Publications

The Future Agricultures Consortium produces research in a variety of formats.Several key research series are available for download, circulation and citation.

Use the search field below or review our thematically structured research archive.


Latest articles

Seeds In Africa Sussex
November 3, 2009 / Cereal Seed Systems

African Smallholders: Consumers and Seeds

FAC Meetings Autumn07
November 2, 2009 / FAC Documents

Early in the new century a consensus on agricultural and rural development emerged that provided renewed impetus to efforts to boost both agricultural development and the rural non-farm economy, in a context of ever closer rural-urban linkages and globalisation. Both governments and donors have committed themselves to support this.

The challenge has been to translate themes into practical policy. For two years the Future Agricultures Consortium, supported by DFID, has been investigating how to do this, primarily in Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi.

This set of meetings presents of the results of this work. It also includes the World Bank presenting the 2008 World Development Report on Agriculture and Development, and two sessions on the way forward and whether or not emerging challenges from biofuels, climate change, and the growth of China and India imply that the agenda needs radical revision.

The Crisis Of Pastoralism
November 2, 2009 / E-debates

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.

 

The Social Protection Policy in Malawi: Processes Politics and Challenges
November 2, 2009 / Research Papers

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

BBC World Debate: Failing the Farmer?
November 1, 2009 / Media

Small farmers produce the majority of all the food we consume wherever we are in this world Butin the rich countries and the poorer countries, in the developed world and the developing world, in the north and the south smallholder farmers are leaving the land. Our food is increasingly being produced by big business. As long as there is food for you and me to buy does it matter? A growing body of expert opinions says yes it does.

Studies show that in poorer countries the tens of millions of small farms are a win win for economic growth and poverty reduction. They are more efficient than large farms. They keep large numbers of people in paidproductive work and they ensure secure supplies of food. So if small farms are so important why is their very existence under threat? Why should we care about failing the farmer? Well we’ve brought together an international panel of farmers representatives, from government, from tradebodies, scientists, business, non governmental organisations and donor agencies to discuss whether we are failing the farmer.

Let’s hear from three smallholder farmers for whom farming is their way of life that’s under threat.Paul Nicholson, you’re a farmer from the Basque region in Northern Spain, you speak for the international peasant movement which is La Via Campesina. Why should we be caring about the small farmer?

First of all more than half of the world’s population are farmers, peasants or fisher folk. And we are the mainstay of local economy. We maintain not only local economy but the local cultures, the bio diversity.We are the stewards of nature in that sense, we maintain er a clear water.

And the crisis of family farmers all over the world north and south means that there is not only a big impoverishment of rural areas but also er it drives an immigration from rural areas to urban areas and er it isgenerating a huge hunger for the first time in history hunger’s basically rural.Well let’s move to Africa, to Nigeria, Er Doctor Olaseinde Arigbede. You’re from Nigeria, you’reboth a medical doctor and a farmer. You’ve got 25 hectares for maize, for yams, er for cassava and other vegetables.

Er represent the union of small and medium scale farmers there. What is the condition, what isthe state of health of smallholder farming in Nigeria? Well I’m glad you called it state of health and not just thinking about sustainability which has been abused so far, but state of health is very important. Now a nation, a nation requires people to work to feed it. It is the small-scale farmers who have fed our nations for ages. And these smallscale farmers have so many obstacles placed on their heads, on their shoulders, on their backs.

Governments disappoint them, they’re unfaithful to them, they neglect them, they deny their rights for support, because thosewho produce for a nation have a right to state support, they’re denied this right. At the international level good lord, all global bodies are ganged up against the small farmers. Why the hell are wefighting WTO, why are we fighting IMAF and all that? They are putting pressure on this farmer and claiming that this farmer is an anachronism which must disappear.Well let’s hear from Asia, from Esther Penunia. You’re from the Philippines. How important is thesmall farmer right across Asia?

Pastoral Innovation Systems Perspectives from Ethiopia and Kenya
October 1, 2009 / Occasional Papers

While there has been much discussion of the importance
of innovation in African agriculture, remarkably little
has focused on mobile pastoral systems. Everyone agrees
that science, technology and innovation must be at the
centre of economic growth, livelihood improvement and
development more broadly. But it must always be asked:
what innovation – and for whom? Decisions about direction,
diversity and distribution are key in any discussion
of innovation options and wider development
pathways.

In March 2009 over 50 pastoralists from across
southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya from a dozen
ethnic groups gathered in the Borana lowlands at the
‘University of the Bush’ to debate key pastoral development
issues.

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.

Political Economy Of Cereal Seed Systems Workshop Report (13-15 Jul 09)
July 13, 2009 / Cereal Seed Systems

The Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC – www.future-agricultures.org) is a network of research organisations in the UK and Africa committed to promoting informed policy dialogue and debate on the future of agriculture in Africa. It is funded by the UK?s Department for International Development, and has a secretariat currently located at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex.

The Science, Technology and Innovation theme of FAC is developing a new strand of work on the „Political Economy of Cereal Seed Systems in Africa?. A Planning and Methodology Workshop was held at the University of Sussex on 13-15 July 2009 to help develop an analytical framework and research design for this work to guide scoping studies in five countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe. This report summarises the main discussions and action points from that event.

Big farms or small farms: how to respond to the food crisis?
July 1, 2009 / E-debates

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 (seePosition 1 below) for encouraging large-scale commercial farming as way toget African farming moving. Favouring small farmers, he argues, is romantic butunhelpful.

