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

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Latest articles

Working Paper 44: The Emerging Importance of Rice as a Strategic Crop in Ethiopia
November 2, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Dawit Alemu and John Thompson.

Rice has become one of the most important agricultural commodities in Ethiopia in line with its increased importance throughout Africa. This paper examines the trends of the importance of rice in the country – covering the domestic production, imports, the extent of self-sufficiency and associated efforts. Specifically, the paper presents the challenges and opportunities surrounding rice cultivation, processing and marketing, as well as for the future development of the rice sector in Ethiopia.

Impact of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Zimbabwe – Round 1 Report
October 16, 2020 / COVID Country Report Evidence Review Publications

Written by, Vine Mutyasira.

COVID-19 has undoubtedly affected lives and livelihoods across the globe. In Zimbabwe, preliminary indications point to a worsening economic situation in a country already facing macroeconomic challenges, particularly in rural communities where most households depend on agriculture. National lockdown and movement restrictions have affected agricultural activities as well as access to markets and farming inputs.

Impact of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Tanzania – Round 1 Report
October 16, 2020 / COVID Country Report Evidence Review Publications

Written by, Gideon Boniface and C.G. Magomba.

The first case of COVID-19 in Tanzania was confirmed in March 2020. The government immediately imposed restrictions on mass gatherings, suspended international flights and established special medical camps for COVID-19 patients. They also published guidelines and health measures to be followed by citizens and emphasised these through media and physically through local government officials located across the country.

Impact of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Malawi – Round 1 Report
October 16, 2020 / COVID Country Report Evidence Review Publications

Written by, Mirriam Matita and Masautso Chimombo.

Given the ravaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, this study seeks to estimate its likely impact on food systems and livelihoods in Malawi. This briefing note is based on our stratified random sample of 114 household heads (32 female and 82 male) drawn from an APRA household survey of groundnut producers in Mchinji and Ntchisi districts, Central Region, as well as seven key informant interviews from those areas. The APRA COVID-19 data collection will be carried out over three rounds. This report presents insights obtained from the first round of research conducted during June/July 2020.

Impact of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Kenya – Round 1 Report
October 16, 2020 / COVID Country Report Evidence Review Publications

Written by, John Olwande.

Kenya confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on 12 March 2020. Since then, the government has been providing daily updates on the number of new COVID-19 infections, recoveries and deaths in the country, as well as implementing several interventions to manage the disease. The cumulative numbers as of 12 August 2020 were 27,425 new infections, 13,867 recoveries and 438 deaths, and rising. The objective of this assessment was to understand the effects of COVID-19 on the food system and the sub-set of the population largely dependent on agriculture. The findings were intended to inform actions to assure protection of rural livelihoods and
the continued supply of adequate and affordable food of acceptable quality to the population.

Impact of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Ghana -Round 1 Report
October 16, 2020 / COVID Country Report Evidence Review Publications

Written by, Louis Hodey and Fred Dzanku.

Given the ravaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, this study seeks to estimate its likely impact on food systems and livelihoods in south-western Ghana. Our sample consisted of 110 female and male respondents drawn randomly from an APRA household survey of oil palm producers in the Mpohor and Ahanta West Districts in the Western region, as well as a set of five key informant interviews. Data collection for this study will be carried out over three rounds. This report presents insights obtained from the first round conducted during June/July 2020.

Impact of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Fogera Plain, Ethiopia – Round 1 Report
October 16, 2020 / COVID Country Report Evidence Review Publications

Written by, Abebaw Assaye and Dawit Alemu

This report presents an early assessment of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural commercialisation, food and nutrition security, labour and employment, and poverty and well-being in rural Ethiopia. Data was collected from a stratified random sample of 107 households (23 female- and 84 male-headed). Respondents were drawn from a subset of households interviewed in a 2018 APRA survey of smallholder rice farmers in five kebeles (villages) in the Fogera Plain area of Amhara Region. The COVID-19 household survey data is complemented by data from 23 key informant interviews conducted in the kebeles. The data collection for this COVID-19 study will be carried out over three rounds. This report presents insights obtained from the first round conducted during late June/early July 2020.

Working Paper 43: Smallholder farmers’ choice of oil palm commercialisation model and household welfare in south-western Ghana
October 15, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Fred M. Dzanku, Kofi Takyi Asante, William Quarmine and Louis S. Hodey.

This paper studies smallholder farmers’ choice of oil palm commercialisation channels and implications for household welfare. The study explores which factors have contributed to the breakdown of trust in contractual arrangements between farmers, oil palm companies and intermediaries. Additionally, the report explores which factors encourage or exclude households when it comes to participating in higher return oil palm commercialisation arrangements and the welfare differences associated with engagement in the observed channels of oil palm commercialisation.

Working Paper 42: Women empowerment, agriculture commercialisation and gender relations: A value chain analysis, Mvurwi, Zimbabwe
October 15, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Hazel Mutsa Kwaramba, Easther Chigumira and Levison Zimori.

This paper aims to develop a better understanding of the pathways women seek to construct livelihoods in or around existing commercialisation hotspots and along the value chain and the outcomes associated with these efforts. The objective of the paper is to provide evidence of the current status and future potential of multiple pathways to commercialising agriculture using selected value chains with a view to strengthening food and nutrition security and empowering women and girls. The study uses sweet potato, strawberry and poultry (including meat and egg production) value chains to examine the pathways to women empowerment and to make policy recommendations for future improvements.

