Discussion Papers

Discussion Papers disseminate research quickly to generate comment and suggestions for revision or improvement. They are often presented at conferences or workshops and often result in FAC Research or Occasional Papers.


Latest articles

Commercialisation of Smallholder Agriculture in Selected Tef-growing Areas of Ethiopia
March 2, 2008 / Discussion Papers

By Samuel Gebreselassie and Kay Sharp

The poverty-reduction strategy adopted by Ethiopia seeks to achieve growth through the commercialisation of smallholder agriculture. The Plan for Accelerated and Sustainable Development to End Poverty (PASDEP), Ethiopia?s strategic framework for 2005/06 – 2009/10, relies on a massive push to accelerate growth. This is to be achieved by efforts in two directions: commercialisation of agriculture, based on supporting the intensification of marketable farm products (both for domestic and export markets, and by both small and large farmers); and promoting much more rapid non-farm private sector growth (MoFED, 2005). This study aims to contribute to this plan by identifying factors that can deepen and expand the scope of market participation of smallholders.

Rethinking Agricultural Input Subsidies in Poor Rural Economies
September 2, 2007 / Discussion Papers

By Andrew Dorward, Peter Hazell and Colin Poulton

Agricultural input subsidies were a common element in agricultural development in poor rural economies in the 1960s and 70s, and were a common element of successful green revolutions. Although they have continued to a greater and lesser extent in some countries, conventional wisdom and dominant donor thinking in the 80s and 90s was that subsidies had been ineffective and inefficient policy instruments in Africa and contributors to government over-spending and fiscal and macro-economic problems. Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in agricultural input subsidies in Africa and the complementary emergence of innovative subsidy delivery systems. These developments, together with new insights into development processes, require a revisiting of the conventional wisdom on subsidies: an examination of the various development opportunities and constraints facing African farmers, a review of recent experience with input subsidies in Africa, and a thorough re-examination of contributions and implementation modalities of agricultural input subsidies in the Asian green revolution.

The Social Protection Policy in Malawi: Processes, Politics and Challenges
September 2, 2007 / Discussion Papers

By Blessings Chinsinga
September 2007

This paper is based on a study undertaken to critically understand the dynamics of policy-making and processes under the auspices of the Future Agricultures Consortium’s (FAC) sub-theme on politics and policy processes hosted by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in the United Kingdom. FAC’s operative philosophy is that contrary to the traditional and highly stylised perspective, policy-making does not happen in neat distinct stages except perhaps in the minimal sense that policies are proposed, legislated and implemented. Policy processes are thus a complex mesh of interactions and ramifications between a wide range of stakeholders driven, and constrained by the contexts in which they operate (cf. IDS, 2006; Oya, 2006). Understanding the policy processes therefore requires:

  1. Grasping the narratives that tell the policy stories
  2. The way positions become embedded in networks of various actors; and
  3. The enabling or constraining power dynamics (politics and interests)

Rethinking Agricultural Input in poor Rural Economies
September 1, 2007 / Discussion Papers

By Andrew Dorward, Peter Hazell and Colin Poulton
September 2007

As part of discussions on the future of pastoral production systems in East Africa there have been a number of recent interventions arguing that something urgently needs to be done to deal with a Malthusian style crisis in pastoral areas. In short, the argument goes, there are too many people which, combined with a declining (or not increasing) productivity of the natural resource base, means that not enough livestock can be kept to sustain a viable pastoral system.

This argument has been most eloquently and effectively argued by Stephen Sandford in “Too many people,too few livestock: the crisis affecting pastoralists in the Greater Horn of Africa”. This is a response to this piece, aimed at sparking a wider discussion.Such a discussion is urgently needed. For at the same time as the pessimistic prognoses about pastoralist futures in the Greater Horn of Africa, there has been, for the first time in several decades, a revival of interest in pastoralism and livestock production.

This takes two forms – one a celebration of the ‘pastoral way of life’ and the importance of indigenous systems of production and management1 and another focusing on the market potentials of a ‘livestock revolution’2. What should we make of these positions? What should the practical and policy responses be? Pastoral pessimism?
The arguments of Sandford (and others) put the more up-beat assessments in doubt. What are some of the major elements of the pastoral pessimists’ argument?

1. That people:livestock ratios have declined in pastoralist households to a levelbelow 3 TLUs/person, deemed to be a ‘viable’ amount for sustainablelivestock production, due to a combination of human population growth anddeclining rainfall.

2. That primary and secondary productivity (through range management,veterinary and other interventions) are not sufficient to make up the gap, andare unlikely to be so in the future.

3. That real prices of livestock products have not increased (and are unlikely to do so, despite growing demand) to compensate for lower numbers per household.

4. That, with small and decreasing herd/flock sizes, sales remain focused on immediate cash needs rather than ‘commercial’ off take.

5. That pastoral economies remain poor, associated with limited circulation of cash, and so have little opportunity for growth through linkages to other income earning activities.

