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Agriculture and Social Protection in Malawi
January 15, 2010 / Miscellaneous

{jathumbnail off}Social_Protection_in_MalawiThis paper reviews social protection and agriculture policies in Malawi in order to explorethe links, synergies and conflicts that lie between them. It begins with brief backgroundinformation about Malawi, in terms of its economic and welfare indicators.

Particularemphasis is placed on understanding agricultural and social protection policies within thecontext of

(a) political issues and

(b) market and livelihood development.

This is followed witha review of agricultural and social protection policies, their interactions and their impacts onlivelihoods and welfare. Specific attention is given to evolving input subsidy policies whichare of particular relevance to this review. We conclude with a discussion of lessons that canbe learned from Malawian experience with agriculture and social protection.

Before examining specific agricultural and social protection policies in terms of their evolutionand outcomes, it is important to place these in context. We focus on three particular (andinter-related) aspects of context, the political context (as this affects the policy choices thatpoliticians make), the economic context (as this affects the policy demands, resources andhence options), and the agricultural and rural livelihood context (as this affects the policydemands and policy outcomes).

A broad historical understanding is critical in understandingthese contexts, and table 1 sets out major pertinent events since 1990/91. The Economic Context With more than 55% of its rural population in poverty and 24% ultra-poor in 2004/5(National Statistical Office, 2005, and GNI per capita of around 170 US$, Malawi is oneof the poorest countries in the world, as evidenced by a range of social and economic indicators. Many people in Malawi are characterized by high levels ofvulnerability, due to the fragility of their livelihoods, susceptibility to shocks, and largenumbers of non-poor people living just above the poverty line (Devereux et al., 2006).

Social Protection for Agricultural Growth in Africa
January 15, 2010 / Miscellaneous

Various explanations have been advanced for the persistent under-performance of agriculturein many African countries, where smallholder farming is still the dominant livelihood activity and the main source of employment, food and income. Some of the oldest argumentsremain the most compelling.

African farmers face harsh agro-ecologies and erratic weather,characterised by low soil fertility, recurrent droughts and/or floods, and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns associated with climate change. Vulnerability to shocks is compounded by infrastructure deficits (roads and transport networks, telecommunications,potable water and irrigation) that keep poor communities poor and vulnerable, as testifiedby the phenomenon observed during livelihood crises of steep food price gradients fromisolated rural villages to densely settled urban centres.

African farmers have also been inadequately protected against the forces of globalisation and adverse international terms oftrade – for instance, Western farmers and markets are heavily protected in ways that African farmers and markets are not. Finally, African agriculture has been the subject of numerous experiments – strategies,policies, programmes and projects – from ‘Integrated Rural Development Programmes’(IRDPs) in the 1960s to ‘Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers’ (PRSPs) in the 1990s.

Perhaps the most significant intervention of the last half-century was agricultural liberalisation,promoted under the ‘structural adjustment’ reform umbrella during the 1980s and 1990s. Following inconclusive evidence on the impacts of these policy reform processes, the debatecontinues over whether agricultural liberalisation was a good idea badly implemented by‘refusenik’ African governments, or a bad idea doomed to fail, that was imposed on African governments against their better judgement and against the interests of their poor andvulnerable citizens, many of whom are small farmers.

This debate is relevant to our topic,since government interventions in agriculture (pre-liberalisation) were motivated by concerns to achieve household and national food security, both by supporting agricultural growth and by protecting farmers against agricultural risks and market failures.

Seasonality and High Food Prices: a Double Challenge
January 15, 2010 / Miscellaneous

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1. Seasonal hunger is predictable, can be understood and there are tested solutions

2. What happens during seasonal hunger and what happens in famine differs only in severity – Sequencing of coping remains largely the same

3. Moreover the link between them is causal: a chain of shocks leads to the erosion of resilience of a whole community, turning the “normal” seasonal hunger into a major catastrophe.

  • Production failures
  • Reduction of off-farm employment opportunities
  • Hazards
  • Action or inaction in the corridors of power Seasonality: father of all famine
  • Famine can not be stopped unless seasonal hunger is stopped

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Building a common foundation for fighting seasonal hunger
January 15, 2010 / Miscellaneous

{jathumbnail off} Community-based management of acutemalnutrition programs

  • Child growth promotion programs (maternal andchild nutrition, especially from pregnancy to age 3)
  • Seasonal employment programs
  • Social pensions for those unable to work

A “minimum essential package” for fighting seasonal hunger, How much would universalizing a minimum essential package cost annually?

