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

Reframing the New Alliance Agenda: A Critical Assessment based on Insights from Tanzania
June 14, 2013 / Policy Briefs

Future Agricultures / PLAAS Policy Brief 56
by Emmanuel Sulle and Ruth Hall

A dedicated investment in smallholder farmers to enable them to improve their land use and productivity is critical to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth in African countries.  The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (‘New Alliance’) focuses on public-private partnership (PPPs) with local investors and multinational corporations (MNCs) to produce food. However, this is unlikely to solve chronic problems of hunger, malnutrition and poverty because of under-investment in smallholder agriculture, and the rolling back of state support following structural adjustment programmes from the 1980s onwards.

The initial signs of New Alliance implementation, instead of reversing this chronic under-investment in smallholder agriculture, suggest the adoption of corporate agriculture, either turning smallholder farmers into wage workers and hooking them into value chains in which they have to compete with MNCs, or expelling them to search for alternative livelihoods in the growing cities. Although tempered by promotion of ‘outgrower’ schemes, in practice this agenda promotes large-scale commercialisation. We argue that African countries engaging with the New Alliance should focus instead on securing citizens’ access to land, water and improved governance. African countries have a better chance of addressing the root causes behind rural poverty and low agricultural productivity by investing directly in smallholder farmers themselves.

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Policy Brief 056 Pdf 426.66 KB 1 downloads

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Response to ‘Combining sustainable agricultural production with economic and environmental benefits’
June 4, 2013 / Journal articles

James Sumberg, Jens Andersson, Ken Giller and John Thompson
The Geographical Journal, Vol 179, Issue 2, pages 183-185, June 2013

We suggest that a recent commentary piece in The Geographical Journal on Conservation Agriculture (CA) and the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) (Kassam and Brammer 2012 was misleading because it drew very selectively from the literature, and presented its conclusions as both widely accepted and uncontroversial. Kassam and Brammer’s intervention in the continuing debates around CA and SRI can be understood as a manifestation of the new ‘contested agronomy’. While Kassam and Brammer call on geographers to do research that will promote the spread of CA and SRI, we suggest that this misconstrues and devalues the potential contribution of geography and social science more generally to agricultural development.

SUMBERG, J., ANDERSSON, J., GILLER, K. and THOMPSON, J. (2013), Response to ‘Combining sustainable agricultural production with economic and environmental benefits’. The Geographical Journal, 179: 183–185. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00472.x

Governing REDD+: global framings versus practical evidence from the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project
June 3, 2013 / Working Papers

Full title: Governing REDD+: global framings versus practical evidence from the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project, Kenya

STEPS Centre Working Paper 55
by Joanes Atela

This paper explores the governance and feasibility of globally-linked REDD+ projects in local African settings, focusing on the Kasigau project in Kenya, Africa’s first REDD+ project accredited under internationally accepted standards. The project is a commercial venture and during the last five years it has unfolded in a relatively vulnerable Kenyan setting. A policy process analysis, interactive fieldwork and document review has explored its interrelationship with local livelihood assets and state institutional capabilities.

The paper reveals that while REDD+ institutions are globally standardised through negotiations interlocked with political and development interests, projects are faced with state and local resource histories and perceptions, and in responding to such settings, these projects become highly contextual. Locally, the Kasigau project links carbon benefits to specific and significant local vulnerabilities such as low ‘value’ dryland, water scarcity and illiteracy. This has yielded an apparently uncontested acceptance and favourable perception of the project among the Kasigau people, appearing to reverse long histories of exclusion from their resources by centralised state-based resource management regimes. Yet the negative perception of state institutions that the Kasigau people have built up over time raises questions as to whether the state can ably oversee a successful REDD+ process, as is assumed by the international community. If resource management is not factually decentralised in particular countries, greater capture of local resource rights in REDD+ could result from state regimes than from private-commercial regimes. As such, international gains in safeguarding local communities in REDD+ could be seriously compromised. Kenya recently initiated land reforms as part of resource decentralisation, but the resulting regimes remain fuzzy, subordinate to powerful centralised interests, focused on individual title, and inadequately adapted to particular local contexts. Such reforms potentially re-shuffle the local engagement of the Kasigau project which draws its apparent success partly from a communalised land tenure system.

