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

Journal Article: The Resurgence of Agricultural Mechanisation in Ethiopia: Rhetoric or Real Commitment?
January 31, 2021 / Journal articles Publications

Written by: Seife Ayele

Ethiopia’s agricultural development strategies bypassed smallholder mechanisation for decades. Mechanisation returned to the policy agenda in 2013 but recent pro-mechanisation rhetoric lacks operational commitments. Based on primary and secondary data, this paper traces the policies and policy narratives that have led to low mechanisation, and finds that mechanisation was deprioritised on the grounds that Ethiopia is labour- and land-abundant, but short of capital. With policy encouraging multiple cropping, but farming vulnerable to climate change, the paper argues for the development of a market for mechanisation, including mechanisation service provision through private and cooperative agents, to enhance smallholder access to mechanisation and unleash human energy.

Rapid Assessment of the Impact of Covid-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa – Synthesis Report 2
January 14, 2021 / APRA research note Evidence Review Publications

Written by, Marco Carreras, Amrita Saha and John Thompson.

This report presents a summary of findings emerging from the second round of a three-wave rapid assessment led by the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) in October-November 2020 to examine how COVID-19 is affecting food systems and rural livelihoods in eight countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It builds on a set of phone-based household surveys and key informant interviews conducted in those countries in June-July 2020, which served as the baseline for this research.1 APRA will continue to monitor the situation as the
response to the pandemic unfolds through the third round of data collection and analysis planned for the first quarter of 2021.

Impact of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Zambia – Round 1 Report
January 11, 2021 / COVID Country Report Impact Assessment

Written by, Chrispin Matenga and Munguzwe Hichaambwa.

To assess the impact of COVID-19 on local food systems and livelihoods, a total of 115 small-scale farming households (102 male- and 13 female headed) were interviewed from five communities (Lilanda, Luang (Mankanda), Masansa, Nshinso and Miloso (Tazara Corridor) surrounding the Mkushi Farm Block in the Central Province of Zambia between 30 September and 6 November 2020. The respondents were selected as a random sample, targeting 20-25 households per community or village. The small-scale farmers in these areas benefit from linkages with commercial farmers in the block.

Impact of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Malawi – Round 2 Report
January 4, 2021 / COVID Country Report Impact Assessment

Written by, Mirriam Matita and Masautso Chimombo.

COVID-19 continues to impact households and economies worldwide. For this reason, in June 2020 APRA started assessing its likely effects on food systems and livelihoods in Malawi. This report presents insights from the second round (R2) of data collection in October 2020. Data was collected from a stratified random sample of 111 households (59 female and 52 male respondents) drawn from an APRA household survey of groundnut producers in Mchinji and Ntchisi districts, Central Region, as well as from eight key informants. One additional round of research is planned for the first half of 2021.

Impact of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Zimbabwe -Round 2 Report
December 18, 2020 / COVID Country Report Publications

Written by, Vine Mutyasira.

In response to COVID-19, the Government of Zimbabwe enforced a nationwide lockdown on 30 March 2020, closing most sectors of the economy, including informal markets. However, with limited cases, lockdown movement restrictions were eased and supermarkets, restaurants and vegetable markets allowed to reopen. Between 3-13 October 2020, a second-round (R2) of surveys was conducted, targeting farming communities in Mvurwi and Concession Areas of Mazowe District, to assess COVID-19 impacts on food production systems, supply chains and general livelihoods. This report summarises insights obtained from the phone-based survey, covering 102 respondents (20 female and 82 male-headed households), and 5 local key informants (councillors and extension officers). Results are compared to the earlier R1 survey carried out in late June/early July.

Impact of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Tanzania – Round 2 Report
December 18, 2020 / COVID Country Report Publications

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

On 8 June 2020, the Government of Tanzania officially declared the country to be free of COVID-19 and all restrictions have since been lifted. As of 3 December 2020, Tanzania had only 509 confirmed cases of the virus and 21 deaths. Nevertheless, neighbouring countries are still facing the threat of the pandemic, all of which are key trading partners. Their continuing COVID-19 control measures have disrupted regional and domestic agricultural markets and affected local livelihoods and food systems. This study analysed the resulting impacts in those systems in several rice-producing communities in Morogoro Region, south-western Tanzania.

