APRA Briefs


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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.

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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.

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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 Commercialsation 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