6. That land for grazing and livestock production continues to be removed for cropping, and that this, particularly if supported by irrigation, is probably a better bet for many pastoralists anyway.

7. That for many the best option is exit, but in a way that does not involve destitution and displacement.

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The Social Protection Policy in Malawi: Processes, Politics and Challenges
September 1, 2007 / Discussion Papers

By Blessings Chinsinga
September 2007

 

This paper is based on a study undertaken to critically understand the dynamics of policy-making and processes under the auspices of the Future Agricultures Consortiums. (FAC) sub-theme on politics and policy processes hosted by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in the United Kingdom. FAC.s operative philosophy is that contrary to the traditional and highly stylized perspective, policy making does not happen in neat distinct stages except perhaps in the minimal sense that policies are proposed, legislated and implemented.

Policy processes are thus a complex mesh of interactions and ramifications between a wide range of stakeholders driven, and constrained by the contexts in which they operate (cf. IDS, 2006; Oya, 2006). Understanding the policy processes therefore requires:

1) grasping the narratives that tell the policy stories;

2) the way positions become embedded in networks of various actors; and

3) the enabling or constraining power dynamics (politics and interests).

The decision to study the social protection policy processes was inspired by the guarded optimism among stakeholders about the prospects of formulating a viable social protection policy as compared to the fertilizer subsidy policy programme which is generally orchestrated as a success story. It appears, however, that the differences between these two policy processes are largely due to the factthat the social protection policy deals with issues that are not as visible to the public eye and aspolitically sensitive as the issue of fertilizer popularly perceived as the magic wand to the enduring problem food insecurity. Moreover, the fertilizer subsidy programme is/was a political podium policy while social protection is a technocratically driven policy.

This is to say that fertilizer subsidy issues featured prominently in the 2004 electoral campaign whereas issues of social protection merely lurked at the background except, of course, with occasional vague references to the poverty reduction agenda. References to the poverty reduction agenda were made but often without articulating concrete plans of action to deal with the acute depth and breadth of poverty and vulnerability in the country. It comes therefore not as a surprise that unlike the fertilizer subsidy policy processes, the social protection policy processes are almost entirely divorced from the locus of real decision making.

The key building blocks of the fertilizer subsidy programme were debated and decided on in parliament. In a plural political dispensation parliament is designated as a functionally more appropriate arena for policy debates and dialogue since it brings together political parties representing various shades of opinion from different segments of society. Consequently, by occupying centre in the national legislature, the events leading to the conclusion and adoption of the fertilizer subsidy programme generated a national wide debate and dialogue. In sharp contrast, the social protection policy is nearing completion but a national wide debate and dialogue is virtually non-existent. The fertilizer subsidy programme was a regular feature in the major media outlets but there is almost a complete black out on media coverage about social protection.{jcomments off} 

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Using Social Protection Policies to Reduce Vulnerability and Promote Economic Growth in Kenya
August 1, 2007 / Discussion Papers

Economic_Growth_in_KenyaBy John Omiti and Timothy Nyanamba
August 2007

Vulnerability and human suffering are major challenges facing large sections of Kenyan society who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Policy reforms have failed to adequately address social protection issues afflicting particularly the most vulnerable groups.

 

This paper discusses ways in which social protection policies can be used to address the key sources or aspects of this vulnerability, and to promote agricultural and economic growth. The paper reviews social protection instruments, maps out actors involved in the provision of social protection, assesses the progress in provision of social protection in Kenya and identifies issues in moving forward to improve social protection, particularly in the agriculture sector.

Broad categories of social protection instruments – including social safety nets and social security are discussed. Issues regarding to targeting as well as instruments that can be used to deliver social protection programmes in agriculture are outlined. This is intended to promote further policy discourse in the area of social protection in Kenya and other comparable countries.

In the existing social protection programmes in the country, weak coordination, overlaps, supervision and monitoring of the multi-sectoral programmes is a recognised cause for concern. To address social protection effectively, policies must embrace both economic growth and its distribution. There is a need to sensitise relevant government functionaries and other stakeholders to basic social protection and propose ways that could contribute to the sustainable financing of some social protection programmes for agricultural and general economic growth.

There is an urgent need for an approach to concentrate resources, to define roles and responsibilities, and facilitate coordination between different parts of government, United Nations agencies, non-governmental and civil society organizations (NGOs and CSOs). Sustainability of the target programmes would be enhanced by participation and ownership by the concerned community.

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Promoting Agriculture for Social Protection or Social Protection for Agriculture
August 1, 2006 / Discussion Papers

By Andrew Dorward, Rachel Sabates Wheeler, Ian MacAuslan, Chris Penrose Buckley,Jonathan Kydd, Ephraim Chirwa

It is increasingly recognised that agriculture must play a role in pro-poor economic growth in countries with large, poor rural sectors. There is also a major focus on social protection interventions to address risks and insecurity affecting poor people. However current policy debate and formulation makes only limited attempts to integrate agricultural and social protection policies. This paper outlines significant paradigm shifts in policies affecting both these fields and highlights pertinent issues arising from interactions between agricultural and social protection policies.

