Miscellaneous


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Country Reports Kenya
January 14, 2010 / Miscellaneous

Activities

  • National Stakeholder workshop is being held in June this year.
  • Progress on the Commercialisations and Social Protection methodology.
  • Working to raise the visibility level of FAC at the national level.
  • People are interested and knowledgeable and many places (e.g. institutions, universities) are working on agriculture.
  • FAC has good institutional members (i.e. KIPPRA, Tegemeo) that are solid. As well, FAC has links with other partners (CIAT, ICRAF, etc.)
  • The success of the Fertiliser Workshop proves commitment and interest; even the private sector attended the workshop, which is a good sign.
  • FAC Kenya produces credible material (e.g. reporting to Dfid)
  • Cross-country work is very promising.
  • Work continues to be carried over from Phase I and work on fertiliser subsidies (Gem, Colin + Karuti + Rosemary) will be finished soon
  • Setting up the advisory group proved difficult. FAC had names last year – senior fellows in Ministries which were floated with other members but it was felt there was too much government. More names from CSOs – no names are not forthcoming. Committee was never constituted, as nominations could not be decided upon.
  • FAC is looking to Tegemeo to include as partner.
  • But these are informal collections – no formal mechanism to control membership. Things are being incrementally institutionalised but we’re a network with unclear formula for non-compliance.
  • This is a critical stage for us. In Kenya, July meeting was our attempt to come up with solutions – we sought names “advisors on future agricultures” but may be too strong. “advisory” is sensitive to government.
  • FAC should think about what it needs first – advocacy, advice, authority. Accountability – it’s a loose and organise organisation (FAC) growing organically – a typical network. Think carefully FAC needs the Ministry – otherwise FAC will end up so it can’t advise etc.
  • The “advisory group” is not really advocacy but a ‘critical friend’ that comments on our work.

Discussion

  • Setting up the advisory group proved difficult. FAC had names last year – senior fellows in Ministries which were floated with other members but it was felt there was too much government. More names from CSOs – no names are not forthcoming. Committee was never constituted, as nominations could not be decided upon.
  • FAC is looking to Tegemeo to include as partner.
  • But these are informal collections – no formal mechanism to control membership. Things are being incrementally institutionalised but we’re a network with unclear formula for non-compliance.
  • This is a critical stage for us. In Kenya, July meeting was our attempt to come up with solutions – we sought names “advisors on future agricultures” but may be too strong. “advisory” is sensitive to government.
  • FAC should think about what it needs first – advocacy, advice, authority. Accountability – it’s a loose and organise organisation (FAC) growing organically – a typical network. Think carefully FAC needs the Ministry – otherwise FAC will end up so it can’t advise etc.
  • The “advisory group” is not really advocacy but a ‘critical friend’ that comments on our work.

Country Reports Malawi
January 14, 2010 / Miscellaneous

Circumstances in Malawi are similar to those in Kenya: there is limited policy space. As well, there is an impending general election so after May 09 there should be more openings in Ministry of Agriculture that will want to talk about way forward.

Core team – Ephraim Chirwa, Blessings Chinsinga (Policy Processes), Andrew Dorward (GSP)

Progress

  • Advisory Group – preliminary consultations are done – key ministries still being approached, but change of PS/directors in MoAFS problematic – policy environmental sensitivity.
  • Ministry of Agriculture – most of civil society is interested in agriculture but they lack the analytical capacity to engage effectively with the Ministry. If the ministry is not interested in this group, should we continue planning? For us, the main challenge is engagement. Subsidy programme has become so political; nobody wants to talk about (not at least until May 19).
  • Theme of agricultural growth: many policy workshops in Malawi and within the region. Social protection process has stalled but has been retained on the basis that the ministry did not have active consultation. They are sitting back and wanting to restart the process but will wait until after the election. Not going to be an issue before the election.
  • Challenge MoAFS – General election in May 09. Will slow process. Official invitations will only be made after Ministry is on board as part of AG. May improve after the elections.
  • Also participated in farmer organisation study – touches on commercialisation
  • Agriculture growth and commercialisation – work in progress on seasonality – we should have a draft working paper by the end of the year.
  • We have engaged at various levels (including Andrew) for evaluation of Malawi input subsidy. Will help to inform results from first evaluation.
  • We have participated in regional and international workshops at the level of policy makers (e.g. Salzburg). Policy makers (SADC) were there and this was significant. Ministries of Ag form SADC countries also.
  • Jatorpha – marketing it as a commercial crop among smallholders. They want to do a baseline and monitor. It’s a five-year project. Sampling will look at adoption rates. Related to the Commercialisation theme, coffee etc. is not a crop for farmers. Japtropha is a different product with little experience about marketing this. We have been contracted to do the baseline but no funds mean we have not started.
  • Also participated in farmer organisation study – touches on commercialisation
  • Ag growth and commercialisation – work in progress on seasonality – we should have a draft working paper by the end of the year.
  • We have engaged at various levels (including Andrew) for evaluation of Malawi input subsidy. Will help to inform results from first evaluation.
  • We have participated in regional and international workshops at the level of policy makers (e.g. Salzburg). Policy makers (SADC) were there and this was significant. Ministries of Ag form SADC countries also.
  • Policy processes theme – problems like delay in funding changed plans. First phase we were in two districts, we propose to add a district in the north and bring all farmers together in workshop.