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.Contributions to this deabte andthis report are posted electronicallyon the Future Agricultures‘ web site:www.future-agricultures.org

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Farmers’ Organisations
June 2, 2009 / Policy Briefs

By John Thompson, Amdissa Teshome, David Hughes, Ephraim Chirwa and John Omiti
June 2009

This FAC Policy Brief presents what we have termed ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Farmers’ Organisations’. This seeks to provide some insights into what may be described as the ‘critical elements of success’ in high-performing farmers’ organisations in Africa. The seven ‘habits’ identified are:

(1) Clarity of mission;
(2) Sound governance;
(3) Strong, responsive and accountable leadership;
(4) Social inclusion and raising ‘voice’;
(5) Demand-driven and focused service delivery;
(6) High technical and managerial capacity; and
(7) Effective engagement with external actors.

These habits offer a useful checklist of working principles and practices to assess the performance of farmers’ organisation in Africa and elsewhere.

 

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Policy Brief 032 Pdf 457.56 KB 7 downloads

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Challenges and Opportunities for Strengthening Farmers Organisations in Africa: Lessons
June 1, 2009 / Policy Briefs

By John Thompson, Amdissa Teshome, Ephraim Chirwa and John Omiti
June 2009

Farmers’ organisations (FOs) are increasingly being asked to play a central role in driving agricultural transformation processes in Sub-Saharan Africa, despite their mixed record of success. As governments, donors and NGOs rush to promote the scaling up and diversification of FOs’ activities and membership, this policy brief draws on findings of a study of the roles, functions and performance of FOs in Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi to suggest some principles and practices for supporting FOs in Africa.

 

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Agriculture and Social Protection in Ghana: A ‘LEAP’ in the Dark?
March 5, 2009 / Policy Briefs

By Stephen Devereux
March 2009 

Despite impressive progress on poverty reduction at national level in Ghana, chronic poverty and livelihood vulnerability persist, especially among small farmers in northern regions. This Briefing Paper reviews social protection mechanisms for addressing vulnerability among Ghanaian farming families, from ‘PAMSCAD’ in the 1980s to the new National Social Protection Strategy (NSPS) and the Livelihoods Empowerment Against Poverty (‘LEAP’) cash transfer programme.

 

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Agriculture and Social Protection in Ethiopia: The Politics of Land and ‘Graduation’
March 4, 2009 / Policy Briefs

By Stephen Devereux
March 2009

Agriculture and social protection are inextricably interconnected in Ethiopia. Smallholder farming is the dominant livelihood activity for most Ethiopians, but is also a major source of poverty and food insecurity. In terms of agricultural policy, the government’s belief in agriculture as the backbone and main source of economic growth is reflected in its view that land is the ultimate ‘safety net’ for rural households, who should therefore be prevented from selling it. In terms of social protection, the fact that farmers are the main recipients of food aid has fuelled the government’s fear of ‘dependency’ in rural communities, which explains the predominance of public works projects as their preferred delivery mechanism, as well as recent shifts in safety net thinking towards cash transfers rather than food aid, with predictable transfers expected to lead to ‘graduation’ within 3-5 years.

 

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Agriculture and Social Protection in Malawi: Fertiliser Policies and Politics
March 2, 2009 / Policy Briefs

By Stephen Devereux
March 2009

Agricultural and social protection policies must be understood in the context of political agendas, market development and trends in rural livelihoods. This Briefing Paper reviews interactions between agricultural and social protection policies in Malawi – classified as social protection from, independent of, for, through and with agriculture – and their impacts on livelihoods and welfare. Specific attention is given to the evolution of input subsidy policies (i.e. ‘fertiliser politics’).

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Policy Brief 028 Pdf 497.19 KB 6 downloads

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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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Agriculture and Social Protection in Africa
March 1, 2009 / Policy Briefs

By Stephen Devereux
March 2009

The following propositions are generally accepted:
1. Progress in reducing hunger and food insecurity in Africa is unacceptably slow.
2. Hunger and food insecurity are major impediments to poverty reduction in Africa.
3. Poverty, hunger and food insecurity in Africa are still predominantly rural.
4. Agriculture is a key sector in rural household strategies to exit poverty and food insecurity.
5. There is an urgent need for a renewed commitment to agricultural extension and

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Put Farmers First To Transform Agriculture
February 12, 2009 / Miscellaneous

Agriculture and food are urgent global priorities with farmers on the front line of some ofthe world’s most pressing issues. Putting farmers at the vanguard of responses to the food crisis and climate change in Africa and beyond is vital. Putting farmers at the centre of agricultural innovation and development is the subject of a new Practical Action Publishing book, Farmer First Revisited:

Innovation for Agricultural Research and Development, edited by Ian Scoones and John Thompson, foreword by Robert Chambers and launched today in Nairobi, Kenya, by Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Carlos Sere, Director General, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). The books 150 contributors review cases of farmer-led innovation in 30 countries around the world over the past twenty years.

It aims to re-energise the debate about farmer involvement in agricultural research and development, refine the „farmer first approach. methodologies and set new challenges and goals for the immediate and long-term future. Farmer First Revisited discusses: . The methods, institutions and support systems required to transform agriculture research and development systems . How farmer first approaches can help boost production and get the right seeds and other inputs into the hands of farmers .

How farmers can lead climate adaptation responses, using local knowledge and systems to improve resilience and the capacity to change. The book is published twenty years after the original „Farmer First. book, when the idea of promoting farmer-led agricultural innovation was considered a marginal, almost subversive, issue. This was followed in 1994 with „Beyond Farmer First.. But today mainstream opportunities exist for transforming agriculture and putting farmers firmly in the driving seat of change.

In the intervening two decades, the Farmer First movement – a loose, informal network stretching across the world – has experimented with a range of participatory approaches to agricultural research and extension with farmers at the heart of the innovation process.Participatory plant breeding, for example, has involved farmers in the process of choosing and testing new crop varieties. Extension systems have equally been transformed, moving from topdown instruction towards farmer-to-farmer exchange and joint learning.

