report summarises insights obtained from the phone-based survey, covering 102 respondents (20 female and 82 male-headed households), and 5 local key informants (councillors and extension officers). Results are compared to the earlier R1 survey carried out in late June/early July.
Written by, Gideon Boniface and C.G. Magomba.
On 8 June 2020, the Government of Tanzania officially declared the country to be free of COVID-19 and all restrictions have since been lifted. As of 3 December 2020, Tanzania had only 509 confirmed cases of the virus and 21 deaths. Nevertheless, neighbouring countries are still facing the threat of the pandemic, all of which are key trading partners. Their continuing COVID-19 control measures have disrupted regional and domestic agricultural markets and affected local livelihoods and food systems. This study analysed the resulting impacts in those systems in several rice-producing communities in Morogoro Region, south-western Tanzania.
Written by, John Olwande and Miltone Ayieko.
Since 12 March 2020, when Kenya reported the first COVID-19 cases, the Ministry of Health confirmed a total of 45,076 cases and 839 deaths, as of 19 October.1 Despite the rising number of COVID-19 confirmed infections and deaths in Kenya during the third quarter (Q3) of 2020, the national and county governments relaxed some of the restrictions that had been in place during Q2 aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19. This assessment was aimed at understanding the effects of COVID-19 at household level and attendant policy responses during Q3 of 2020, to inform actions to assure protection of local food systems, rural livelihoods and the supply of adequate, affordable food of acceptable quality to the population.
Written by, Louis Hodey and Fred Dzanku.
This study seeks to assess the continuing impact of COVID-19 on food systems and livelihoods in south-western Ghana and provides insights obtained from household-level and key informant data in the second of three surveys conducted during October/November 2020. This second round (R2) survey involved 107 households of oil palm farmers (86 male-headed and 21 female-headed) and 5 key local informants in the Mpohor and Ahanta West Districts of the Western Region.
Written by, Abebaw Assaye and Dawit Alemu.
This report presents an assessment of the changes in effects of COVID-19 on agricultural commercialisation, food and nutrition security, labour and employment, and poverty and well-being in rural Ethiopia by comparing the results of a baseline household survey (R1) in late June 2020 with a follow-up survey (R2) in late October 2020. Data was collected from a stratified random sample of 106 smallholder rice farmer households (24 female and 82 male-headed) in five kebeles (villages) in the Fogera Plain
area of Amhara Region. Data was also collected through 25 key informant interviews conducted in the kebeles.
Written by, Adebayo B. Aromolaran and Milu Muyanga.
This study provides insights from a second survey assessing COVID-19 impacts on agricultural commercialisation, food and nutrition security, labour and employment, and well-being in rural Nigeria. Data for round 2 (R2) were collected between September and October 2020, from 109 households that were interviewed in mid-July (R1). Households were drawn from a stratified random sample from three Local Government Areas in Ogun State and two in Kaduna State. This survey data is complemented by insights from seven in-depth key informant interviews. This analysis compares COVID-19 effects in the second quarter and the third quarter of 2020, which corresponds to the first and second 3-month periods after Nigeria’s countrywide lockdown was put in place.
Written by, Louise Clark and Ed Small.
The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme has an innovative monitoring, evaluation and learning approach known as the ‘Accompanied Learning on Relevance and Effectiveness’ (ALRE), which is being delivered by a small team of embedded evaluation specialists. ALRE has conducted a survey on agricultural commercialisation with key stakeholders in Africa to improve understanding of the policy issues related to inclusive agricultural commercialisation that require better-quality evidence. The insights generated are intended to support researchers to better frame their research around stakeholders’ priority policy issues across the African continent.
Written by, Louise Clark and Ed Small.
This summary shares the results of a stakeholder survey on the policy issues and demand for evidence related to inclusive agricultural commercialisation across Africa by the Accompanied Learning for Relevance and Effectiveness (ALRE) team of the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme. The survey collected data between January and March 2020 on a series of closed questions to i) understand the top five policy priorities to support agricultural commercialisation and the most effective communication methods, and ii) the different factors and the role of research to influence inclusive agricultural commercialisation.
Written by, Adesoji Adelaja, Justin George, Thomas Jayne, Milu Muyanga, Titus Awokuse, Adebayo Aromolaran and Lenis Saweda O. Liverpool-Tasie.