Impact of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Nigeria – Round 1 Report
October 15, 2020 / COVID Country Report Evidence Review Publications

Written by, Adebayo B. Aromolaran and Milu Muyanga.

This report presents an early assessment of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural commercialisation, food and nutrition security, labour and employment, and poverty and well-being in rural Nigeria. Data was collected from a stratified random sample of 110 respondent households drawn from five Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Ogun (Ijebu East, Obafemi Owode, and Imeko Afon) and Kaduna (Chikun and Soba) States. At the time of the survey, these LGAs had reported a small number of COVID-19 cases. The survey data is complemented by insights from five in-depth key informant interviews conducted in the LGAs. The APRA COVID-19 data collection will be carried out over three rounds. This report presents insights obtained from the first round implemented during mid-July 2020.

Rapid Assessment of the Impact of Covid-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa – Synthesis Report 1
October 15, 2020 / APRA research note Evidence Review Publications

Written by, Marco Carreras, Amrita Saha and John Thompson

To gain a better understanding of the impact that COVID-19 is having on food systems and rural livelihoods in the region, researchers in the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) are conducting a rolling series of telephone-based household surveys and key informant interviews in selected study locations across multiple countries. This report presents results from the first round of that research in seven countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe – from interviews conducted in June-July 2020.1 APRA will monitor the situation as the pandemic unfolds through further rounds of data collection and analysis in late 2020 and early 2021.

Working Paper 41: Expanding Land Area Under Commercial Tree Crop Plantation in Nigeria
October 14, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Adebayo B. Aromolaran, Abiodun E. Obayelu, Milu Muyanga, Thomas Jayne, Adesoji Adelaja, Titus Awokuse, Omotoso O. Ogunmola and Olatokunbo H, Osinowo.

As the second-largest foreign exchange earner (after crude oil), and the most important agricultural subsector, tree crops are key to Nigeria’s economy. This paper investigates the key factors behind land allocation decisions, intending to yield useful policy insights into how to boost tree crop cultivation and, as a result, agricultural commercialisation. The study concludes by emphasising the significance of tangible land markets, critical rural infrastructure, agro-services, improved land tenure security and increased youth and female engagement in efforts to promote economic diversification in Nigeria through commercial tree crop farming.

Journal Article: Young People and Land in Zimbabwe: Livelihood Challenges After Land Reform
October 7, 2020 / Journal articles

Ian Scoones, Blasio Mavedzenge, Felix Murimbarimba. 2019.

This article explores the livelihood challenges and opportunities of young people following Zimbabwe’s land reform in 2000. The article explores the life courses of a cohort of men and women, all children of land reform settlers, in two contrasting smallholder land reform sites. Major challenges to social reproduction are highlighted, reflected in an extended ‘waithood’, while some opportunities for accumulation are observed, notably in intensive agricultural production and agriculture-linked business enterprises. In conclusion, the implications of generational transfer of land, assets and livelihood opportunities are discussed in the context of Zimbabwe’s agrarian reform.

Working Paper 40: The groundnuts fairtrade arrangement and its spillover effects on agricultural commercialisation and household welfare outcomes: Empirical evidence from central Malawi
September 29, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Stevier Kaiyatsa, Mirriam Matita, Ephraim Chirwa and Jacob Mazalale.

This working paper examines the Fairtrade groundnut arrangement – when the Mchinji Area Small Farmers Association (MASFA) sold its groundnuts through the National Association of Smallholder Farmers of Malawi (NASFAM) from 2007 to 2011. The authors test a unique panel data set of smallholder farmers to determine whether there are any spillover effects on small-scale agricultural commercialisation and its impact on household welfare for smallholder farmers that were not part of the Fairtrade arrangement in Mchinji District.

Working Paper 39: Winners and Losers in Livestock Commercialisation in Northern Kenya
September 29, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Guyo Malicha Roba.

This paper examines how livestock commercialisation has impacted different actors and different wealth groups in Isiolo and Marsabit counties. Although livestock commercialisation has received global research and development attention, relatively little is known about its implications for different actors along value chains in northern Kenya. With large-scale investments in infrastructure and government plans to more closely incorporate the region into Kenya’s wider domestic livestock markets in the central highlands and Nairobi, this study uses a combination of research methods to provide key insights.

Working Paper 38: Spillover Effects of Medium-Scale Farms on Smallholder Behaviour and Welfare: Evidence from Nigeria
September 29, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Lenis Saweda O. Liverpool-Tasie, Ahmed Salim Nuhu, Titus Awokuse, Thomas Jayne, Milu Muyanga, Adebayo Aromolaran and Adesoji Adelaja.

As rapid changes occur in farm size distribution in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly among medium-scale farms (MSFs), this paper addresses the gap in the empirical literature on the strong spillover effects of medium-scale farms (MSFs) towards small-scale farms (SSFs). This includes effects of the rise in MSFs on the incomes, productivity and degree of farm commercialisation of neighbouring SSFs. Using evidence from Nigeria, this study examines the important role of MSFs in improving SSF productivity and welfare. It then looks at the implications for policymakers across Africa as they strive to improve the welfare of SSFs while expanding food production to meet the needs of growing populations.