Promoting Agriculture for Social Protection
August 1, 2006 / Discussion Papers

By Andrew Dorward, Rachel Sabates Wheeler, Ian MacAuslan, Chris Penrose Buckley, Jonathan Kydd, Ephraim Chirwa

August 2006

It is increasingly recognised that agriculture must play a role in pro-poor economic growth incountries with large, poor rural sectors. There is also a major focus on social protection interventions to address risks and insecurity affecting poor people. However current policy debate and formulation makes only limited attempts to integrate agricultural and social protection policies.

 

This paper outlines significant paradigm shifts in policies affecting both these fields and highlights pertinent issues arising from interactions between agricultural and social protection policies. The paper begins by setting out the sources and effects of stress in rural people’s livelihoods, and their responses to stress. Poor rural people’s livelihoods are complex, diverse and risk prone with inherent seasonal instability. Vulnerability not only affects people’s welfare, it also reduces growth, directly by destroying assets, and indirectly as the threat of shocks and stresses diverts assets from more productive activities to those that reduce vulnerability.

These responses involve removal of, resistance to, recovery from and relief from stresses. These responses are nested within three broader livelihoods strategies which people adopt (often together) to survive and to advance their welfare:

• ‘Hanging-in’, where activities are undertaken to maintain livelihood levels at a ‘survival’ level;

• ‘Stepping-up’, where investments are made in existing activities to increase their returns; and

• ‘Stepping-out’, where existing activities are engaged in to accumulate assets as a basis for investment in alternative, higher-return livelihood activities.

Development normally involves shifts in emphasis in people’s livelihoods, from hanging in (through low risk /low return subsistence activities) to stepping up (in higher risk / higher return commercial agricultural activities) to stepping out (from agriculture to higher return non-farm and often urban activities). Social protection and agricultural development policies should support this progression, but means of support should change with structural changes in livelihoods and in rural economies.

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Land Policy and Smallholder Agriculture in Ethiopia
March 1, 2006 / Discussion Papers

Land is a public property in Ethiopia. It has been administered by the government sincethe 1975 radical land reform. The reform brought to an end the exploitative type of relationship that existed between tenants and landlords. Tenants became own operators with use rights, but with no rights to sell, mortgage or exchange of land. The change of government in 1991 has brought not much change in terms of land policy. {jathumbnail off}

The EPRDF led government that overthrew the Military government (Derg) in 1991 has inherited the land policy of its predecessor. Even though the new government adopted a free market economic policy, it has decided to maintain all rural and urban land under public ownership. The December 1994 Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia proclaimed that ‘Land is a common property of the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia and shall not be subject to sale or to other means of transfer’.

Since the 1975 land reform, which made all rural land public property, the possession of landplots has been conditional upon residence in a village. The transfer of land through longterm lease or sales has been forbidden1, and government sponsored periodicredistribution, though, discouraged administratively since the early 1990s, has not been outlawed (Mulat, 1999). Ethiopia is one of the few countries in Africa that has not made significant changes in its basic land policy for over three decades; except for occasional land redistributions to accommodate the growing population.

Land redistribution was more frequent during the Derg time and has been discouraged since 1991, though not totally eliminated. No redistribution has happened for 10 years in Amhara Region, 15 years in other regions. In1996, land was given to landless youth and returnee ex-soldiers in Amhara Region by reducing the holding of farmers who were reportedly associated with previous governments. Even though equity or social justice seems the major objective of there distribution, it also demonstrates the loophole in the policy which allows local authorities to use the land policy as a political instrument. In other regions, communal grazing and woodland was allotted to new claimants (Mulat, 1999).

Increasing population in the rural areas was thus absorbed in agriculture through levelling down of holdings,rather than through alternative forms of employment. Population growth could have been supported by rural non-farm employment creation, but this hasn’t happened so young adults people remain in rural areas either unemployed, as landless labourers or as share croppers on someone else’s land. This consequence of the land redistributions and the current land policy does not seem to have been foreseen by the government of Ethiopia.

Access to land is an important issue for the majority of Ethiopian people who, one way orthe other, depend on agricultural production for their income and subsistence. Landtenure issues therefore continue to be of central political and economic importance, as they have been at several junctures in Ethiopia’s history.

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Food Aid and Small-holder Agriculture in Ethiopia:
March 1, 2006 / Discussion Papers

Ethiopia has been structurally in food deficit since at least 19801. The contribution of agriculture to food security has declined as the growth in food production has failed to keep pace with population growth. The level of chronic food insecurity also increases as the distinction between transitory and chronic food insecurity has become increasingly blurred (Devereux, 2000). Ethiopia is the world’s most food aid dependent country.

Official statistics indicate that the country received 795 thousand metric tonnes of food aid annually between 1990 and 1999, which was about 10% of total domestic grain production. Food aid shipments increased to 997 thousand metric tonnes (equivalent to 11.5% of national production) between 2002 and 2032.