A New Deal for Food and Agriculture: Responding to uncertainty, building resilience
January 14, 2010 / Miscellaneous

Interlocking uncertainties: new challenges for food and agriculture

The interlocking food, fuel, financial and climate crises present major challenges fordevelopment. This is particularly so in Africa – and for the poor across the world. The bottom billion is now not only resource poor, but hungry too. The shocks of recent years are unprecedented: they interact in ways that create extreme poverty traps,   increasing the vulnerability of the poor – and especially women and children.

Such shocks are felt especially acutely in so-called fragile states where governance is weak and the potential for conflict is high. Already facing extreme risks and challenging livelihoods, poor people must now deal with deep, interacting and interlocking uncertainties. Increasingly the consequence of a complex, interconnected and globalised world, extreme volatility will remain a feature of the development landscape. Coping with and proofing against such risks and uncertainties must be the core challenge of any international development endeavour.

Addressing food insecurity and hunger lies at the heart of this. MDG1 has stated our global ambitions. But the recent combination of food, fuel and finance shocks, and the long term stress of climate change, has set us back. Even approaching the targets looks like a forlorn hope. But there are solutions to these challenges; although recent events put these into new perspective, adding a new urgency to the task.

The immediate effort, particularly in Africa – but also in large parts of Asia – must be effective relief and social protection measures to avoid the already hungry becoming hungrier. The ‘silent tsunami’ of global hunger is a real phenomenon, and it has not gone away with the reversal of the food and fuel price hikes of 2008. The financial crisis adds to the burden, as remittance flows dry up and economies slow down. A major effort to ensure a basic safety net is needed to offset the negative impacts of extreme price, production and market volatility that affect the poor.

Agriculture, Growth and Poverty Reduction in Ethiopia: Policy
January 14, 2010 / Miscellaneous

{jathumbnail off}Poverty_Reduction_in_Ethiopia“Agriculture is the mainstay of the Ethiopian Economy”. This statement has almost become acliché for development professionals in Ethiopia. Those who went to school 50 years ago,read it; and later on wrote about it. So has the present generation. The Report on the Ethiopian Economy, Volume IV (EEA/EEPRI, 2004/05:10) stated, for example:“…agriculture is the main stay of the Ethiopian economy and the most volatile sector….mainly due to its dependence on rain and the seasonal shocks that are frequently observed”.

As things stand, our children and grandchildren will be repeating this refrain for generations to come. Yet, the sector has been unable to realise its potential and contribute significantly to economic development. How can we change this? In the Ethiopian context, agriculture is proving to be the most complex sector to understand. On the one hand, it contributes the largest share to GDP, export trade and earnings, and employs 84% (PASDEP, 2006) of the population.

On the other hand, despite such socio-economic importance, the performance of the sector is very low due to many natural and man-made factors. As a result, Ethiopia is characterised by large food self-sufficiency gap atnational level and food insecurity at household level (EEA/EEPRI, 2004/05:145). Whereas in the Northern highlands, farmers struggle to make ends meet on completely degraded land, in the South and Southwestern part of the country, people live in extremepoverty in the midst of plenty – fertile land and relatively preserved environment.

Tocomplicate matters further, the country’s future is pinned on agriculture as demonstrated in a statement by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia in 2000.