The expansion of smallholder farms into larger farm sizes is a key strategy for growing agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. This strategy could simultaneously expand farm incomes while addressing poverty since the majority of farms in sub-Saharan Africa are smallholder farms. There is limited existing research on the possible role of conflicts in stymying the ability of smallholder farmers to transition into larger-scale farming and on the impacts of conflicts in areas that are not directly within active conflict zones. In this paper, we investigate the impacts of conflict on the ability of smallholder farmers to transition to larger scales in two regions that are not in a traditional conflict zone, by developing a household utility maximisation model to explain choices made by farm households in response to conflict.
ALRE Research Note : The Diamond of Influence, a Model for Exploring Behaviour in Research to Policy LinkagesNovember 19, 2020 / ALRE Research Note
Written by, Louise Clark
This learning paper presents an initial analysis of the emerging research to policy linkages within the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium, which is funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).
APRA has an innovative monitoring, evaluation and learning approach known as the ‘Accompanied Learning on Relevance and Effectiveness’ (ALRE), which is being delivered by a small team of embedded evaluation specialists. This paper discusses how ALRE has applied the COM-B (Capability, Opportunity, Motivation and Behaviour) (Mayne 2018; Mayne 2016; Michie, van Stralen and West 2011) model of behaviour change to explore the interactions and influencing strategies between researchers and policymakers in the context of agricultural policy research in Africa. These insights have produced the Diamond of Influence, a new ALRE-adapted model, which applies each of the COM-B elements to discuss the different aspects of research to policy processes, drawing on examples of how researchers in each of the APRA focus countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe) are engaging in policy spaces.
Written by, Adebayo B. Aromolaran, Milu Muyanga, Thomas Jayne, Abiodun E. Obayelu, Titus Awokuse, Omotoso O. Ogunmola and Fadlullah O. Issa
In recent times, the Nigerian Government has devised strategies aimed at intensifying smallholder transformation for enhanced food security, employment creation and poverty reduction. However, despite these efforts, the process of agricultural commercialisation in Nigeria has not progressed as fast as expected. Consequently, this study examines agricultural commercialisation in Nigeria with the aim of establishing factors that are constraining commercialisation and identifying potential policy levers that can be used to fast-track the process.
Journal Article: The Agrarian Question in Contemporary Zimbabwe. Africanus: Journal of Development Studies, Vol 49 No 1 (2019)November 4, 2020 / Journal articles
Toendepi Shonhe. 2019
The reinvestment of rural agrarian surplus is driving capital accumulation in Zimbabwe’s countryside, providing a scope to foster national (re-) industrialisation and job creation. Contrary to Bernstein’s view, the Agrarian Question on capital remains unresolved in Southern Africa. Even though export finance, accessed through contract farming, provides an impetus for export cash crop production, and the government-mediated command agriculture supports food crop production, the reinvestment of proceeds from the sale of agricultural commodities is now driving capital accumulation. Drawing from empirical data, gathered through surveys and in-depth interviews from Hwedza district and Mvurwi farming area in Mazowe district in Zimbabwe, the findings of this study revealed the pre-eminence of the Agrarian Question, linked to an ongoing agrarian transition in Zimbabwe. This agrarian capital elaborates rural-urban interconnections and economic development, following two decades of de-industrialisation in Zimbabwe.
Working Paper 45: Role of resilience factors in mitigating the negative effects of conflict on land expansionNovember 2, 2020 / Working Papers
Written by, Adesoji Adelaja, Justin George, Thomas Jayne, Milu Muyanga, Titus Awokuse, Lenis Saweda O. Liverpool-Tasie and Adebayo B. Aromolaran.
Shocks and stresses from natural disasters, climate change, economic volatility, armed conflicts and political instability could hinder expansion efforts by smallholder farms (SHFs). The application of the resilience concept as a mitigator of the impacts of such shocks on land expansion by farmers is an important developmental challenge. In this paper, we hypothesise that the resilience capacity of SHFs mitigate the adverse effects of conflict shocks and examine how assets, off-farm income, access to social safety nets, and education level of the household lead contribute to household-level resilience to armed conflicts.