This paper concludes that communal systems, if well-defined, may provide a better basis for the governance of REDD+ projects, enabling inclusivity, collective action and societal benefits. If projects can genuinely enable local people to manage and benefit from their forest resources, REDD+ promises to be a multi-governance programme that bridges the gap between global and local institutions and interests in the sustainable use of forests.

The Politics of Revitalising Agriculture in Kenya
May 20, 2013 / Working Papers

Colin Poulton and Karuti Kanyinga
Working Paper 59
May 2013

In March 2004 the Kenyan government set out its radical Strategy for Revitalising Agriculture (SRA). Almost a decade on, remarkably little progress has been made on its priority areas. Beyond bureaucratic resistance to economic reform, we explain the political roots of inertia in the SRA case, encompassing both the political logic of maintaining commodity chain-based state organisations and the impossibility of achieving the necessary collective action for radical reform within a dysfunctional coalition government. Continuation of the historic approach to agricultural development in Kenya is good for regional elites but fails to deliver critical public goods for poorer smallholder producers. We, therefore, consider what political changes might be needed before more radical reforms to Kenyan agricultural policy can be implemented.

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FAC Working Paper 060 Pdf 609.44 KB 2 downloads

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Does Rapid Agricultural Growth Require a System of Innovation? Evidence from Ghana & Burkina Faso
May 17, 2013 / Working Papers

John Baptist D. Jatoe, Damien G. Lankoandé and James Sumberg
May 2013

This paper tests the ‘systems of innovation’ hypothesis for a selection of crops in Ghana and Burkina Faso that have shown significant growth in production over an approximately 20-year period. The question is whether such growth can only occur if supported by a system of innovation. Using two indicators (a common understanding on objectives and priorities, and a high level of interactivity) we find little evidence for the existence of anything that might be considered a high functioning system of innovation.

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FAC Working Paper 058 Pdf 485.62 KB 1 downloads

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Agrarian Labour Relations in Zimbabwe after Over a Decade of Land and Agrarian Reform
May 17, 2013 / Working Papers

Walter Chambati
April 2013

This paper begins highlights some key features that shape agrarian labour relations in Zimbabwe, illustrated through the setting of Goromonzi district. The new agrarian structure that forms the basis of the reconfigured agricultural production systems and labour relations is then analysed. This allows for the examination of the labour mobilisation patterns among the different classes of producers resulting from agrarian restructuring. The assessment of the material conditions that farm labourers derive from selling labour in various ways and their responses to the challenges they face precede the conclusions.

The new agrarian labour relations are explored using empirical research in Goromonzi district. Research undertaken by the African Institute for Agrarian Studies (AIAS) since 2002, including a baseline survey in 2006 of 695 landholders and 173 farm workers in Goromonzi is used to illustrate the outcomes prior to economic stabilisation in 2009.iii The analysis draws from the results of the survey reported in Moyo et al. (2009) and the data referenced as AIAS (2007). Qualitative surveys in Goromonzi in 2012 are used to trace the dynamic changes to agrarian labour relations as further land redistribution occurred and the macro-economic context and agrarian policies shifted. Data was collected through interviews and observations from farm labourers, landholders, farm compounds, traditional authorities and state officials.

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FAC Working Paper 056 Pdf 508.00 KB 1 downloads

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Making Sense of Gender, Climate Change and Agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa
May 15, 2013 / Working Papers

Full title: Making Sense of Gender, Climate Change and Agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa: Creating Gender-Responsive Climate Adaptation Policy

Christine Okali and Lars Otto Naess
May 2013

Attention to gender and climate change has increased steadily over the last decade. Much of the emerging policy-focused literature resembles to a considerable degree the gender and environment literature from the 1990s, with the nature of women’s work being used to justify placing women at the centre of climate change policy. However, in contrast with the portrayal of women in earlier literature as knowledgeable guardians of the environment, the women at the centre of gender and climate change policy are typically portrayed as vulnerable, weak, poor, and socially isolated. Arguably, this is a reflection of the politics of gender rather than the reality of the men and women who regularly experience and deal with changes of various kinds.