Working Paper 37: Effect of Choice of Tillage Technology on Commercialisation and Livelihood of Smallholder Farmers in Mngeta Division, Kilombero District, Tanzania
September 29, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Ntengua Mdoe, Gilead Mlay, Aida Isinika, Gideon Boniface and Christopher Magomba.

This working paper studies the effect of four tillage technology options on rice, commercialisation, yield, and livelihood of smallholder rice farmers in Mngeta Division, Kilombero District, Tanzania. The four combinations include the hand hoe, the hand hoe and ox plough; the hand hoe and tractor; and the hand hoe, ox plough, and tractor. The latter three were found to have a significant and positive effect on rice commercialisation, as well as on the rice yield. The paper also determines that factors such as marshes also play a role in determining the most effective implements for rice farmers in the region.

APRA Brief 26: Inducing agribusiness investment in Malawi: Insights from investors
August 14, 2020 / APRA Briefs Policy Briefs

Written by, Henry Chingaipe, Joseph Thombozi and Horace Chingaipe.

Agriculture is key to Malawi’s development strategy, with over 80 per cent of the workforce employed in the sector. However, government investment in agricultural commercialisation has been low, national financial institutions lack agribusiness-friendly policies, and access to land necessary for commercial agriculture has been a challenge. This brief studies the effectiveness of various government and donor incentives aimed towards agribusinesses, and provides several policy recommendations on how to induce business investment in agricultural commercialisation.

Working Paper 36: Small is beautiful? Policy choices and outcomes for agrarian change for resettled farmers in Mvurwi district
July 21, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Terence Chitapi and Toendepi Shonhe.

After the fast-track land reform programme (FTLRP), there have been two prominent farming models in Zimbabwe, the small A1 and the large A2 model, whose distinction is primarily based on farm size. This paper examines the efficacy and capacity of both in terms of meeting household and national food self-sufficiency and contributing to the attainment of rural livelihoods outcomes. This paper observes that there are indications that on average, the ‘small’ farmers have higher land utilisation rates as compared to their ‘large’ counterparts. Yet, the government has still shown a bias towards the latter. The paper determines that broad economic and development policy choices and outcomes may continue to be missed for as long as agricultural production–support interventions do not seriously consider the small farmer and the small farm model.

Working Paper 35: Agricultural Commercialisation in Northern Zimbabwe: Crises, Conjunctures and Contingencies, 1890-2020
July 10, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Ian Scoones, Toendepi Shonhe, Terence Chitapi, Caleb Maguranyanga and Simbai Mutimbanyoka.

This study observes the interconnecting influences, over five time periods from 1890-2020, that have affected pathways of commercialisation, mostly of tobacco and maize, in Mvurwi area in northern Mazowe district, Zimbabwe. Through these periods, this paper looks at the political economy of state-farmer alliances; changes in agricultural labour regimes; the dynamics of markets; rural-urban migration and the role of technology and environmental change, asking how each affects the emergence of different commercial agriculture. Based on a wide range of research methods conducted across communal areas, the paper reflects which pathways of commercialisation have emerged through crises, conjunctures and contingencies.

Working Paper 34: Does rice commercialisation empower women? Experience from Mngeta division in Kilombero District, Tanzania
July 10, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, John Jeckoniah, Devotha B. Mosha and Gideon Boniface.

Rice commercialisation in Mngeta division is believed to be the core driver for economic growth, poverty reduction, and improvements in the lives of men and women living there. However, as households engage in agricultural commercialisation, it is expected that the change of gender roles may lead to an empowerment of women or an increase in workload. This study examines to what extent ongoing rice commercialisation initiatives contribute to women’s empowerment. It also outlines whether such commercialisation may occur due to external investment, market specialisation, farm consolidation, or a combination of these factors.

Journal Article: Hard work and hazard: Young people and agricultural commercialisation in Africa
June 16, 2020 / Journal articles

Thomas Yeboah, Easther Chigumira, Innocensia John, Nana Akua Anyidoho, Victor Manyong, Justin Flynn, James Sumberg.

An emerging orthodoxy supports the proposition that the rural economy – built around agriculture but encompassing much more – will serve as sweet spot of employment opportunities for many millions of young people into the foreseeable future. However, our understanding of how rural young people in Africa take advantage of processes of rural transformation or engage with the rural economy is limited. Drawing on qualitative research conducted with 117 rural young people in three country contexts (Ghana, Zimbabwe and Tanzania), this paper reports the findings on the steps and pathways through which young people construct livelihoods in hotspots of agricultural commercialisation. Overall what emerges from a diversity of backgrounds, experiences and pathways is that the commercialised rural economy within which they operate offer them a variety of income earning opportunities. Family and broader social relations are key in enabling young people to access the needed resources in the form of land, capital, and inputs to begin their ventures. Between family and rental markets, there is little evidence that young people’s engagement with crop production is limited by their inability to access land. We also find evidence of asset accumulation by young people in the form of housing, furniture and savings among others, which reflects the combination of relatively dynamic rural economies, enabling social relations, and hard work. However, for many it is a struggle to stay afloat, requiring effort, persistence, and an ability to navigate setbacks and hazards. Our findings challenge a number of assumptions underlying policy and public discourse around rural young people and employment in Africa. We highlight some key implications for policy seeking to promote youth employment in rural Africa.