The use of new information technologies has expanded too, allowing information sharing between farmers. As a result, farmers are increasingly seen as partners in the innovation process, rather than merely recipients of national and international research and extension systems. Yet failures of conventional agriculture and associated institutional arrangements are apparent everywhere. The generation of an African Green Revolution, for example, requires a new agriculture based on partnerships, not top-down impositions and rooted in diverse knowledges rather than singular technical solution.

Wider perspectives on innovation, linking with research and markets, technology development and users are needed. Judi Wakhungu, Executive Director, African Centre for Technology Studies, Nairobi, Kenya and co-chair International Assessment of Agricultural Science, Knowledge and Technology for Development (IAASTD) argues the book shows “why we need to continue questioning conventional assumptions about agriculture, and why multiple knowledges and sources of innovation are more important than ever.”

That opportunities exist for farmers to drive this innovation are especially evident in Africa. Government commitments through the CAADP/NEPAD framework are in place; funding support is being channelled through organisations like AGRA; and policy wider commitments are being affirmed by the IAASTD, the World Banks. World Development Report on agriculture and the discussions around the Global Partnership for Agriculture. And as this new book shows, there are two decades of „farmer first. experiences to build on. Gordon Conway, Chief Scientific Adviser at the UK Department for International Development (DFID) notes: “Twenty years on and the concepts and practices of Farmer First remain powerful and compelling, and even more relevant in today’s world”.

Joachim Voss, former Director General of the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia comments: “Farmer First has won broad acceptance by rigorously proving its superior efficiency in making science work for the poorest and most marginal farmers. It is indeed a pleasure to see how the established and dedicated practitioners, together with a new generation of committed young scientists, have built upon the original concepts and methods to create this dynamic, exciting and effective corpus of work. “

Future Agricultures Consortium
February 12, 2009 / Miscellaneous

By Ian Scoones and John Thompson
12 February 2009

Our mission:

“to encourage dialogue and the sharing of good practice by policy makers and opinion formers in Africa on the role of agriculture in broad based growth”. But aren’t others doing this? CAADP (with the legitimacy of an international governmental process) and AGRA, IFPRI and others (with lots of money)…..likely to be others, So where do we fit?, What do we do that is different?

FAC niche
A diverse partnership

  • Dialogue and deliberation – opening up the debate.
  • Embedded in local settings – but linking to the wider debates
  • Independent, flexible, agile, responsive.
  • Able to challenge, critique and confront
  • Communications – linking findings to wide audiences
  • Relationship with DFID – bridging research and policy.

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Future Agricultures Consortium
February 12, 2009 / Meetings

By Ian Scoones and John Thompson
12 February 2009

Our mission:

“to encourage dialogue and the sharing of good practice by policy makers and opinion formers in Africa on the role of agriculture in broad based growth”. But aren’t others doing this? CAADP (with the legitimacy of an international governmental process) and AGRA, IFPRI and others (with lots of money)…..likely to be others, So where do we fit?, What do we do that is different?

Agriculture and Food Security: Pre-Evaluation Review of DFID Policy
February 3, 2009 / Miscellaneous

John Wyeth, Steve Ashley{jathumbnail off}{jcomments off}

This report considers whether the DFID agriculture policy remains relevant in the light of the recent food crisis and where and why consideration might be given for changes to be made. It is not an evaluation2 and it does not suggest a new policy but aims to provide direction and identify issues and some alternative ways in which the policy might evolve, especially in its relationship with food security.

The policy focussed on the role that agricultural productivity and growth plays in poverty reduction. It did not repeat the analysis of livelihoods and food security that had been covered in earlier papers3 but complemented them by emphasising the benefits of concentrating on areas that had most growth potential.

The mechanisms through which growth reduces poverty were identified as being by increasing income directly in a sector where most poor people live; by increasing the supply, and thereby decreasing the price, of food; by providing labour intensive employment in rural areas; and through the linkages agriculture generates with other economic sectors. The policy provided support for farmers through macro level policies, more effective public spending and focussing on market opportunities, agricultural finance, new technologies, land and property rights as well as reductions of national and international market distortions.

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Agriculture and Food Security: Pre-Evaluation Review of DFID Policy
February 3, 2009 / External Analysis

John Wyeth, Steve Ashley

This report considers whether the DFID agriculture policy remains relevant in the light of the recent food crisis and where and why consideration might be given for changes to be made. It is not an evaluation and it does not suggest a new policy but aims to provide direction and identify issues and some alternative ways in which the policy might evolve, especially in its relationship with food security.

Fertiliser Subsidies: Lessons from Malawi for Kenya
February 1, 2009 / Policy Briefs

By Colin Poulton
February 2009

Since 2005/06 a large-scale agricultural inputs subsidy programme has been in place in Malawi, which, combined with good rains, has resulted in the country moving from chronic food insecurity to maize surplus. This in turn has excited interest in fertiliser subsidies in other countries, including Kenya (itself chronically maize deficit). In this briefing note we summarise some of the key lessons learnt from evaluation of the Malawi fertiliser subsidy to date. Some of these are directly applicable to Kenya. However, the agro-ecological political and market contexts of Malawi and Kenya are different, so we also consider how these differences affect the transferability of the fertiliser subsidy programme.

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Policy Brief 026 Pdf 660.98 KB 2 downloads

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Agriculture and Social Protection in Ethiopia
January 11, 2009 / Working Papers

Stephen Devereux and Bruce Guenthe
January 2009

Agriculture and social protection in Ethiopia are inextricably interconnected. Smallholder farming is the dominant livelihood activity for the majority of Ethiopians, but it is also the major source of vulnerability to poverty, food insecurity and their often fatal consequences– chronic malnutrition, premature mortality, recurrent famines. Ethiopian farmers have been the recipients of enormous volumes of food aid and other humanitarian assistance over recent decades, to such an extent that emergency relief has become institutionalised within government structures and donor agency country programmes.