We argue for a more realistic and nuanced framing of gender that is built on an acknowledgement of social complexity, and an understanding of social, including gender relations, in specific local settings. Such a framing would provide a more valuable starting point for understanding the way in which both women and men, together and separately in their different, and changing roles, shape the outcomes of external interventions. This shift does not mean that targeting vulnerable women to meet short term needs is not valuable. Rather, the intention is principally, to minimise the risks of policy failure resulting from the adoption of often erroneous but popular assumptions about the different roles that women and men play, and must continue to play, to achieve food security in the face of climate change.

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FAC Working Paper 057 Pdf 450.08 KB 17 downloads

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Property rights, social resistance, and alternatives to land grabbing in Madagascar
May 3, 2013 / LDPI Working Papers

Full title: The land of our ancestors: Property rights, social resistance, and alternatives to land grabbing in Madagascar

LDPI Working Paper 26
Benjamin D. Neimark

Large-scale, land-based investment in the Ghanaian oil palm sector
May 3, 2013 / LDPI Working Papers

Full title: Gaining neighbours or big losers – what happened when large-scale, land-based investment in the Ghanaian oil palm sector met the local population on the ground?

LDPI Working Paper 24
Susanne Johanna Väth

Shifting the debate about ‘responsible soy’ production in Paraguay
May 3, 2013 / LDPI Working Papers

Full title: Shifting the debate about ‘responsible soy’ production in Paraguay:  A critical analysis of five claims about environmental, economic, and social sustainability

LDPI Working Paper 23
Laureen Elgert

 

Planning in the Wind: the Failed Jordanian Investments in Sudan
May 3, 2013 / LDPI Working Papers

LDPI Working Paper 22
Justa Mayra Hopma

Property and Negotiation in Waza National Park
May 3, 2013 / LDPI Working Papers

LDPI Working Paper 21
Alice Kelly

Subaltern Voices and Corporate/State Land Grab in the Save Valley
May 3, 2013 / LDPI Working Papers

Full title: “I Would Rather Have My Land Back”: Subaltern Voices and Corporate/State Land Grab in the Save Valley

LDPI Working Paper 20
E. Kushinga Makombe

Land Grabbing along Livestock Migration Routes in Gadarif State, Sudan
May 3, 2013 / LDPI Working Papers

Full title: Land Grabbing along Livestock Migration Routes in Gadarif State, Sudan: Impacts on Pastoralism and the Environment

LDPI Working Paper 19
Hussein M. Sulieman

Rural Land Expropriation for “Large-Scale” Commercial Farming in Rural China
May 3, 2013 / LDPI Working Papers

Full title: Upheaval in Chinese Villages: A Case Study of Rural Land Expropriation for “Large-Scale” Commercial Farming in Rural China

LDPI Working Paper 18
Kan Liu

Consolidating land, consolidating control: state-facilitated ‘agricultural investment’
May 3, 2013 / LDPI Working Papers

Full title: Consolidating land, consolidating control: state-facilitated ‘agricultural investment’ through the ‘Green Revolution’ in Rwanda

LDPI Working Paper 16
Chris Huggins

 

Urbanization strategies and domestic land grabbing in China: the case of Chongming Island
May 3, 2013 / LDPI Working Papers

Full title: The social and environmental implications of urbanization strategies and domestic land grabbing in China: The case of Chongming Island

LDPI Working Paper 14
Giuseppina Siciliano

Implications of Land Acquisitions for Indigenous Local Communities in Benishangul-Gumuz, Ethiopia
May 3, 2013 / LDPI Working Papers

Full title: Postponed Local Concerns? Implications of Land Acquisitions for Indigenous Local Communities in Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State, Ethiopia

LDPI Working Paper 13
by Tsegaye Moreda

Plantations, Contract Farming and Commercial Farming Areas in Africa: A Comparative Review
April 25, 2013 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 55
Rebecca Smalley

There is uncertainty and no small controversy surrounding the potential impacts of commercial agricultural developments that are being proposed for sub-Saharan Africa by domestic governments and foreign investors. Much of the debate concerns how Africa’s rural poor could be affected. One response is to look back and review what the outcomes have been from earlier such developments. This should include consideration of the institutional setting to help us understand how institutions influence the character and outcome of commercial agricultural schemes.