Journal Article: Agricultural corridors as ‘demonstration fields’: infrastructure, fairs and associations along the Beira and Nacala corridors of Mozambique
June 16, 2020 / Journal articles

Euclides Gonçalves. 2020.

In the past decade, the Mozambican government has been mobilizing international capital to build and renovate transport infrastructure in the central and northern areas of the country, with the aim of creating agricultural corridors. Based on field research conducted in two districts along the Beira and Nacala corridors, I examine those occasions when international capital and national agricultural policy meet smallholders in the implementation of agricultural projects. This article offers a performative analysis of the constitution of agricultural corridors. I argue that agricultural corridors emerge on those occasions when international funders and investors, national elites, local bureaucrats and smallholders overstate the success of agricultural projects and constitute what I have termed ‘demonstration fields’. Regardless of the implementation of blueprints, agricultural corridors gain spatial and temporal materiality from the performance of presenting agricultural projects as successful, such as at the unveiling of agro-related infrastructure, at agricultural fairs and on occasions involving smallholders’ associations.

Journal Article: Land, livelihoods and belonging: negotiating change and anticipating LAPSSET in Kenya’s Lamu county
June 16, 2020 / Journal articles

Ngala Chome. 2020.

To attract investments in mineral extraction, physical infrastructure and agricultural commercialization over a vast swathe of Northern Kenya, national politicians and bureaucrats are casting the area as being both abundant with land and resources, and as, conversely, ‘backward’, ‘unexploited’ and ‘empty’. Drawing on evidence from Lamu County, and focusing on the planned Lamu Port and South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor, this article contends that such high-modernist and ‘new frontier’ discourses are usually complicated by the realities on the ground. Based on common perceptions about land and ethnicity, and how these are intertwined with the politics of belonging and redistribution, these realities exemplify complex economies of anticipation – through which networks of patronage, alliance, and mobilization are being created or entrenched in advance of major investments. This article argues that it is these anticipations – more than official designs – that will determine the future direction of LAPSSET, especially in respect to who will get what, when and how, within its promised prosperous future.

Journal Article: Bureaucrats, investors and smallholders: contesting land rights and agro-commercialisation in the Southern agricultural growth corridor of Tanzania
June 16, 2020 / Journal articles

Emmanuel Sulle. 2020.

Since the triple crises of food, fuel and finance of 2007/8, investments in agricultural growth corridors have taken centre-stage in government, donor and private sector initiatives. This article examines the politics of the multi-billion dollar development of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT). The corridor’s proponents aim to create an environment in which agribusiness will operate alongside smallholders to improve food security and environmental sustainability, while reducing rural poverty. Based on three case studies, comprising one of a small-scale dairy company and two large-scale sugar companies, all operating with smallholders, this paper interrogates the political dynamics that shape the implementation of SAGCOT on the ground; in particular, the multiple contestations among bureaucrats, investors and smallholders over access to land and other resources, and contending visions for agricultural commercialisation. Despite the widespread support it received from government, donors and investors, the paper argues that SAGCOT’s grand modernist vision of the corridor, centred on the promotion of large-scale estates, has unravelled through contestations and negotiations on the ground.

Journal Article: Demonstration fields’, anticipation, and contestation: agrarian change and the political economy of development corridors in Eastern Africa
June 16, 2020 / Journal articles

Ngala Chome, Euclides Gonçalves, Ian Scoones & Emmanuel Sulle. 2020.

In much of Eastern Africa, the last decade has seen a renewed interest in spatial development plans that link mineral exploitation, transport infrastructure and agricultural commercialisation. While these development corridors have yielded complex results – even in cases where significant investments are yet to happen – much of the existing analysis continues to focus on economic and implementation questions, where failures are attributed to inappropriate incentives or lack of ‘political will’. Taking a different – political economy – approach, this article examines what actually happens when corridors ‘hit the ground’, with a specific interest to the diverse agricultural commercialisation pathways that they induce. Specifically, the article introduces and analyses four corridors – LAPSSET in Kenya, Beira and Nacala in Mozambique, and SAGCOT in Tanzania – which are generating ‘demonstration fields’, economies of anticipation and fields of political contestations respectively, and as a result, creating – or promising to create – diverse pathways for agricultural commercialisation, accumulation and differentiation. In sum, the article shows how top-down grand-modernist plans are shaped by local dynamics, in a process that results in the transformation of corridors, from exclusivist ‘tunnel’ visions, to more networked corridors embedded in local economies, and shaped by the realities of rural Eastern Africa.

Journal Article: Land reform and new meaning of rural development in Zimbabwe
June 15, 2020 / Journal articles

Toendepi Shonhe. 2019.

