APRA Briefs


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APRA Brief 26: Inducing agribusiness investment in Malawi: Insights from investors
August 14, 2020 / APRA Briefs Policy Briefs

Written by, Henry Chingaipe, Joseph Thombozi and Horace Chingaipe.

Agriculture is key to Malawi’s development strategy, with over 80 per cent of the workforce employed in the sector. However, government investment in agricultural commercialisation has been low, national financial institutions lack agribusiness-friendly policies, and access to land necessary for commercial agriculture has been a challenge. This brief studies the effectiveness of various government and donor incentives aimed towards agribusinesses, and provides several policy recommendations on how to induce business investment in agricultural commercialisation.

APRA Brief 25: Does rice commercialisation enhance or impair household food security among rice producing households in Mngeta Division, Kilombero District, Tanzania?
May 15, 2020 / APRA Briefs

Written by, Ntengua Mdoe, Gilead Mlay, Aida Isinika, Gideon Boniface, Christopher Magomba, John Jeckonia and Devotha Mosha

The Tanzanian government has identified rice as a priority crop and has been implementing the National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) since 2009 to commercialise rice farming (United Republic of Tanzania 2019). The implementation of the NRDS is expected to ensure food security and improve incomes of rice producers and other actors in the value chain.
This policy brief examines the impact of rice commercialisation on the food security status of rice-producing households in Mngeta Division of Kilombero District, Tanzania.

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APRA Brief 24: The white gold of Wereta: A city raised on rice
May 15, 2020 / APRA Briefs

Written by, Tilahun Taddesse, Dawit Alemu and Abebaw Assaye.

Wereta – the administrative capital of Fogera district – is an example of one of the fastest growing urban areas in the Fogera plain. Its rapid development is strongly connected with the development of the rice industry, which has had a spillover effect in the development of diverse services, including hospitality, wholesale and retail businesses, and banking. This brief examines the role of rice commercialisation in the development of Wereta City Administration and concludes with some pointers for scaling experiences that may be applicable to other areas suitable for enhancing rice production and processing.

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APRA Brief 23: Does rice commercialisation in Mngeta, Kilombero, Tanzania impact livelihoods?
April 8, 2020 / APRA Briefs

Written by, Aida Isinika, Ntengua Mdoe, John Jeckonia, Christopher Magomba, Gilead Mlay and Devotha Kilave

This policy brief draws from research on rice commercialisation in Mngeta division, Kilombero District. The study area was selected because it fits well with the government’s ambition, under the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania framework, for smallholder farmers to benefit from technology transfer and market linkage with large-scale farmers. The analysis was based on research conducted with a randomly-selected sample of farm households across ten villages located 30km from Kilombero Plantation Limited, a large-scale rice farm in Mngeta division.

APRA Brief 22: Enhancing production of quality rice in Ethiopia: Dis/incentives for rice processors
March 30, 2020 / APRA Briefs

Written by, Abebaw Assaye and Dawit Alemu.

In order to reduce the import burden and contribute towards the country’s development plan through import substitution, it is critical to focus on increasing rice production and improving the quality of milled rice. Rice processors in Ethiopia play an important role in the rice sector, not only as service providers but also as buyers and sellers of rice. In general, however, there is a general disincentive for farmers to produce good quality paddy, and for processors to produce good quality milled rice. This brief examines the main disincentives and outlines key measures that need to be put in place to address these challenges.

APRA Brief 21: Changing Farm Structure and Agricultural Commercialisation in Nigeria
September 18, 2019 / APRA Briefs

Written by, Milu Muyanga, Adebayo Aromolaran, Thomas Jayne, Saweda Liverpool-Tasie, Titus Awokuse, Adesoji Adelaja

There is evidence to show that there has been a transition regarding the structure of land ownership in Africa, particularly a rise in the number of commercialised medium-scale farms (MSFs) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The objective of this study was to determine whether the growth of MSFs promotes agricultural commercialisation in SSA, and the brief presents the preliminary results of the first round of data analysis collected through the survey. Emphasis is placed on the characteristics of these emergent MSFs, the nature of the structural changes that produce them, and how they potentially influence the welfare of small-scale farms in Nigeria. The results of the brief are divided into the current topics: Pathways into MSF commercialisation, land access and use, farm production and assets, interaction between MSFs and SSFs, and agricultural commercialisation.