This working paper assesses the historical experience of three farming models that have figured in recent investments in sub-Saharan Africa: plantations, contract farming and commercial farming areas. Based on a literature review, the paper concentrates on the involvement of, and effects on, rural societies in and around the area where the schemes were located. It looks mainly at sub-Saharan Africa but also considers case studies from Latin America and Asia.

This paper was produced as part of the Land and Agricultural Commercialisation in Africa (LACA) project.

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FAC Working Paper 055 Pdf 1.25 MB 11 downloads

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Heifer-in-trust, Social Protection and Graduation: Conceptual Issues and Empirical Questions
April 13, 2013 / Journal articles

by James Sumberg and Gountiéni Damien Lankoandé
Development Policy Review, Volume 31, Issue 3, pages 255–271, April 2013

This article examines the ‘heifer-in-trust’ or ‘livestock-in-kind credit’ model through a social-protection lens. Specifically it seeks to engage with debates about the use of asset-based strategies to support graduation from social protection. Drawing on project experience with dairy goats in Ethiopia and dairy cattle in Tanzania, the article concludes that while the asset-ness of livestock may in principle allow them to make a unique contribution to livelihood transformation and thus graduation, the most obvious target group is least likely to be able to handle the demands and risks associated with livestock assets.

The Future of the Food System: Cases Involving the Private Sector in South Africa
March 19, 2013 / Journal articles

by Laura Pereira
Sustainability 2013, 5(3), 1234-1255

The food system is facing unprecedented pressure from environmental change exacerbated by the expansion of agri-food corporations that are consolidating their power in the global food chain. Although Africa missed the Green Revolution and the wave of supermarket expansion that hit the West and then spread to Asia and Latin America, this is unlikely to continue. With a large proportion of sub-Saharan African countries’ GDP still heavily reliant on agriculture, global trends in agri-food business are having an increasing impact on African countries. South Africa, a leader in agribusiness on the continent, has a well-established agri-food sector that is facing increasing pressure from various social and environmental sources.

This paper uses interview data with corporate executives from South African food businesses to explore how they are adapting to the dual pressures of environmental change and globalisation. It shows that companies now have to adapt to macro-trends both within and outside the formal food sector and how this in turn has repercussions for building sustainable farming systems—both small and large-scale. It concludes with the recognition that building a sustainable food system is a complex process involving a diversity of actors, however changes are already being seen. Businesses have strategically recognised the need to align the economic bottom line with social and environmental factors, but real sustainability will only happen when all stakeholders are included in food governance.

South-South Cooperation in Context: Perspectives from Africa
March 11, 2013 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 54
Kojo Sebastian Amanor

This paper examines how liberal economic reforms that permeated and transformed economies during the 1980s and 1990s, both in the emerging BRICS powers themselves as well as in Africa, mediate and influence the relationships between emergent powers and African nations. It investigates the impact of South-South relations on the nature of development and technical cooperation, aid and investment, as well as in the configuration of relations between states, farmers and the private sector. It then examines the extent to which the experiences of China and Brazil in developing their agriculture result in qualitatively new paradigms for agricultural development which create opportunities for a redefinition of the development of policy and practice.

Alternatively, it looks at how South-South development cooperation may merely reinforce the drive to capital accumulation unleashed by global economic liberalisation, and reflect strategies by emergent powers to acquire new markets for agricultural technology, inputs, services and new sources of raw materials. Finally, the paper questions the extent to which alternative paradigms can be created within the institutional framework created by neoliberal reform.

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FAC Working Paper 054 Pdf 648.42 KB 8 downloads

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Narratives of China-Africa Cooperation for Agricultural Development: New Paradigms?
March 11, 2013 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 53
Lila Buckley

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Current debate is still largely centred on China’s engagement with African agriculture as either a threat or an opportunity. Such debate will not be resolved without a broader body of empirical evidence on the nature and impacts of the diversity of Chinese agriculture engagements in specific African contexts. This paper explores Chinese narratives on: China’s own agriculture and development success; African agriculture challenges and opportunities; and the nature of China-Africa cooperation, to ask how to best engage with China-African agriculture cooperation to improve the outcomes for African agriculture.