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Agriculture and Social Protection in Ghana
January 11, 2009 / Working Papers

Ghana was one of the first countries in Africa to embark on structural adjustment reforms. 25 years on, its continuing commitment to reform for national economic development has yielded impressive gains in growth and poverty reduction. Poverty in the country is measured through periodic Ghana Living Standards Surveys (GLSS). In 1991/92 GLSS3 found that 51.7%of the population were living below the national poverty line. By 1998/99 (GLSS4) this had fallen to 39.5% and by 2005/06 (GLSS5) it had fallen to 28.5% (Ghana Statistical Service2007). In absolute terms the number of poor people in Ghana has fallen from 7.9 million in 1991/92 to 6.2 million in 2005/06. At current growth rates, Ghana should achieve MDG1before 2010.

Building synergies between social protection
January 1, 2009 / Miscellaneous

By Rachel Sabates Wheeler, Stephen Devereux and Bruce Guenther
January 2009

The paper explores how social protection and agricultural policies interact, creating either synergies or conflicts between them. To the extent that social protection measures help poor rural people expand their assets, use them more efficiently and adopt higher return activities,there should be strong synergies with agricultural development. Reverse synergies can also arise,if agricultural policies help farmers improve their livelihoods and reduce their vulnerability.

But conflicts can occur if policy objectives are inconsistent with each other, and these are alsoexamined in this paper. We draw on numerous examples from the across the globe, but withspecific emphasis from the African continent to highlight issues including, liquidity constraints,scale and threshold effects, timing, seasonality and policy complementarities. In conclusionwe consider lessons for how the agricultural policies and social protection instruments can bedesigned and implemented to exploit welfare and growth synergies.

After a lengthy period of relative neglect, agriculture is back on the policy agenda of many African governments and international agencies. Smallholder farming is recognised by the Commission for Africa, NEPAD and others as central to rural livelihoods and therefore indispensable to food security and poverty reduction and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa. At the same time, however, the multiple risks and vulnerabilities that smallholders face are increasingly well understood, and new policy frameworks are emerging that distinguish between different types and sources of risk (for example, idiosyncratic and covariant risk affecting agricultural production, markets and health) and between different response options (investment in crop or livestock protection, irrigation, market stabilisation and access, cash transfers, and so on).

Reducing risk in smallholder farming requires agricultural development policies, and policies that create a conducive enabling environment for agriculture, while managing risk in smallholder farming requires social protection policies that can also contribute to reducing risk. The paper analyses how social protection and agricultural policies interact, creating either synergies or conflicts between them.

We explore both current and potential synergies and conflicts between ‘welfare-promoting’ and ‘growth-promoting’ forms of social protection and agricultural development. To the extent that social protection measures help poor rural people expand their assets, use them more efficiently and adopt higher return activities, there should be strong synergies with agricultural development. Reverse synergies can also arise, if agricultural policies help farmers improve their livelihoods and reduce their vulnerability. But conflicts can occur if policy objectives are inconsistent with each other, and these are also examined in this paper.
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Social Protection Series Poverty, Livelihoods and Vulnerability in Northern Ghana
January 1, 2009 / Miscellaneous

By Ramatu Al-Hassan and Colin Poulton
January 2009

Ghana was one of the first countries in Africa to embark on structural adjustment reforms. 25 years on, its continuing commitment to reform for national economic development has yielded impressive gains in growth and poverty reduction. Poverty in the country is measured through periodic.

Ghana Living Standards Surveys (GLSS). In 1991/92 GLSS3 found that 51.7% of the population were living below the national poverty line. By 1998/99 (GLSS4) this had fallen to 39.5% and by 2005/06 (GLSS5) it had fallen to 28.5% (Ghana Statistical Service2007). In absolute terms the number of poor people in Ghana has fallen from 7.9 million in 1991/92 to 6.2 million in 2005/06. At current growth rates, Ghana should achieve MDG1before 2010. However, the fall in poverty has not been experienced equally around the country.

GLSS5 figures show poverty headcount rates in the five southern regions of the country of between12% (Greater Accra) and 20% (Ashanti, Central, Eastern, Western). These regions have all seen dramatic falls in poverty since 1991/92 due to urban growth, minerals extraction and,in the recent survey period, a boom in the cocoa sector in response to higher world prices and domestic market reforms and production support. The “transitional” regions, Brong Ahafo and Volta, have also witnessed impressive falls in poverty to around 30% in 2005/06. However, poverty in the three northern regions – Northern, Upper East and Upper West –remains stubbornly high at 52-88%.

In 2005/06 the three northern regions accounted for just under 22% of the population, but 45% of the headcount poor, 57% of the headcount extreme poor and 80% of extreme poverty severity1 in the country (Ghana Statistical Service 2007). The livelihood classification used by GLSS shows poverty to be concentrated amongst “foodcorp farmers”, who are encountered disproportionately (but not exclusively) within the three northern regions. This group accounted for 43% of the population in 2005/06, but 69% of the headcount poor. Whilst the poverty rate amongst “food crop farmers” (68%) and “export The P2 poverty measure using the lower (extreme poverty) line.
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Agriculture and Social Protection in Ethiopia
January 1, 2009 / Miscellaneous

By Stephen Devereux and Bruce Guenther
January 2009

Agriculture and social protection in Ethiopia are inextricably interconnected. Smallholder farming is the dominant livelihood activity for the majority of Ethiopians, but it is also the major source of vulnerability to poverty, food insecurity and their often fatal consequences– chronic malnutrition, premature mortality, recurrent famines. Ethiopian farmers have been the recipients of enormous volumes of food aid and other humanitarian assistance over recent decades, to such an extent that emergency relief has become institutionalised within government structures and donor agency country programmes.

The discourse surrounding the complex relationship between agriculture and social protection in Ethiopia can be approached from either perspective. From the agricultural policy perspective, the government’s unshakeable belief in the centrality of farming as the backbone and potential source of growth for the Ethiopian economy is mirrored by its almost ideological view that land is the ultimate ‘safety net’ for rural households, who should therefore be protected against losing their access to land – by being prevented from selling it.