APRA Brief 20: Policy Incentives and Agribusiness Investment in Ethiopia: Benefit or Deadweight
September 18, 2019 / APRA Briefs

Written by, Seife Ayele, Gezahegn Ayele, Tebeje Nigussie and Jodie Thorpe

The importance of agriculture to the Ethiopian economy is underlined by the country’s forthright promotion of investment in agriculture since the turn of the century, but how effective has this investment really been? This brief summarises the findings and conclusions of the APRA study ‘Policy approaches to business investment in agricultural commercialisation in Ethiopia’. It then looks at the main drivers of agribusiness investment, usefulness of the tax privilege system, the effectiveness of agricultural growth programmes led by donors and non-profit organisations. The brief also addresses whether or not the enforcement of rules and closure of loopholes can prevent the misuse of tax privileges.

APRA Brief 19: Agribusiness Investment in Agricultural Commercialisation in Ghana: Rethinking Policy Incentives
August 13, 2019 / APRA Briefs

Written by Joseph Teye

Ghana’s recent image as a peaceful and stable country has provided an attractive environment for foreign investors to do business in, reflected by numerous programmes implemented by Ghana and its partners which aim to strengthen foreign investment, particularly in the agricultural sector. However, there is still a lack of understanding of how Ghanaian businesses respond to such incentive packages, as well as the detrimental effect of the barriers to investment. This APRA brief examines the most important factors behind investment in the Ghanaian agricultural sector, the limits of financial incentives and provides a series of recommendations for the government in Ghana to address.

APRA Brief 18: The political economy of agricultural growth corridors in eastern Africa
March 22, 2019 / APRA Briefs

A new wave of agricultural commercialisation is being promoted across Africa’s eastern seaboard, by a broad range of influential actors – from international corporations to domestic political and business elites. Growth corridors, linking infrastructure development, mining and agriculture for export, are central to this, and are generating a new spatial politics as formerly remote borders and hinterlands are expected to be transformed through foreign investment and aid projects. In our APRA study, we have been asking: what actually happens on the ground, even when corridors as originally planned are slow to materialise? Do the grand visions play out as expected? Who is involved and who loses out? To answer these questions, APRA research into growth corridors has focused on three key examples: the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), the Lamu Port and South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor, and the Beira and Nacala corridors in Mozambique.

APRA Brief 17: Tractors, Markets and the State: (Dis)continuities in Africa’s Agricultural Mechanisation
March 22, 2019 / APRA Briefs

Agricultural mechanisation has once again become a topical issue in African policymaking, following the reinstatement of agriculture in the growth and development agenda for the continent since the turn of the century. But the contribution of mechanisation to agricultural growth and food security and, more broadly, an inclusive and sustainable development trajectory is not linear, and the debate around desirable types of mechanisation and role of the state (versus markets) in the process is far from settled. Drawing on research in Ghana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, this brief offers an overview of recent trends in Africa’s agricultural mechanisation and of how the topic has been handled in the policy debate and highlights findings from the three country studies that illustrate how state-sponsored or farmer-led mechanisation are enmeshed in broader processes of agrarian change.

APRA Brief 16: A Historical Analysis of Rice Commercialisation in Ethiopia_The Case of the Fogera Plain
March 12, 2019 / APRA Briefs

This brief presents a historical analysis of rice commercialisation and its impacts on local livelihoods and rural economies in Ethiopia, drawing insights from the experience of the Fogera Plain in the Amhara Region. Fogera is one of the regions which has experienced the largest expansion of rice production and processing in the country. The brief presents a review of historical trends in the introduction of rice in different parts of the country, the changing nature of rice farming systems, the observed agrarian changes, and some of the associated initiatives that have enhanced these trends.

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APRA Brief 15: Building Livelihoods: Youth and Agricultural Commercialisation in Ghana
March 12, 2019 / APRA Briefs

Analysing the pathways that young people employ to get started in commercial agriculture should provide valuable and policy-relevant insights about opportunities and challenges for Africa’s rural youth. This paper presents a summary of findings on how young people engage with or are affected by agricultural intensification and commercialisation in Techiman, North District, Ghana in order to better understand the pathways that particular groups of young people seek to construct livelihoods in or around agricultural commercialisation hotspots, and the outcomes associated with these efforts.

APRA Brief 14: Participation, Voice and Governance in African Investment Corridors
February 12, 2019 / APRA Briefs Publications

An investment or growth corridor is a geographical area of a country or group of countries surrounding a major transport route, which supports economic activity either end of, and along, the route. Drawing on APRA’s work studying growth corridors in East Africa, this brief focuses on the Lamu Port and South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor, presenting an overview of the corridor’s  infrastructural plan and its place within the region’s politics, as well as its implications for those who live and work along the corridor’s planned route – including smallholders, fishers and pastoralists.