The paper first reviews current literature on China-Africa cooperation for agriculture development and identifies gaps that this paper attempts to fill and methods used in this research. Then a very brief overview is given of the institutional arrangements for China-Africa agriculture cooperation, presenting available data on the nature and scale of these engagements. The following sections present narratives from policy papers, media, statements by officials, literature, and informant interviews on this cooperation towards an exploration of the underlying patterns, justifications, relationships and styles of Chinese agriculture engagements in Africa. In the latter section, challenges to the dominant discourse and potential alternative models are explored. Finally, the conclusion brings forward preliminary assessments of these narratives and suggestions for further research.

Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

Current debate is still largely centred on China’s engagement with African agriculture as either a threat or an opportunity. Such debate will not be resolved without a broader body of empirical evidence on the nature and impacts of the diversity of Chinese agriculture engagements in specific African contexts. This paper explores Chinese narratives on:

· China’s own agriculture and development success;

· African agriculture challenges and opportunities; and

· the nature of China-Africa cooperation,

to ask how to best engage with China-African agriculture cooperation to improve the outcomes for African agriculture.

The following section reviews current literature on China-Africa cooperation for agriculture development and identifies gaps that this paper attempts to fill and methods used in this research. The third section gives a very brief overview of the institutional arrangements for China-Africa agriculture cooperation, presenting available data on the nature and scale of these engagements. The fourth and fifth section then present narratives from policy papers, media, statements by officials, literature, and informant interviews on this cooperation towards an exploration of the underlying patterns, justifications, relationships and styles of Chinese agriculture engagements in Africa. In the latter section, challenges to the dominant discourse and potential alternative models are explored. Finally, the conclusion brings forward preliminary assessments of these narratives and suggestions for further research.

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FAC Working Paper 053 Pdf 760.18 KB 2 downloads

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Narratives of Brazil-Africa Cooperation for Agricultural Development: New Paradigms?
March 11, 2013 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 51
Lídia Cabral and Alex Shankland

This paper summarises the findings of a scoping study on Brazilian development cooperation in agriculture in Africa. The study comprised, in the first instance, a review of the relevant literature and interviews with key informants in Brazil, undertaken between October 2011 and March 2012. This was complemented by an international seminar on the topic held in Brasília on May 2012, which brought together experts and practitioners from Brazil, Africa, China and Europe to discuss Brazilian agricultural cooperation in the context of South-South engagements with Africa. The seminar represented a unique opportunity to gather and contrast experiences and viewpoints on the subject across a wide range of state and non-state actors.

The paper is structured into five sections. This brief introduction is followed by an overview of the general features of Brazilian cooperation, including its drivers, principles, modalities and institutional setting. Section 2 describes cooperation with the African continent, with particular focus on its agriculture component and its growing significance. The fourth section offers some preliminary observations and hypotheses for further investigation. Section 5 concludes with some suggestions for the subsequent stage of the research.

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Chinese and Brazilian Cooperation with African Agriculture: The Case of Mozambique
March 11, 2013 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 49

Sérgio Chichava, Jimena Duran, Lídia Cabral, Alex Shankland, Lila Buckley, Tang Lixia and Zhang Yue

The purpose of this paper is to provide an account of the policies, narratives, operational modalities and underlying motivations of Brazilian and Chinese development cooperation in Mozambique. It is particularly interested in understanding how the engagements are perceived and talked about, what drives them and what formal and informal relations are emerging at the level of particular exchanges.

The paper draws on three experiences representing a variety of engagements and suggesting the increasingly blurred motivations shaping cooperation encounters: (i) ProSavana, Brazil’s current flagship programme in Mozambique, which aims to transform the country’s savannah land spreading along the Nacala corridor, drawing on Brazil’s own experience in the Cerrado; (ii) the Chinese Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre (ATDC) in the outskirts of the Mozambican capital; (iii) a private Chinese rice investment project in the Xai-Xai irrigation scheme, which builds on a technical cooperation initiative. The conclusion discusses the extent to which observed dynamics on the ground suggest the emergence of distinctive patterns of cooperation and identities issues for further research on Brazilian and Chinese engagements in Mozambique.