From the social protection perspective, awareness that able-bodied farmers are the main‘beneficiaries’ of safety nets and humanitarian food aid has fuelled the government’s visceral fear of creating ‘dependency’ in rural communities, which in turn explains the predominance of public works projects as their preferred delivery mechanism for food aid, as well as recent shifts in safety net thinking towards cash transfers rather than food aid, with predictable multi-annual transfers expected to lead to ‘graduation’ within a defined time period.
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Agriculture and Social Protection in Malawi
January 1, 2009 / Working Papers

Andrew Dorward, Bruce Guenther and Rachel Sabates-Wheeler
January 2009

This paper reviews social protection and agriculture policies in Malawi in order to explore the links, synergies and conflicts that lie between them. It begins with brief background information about Malawi, in terms of its economic and welfare indicators. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding agricultural and social protection policies within thecontext of:
(a) Political issues and
(b) Market and livelihood development

This is followed with a review of agricultural and social protection policies, their interactions and their impacts on livelihoods and welfare. Specific attention is given to evolving input subsidy policies which are of particular relevance to this review. We conclude with a discussion of lessons that can be learned from the Malawian experience with agriculture and social protection.

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Improving access to input & output markets
December 8, 2008 / Research Papers

By Andrew Dorward, Ephraim Chirwa and Colin Poulton
December 2008

Agriculture can play two potential roles in wider economic growth,fundamental increases in productivity and earnings) and/or multiplying and spreading the benefits of primary growth drivers through an economy. Growth drivers include exports of tradables and increased production of foods (both tradables and non-tradables). Non-tradable staple foods have particular importance in poor rural economies as they are important to the real incomes of large numbers of poor net food consumers and small scale net producers, and they tend to have high positive growth linkages and low leakages. Increased production of non-staple horticultural and livestock products for domestic consumption are important as growth supports where these are semi-tradeables or non-tradeables, but are only effective in the context of an economy benefiting from other growth drivers.

Consideration of the contributions of different types of agricultural production in the context of wider national growth processes allows the contributions of different types of smallholder agricultural development to be placed in the context of different types of economy. Three broad types ofeconomy are identified – countries with minerals, coastal countries without minerals, and land locked countries without minerals. Challenges and opportunities facing the development of smallholder production of different agricultural products are also identified.

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Improving access to input & output markets
December 8, 2008 / Research Papers

Andrew Dorward, Ephraim Chirwa and Colin Poulton
December 2008

Agriculture can play two potential roles in wider economic growth,fundamental increases in productivity and earnings) and/or multiplying and spreading the benefits of primary growth drivers through an economy. Growth drivers include exports of tradables and increased production of foods (both tradables and non-tradables).Non-tradable staple foods have particular importance in poor rural economies as they are important to the real incomes of large numbers of poor net food consumers and small scale net producers, and they tend to have high positive growth linkages and low leakages. Increased production of non-staple horticultural and livestock products for domestic consumption are important as growth supports where these are semi-tradeables or non-tradeables, but are only effective in the context of an economy benefiting from other growth drivers.

Consideration of the contributions of different types of agricultural production in the context of wider national growth processes allows the contributions of different types of smallholder agricultural development to be placed in the context of different types of economy. Three broad types ofeconomy are identified – countries with minerals, coastal countries without minerals, and land locked countries without minerals. Challenges and opportunities facing the development of smallholder production of different agricultural products are also identified.

Agricultural Commercialisation in Coffee Growing Areas of Ethiopia
October 31, 2008 / Research Papers

The coffee sub-sector is very important to the Ethiopian economy – in 2005, coffee export generated 41% of foreign exchange earnings – and provides income for approximately 8 million smallholder households. Policy attention to the sector was always considerable, and its importance has been renewed in the latest Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty (PASDEP). PASDEP puts forward a development strategy based on accelerated economic growth, part of which is hoped to be achieved via increased smallholder commercialisation and market integration.

This paper addresses commercialisation in selected coffee growing areas in Ethiopia. The objectives of the study were (i) to assess the scale of commercialisation in coffee growing areas and to detect household and farm characteristics which might explain variation in the levels of coffee commercialisation among households; and (ii) to answer two separate questions: why some sampled households didn’t take part in output markets (i.e. identify determinants of market entry) and why some households sold more products than others (i.e. determinants of market supply). Answering these questions will help to identify policy options promoting market participation and commercialisation of smallholder agriculture.

Sequencing of Investments for Agricultural Growth, Poverty Reduction and Food Security
October 31, 2008 / Discussion Papers

By Andrew Dorward

As investment in agricultural development gains increasing prominence in Africa among governments and donors, there is renewed interest in developing strategic understanding of the investments that are needed to effectively and efficiently promote agricultural growth to benefit the poor and improve food security.

Agricultural Commercialisation in Coffee Growing Areas of Ethiopia
October 31, 2008 / Research Papers

Samuel Gebreselassie and Eva Ludi
March 2008

The coffee sub-sector is very important to the Ethiopian economy. In 2005, coffee exports generated 41% of foreign exchange earnings and provides income for approximately 8 million smallholder households. Policy attention to the sector was always considerable, and its importance has been renewed in the latest Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty (PASDEP). PASDEP puts forward a development strategy based on accelerated economic growth, part of which is hoped to be achieved via increased smallholder commercialisation and market integration.

Sequencing of Investments for Agricultural Growth, Poverty Reduction
October 31, 2008 / Miscellaneous

{jathumbnail off}food-securityAs investment in agricultural development gains increasing prominence in Africa, amonggovernments and donors, there is renewed interest in developing strategic understanding of theinvestments that are needed to effectively and efficiently promote agricultural growth to benefit thepoor and improve food security.