This paper reveals new meanings of rural development emerging following a dramatic land reform program and changes in the roles of capital in Zimbabwe. The economy-wide crisis wrought by capital flight in response to the fast track land reform program (FTLRP) carried out from 2000 reconfigured the financing and marketing of agricultural produce thereby created new a paradigm of rural development in Zimbabwe. The initial slowdown in agricultural production that caused de-industrialisation in urban areas is currently undergoing a reversal process. However, not much research has been carried out to reveal the emerging meanings of rural development in Zimbabwe. The FTLRP resulted in the reconfiguration of the land ownership patterns that significantly changed land utilisation patterns. In seeking to reveal the new meanings of rural development in Zimbabwe, this paper applies empirical data collected through documentary analysis, two surveys and in-depth interviews carried out in Hwedza and Mvurwi between 2016 and 2019. The article informs the debate on land and rural development in Zimbabwe. In so doing, the paper concludes that rural development has been reshaped in line with the new land use patterns in rural Zimbabwe. Private indigenous agrarian capital and the demands of the smallholder farmers undergird rural development as opposed to public investment and large-scale commercial farming capital of the past.

Journal Article: Irrigating Zimbabwe After Land Reform: The Potential of Farmer-Led Systems
June 15, 2020 / Journal articles

Ian Scoones, Felix Murimbarimba, Jacob Mahenehene. 2019.

Farmer-led irrigation is far more extensive in Zimbabwe than realised by planners and policymakers. This paper explores the pattern of farmer-led irrigation in neighbouring post-land reform smallholder resettlement sites in Zimbabwe’s Masvingo district. Across 49 farmer-led cases, 41.3 hectares of irrigated land was identified, representing two per cent of the total land area. A combination of surveys and in-depth interviews explored uses of different water extraction and distribution technologies, alongside patterns of production, marketing, processing and labour use. In-depth case studies examined the socio-technical practices involved. Based on these data, a simple typology is proposed, differentiating homestead irrigators from aspiring and commercial irrigators. The typology is linked to patterns of investment, accumulation and social differentiation across the sites. The results are contrasted with a formal irrigation scheme and a group garden in the same area. Farmer-led irrigation is more extensive but also more differentiated, suggesting a new dynamic of agrarian change. As Zimbabwe seeks to boost agricultural production following land reform, the paper argues that farmer-led irrigation offers a complementary way forward to the current emphasis on formal schemes, although challenges of water access, environmental management and equity are highlighted.

Working Paper 33: Agribusiness Investment in Agricultural Commercialisation: Rethinking Policy Incentives in Africa
June 10, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Seife Ayele, Jodie Thorpe, Gezahegn Ayele, Henry Chingaipe, Joseph, K. Teye, Peter O’Flynn.

Governments in sub-Saharan Africa and their donors have made business investment a major policy goal, supported by a variety of incentives designed to support business investment in agriculture. However, little is known about the factors which influence agribusiness investment in Africa, and how effective these incentives have been. This paper examines the motivations of agribusiness investment, the effectiveness of government and donor policy incentives, and the relevance of these incentives for four different commercialisation pathways. Empirical evidence is drawn from Ethiopia, Malawi and Ghana to determine whether commercialisation pathways have emerged as a result of investments that have been incentivised by such policies.

Rapid Evidence Review: Policy interventions to mitigate negative effects on poverty, agriculture and food security from disease outbreaks and other crises
May 26, 2020 / Evidence Review Publications

Written by, Steve Wiggins, Roger Calow, Joe Feyertag, Simon Levine & Alexandra Löwe.

This review was commissioned by DFID to draw lessons from previous shocks (e.g. Ebola outbreak, MERS, SARS, the food price crisis of 2008/09) that may be relevant to dealing with the consequences of COVID-19 in developing countries and especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The review addresses two questions:

  • What may be the consequences of disease, and responses to it, on agriculture, rural livelihoods, food systems and food security?
  • What lessons on dealing with those consequences may be drawn from previous crises?

The assessment has been led by Steve Wiggins and colleagues at ODI and was conducted jointly with support from the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) and the new, DFID-funded, ‘Supporting Pastoralism and Agriculture in Recurrent and Protracted Crises’ (SPARC) programme.

APRA Brief 25: Does rice commercialisation enhance or impair household food security among rice producing households in Mngeta Division, Kilombero District, Tanzania?
May 15, 2020 / APRA Briefs

Written by, Ntengua Mdoe, Gilead Mlay, Aida Isinika, Gideon Boniface, Christopher Magomba, John Jeckonia and Devotha Mosha

The Tanzanian government has identified rice as a priority crop and has been implementing the National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) since 2009 to commercialise rice farming (United Republic of Tanzania 2019). The implementation of the NRDS is expected to ensure food security and improve incomes of rice producers and other actors in the value chain.
This policy brief examines the impact of rice commercialisation on the food security status of rice-producing households in Mngeta Division of Kilombero District, Tanzania.

APRA Brief 24: The white gold of Wereta: A city raised on rice
May 15, 2020 / APRA Briefs

Written by, Tilahun Taddesse, Dawit Alemu and Abebaw Assaye.

Wereta – the administrative capital of Fogera district – is an example of one of the fastest growing urban areas in the Fogera plain. Its rapid development is strongly connected with the development of the rice industry, which has had a spillover effect in the development of diverse services, including hospitality, wholesale and retail businesses, and banking. This brief examines the role of rice commercialisation in the development of Wereta City Administration and concludes with some pointers for scaling experiences that may be applicable to other areas suitable for enhancing rice production and processing.