Download: APRA Policy Brief 14

APRA Brief 13: The Political Economy of Agricultural Commercialistion in Malawi
February 12, 2019 / APRA Briefs Publications

Malawi is a predominantly agrarian economy. With around 85 percent of the country’s population relying on agriculture for their livelihoods, it is estimated that the sector makes up as much as 35 percent of GDP, 80 percent of export earnings, and 70 percent of total rural income. Underpinning both Malawi’s industrial and manufacturing sectors, agriculture is integral to any concerted effort aimed at achieving inclusive growth, and therefore lies at the heart of Malawi’s political economy. This brief, which is based on a longer paper1, examines the evolution and political economy of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi since the 1960s, from both a historical and a contemporary perspective.

Download: APRA Brief 13

APRA Brief 12: The Political Economy of Agricultural Commercialisation in Africa
February 12, 2019 / APRA Briefs Publications

This brief seeks to identify key factors that influence the strength and composition of coalitions in favour of and against policies that promote agricultural commercialisation, or that influence the commercialisation trajectory that unfolds within a country or sector. It also recognises the importance of ideas and interests in determining which policies are adopted and implemented. Specifically, the brief seeks to illustrate the influence of three sets of factors on agricultural commercialisation, and their interaction with one another. The three sets of factors are (1) the relationships between politicians and rural citizens arising from the domestic political settlement; (2) geographical factors; and (3) the influence of international actors.

Download: APRA Policy Brief 12

APRA Brief 11: The Political Economy of Agricultural Commercialisation in Ethiopia: Discourses, Actors and Structural Impediments
November 5, 2018 / APRA Briefs Publications

This brief examines the political economy of agricultural commercialisation in Ethiopia, by analysing the changing political landscape and electoral trends spanning the past three decades. It gives an overview of the emphasis placed on agriculture, and the promotion of agricultural commercialisation, across Ethiopia’s past three regimes: imperial, military, and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). The brief then addresses the state of agricultural commercialisation in Ethiopia with reference to the case study of teff production. Finally, the brief examines the structural impediments to agricultural commercialisation, with a number of suggestions for addressing the challenges identified.

Download: APRA Policy Brief 11

APRA Brief 10: Women’s Empowerment and the Commercialisation of African Agriculture
November 1, 2018 / APRA Briefs Publications

This brief presents a summary of key issues in research on women’s empowerment, drawn from an APRA working paper commissioned to support the design of APRA’s research on pathways to agricultural commercialisation in Africa. In the context of African agriculture, as women move along different pathways of commercialisation, the source of their disempowerment may shift from local to more global actors and factors, and the means of empowerment towards more collective and political processes. Researching the effectiveness of different pathways of agricultural commercialisation to empowering women and girls, therefore, requires an approach which explores the relationships between global and local, shifting dynamics as women move into and up global value chains, and changing gender relations in a specific local context.

Download: APRA Policy Brief 10_Women’s Empowerment and the Commercialisation of African Agriculture

APRA Brief 9: Partnerships, Platforms and Policies: Strengthening Farmer Capacity to Harness Technological Innovation for Agricultural Commercialisation
November 1, 2018 / APRA Briefs Publications

This brief uses three STI revolution storylines based on case studies from Ethiopia, Zambia, and Ghana to highlight the enabling factors that make STI a vehicle for agricultural commercialisation. The storylines based on the three case studies were identified considering their relevance to the different types of farming (small-, medium- and large-scale), the importance of commercialisation linked to STI, and the diversity of production systems.

Download: APRA Policy Brief 9

APRA Brief 8: The Political Economy of Agricultural Commercialisation in Zimbabwe
October 11, 2018 / APRA Briefs

This brief presents a critical discussion of the political economy of agricultural commercialisation in Zimbabwe, focusing on the post-2000 period – when major land redistribution brought about dramatic agrarian structural transformation in the country. Understanding shifts in production and commodity marketing, and how these have had an impact on commercialisation patterns, helps to reveal how power, state practice, and capital all influence accumulation for the different groups of farmers in divergent settlement models.

Download: APRA Policy Brief 8 -The Political Economy of Agricultural Commercialisation in Zimbabwe

APRA Brief 7: Policy Processes and Political Economy: Ghana Country Review
October 10, 2018 / APRA Briefs

This brief is based on a longer working paper, which examines the political economy of agricultural commercialisation in Ghana from 2000–2018. The relationship between a changing political landscape and agricultural policy in Ghana is neither fully understood nor explored; this brief argues that prevailing agricultural commercialisation policies are selected by powerful policy actors, who provide useful resources for policy implementation and whose narratives are consistent with policymakers interests. The brief therefore advocates a strengthening of civil society groups to ensure that pro-poor policies are put in place in Ghana.