This is a matter of particular concern in the design andimplementation of NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program. NEPADand its partners are therefore planning to establish Regional Strategy and Knowledge SupportSystems (to be called ReSAKSS) to develop information and analytical capabilities to support theprioritization, design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of investment programs andactivities.

A meeting was held in Washington in June 2006 to discuss the establishment of theseReSAKSS. Attended by representatives from research institutions, regional economic communities,and donors, the two day meeting discussed first critical analytical issues that these systems andneed to address and process for the successful establishment of these systems. A critical issue for design of investment programmes is to ensure that investments are correctlysequenced.

To understand this, it is a necessary first to understand the major processes and stagesof agricultural development, of economic growth, and of poverty reduction.Agricultural growth, poverty reduction, and food security require complementary changes inpeople’s livelihoods and in the local and national economic environment. Livelihoods can behelpfully considered in terms of their contribution to three broad strategies which we term “hangingin” (maintenance and survival), “stepping up” (improvement and expansion of current activities),and “stepping out” (branching out to new activities).

These strategies are not mutually exclusive:most of us have some concerns to “hang in”, but development involves increasing opportunities for“stepping up” and “stepping out”. These transitions are particularly important to poor rural people,for whom agriculture is a major vehicle for “hanging in”, and, with agricultural growth, for“stepping up”. In the long run, however, agriculture is something from which most people “stepout” to employment in non-farm activities.

The growth of non farm employment opportunities,however, depends upon growth and structural change in the wider economy, including, of course,“stepping up” growth in agriculture.The processes of livelihoods and economic change and growth are highly inter-related anddependent upon each other. They depend upon, and are driven by, technical and institutionalchange which again interact and depend upon each other to raise the productivity of resources andfacilitate capital accumulation. Unfortunately, though, these processes can be impeded by a set ofmicro-, meso-, and macro- poverty traps.

Micro traps are well known, a vicious circle where peoplehave limited resources, which lead to low productivity, which leads to low incomes, which thenprevent the accumulation of resources. The trap is exacerbated by vulnerability to health, climate,and economic stresses and shocks, vulnerability which is increased by the low incomes and limitedresources of poor people.

FAC_E-Debate-Contributions-Soil_Fertility
October 1, 2008 / Soil Fertility

At least in the semi-arid regions of Africa, if within-field soil variability is not taken into account, efforts to increase soil fertility will be less efficient and less likely tobe adopted by farmers. Most of these farmers already practice precision agriculture and take short distance variability into consideration in their management.

 

 

One can safely assume that they do so for good reason, given that their management systems have developed over many centuries. Precision agriculture is also relevant for the introduction of modern technologies. For example, the same principles are relevant to the efficient application of manure and the efficient application of compost and mineral fertiliser. For the best solutions, farmer knowledge, extensionist knowledge and researcher knowledge of within-field soil variability need to be combined.

This will lead to an increase in the knowledge of each group regarding the variability-related possibilities and constraints of the other groups. Increased farmer knowledge will lead to better and more efficient farmer management. Increased researcher knowledge of soil variability will lead to better-targeted and more efficient soil fertility research. If the minimum management area for farmers is part of a field,and researchers only analyse at the level of an entire field or experiment, then those researchers ignore information that is very relevant to the farmers.

They should look for variables at the plot level that help explain why, in any one year as well as over the years, different plots with the same treatment react differently. They will find this useful for increasing their agro-ecological knowledge, for improving their scientific publications, and especially for more effective extension to the farmers. Farmers prefer well differentiated advice to blanket advice that turns out not to work part of the time, or in sections of their fields.

Development Issues Kenya
October 1, 2008 / FAC Documents

The overall context is the alarming decline in the growth of farm output in Kenya over the last fifteen or more years. As Figure 1 shows, from the late 1980s the growth of agricultural production has stagnated and fallen behind population growth. Production per head of population is now slightly below what it was at Independence in 1964.

The modern Kenyan economy has been built on agriculture, starting with the development oflarge-scale commercial farms owned by white settlers in the first half of the C20. Followingthe Swynnerton Plan of 1954, a drive to develop the smaller holdings operated by Africanfarmers began. For almost thirty years thereafter, before and after Independence in 1964,smallholder development in the higher potential parts of Kenya was successfulto drive agricultural growth ahead of the country’s rapid population expansion. Smallholdersincreased notably their output of coffee, tea, pyrethrum, and cotton for export and producedlarge amounts of maize, beans, sugar, beef, and dairy for the domestic market.

FAC Documents-Research Interests
October 1, 2008 / FAC Documents

Research interests of key members of the Consortium

African Green Revolution E-Forum Discussion Outline
October 1, 2008 / E-debates

The Salzburg Global Seminar (SGS), in partnership with the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), has undertaken a series of events on the theme of an “African Green Revolution”.

The main purpose of these initiatives is to assess the most critical issues and to review, refine and articulate an agenda for a new sustainable “Green Revolution” for Sub-Saharan Africa. The series of events began with a high-level Conference (30 April – 2 May 2008) and subsequent Seminar (3 – 7 May 2008) where delegates were tasked with answering the question: What are the core elements of a “uniquely African Green Revolution”?

Dynamics And Diversity Soil Fertility And Farming Livelihoods In Africa Case studies from Ethiopia,M
September 1, 2008 / E-debates

The reasons for the very significant gap between potential and realized foodproduction in sub-Saharan Africa are multiple and complex. The decline infertility observed for many areas of soil has been described as the single mostimportant factor. Although this is a challengeable statement it undoubtedlyrefers to an ever-present reality for the majority of farmers in the continent -that optimizing the nutrient balance on their farms is one of the most difficultof the many agricultural management challenges they face.