Indicative, order-of-magnitude estimates…

– CMAM programs: £0.96 to £1.87 billion to treat world’s 19 million severely acutely malnourished children
– Child growth promotion: £3.82 to £7.44 billion for approximately 600 million preschool children living in poor countries
– Seasonal employment programs: £15 to £27 billion at 100 days/yearand £1/day wage transfer for an estimated 200 million extremely poor households, plus administrative etc. costs
– Social pensions: £6.03 to £12.21 billion at 50p/day to 30 million elderly in the poorest countries

Total cost of package: £25.81 – £48.52 billion

  • less than 0.1% of global GDP0.
  • 1% of UK GDP equals about 4p/day per person
  • less than 7% of annual military spending worldwide From Policy to Rights
  • The right to food

-Included in international covenants: International Covenant Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Convention on the Rights of the Child

-Primary objective of covenants is to guide the incorporation of rights into national law

-Enforcement of the right to food has the effect of converting discretionary policy into legal entitlements

-India example of how legal protection of the right to food can have practical impact…
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Seasonality and Social Protection in Africa
January 15, 2010 / Miscellaneous

{jathumbnail off}Scial_Protection_in_AfricaThis Working Paper draws on nearly twenty years of research in several African countries,on the inter-related themes of food insecurity, seasonality, coping strategies, famine, form a land in formal safety nets, and social protection. The paper has three objectives:

  • to document and synthesise evidence on the nature and consequences of 1seasonality across rural Africa, highlighting the similarities and convergencesacross contexts;
  • to explore the various policy interventions that have been implemented in 2 response to seasonality, with particular reference to the emerging social protectionagenda;
  • to argue that current approaches to social protection are misconceived and 3inadequate for addressing the seasonal dimensions of rural vulnerability.

2 Seasonality and ‘coping’ in four African countries

2.1 Seasonality is an under-reported food and health crisis that impoverishes and kills Africansevery year; only its severity and duration vary across households and over time. In rain-fedfarming systems, where smallholders depend on a single rainy season for most of their staple food needs, the annual ‘hungry season’ or soudure can last from a few weeks to several months, depending on the extent of food production, self-sufficiency achieved in a given year.

The rhythm of rural life in much of Africa is entirely dictated by this inflexible seasonal calendar, but the relative success or failure of this way of life is determined by the unpredictable behaviour of the weather. The mechanism is straight forward, repetitive as the calendar, and relentless. Smallholders prepare their plots while waiting for the rains to start, then they plant their seeds, then they pray that the rains will be adequate and well.

Future Agricultures in Kenya
January 15, 2010 / Miscellaneous

{jathumbnail off}By John Omiti

Future Agricultures-kenyaCross-country co-ordination issues
Commercialization – Gem Arwings Kodhek / Steve Wiggins

Social Protection – Lydia Ndirangu/ Stephen Devereux
Country co-ordination – John Omiti / John Thompson

Challenges of FAC Research – 1
Carry-over from Phase 1

– Fertiliser paper (Karuti/Atieno)

  • Lack of Country Advisory committee
  • Objections from some national members
  • Slow Disbursements of funds

– leads to slow implementation

– loss of good field assistants

Carry-over from Phase 1

– Fertiliser paper (Karuti/Atieno)

  • Lack of Country Advisory committee
  • Objections from some national members
  • Diminishing interest by some members
  • Cross-country co-ordination issues
  • Slow Disbursements of funds

– leads to slow implementation

– loss of good field assistants

Challenges of FAC Research – 2

  • Data problems Time series and Cross-sectional
  • Sharing mechanisms
  • 5. Exchange rate variations
  • £ vs. €£ vs. $
  • Slow or ineffective implementation
  • Future Research Themes
  • Kenya Vision 2030
  • High input cost Inappropriate land use practices
  • Limited application of agricultural technology and innovation
  • Weak farmer institutions
  • Poor livestock husbandry practice limited extension services
  • Over-dependence on rain-fed agriculture
  • Inadequate credit facilities
  • DfID (2008-2013)
  • New agriculture technologies
  • High value agriculture in areas of medium to high potential
  • Rural economic Risk, vulnerability and adaptation
  • Market Managing natural resources
  • Future Prospects Appear pretty good! Strong stakeholder interest Good research output coming thru! Cross-country work very promising for policy uptake/outcomes.{jcomments off}

Policy Process Theme Progress and Challenges in Year 1
January 15, 2010 / Miscellaneous

Didn’t get started until December

– Long delay in contracts (DFID contract, PP time allocation)
– Getting team together (methodology and detailed planning for MoA district study)

  • Main policy engagement: Tuesday fertiliser workshop
  • MoA study:
    – Secondary data collection started
    – Field work to begin next week
    – Draft reports by March 31st, workshops June
  • Draft review of SWAps in agriculture (Lidia)  


  • Integrating political economy, institutional and technocratic perspectives on how and why agricultural policies are made
    –Linking broad governance to agricultureStraddles Sustainable Agriculture and Governance themes of DFID Research Strategy

Role and Performance of Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development

  • Role in 21st century
  • What they actually do and why
  • How well they do this and how to improve it
  • –Including potential for stakeholder participation in planning and evaluation

  • Phase 1: 2 districts in each of Kenya and Malawi
  • This year: 2 more districts in Kenya, 1 in Malawi
  • – Chosen by both agro-ecology and politics

  • Year 2: Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Ghan
  • – Action research component?