Working Paper 32: Intra-Household Gender Differentials in Smallholder Agriculture Productivity in Food and Non-Food Crop Commercialisation Pathways: Evidence from Zimbabwe
May 1, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Takesure Tozooneyi, Ephraim W. Chirwa, Vine Mutyasira and Chrispen Sukume.

This study contributes to the empirical evidence on gender differentials in smallholder agriculture productivity in Zimbabwe in two ways. First, the data allows households to be grouped into commercialisation pathways; secondly, intra-household resource allocation issues are considered by distinguishing female plot managers into two groups: female plot managers in female-headed households and female plot managers in male-headed households. We test the hypotheses that: a) there are no gender differences in productivity in female- and male-managed plots; b) there are no differences in productivity between female plot managers from male- and female-headed households and male plot managers; and c) gender productivity differentials do not depend on the commercialisation pathway chosen by the farming household.

Working Paper 31: Long-Term Change and Agricultural Commercialisation in Ghanaian Cocoa
May 1, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Kojo S. Amanor, Joseph A. Yaro and Joseph K. Teye.

This study examines the processes of commercialisation in the cocoa sector in the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) framework. This study examines the different processes of transformation that have occurred and are occurring within the cocoa sector, and the extent to which as forested lands disappear, farmers are transitioning out of cocoa or adopting new technologies and ways of producing cocoa. It also examines the extent to which the growing scarcity of land affects rural households and the changing terms on which people gain access to land, as it becomes a scarce commodity.

Working Paper 30: Does Rice Commercialisation Impact on Livelihood? Experience from Mngeta in Kilombero District, Tanzania
May 1, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Aida Isinika, Gilead Mlay, Gideon Boniface, Ntengua Mdoe, Colin Poulton and Amrita Saha.

This paper discusses the livelihood impacts of rice commercialisation for farmers in Mngeta division in Kilombero district in Tanzania. Rice commercialisation occurs where more farmers engage in factor markets and product markets, buying more inputs and selling more farm produce through the market, as opposed to subsistence production. In the study area, rice commercialisation has been an ongoing process for a long time, but it seems to have been accelerating recently due to various factors. This paper outlines those factors in order to provide policy recommendations for enhancing the enabling factors for commercialisation, while addressing the inhibiting factors, particularly in relation to inclusive poverty reduction.

APRA Brief 23: Does rice commercialisation in Mngeta, Kilombero, Tanzania impact livelihoods?
April 8, 2020 / APRA Briefs

Written by, Aida Isinika, Ntengua Mdoe, John Jeckonia, Christopher Magomba, Gilead Mlay and Devotha Kilave

This policy brief draws from research on rice commercialisation in Mngeta division, Kilombero District. The study area was selected because it fits well with the government’s ambition, under the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania framework, for smallholder farmers to benefit from technology transfer and market linkage with large-scale farmers. The analysis was based on research conducted with a randomly-selected sample of farm households across ten villages located 30km from Kilombero Plantation Limited, a large-scale rice farm in Mngeta division.

APRA Brief 22: Enhancing production of quality rice in Ethiopia: Dis/incentives for rice processors
March 30, 2020 / APRA Briefs

Written by, Abebaw Assaye and Dawit Alemu.

In order to reduce the import burden and contribute towards the country’s development plan through import substitution, it is critical to focus on increasing rice production and improving the quality of milled rice. Rice processors in Ethiopia play an important role in the rice sector, not only as service providers but also as buyers and sellers of rice. In general, however, there is a general disincentive for farmers to produce good quality paddy, and for processors to produce good quality milled rice. This brief examines the main disincentives and outlines key measures that need to be put in place to address these challenges.

Working Paper 29: Political Economy of Agricultural Commercialisation in Nigeria
March 9, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Adelaja Odutola Odukoya.

This paper interrogates the trajectory of agricultural commercialisation in Nigeria since independence in 1960 – but with a particular focus on the period from 1999–2018 – vis-à-vis the interface of the pathologies of the post-colonial state, the political narratives by different actors, as well as the political interests and incentives behind agricultural commercialisation in Nigeria. These are, however, situated within the over-arching context of contemporary globalisation.

Working Paper 28: Agricultural Commercialisation Pathways, Input Use, and Crop Productivity: Evidence from Smallholder Farmers in Zimbabwe
March 9, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Vine Mutyasira and Chrispen Sukume.

Agricultural commercialisation is increasingly seen as an effective instrument for transforming smallholder production systems and thus increasing the smallholder farmer’s incomes, food security, and other welfare outcomes such as women’s empowerment and rural poverty reduction. However, there is a paucity of studies explaining the different pathways of agricultural commercialisation that different types of farmers can pursue, and how the choice of pathway will influence input utilisation and crop productivity. This paper focuses on explaining how two commercialisation pathways, evident among smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe, influence levels of crop input utilisation and general crop productivity

Working Paper 27: Divergent Terms of Market Integration of Agro-Pastoralists: Marketisation and Distress Selling of Livestock in South Omo, Ethiopia
March 9, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Fana Gebresenbet.