Impact of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Kenya – Round 2 Report
December 18, 2020 / COVID Country Report Publications

Written by, John Olwande and Miltone Ayieko.

Since 12 March 2020, when Kenya reported the first COVID-19 cases, the Ministry of Health confirmed a total of 45,076 cases and 839 deaths, as of 19 October.1 Despite the rising number of COVID-19 confirmed infections and deaths in Kenya during the third quarter (Q3) of 2020, the national and county governments relaxed some of the restrictions that had been in place during Q2 aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19. This assessment was aimed at understanding the effects of COVID-19 at household level and attendant policy responses during Q3 of 2020, to inform actions to assure protection of local food systems, rural livelihoods and the supply of adequate, affordable food of acceptable quality to the population.

Impact of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Ghana – Round 2 Report
December 18, 2020 / COVID Country Report Publications

Written by, Louis Hodey and Fred Dzanku.

This study seeks to assess the continuing impact of COVID-19 on food systems and livelihoods in south-western Ghana and provides insights obtained from household-level and key informant data in the second of three surveys conducted during October/November 2020. This second round (R2) survey involved 107 households of oil palm farmers (86 male-headed and 21 female-headed) and 5 key local informants in the Mpohor and Ahanta West Districts of the Western Region.

Impact of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Fogera Plain, Ethiopia – Round 2 Report
December 18, 2020 / COVID Country Report Publications

Written by, Abebaw Assaye and Dawit Alemu.

This report presents an assessment of the changes in effects of COVID-19 on agricultural commercialisation, food and nutrition security, labour and employment, and poverty and well-being in rural Ethiopia by comparing the results of a baseline household survey (R1) in late June 2020 with a follow-up survey (R2) in late October 2020. Data was collected from a stratified random sample of 106 smallholder rice farmer households (24 female and 82 male-headed) in five kebeles (villages) in the Fogera Plain
area of Amhara Region. Data was also collected through 25 key informant interviews conducted in the kebeles.

Impact of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Nigeria – Round 2 Report
December 18, 2020 / COVID Country Report Publications

Written by, Adebayo B. Aromolaran and Milu Muyanga.

This study provides insights from a second survey assessing COVID-19 impacts on agricultural commercialisation, food and nutrition security, labour and employment, and well-being in rural Nigeria. Data for round 2 (R2) were collected between September and October 2020, from 109 households that were interviewed in mid-July (R1). Households were drawn from a stratified random sample from three Local Government Areas in Ogun State and two in Kaduna State. This survey data is complemented by insights from seven in-depth key informant interviews. This analysis compares COVID-19 effects in the second quarter and the third quarter of 2020, which corresponds to the first and second 3-month periods after Nigeria’s countrywide lockdown was put in place.

ALRE Stakeholder Survey Analysis
December 15, 2020 / ALRE Research Note

Written by, Louise Clark and Ed Small.

The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme has an innovative monitoring, evaluation and learning approach known as the ‘Accompanied Learning on Relevance and Effectiveness’ (ALRE), which is being delivered by a small team of embedded evaluation specialists. ALRE has conducted a survey on agricultural commercialisation with key stakeholders in Africa to improve understanding of the policy issues related to inclusive agricultural commercialisation that require better-quality evidence. The insights generated are intended to support researchers to better frame their research around stakeholders’ priority policy issues across the African continent.

ALRE Stakeholder Survey Analysis: Key Findings
December 15, 2020 / ALRE Research Note

Written by, Louise Clark and Ed Small.

This summary shares the results of a stakeholder survey on the policy issues and demand for evidence related to inclusive agricultural commercialisation across Africa by the Accompanied Learning for Relevance and Effectiveness (ALRE) team of the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme. The survey collected data between January and March 2020 on a series of closed questions to i) understand the top five policy priorities to support agricultural commercialisation and the most effective communication methods, and ii) the different factors and the role of research to influence inclusive agricultural commercialisation.