The Global Fertiliser Crisis and Africa
June 1, 2008 / Miscellaneous

By Blessings Chinsinga
June 2008

Political and media attention has rightly been focused on recent increases in food and energy prices and their impacts on consumers and national economies, particularly poor consumers and poor economies but much greater increases in fertiliser prices have received much less attention in industrialised economies.

The impacts of these fertiliser price increases on many countries in Africa, however, are potentially very damaging in their effects on food security, poverty, and long term economic growth. In the many African countries that are heavily dependent on agriculture the impacts of high fertiliser prices and scarcity will extend beyond farmers to affect consumers, export earnings from cash crops, exchange rates, and the whole economy.

Fertiliser price increases

Fertiliser prices have risen dramatically in the last two years, more than oil and staple and cash crop prices (see figure 1). The scale and significance of these price increases is even more dramatic when fertiliser price changes are compared with changes in the prices of the crops they are used to produce. Table 1 shows that the real price of DAP, a major phosphate fertiliser, has increased by 320% over the last two years, and the real price of urea, a major nitrogenous fertiliser, has increased by 160%. Increases in real prices of major food crops were much smaller, though still substantial (increases in rice prices were roughly the same as increases in urea prices). Prices of oil and of export crops, for example cotton, were much more static. Much of the fertiliser price increases have occurred in the last 12 months, and while DAP and crop prices appear to have flattened in the last month or so, urea prices have continued to rise.

Causes

There are a number of reasons for these dramatic increases in fertiliser prices. Demand has increased as a result of higher food prices and increased use in biofuel production. Supply has been affected by increasing energy costs (which are particularly important in producing nitrogenous fertilisers), the introduction of export tariffs on some fertilisers (for example by China in April 2008), and capacity limits in expanding production to meet rising demand – particularly for phosphate rock. These influences have to be seen in the context of large shifts of funds into commodities, particularly into commodity index funds. These shifts have been encouraged by the fall in the value of the US dollar and low US interest rates, with the development of new commodity index investment instruments and funds (Masters, 2008).{jathumbnail off}{jcomments off}

The Global Fertiliser Crisis and Africa
June 1, 2008 / Policy Briefs

By the Future Agricultures Consortium
June 2008

Political and media attention has rightly been focused on recent increases in food and energy prices and their impacts on consumers and national economies, particularly poor consumers and poor economies but much greater increases in fertiliser prices have received much less attention in industrialised economies. The impacts of these fertiliser price increases on many countries in Africa, however, are potentially very damaging in their effects on food security, poverty, and long term economic growth. In the many African countries that are heavily dependent on agriculture the impacts of high fertiliser prices and scarcity will extend beyond farmers to affect consumers, export earnings from cash crops, exchange rates, and the whole economy.

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Getting Agricultural Moving: Role of the State in Increasing Staple Food Crop Productivity…
June 1, 2008 / Research Papers

Getting Agricultural Moving: Role of the State in Increasing Staple Food Crop Productivity with Special Reference to Coordination, Input Subsidies, Credit and Price Stabilisation

By Colin Poulton and Andrew Dorward
June 2008

This paper argues that the state has a large potential role in increasing staple food crop productivity as a result of:

  1. The importance of staple food crop intensification in driving and supporting pro-poor growth in poor rural areas
  2. Active state involvement was a pervasive feature of Asian green revolutions, but the task is not easy, particularly with the varied and often difficult agro-ecological conditions in Africa, the lack of irrigation infrastructure, likely impacts of climate change, the limited human and financial resources available to governments, and the political challenges facing governments in pursuing consistent policies.
  3. Increasing staple food crop productivity requires governments, with private sector actors, farmers and civil society, to address a number of challenges.

These are posed by specific technical constraints to productivity increases:

  • Lack of important public goods (principally infrastructure and institutions)
  • Recent dramatic increases in food and fertiliser prices; poor policy coordination
  • Lack of complementary coordination in rural service development and provision
  • The food price/ productivity tightrope
  • Un-affordability of on-farm productivity investments; and high price instability

The nature of and solutions to these challenges, and hence the nature and importance of responses to them, vary between three different types of crop – characterised as high response cereals (maize and rice), low response cereals (sorghum and millet), and roots and tubers (cassava and yams).

The crisis of pastoralism?
May 1, 2008 / Discussion Papers

By Stephen Devereux and Ian Scoones
May 2008

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.and another focusing on the market potentials of a ‘livestock revolution’ What should we make of these positions? What should the practical and policy responses be?

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 management

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The crisis of pastoralism?
May 1, 2008 / Discussion Papers

By Stephen Devereux and Ian Scoones

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.

The Politics of Hunger: How Illusion and Greed Fan the Food Crisis
April 16, 2008 / Small Farm / Big Farm

“…reluctant peasants are right: their mode of production is ill suited to modern agricultural production, in which scale is helpful. In modern agriculture, technology is fast-evolving, investment is lumpy, the private provision of transportation infrastructure is necessary to counter the lack of its public provision, consumer food fashions are fast-changing and best met by integrated marketing chains, and regulatory standards are rising toward the holy grail of the traceability of produce back to its source….

Large organizations are better suited to cope with investment, marketing chains, and regulation. Yet for years, global development agencies have been leery of commercial agriculture, basing their agricultural strategies instead on raising peasant production. ….to ignore commercial agriculture as a force for rural development and enhanced food supply is surely ideological

…Over time, African peasant agriculture has fallen further and further behind the advancing commercial productivity frontier, and based on present trends, the region’s food imports are projected to double over the next quarter century. ….There are partial solutions to such problems through subsidies and credit schemes, but it should be noted that large-scale commercial agriculture simply does not face this particular problem: if output prices rise by more than input prices, production will be expanded.

A model of successful commercial agriculture is, indeed, staring the world in the face. In Brazil, large, technologically sophisticated agricultural companies have demonstrated how successfully food can be mass-produced. …..