The increasing trend of livestock marketing and commercialisation, and its attendant socio-economic consequences, has attracted academic and policy interest. This study investigates the processes of linking pastoralists to the market and the drivers which shape pastoralists’ response to the market. It adopts a comparative perspective, examining the market characteristics of livestock trade and drivers linking pastoralists to the livestock market in Benna-Tsemay Woreda, characterised by decades of exposure to the market, and a higher number of livestock heads marketed; and Salamago Woreda with about a decade of exposure to the market, and a lower number of livestock heads marketed. The study, therefore, contributes to an understanding of the functioning of livestock markets in pastoral areas (relatively) weakly and recently integrated to the market.

Journal Article: Revisiting the Farm Size-Productivity Relationship Based on a Relatively Wide Range of Farm Sizes: Evidence from Kenya
January 16, 2020 / Journal articles

Milu Muyanga, T S Jayne. 2019.

This paper revisits the inverse farm size-productivity relationship in Kenya. The study makes two contributions. First, the relationship is examined over a much wider range of farm sizes than most studies, which is particularly relevant in Africa given the recent rise of medium- and large-scale farms. Second, we test the inverse relationship hypothesis using three different measures of productivity including profits per hectare and total factor productivity, which are arguably more meaningful than standard measures of productivity such as yield or gross output per hectare. We find a U-shaped relationship between farm size and all three measures of farm productivity. The inverse relationship hypothesis holds on farms between zero and 3 hectares. The relationship between farm size and productivity is relatively flat between 3 and 5 hectares. A strong positive relationship between farm size and productivity emerges within the 5 to 70 hectare range of farm sizes. Across virtually all measures of productivity, farms between 20 and 70 hectares are found to be substantially more productive than farms under 5 hectares. When the analysis is confined to fields cultivated to maize (Kenya’s main food crop) the productivity advantage of relatively large farms stems at least partially from differences in technical choice related to mechanization, which substantially reduces labor input per hectare, and from input use intensity

Journal Article: Are medium-scale farms driving agricultural transformation in sub-Saharan Africa?
December 16, 2019 / Journal articles

T. S. Jayne, Milu Muyanga, Ayala Wineman, Hosaena Ghebru, Caleb Stevens, Mercedes Stickler, Antony Chapoto, Ward Anseeuw, Divan van der Westhuizen, David Nyang.

This study presents evidence of profound farm-level transformation in parts of sub- Saharan Africa, identifies major sources of dynamism in the sector, and proposes an updated typology of farms that reflects the evolving nature of African agriculture. Repeat waves of national survey data are used to examine changes in crop production and marketed output by farm size. Between the first and most recent surveys (generally covering 6 to 10 years), the share of national marketed crop output value accounted for by medium-scale farms rose in Zambia from 23% to 42%, in Tanzania from 17% to 36%, and in Nigeria from 7% to 18%. The share of land under medium-scale farms is not rising in densely populated countries such as Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, where land scarcity is impeding the pace of medium-scale farm acquisitions. Medium-scale farmers are a diverse group, reflecting distinct entry pathways into agriculture, encouraged by the rapid development of land rental, purchase, and long-term lease markets. The rise of medium-scale farms is affecting the region in diverse ways that are difficult to generalize. Findings indicate that these farms can be a dynamic driver of agricultural transformation but this does not reduce the importance of maintaining a clear commitment to supporting smallholder farms. Strengthening land tenure security of local rural people to maintain land rights and support productivity investments by smallholder households remains crucial

APRA Brief 21: Changing Farm Structure and Agricultural Commercialisation in Nigeria
September 18, 2019 / APRA Briefs

Written by, Milu Muyanga, Adebayo Aromolaran, Thomas Jayne, Saweda Liverpool-Tasie, Titus Awokuse, Adesoji Adelaja

There is evidence to show that there has been a transition regarding the structure of land ownership in Africa, particularly a rise in the number of commercialised medium-scale farms (MSFs) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The objective of this study was to determine whether the growth of MSFs promotes agricultural commercialisation in SSA, and the brief presents the preliminary results of the first round of data analysis collected through the survey. Emphasis is placed on the characteristics of these emergent MSFs, the nature of the structural changes that produce them, and how they potentially influence the welfare of small-scale farms in Nigeria. The results of the brief are divided into the current topics: Pathways into MSF commercialisation, land access and use, farm production and assets, interaction between MSFs and SSFs, and agricultural commercialisation.

APRA Brief 20: Policy Incentives and Agribusiness Investment in Ethiopia: Benefit or Deadweight
September 18, 2019 / APRA Briefs

Written by, Seife Ayele, Gezahegn Ayele, Tebeje Nigussie and Jodie Thorpe

The importance of agriculture to the Ethiopian economy is underlined by the country’s forthright promotion of investment in agriculture since the turn of the century, but how effective has this investment really been? This brief summarises the findings and conclusions of the APRA study ‘Policy approaches to business investment in agricultural commercialisation in Ethiopia’. It then looks at the main drivers of agribusiness investment, usefulness of the tax privilege system, the effectiveness of agricultural growth programmes led by donors and non-profit organisations. The brief also addresses whether or not the enforcement of rules and closure of loopholes can prevent the misuse of tax privileges.