Working Paper 47: How Conflicts Affect Land Expansion by Smallholder Farmers: Evidence from Nigeria
December 7, 2020 / Working Papers

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

The expansion of smallholder farms into larger farm sizes is a key strategy for growing agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. This strategy could simultaneously expand farm incomes while addressing poverty since the majority of farms in sub-Saharan Africa are smallholder farms. There is limited existing research on the possible role of conflicts in stymying the ability of smallholder farmers to transition into larger-scale farming and on the impacts of conflicts in areas that are not directly within active conflict zones. In this paper, we investigate the impacts of conflict on the ability of smallholder farmers to transition to larger scales in two regions that are not in a traditional conflict zone, by developing a household utility maximisation model to explain choices made by farm households in response to conflict.

ALRE Research Note : The Diamond of Influence, a Model for Exploring Behaviour in Research to Policy Linkages
November 19, 2020 / ALRE Research Note

Written by, Louise Clark

This learning paper presents an initial analysis of the emerging research to policy linkages within the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium, which is funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

APRA has an innovative monitoring, evaluation and learning approach known as the ‘Accompanied Learning on Relevance and Effectiveness’ (ALRE), which is being delivered by a small team of embedded evaluation specialists. This paper discusses how ALRE has applied the COM-B (Capability, Opportunity, Motivation and Behaviour) (Mayne 2018; Mayne 2016; Michie, van Stralen and West 2011) model of behaviour change to explore the interactions and influencing strategies between researchers and policymakers in the context of agricultural policy research in Africa. These insights have produced the Diamond of Influence, a new ALRE-adapted model, which applies each of the COM-B elements to discuss the different aspects of research to policy processes, drawing on examples of how researchers in each of the APRA focus countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe) are engaging in policy spaces.

Working Paper 46: Drivers of Market-Oriented Land Use Decisions Among Farm Households in Nigeria
November 18, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Adebayo B. Aromolaran, Milu Muyanga, Thomas Jayne, Abiodun E. Obayelu, Titus Awokuse, Omotoso O. Ogunmola and Fadlullah O. Issa

In recent times, the Nigerian Government has devised strategies aimed at intensifying smallholder transformation for enhanced food security, employment creation and poverty reduction. However, despite these efforts, the process of agricultural commercialisation in Nigeria has not progressed as fast as expected. Consequently, this study examines agricultural commercialisation in Nigeria with the aim of establishing factors that are constraining commercialisation and identifying potential policy levers that can be used to fast-track the process.

Journal Article: The Agrarian Question in Contemporary Zimbabwe. Africanus: Journal of Development Studies, Vol 49 No 1 (2019)
November 4, 2020 / Journal articles

Toendepi Shonhe. 2019

The reinvestment of rural agrarian surplus is driving capital accumulation in Zimbabwe’s countryside, providing a scope to foster national (re-) industrialisation and job creation. Contrary to Bernstein’s view, the Agrarian Question on capital remains unresolved in Southern Africa. Even though export finance, accessed through contract farming, provides an impetus for export cash crop production, and the government-mediated command agriculture supports food crop production, the reinvestment of proceeds from the sale of agricultural commodities is now driving capital accumulation. Drawing from empirical data, gathered through surveys and in-depth interviews from Hwedza district and Mvurwi farming area in Mazowe district in Zimbabwe, the findings of this study revealed the pre-eminence of the Agrarian Question, linked to an ongoing agrarian transition in Zimbabwe. This agrarian capital elaborates rural-urban interconnections and economic development, following two decades of de-industrialisation in Zimbabwe. 

Working Paper 45: Role of resilience factors in mitigating the negative effects of conflict on land expansion
November 2, 2020 / Working Papers

Written by, Adesoji Adelaja, Justin George, Thomas Jayne, Milu Muyanga, Titus Awokuse, Lenis Saweda O. Liverpool-Tasie and Adebayo B. Aromolaran.

Shocks and stresses from natural disasters, climate change, economic volatility, armed conflicts and political instability could hinder expansion efforts by smallholder farms (SHFs). The application of the resilience concept as a mitigator of the impacts of such shocks on land expansion by farmers is an important developmental challenge. In this paper, we hypothesise that the resilience capacity of SHFs mitigate the adverse effects of conflict shocks and examine how assets, off-farm income, access to social safety nets, and education level of the household lead contribute to household-level resilience to armed conflicts.

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 Publications

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 Publications

Written by: Euclides Gonçalves

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 Publications

Written by: Ngala Chome

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 Publications

Written by: Emmanuel Sulle

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 Publications

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.