…There are many areas of the world that have good land that could be used far more productively if properly managed by large companies. Indeed, large companies, some of them Brazilian, are queuing up to manage those lands. Yet over the past 40 years, African governments have worked to scale back large commercial agriculture…….

…Commercial agriculture is not perfect. Global agribusiness is probably overly concentrated, and a sudden switch to an unregulated land market would probably have ugly consequences. But allowing commercial organizations to replace peasant agriculture gradually would raise global food supply in the medium term.” (Full text: The Politics of Hunger: How Illusion and Greed Fan the Food Crisis)

Collier, Paul. “The Politics of Hunger: How Illusion and Greed Fan the Food Crisis.” Foreign AffairsNovember/December 2008

Sabine Homann and Barbara Rischkowsky
April 14, 2008 / Pastoralism in crisis?

This contribution summarizes insights gained from a case study on the applicability of indigenous knowledge (IK) in range management of Borana pastoralists in a changed environment (Homann, 2004). We reflect on implications for future interventions that aim at improving pastoral livelihoods under the existing constraints.

Borana pastoralists were once famous for most effective range management. Based on a deep technical and organizational IK, they have preserved highest grazing potential among East African rangelands. However, within only 30 years, well intended but poorly designed development interventions (poorly-integrated water and rangeland development, imposed formal administration, promotion of crop cultivation and ranching, unfavorable policy directives), aggravated by human population growth, contributed to the destruction of pastoralists’ basic preconditions in range management.

In the current land use scenario, uncontrolled land use is expanding, since indigenous rangeland categories have lost their functionality. The seasonal grazing system is breaking up, including long distance movements associated with a high variability in stocking densities across the landscape. Instead, encampments, permanent grazing and new forms of cultivation and private grazing enter formerly seasonal grazing areas, and herd movements become short-term oriented to follow scattered forage resources where they emerge. Reduced and poorly coordinated mobility impedes the ecologically desirable variability in stocking densities, implying negative effects on rangeland condition. A crucial question is what elements of pastoral range management remain, that can sustain controlled rangeland utilization, and revert rangeland degradation in this process.

The following changes reflect the deterioration of the pastoral system and need to be addressed by interventions that aim at improving the livelihoods for pastoralists:
– Rangeland degradation: Borana pastoralists’ perception of land use changes matched with the results from ecological range condition assessment (Dalle, 2004). According to pastoralists’ observations, an increased grazing pressure in areas that were formerly temporarily used by mobile herds causes shortage of grazing resources particularly at home-based pastures for lactating herds, aggravated by the alienation of rangeland for crop-cultivation and private grazing. Pastoralists’ observed a direct impact of degraded rangelands on reduced milk production and conception rates. They showed awareness that rangeland degradation directly affects livestock production and presents a high risk for food security in the region. Research and Development efforts to prevent rangeland degradation however had a very low impact (Coppock, 1994).
– Human population growth and socio-economic inequality: Human population growth, despite higher stocking densities, contributed to impoverishment of Borana families evident in lower cattle to human ratio. Within the studied areas, 88% of the households did not achieve the human support capacity defined as 3 TLU per AAME, and thus cannot sustain their livelihoods from livestock (Sandford and Habtu, 2000). In addition to that, socio-economic inequality within and between pastoral communities increased. In Dida Hara, site with water development in a former rainy season grazing area, 6% of the households were classified as better-off and owned over 37 times more cattle than the poor. While in Web, traditional dry season grazing area, all households were poor. The insufficient economic capacities restrict herd mobility for the majority of Borana pastoralists. To alleviate their economically disastrous situation, Borana pastoralists have tried to adopt crop cultivation. Poverty induced crop cultivation however undermines the ecologically more appropriate mobility-based land use system. On the other side, wealthy herd-owners started acting against the interests of the community, by over-stocking the communal rangelands, and stabilizing their property through rapid re-investment in herds after a drought. Considering the fact that alternative income options for Borana pastoralists are few, the dependency on livestock is very high and this destroys pastoralists ability to manage their resources sustainably.
– Erosion of indigenous institutions and negotiation procedures: Imposed administration structures have jeopardized the flexible system of natural resource management and therewith the ability to adapt organization and management structures to changing environment, making use of IK. On the other hand, pastoral communities have transferred proven elements in the indigenous management system to regain control over rangeland utilization; e.g. the allocation of water management responsibilities to newly constructed ponds; the re-strengthening of settlement directives to restrict crop cultivation, private grazing and livestock numbers in permanent grazing areas; the initiative to involve the formal administration in the enforcement of decisions at community level, despite strong deficiencies and distrust. These examples demonstrate pastoralists’ institutions that operate effectively, if community-based mechanisms for co-ordination and control are maintained.

The results basically support Sandfords’ pessimistic prognoses, that reinstating pastoral range management is becoming increasingly difficult. The exploitation rate of the Borana rangelands has been heavily increased. A higher number of poor households depend on Borana rangelands, but not in a position to apply pastoral range management, resulting in higher grazing pressure on rangelands that are effectively shrinking. The negative prospects are aggravated by poorly integrated agriculture, not addressing the possibilities in increasing feed and fodder production, and limited livelihood options out of pastoralism. Without substantial support in migration out of pastoralism and to those who can apply herd mobility, Borana rangelands are going to further deteriorate.

Yet, the possibilities of building on herd mobility for more effective utilization of Borana rangelands are not sufficiently exploited. On the positive side, pastoralists have transferred elements of indigenous organization to the changing environmental conditions, and some indigenous networks persisted. Multi-stakeholder discussions at a final stage of the study advocated land use scenarios for restructuring mobile range management, backed up by integrated IK-based and formal institutions. The need for land-use intensification was acknowledged, preserving basic precondition for mobility and also improving access to marginal rangeland resources. The way forward therefore is to invest in herd mobility and related practices, and control over rangeland resource use by those who remain in pastoralism.