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FAC Working Paper 049 Pdf 1.17 MB 1 downloads

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Chinese and Brazilian Cooperation with African Agriculture: The Case of Ghana
March 10, 2013 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 52
Kojo Amanor

This paper explores the differences in Brazilian and Chinese investments in Ghana. It examines the extent to which the framework of South-South cooperation illuminates or masks these changing relationships and their political economy dimensions. The paper also addresses the social vision of development embedded in frameworks of South- South cooperation and whether they harmonise with Ghanaian agrarian sector visions and societal developments.

The extent, framing and structure of Chinese and Brazilian investments in Ghana are examined. The changing political economy of the agrarian sector within Ghana is outlined, as well as the changing framework of agrarian policy in the context of market liberalisation and rise of agribusiness. The specificities of Chinese agricultural investments in Ghana are examined in relation to its wider investments and interests in Ghana. Brazilian investments within the Ghanaian agricultural sector are examined in relation to the expansion of Brazilian agribusiness and its integration into the global economy. The paper discusses the impact of such developments on Ghanaian agriculture and society.

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FAC Working Paper 052 Pdf 419.85 KB 1 downloads

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Chinese and Brazilian Cooperation with African Agriculture: The Case of Ethiopia
March 10, 2013 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 50
Dawit Alemu

The increased importance of South-South cooperation in rural and agricultural development, and especially the increased role of BRICS countries, has been debated in relation to international development assistance, specifically in terms of

(i) the modalities and policies for agricultural development deployed, including officially articulated cooperation principles and visions and priorities for agricultural development
(ii) the main actors in the cooperation process
(iii) the explicit and implicit rationales for the modalities that underpin technical cooperation in agriculture
(iv) the lessons for established donors, and
(iv) local perceptions of the value added of the approaches deployed.

This paper provides an overview of rural and agricultural development cooperation and tries to answer these questions for the case of Brazilian and Chinese agricultural development cooperation activities in Ethiopia.

In general, the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) promotes harmonisation and an alignment process of donor support through the Ethiopian High Level Forum, with nine subsidiary sector-specific working groups. Brazil and China are not engaged in any of the nine government-donor coordination platforms including the platform for agriculture, natural resource management and food security, which is called the Rural Economic Development and Food Security Sector Working Group (RED&FS SWG).

However, Brazil and China are engaged as bilateral development partners in Ethiopia, mainly in the form of experience sharing in public governance, technical cooperation, and attraction of private and public investments. Moreover, the cooperation has very specific characteristics in that, in the case of Brazil, the GoE focuses on renewable energy sector development mainly related to biofuels, whilst in the case of China, cooperation is more focused on agricultural technology and skill transfer.

The paper first presents an overview of the cooperation in rural development in Ethiopia, followed by documentation of the level of engagement by Brazil and China in the major areas of cooperation, i.e. experience sharing in public governance, technical cooperation and strengthening private investment.

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FAC Working Paper 050 Pdf 538.03 KB 1 downloads

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Chinese and Brazilian Cooperation with African Agriculture: The Case of Zimbabwe
March 10, 2013 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 48
by Langton Mukwereza

This report describes the status of agricultural aid and cooperation programmes by Brazil and China in Zimbabwe from three perspectives:

  • A specification for each programme: the actors (governmental or otherwise) and their roles in the provision of such aid.
  • The nature of the aid and cooperation programmes: i.e. operational instruments used (e.g. financial support, technical cooperation, food aid, government-to-government, private sector driven), volumes pledged/disbursed, and a description of the status with specific projects and programmes.
  • An analysis of the relevance and impacts (current and foreseen) of the cooperation programmes.

Albeit preliminary at this stage, the scope for the cooperation programmes to accomplish intended outcomes is discussed throughout the ensuing sections, with reference made to the actors and interests being served, and any networks being formed.