Research Note: Value Chain Participants in Smallholder Commercialisation in Mvurwi: Emerging Business Relations
August 29, 2019 / APRA research note

Written by, Vine Mutyasira, Tanaka Murimbarimba and Walter Mushayiwa

Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector has experienced radical transformation following a series of land reform programs and an economic meltdown that started in 2000. The implementation of the Fast Track Land Reform Program (FTLRP) led to widespread disruptions in the sophisticated input supply system, altered agrarian relations and generally caused changes in the functioning of input and commodity markets (Scoones et al., 2018). Severe macroeconomic instability – characterised by high interest rates, shortages of foreign currency and hyperinflation – created an unfavourable environment for private sector participation in the input markets (Mano, Sukume and Rugube, 2003). While the government has attempted to solve problems in the input supply sector through several support and financial packages (Gono, 2008; RBZ 2006), the interventions generally lacked sustainability and the majority of the smallholder farmers still failed to access the critical inputs. Smallholder farmers have often faced challenges in accessing agricultural inputs such as improved seed, chemical fertilisers, veterinary drugs, agricultural mechanisation equipment, as well as agrochemicals such as herbicides and pesticides. These challenges lead to low produce quality, poor yields and general reduction in the area cultivated. Agricultural commodity marketing challenges have also affected the viability of agricultural intensification and limited prospects for agricultural commercialisation among smallholder farmers.

APRA Brief 19: Agribusiness Investment in Agricultural Commercialisation in Ghana: Rethinking Policy Incentives
August 13, 2019 / APRA Briefs

Written by Joseph Teye

Ghana’s recent image as a peaceful and stable country has provided an attractive environment for foreign investors to do business in, reflected by numerous programmes implemented by Ghana and its partners which aim to strengthen foreign investment, particularly in the agricultural sector. However, there is still a lack of understanding of how Ghanaian businesses respond to such incentive packages, as well as the detrimental effect of the barriers to investment. This APRA brief examines the most important factors behind investment in the Ghanaian agricultural sector, the limits of financial incentives and provides a series of recommendations for the government in Ghana to address.

Rethinking technological change in smallholder agriculture
July 24, 2019 / Research article

Written by, Dominic Glover, James Sumberg, Giel Ton, Jens Andersson and Lone Badstue.

The concept of technology adoption (along with its companions, diffusion and scaling) is commonly used to design development interventions, to frame impact evaluations and to inform decision-making about new investments in development-oriented agricultural research. However, adoption simplifies and mischaracterises what happens during processes of technological change. In all but the very simplest cases, it is likely to be inadequate to capture the complex reconfiguration of social and technical components of a technological practice or system. We review the insights of a large and expanding literature, from various disciplines, which has deepened understanding of technological change as an intricate and complex sociotechnical reconfiguration, situated in time and space. We explain the problems arising from the inappropriate use of adoption as a framing concept and propose an alternative conceptual framework for understanding and evaluating technological change. The new approach breaks down technology change programmes into four aspects: propositions, encounters, dispositions and responses. We begin to sketch out how this new framework could be operationalised

Working Paper 26: Changing farm structure and agricultural commercialisation in Nigeria
July 11, 2019 / Working Papers

Written by, Milu Muyanga, Adebayo Aromolaran, Thomas Jayne, Saweda Liverpool-Tasie, Titus Awokuse andAdesoji Adelaja

Evidence is mounting that the rise of medium-scale investor farms and associated changes in the distribution of farm sizes are occurring in many African countries. These changes in the distribution of farm sizes are creating important and wide-ranging impacts at all stages of agricultural value chains. However, these effects remain poorly understood and only examined in a small number of countries to date. A better understanding of the effects of changing farm size distributions are urgently needed to guide policies aimed at achieving agricultural commercialisation and broader economic transformation objectives. This paper provides improved evidence for policies designed to support equitable and poverty-reducing agricultural commercialisation in Nigeria.

Working Paper 25: Building Livelihoods: Young People and Agricultural Commercialisation in Africa: Zimbabwe Country Study
June 26, 2019 / Working Papers

Written by Easther Chigumira

This paper is concerned with how young people in the Mvurwi Farming Area in Zimbabwe engage with or are affected by agricultural commercialisation. Mvurwi’s commercialised rural economy offers opportunities for young people to engage in a range of activities as producers, on-farm and off-farm wage workers, and/or as business operators, which allows them to accumulate a range of assets including residential plots, investment in education, household goods, vehicles, and business operations. The study findings show an agile and determined group of young men and women who have consciously turned to the rural economy for a myriad of economic activities to augment revenue streams. Nevertheless, their livelihood opportunities are vulnerable to a number of hazards and, as a result, young people adopt a ‘ducking and diving’ approach to navigate the structural, physical, and individual hurdles or hazards that they encounter in a bid to forge a living within this vibrant rural economy.

Working Paper 24: Building Livelihoods: Young People and Agricultural Commercialisation: Tanzania Country Study
March 28, 2019 / Working Papers

This paper reports on a study of how young people engage in the rural economy in an area where there is a significant level of agricultural commercialisation. The objective was to develop an understanding of the steps and pathways with which particular groups of young people seek to construct livelihoods in or around these hotspots, and the outcomes associated with these efforts.
Findings reveal that, as a rural commercialisation hotspot, Dumila offers young people a variety of different income-generating activities. Young migrants are attracted to the area by the availability of farmland, and the opportunities for both business and on-farm employment. Education is seen as a key to formal employment. Social networks (family and friends) also played a very important role in providing both financial and land resources to support their economic activities.