Intensification of Smallholder Agriculture in Ethiopia
January 14, 2010 / Miscellaneous

The prevailing orthodoxy is to see the problem of smallholder agriculture in Ethiopia strictly as a technical and resource related problem. This view identifi es the low level of agricultural productivity as the key problem. In response, the government of Ethiopia has since the mid 1990s, implemented a high-profi le, national technologyled extension programme. But has this worked, and what are the limitations of such a strategy?

The Smallholder Intensification Programme

The Ethiopian government’s development strategy centres on ‘Agricultural Development Led Industrialization’. A ‘green revolution’-like intensifi cation of smallholder agriculture was seen as key. Policymakers assumed that signifi cant productivity growth could be easily achieved by improving farmers’ access to technologies which would narrow the yield gap. Researchers identified crop technology packages that could make a huge difference.

They indicated that maize yield, for instance, can be increased from current farmers’ yields of 1.6 tonnes/ha to 4.7 tonnes/ha, if farmers used the right type and amount of improved seed varieties, fertilizers and other recommended practices. The ‘Participatory Agricultural Demonstration Training Extension System’ (PADETES) thus aimed to attain yield improvements at a national level, based on the much touted experience of the Sasakawa Global 2000 programme.

The strategy was a technology-based, supply-driven intensifi cation which consisted of enhanced supply and promotion of improved seeds, fertilizers, onfarm demonstrations of improved farm practices and technologies,improved credit supply for the purchase of inputs and close follow up of farmers’ extension plots

Rethinking Agricultural Input Subsidies in Poor Rural Economies
January 14, 2010 / Miscellaneous

{jathumbnail off}Poor_Rural_EconomiesAgricultural input subsidies were a common element in agricultural development in poor rural economies in the 1960s and 70s, including successful green revolutions. Although subsidies have continued, to a greater and lesser extent, in some countries, conventional wisdom as well as dominant donor thinking in the 80s and 90s was that subsidies had been ineffective and inefficient policy instruments in Africa, which contributed to government overspending and fiscal and macroeconomic problems.

Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in agricultural input subsidies in Africa, together with the emergence of innovative subsidy-delivery systems. These developments, together with new insights into development processes, make it necessary to revisit the conventional wisdom on subsidies.

This should include an examination of the various development opportunities and constraints facing African farmers, a review of recent experience with input subsidies, and a thorough reexamination of the role played by agricultural input subsidies in the Asian green revolution.

Big farms or small farms: how to respond to the food crisis?
July 16, 2009 / Miscellaneous

Debates on the scale of farming are back on the agenda. In a number of recentarticles, Professor Paul Collier, author of ‘The Bottom Billion: Why the PoorestCountries are Failing and What Can be Done About It’, made the case (see Position 1 below) for encouraging large-scale commercial farming as way toget African farming moving. Favouring small farmers, he argues, is romantic but unhelpful

During 2008 there have been many reports of private companies in the Northand state corporations in the South reacting to the opportunity and threat ofhigher food prices by planning to acquire land in Africa, South-east Asia, Braziland Central Asia to produce food. The most startling of these announcementsis that of the Daewoo Corporation of the Republic of Korea that revealed that itwas acquiring the rights to farm no less than 1.3 million hectares of Madagascar,a position from which the company and the government have now backedaway from following a storm of local and international protest.In many cases the reports suggest that the aim is to farm the land on a largescale, rather than to contract production through existing family smallholdings.

It is now more than three years since IFPRI, Imperial College, and ODI organiseda workshop at Wye for specialists to debate the issues surrounding small farms.It looks to be time to revisit those arguments in the light of higher food prices,the arguments being made for largescalefarming and apparent intent ofcapital-rich investors.

In May 2009, the Future AgriculturesConsortium welcomed a range ofopinions in regard to this debate; thisreport by FAC member Steve Wigginssummarises the contributionsand themes emerging from thediscusisons.

Establishment of Kenya National Agricultural Innovation Systems
March 1, 2009 / Miscellaneous

{jathumbnail off}{jcomments off}Since the last decade, many of the world’s economies have been faced with food crisis,characterised by high food prices and food shortages year after year. African countries are among the worst hit, where most of the poor people suffer from silent food problems. This is partly due to unequal distribution of the available food supplies, which breeds dual economies; one that is wellfed while the other is languishing in hunger and poverty (Reutlinger, 1977). Food security has also been threatened by heightening production costs, lower farmer prices and the international financial crisis.