Download: APRA Policy Brief 7-Policy Processes and Political Economy

APRA Brief 6: Agricultural Commercialisation Pathways: Climate Change and Agriculture
September 20, 2018 / APRA Briefs

Given the highly climate-sensitive character of agricultural production, climate change has obvious and important ramifications for agricultural commercialisation, which in turn has a bearing on poverty, gender empowerment, and food and nutrition security. The nature and extent of climate change implications for agricultural commercialisation will depend on: the magnitude of the climate impacts that farmers have to deal with; and, the extent to which sustainable intensification processes can be pursued in ways which strengthen, rather than weaken, adaptive capacity and resilience in the face of climate change. This brief provides a summary of a longer working paper, which offers a review of recent literature on the implications of climate change for agricultural commercialisation and APRA’s research in this area.

Download: APRA Brief 6 -Agricultural Commercialisation Pathways Climate Change and

APRA Brief 5: Agricultural growth trends in Africa
August 17, 2018 / APRA Briefs

This brief is based on a working paper, which seeks to inform future APRA research. In so doing, the brief helps to address debates about the feasibility of developing smallholder agriculture through commercialisation. In particular, it seeks to address the following broad questions: How has thinking about agricultural development evolved since 2010? How has the context for smallholder commercialisation evolved in this period? Second, the brief asks: how much growth has been seen in agriculture and agricultural productivity since 1990? And how much does agricultural growth correlate with changes in national income, poverty and nutrition?

Download:APRA Brief 5 – Agricultural growth trends in Africa

APRA Brief 4: Policy Processes and Political Economy: Tanzania Country Review
August 17, 2018 / APRA Briefs

This brief highlights key features of the political landscape that affect the prospects for and the outcomes of agricultural commercialisation in Tanzania. It contends that the evolving nature of Tanzania’s ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), helps to explain observed agricultural policy and performance and sheds light on the current and potential future trajectory of agricultural commercialisation in the country. The brief focuses on the presidency of Jakaya Kikwete (2005 to 2015) and the transition to the presidency of John Magufuli, who succeeded him in 2015.

Download;APRA Brief 4 – Policy Processes and Political Economy Tanzania Country Review

APRA Brief 3: Rural Transitions, Economies and Rural–urban Links
August 17, 2018 / APRA Briefs

This brief aims to summarise existing understandings of rural transformation and transitions in Africa. Agricultural development takes place within the wider context of overall economic development. In the process, changes in agriculture — such as the increased commercialisation of farms in general, and smallholdings in particular — interact with changes in the rest of the rural and urban economies. Development therefore usually brings about a structural transformation of the economy, from one dominated by agriculture to one in which manufacturing and services make up the bulk of activity; while the majority of the population become increasingly urban. The brief will focus on four key areas: the rural non-farm economy; rural–urban links; migration out of rural areas; and social protection.

Download: APRA Brief 3 – Rural Transitions, Economies and Rural–urban Links

APRA Brief 2: Agricultural Commercialisation Lessons from Asia and Latin America
June 14, 2018 / APRA Briefs

Using evidence gathered in Asia and Latin America, this brief draws out lessons in smallholder commercialisation that may be instructive for sub-Saharan Africa. The brief provides a summary of a longer report on agricultural production, as well as a review of recent literature on commercialisation in Asia and Latin America. For Asia and Latin America, the review considers the prevalence of smallholder farming, trends seen in the growth of production, and the forms and processes that smallholder commercialisation has taken. Some have argued that Brazil’s vast farms, worked by machines using advanced technology, are the best way to transform African agriculture. But this model is only feasible for countries with abundant land, plenty of capital and little labour. However, Asia – with its small farms, abundant labour and limited capital – may prove more instructive for contemporary sub-Saharan Africa.

Download: APRA Brief 2 – Agricultural Commercialisation, lessons from Asia and Latin America

APRA Brief 1: What is Agricultural Commercialisation: Who Benefits and how do we Measure it?
June 14, 2018 / APRA Briefs

The first in our series of APRA briefs gives an overview of ‘agricultural commercialisation’ — it gives a brief analysis of the various players and stakeholders involved, and situates the broader concept of agricultural commercialisation within a specifically African context. In particular, this brief runs through key terms and concepts that are central to APRA’s work, and gives a more detailed examination of agriculture’s engagement with and influence on the process of commercialisation, across differing levels of scale (smallholders, medium-scale and large-scale farmers). Lastly, the brief presents a succinct breakdown of the various measurements used to calculate the extent of commercialisation within a given area.

Download: APRA Brief 1 – What is Agricultural Commercialisation?