  • Ministry capacity (regulator, coordinator, service provider?) fundamental to:
  • – efforts on commercialisation, technology adoption
    – CAADP objectives (10% budget target)

  • Extension debates:
    – AGRA stockist model, FIPS, NAADS
  • – Is there any future for public delivery?
    – “Mixed ecology” approach

    Relevance to DFID Research Strategy
    Little under Sust Ag, but Governance (Building Strong and Effective States) envisages research on:“… decentralisation and the role of local organisations and the private sector in delivering services. We will also examine the importance of a government’s financial management in the relationship between the state and the people. We will continue to examine the link between power, politics and the relationships between society and the state. We will ask how these shape development as well as contribute to holding the state to account to its actions.” [p33]

Growth & Social Protection
January 15, 2010 / Miscellaneous

{jathumbnail off}growth_and_social_protectionOUTPUTS  (1):   Working Paper series

WP01       Building Synergies between Social Protection and Smallholder Agricultural Policies
WP02       Agriculture and Social Protection in Malawi
WP03       Agriculture and Social Protection in Ethiopia
WP04       Agriculture and Social Protection in Ghana
WP05       Agriculture and Social Protection in Kenya
WP06       Social Protection for Agricultural Growth in Africa
WP07       Seasonality and Social Protection in Africa 

OUTPUTS  (2):   Briefing Paper series

FAC BP                    The Global Fertiliser Crisis and Africa
GSP BP01                Agriculture and Social Protection in Africa
GSP BP03                Agriculture and Social Protection in Malawi
GSP BP03                Agriculture and Social Protection in Ethiopia
GSP BP04                Agriculture and Social Protection in Ghana 

Agricultural Commercialisation
January 15, 2010 / Miscellaneous

{jathumbnail off}agricultural_commercialisationAim:

  • to examine relation of commercialisation of small farming
  • to levels of food security andother variations amongst households such as assets
  • to see how much intervention overcomes potential failures in factor & product marketsto observe early results


  • Study comparable communities of small and poor farmers subject to intervention to facilitate more commercialised production
  • Three areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi
  • Observe outset of intervention, return two or one year later
  • Combination of qualitative study +  small household surveys
  • Start of studies to be staggered: 08/09 Kenya; 09/10 Ethiopia, Malawi
  • But not possible to begin in Kenya during current year Plan for 09/10 & onwards

Policy frameworks for increasing soil fertility in Africa
January 15, 2010 / Miscellaneous

{jathumbnail off}soil_fertility_in_AfricaEveryone is agreed that one of the central components of achieving an „African Green Revolution. is totackle the widespread soil fertility constraints in African agriculture. To this end, AGRA – the Alliance fora Green Revolution in Africa – has launched a major new „Soil Health. programme aimed at 4.1 millionfarmers across Africa, with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation committing $198 million to the effort www.agra-alliance.org/section/work/soils).

The Abuja declaration, following on from the African Fertilizer Summit of 2006 set the scene for major investments in boosting fertilizer supplies www.africafertilizersummit.org/Abuja) Fertilizer Declaration in English.pdf). CAADP – the Comprehensive  African Agricultural Development Programme – has been active in supporting the follow up to the summit, particularly through its work on improving markets and trade www.triomedia.co.za/work/nepad/newsletters/2008/issue212_15Feb2008.html#toc1 ).

Other initiativesabound – the Millennium Villages programme (http://www.millenniumvillages.org/), Sasakawa-Global 2000 www.saa-tokyo.org/english/sg2000/), the activities of the Association for Better Land Husbandry,among many others. All see soil fertility as central, although the suggested solutions and policy.requirements are very different..But what are the policy frameworks that really will increase soil fertility in ways that will boost production. in a sustainable fashion; where the benefits of the interventions are widely distributed, meeting broader.aims of equitable, broad-based development? Here, there is much less precision and an urgent need for a concrete debate.

For this reason, the Future Agricultures Consortium has decided to invite a wide range of participants to debate some key issues around the way forward for policy, and associated institutional arrangements.