This, coupled with climatic change has led to reduction in the production of some staple foodcrops such as maize in Southern Africa, a situation which would lead to deeper and more widespread food crisis (Brink, 2008). Global food crisis has led to much debate and extended discussions at the international frontiers onhow best to address it. Various approaches have been designed and implemented both at national and international levels. For instance, in 2008 the G8 member countries committed themselves to partner with Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) in efforts to reverse the decline in agricultural productivity since most of African economies are agriculture-based (Los Angeles CA,2008).

Other suggested efforts include designing and implementing a commercial agricultural alliance forAfrica which would partner with development partners in efforts aimed at attaining food security and empowering farmers (Brink, 2008). Southern Africa has developed one such platform, Food,Agricultural and National Resource Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) which uses an interactive approach in tapping new and existing innovations to address macro-economic issues.

One such innovation is the Agricultural Input Subsidy Program (AISP) in Malawi which has turned the food crisis into an opportunity for economically empowering farmers and ensuring there is sufficient food for the households (FANRPAN, 2008). This initiative has been rated as a success due to prevailing good policies in Malawi, along with the interactive nature of the programme and the adoption of value chain approach. In this context the value chain approach will be used to analyse agricultural innovation by chain players at levels from production to consumption.

Farmer First Revisited Innovation for Agricultural Research and Development
March 1, 2009 / Miscellaneous

{jathumbnail off}By Ian Scoones and John Thompson
March 2009

Agriculture is an urgent priority worldwide and farmers in the developing world find themselves in the front line of some of the world’s most pressing issues – climate change, globalization and food security. The problem with the agricultural research and extension which is meant to support these farmers is that it is often delivered in a linear, top-down fashion which is inappropriate to their social, physical and economic needs.

Twenty years ago, the Farmer First workshop at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK, started from this premise, and launched a movement to encourage farmer participation in agricultural research and extension so as to find better solutions to farmers’ needs.Since that time methodological, institutional and policy experiments have unfolded around the world – all aimed at putting farmers first. Farmer First Revisited presents accounts of such experiments which were brought by delegates to a workshop in December 2007 and which include successes and failures and the lessons that have been learned.

Agricultural innovation now takes place less within national public-sector research organizations and more in diversified public-private systems. This book asks: how do farmers engage in these public and private systems? In the context of increasingly globalized and complex agricultural supply chains, how do farmers take part in the policy processes defining access to markets, and in agricultural research and development? Farmer First Revisited should be read by students, policy makers, agricultural scientists and social scientists aiming to bring the concerns of grassroots farmers to the fore.

‘Farmer First Revisited is a powerful testament to the impact of the Farmer First Approach. From an almost subversive critical movement that challenged the prevailing linear science-driven paradigm, Farmer First has won broad acceptance by rigorously proving its superior efficiency in making science work for the poorest and most marginal farmers.
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Innovation for Agricultural Research and Development
March 1, 2009 / Miscellaneous

By Ian Scoones and John Thompson
March 2009

Agriculture is an urgent global priority and farmers find themselves in the front line of some of the world’s most pressing issues – climate change, globalization and food security.Twenty years ago, the Farmer First workshop held at the Institute of Development Studies,University of Sussex, UK, launched a movement to encourage farmer participation in agricultural research and development (R&D), responding to farmers’ needs in complex, diverse, risk-prone environments, and promoting sustainable livelihoods and agriculture. Since that time, methodological, institutional and policy experiments have unfolded around the world. Farmer First Revisited returns to the debates about farmer participation in agricultural R&D and looks to the future.

With over 60 contributions from across the world,the book presents a range of experiences that highlight the importance of going beyonda focus on the farm to the wider innovation system, including market interactions as well asthe wider institutional and policy environment. If, however, farmers are really to be put first, apolitics of demand is required in order to shape the direction of these innovation systems. This calls for a major rethinking of agricultural R&D, the boosting of the knowledge and capacities of farmers’ organizations to innovate, the strengthening of networks and alliances to support, document and share lessons on farmer led innovation, and the transformation of agricultural higher education.

Farmer First Revisited should be read by students,policy makers, development professionals, and natural and social scientists aiming to bring the concerns of grassroots farmers to the fore. Ian Scoones is a Professorial Fellow and JohnThompson is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, UK.Book Contents Foreword by Robert Chambers.

Part I: Farmer First RevisitedChallenges to strengthening Agricultural Innovation Systems

Part II: Systems of innovationPart III: The politics of demand and organizational change

Part IV: New professionalism, Learning and change Fostering Farmer First methodological innovation.
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