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FAC Working Paper 048 Pdf 649.68 KB 1 downloads

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Why agronomy in the developing world has become contentious
March 1, 2013 / Journal articles

by James Sumberg, John Thompson and Philip Woodhouse
Agriculture and Human Values
, March 2013, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 71-83

In this paper we argue that over the last 40 years the context of agronomic research in the developing world has changed significantly. Three main changes are identified: the neoliberal turn in economic and social policy and the rise to prominence of the participation and environmental agendas. These changes have opened up new spaces for contestation around the goals, priorities, methods, results and recommendations of agronomic research. We suggest that this dynamic of contestation is having important effects on how agronomic research is planned, managed, implemented, evaluated and used, and is therefore worthy of detailed study. This is particularly so at a time when food security, rising food prices and the potential impacts of climate change on agriculture are in the policy spotlight. We outline a research agenda that should help illuminate the drivers, dynamics and impacts of this new ‘political agronomy’.


Prix élevés et volatiles des denrées alimentaires: Soutien apporté aux agriculteurs
February 28, 2013 / Briefings politiques / Policy briefs in French

Titre complet: Prix élevés et volatiles des denrées alimentaires : Soutien apporté aux agriculteurs et aux consommateurs

CAADP Point Info 08
par Kate Wellard-Dyer

Lors de la crise alimentaire mondiale de 2007/2008, les prix des denrées alimentaires ont atteint des niveaux records et le nombre de personnes souffrant de la faim a dépassé le milliard pour la première fois de l’histoire. D’une manière générale, les prix des denrées alimentaires sont restés élevés et instables avec une seconde augmentation en 2010/2011.

L’impact de la hausse des prix a été fortement ressenti. Les consommateurs, les producteurs et les ouvriers les plus pauvres sont ceux qui en ont le plus souffert alors que les agriculteurs les mieux lotis ont pu profiter de la situation en accroissant la production. Cependant, la volatilité des prix des denrées alimentaires, c’est-à-dire les fluctuations importantes et difficiles à prévoir des prix, touchent presque tout le monde.

Speech by Mohamed Elmi, Pastoralism book launch, Feb 2013
February 18, 2013 / Communications

Speech by Hon. Mohamed Elmi, Minister of State for Development of Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands, on 13 February 2013 at the Nairobi launch of the book Pastoralism and Development in Africa: Dynamic Change at the Margins.


Agricultural labour productivity, food prices and sustainable development impacts and indicators
February 4, 2013 / Journal articles

by Andrew Dorward
Food Policy, Volume 39, April 2013, Pages 40–50

In the last few years high and unstable food and agricultural commodity prices and concerns about population growth, increasing per capita food demands and environmental constraints have pushed agriculture and food production up national and international political, policy and research agendas. Drawing on both theory and empirical evidence, this paper argues that fundamental impacts of links between agricultural productivity sustainability and real food price changes are often overlooked in current policy analysis. This is exacerbated by a lack of relevant and accessible indicators for monitoring agricultural productivity sustainability and real food prices. Two relatively simple and widely applicable sets of indicators are proposed for use in policy development and monitoring. Historical series of these indices are estimated for selected countries, regions and the world. Their strengths, weaknesses and potential value are then discussed in the context of the need for better sustainable agricultural development and food security indicators in any post 2015 successors to the current MDGs.

Food price volatility and financial speculation
January 23, 2013 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 47
Stephen Spratt
January 2013

Price volatility is exacerbated by the tendency of market actors to follow momentum strategies, where price rises encourage more buying, and falls encourage selling.

This paper focuses on the impacts of this activity with respect to global food prices, in order to understand the relationship between financial markets and food price volatility.

It examines how the relationship between financial actors and food commodity markets – particularly futures markets – changed in the last ten years. The paper also explores the benefits and costs of the increased role of financial sector actors in these markets,  and how the balance between benefits and costs might change in the future. Further, it asks what reforms, if any, are needed to ensure that benefits exceed costs.

The paper establishes the context in terms of price movements and the evolution of food and financial markets over the past decade, and develops a typology of speculation as a framework for thinking about these issues. It goes on to apply this typology to global food markets, and reviews the differing explanations for food price movements. The author also considers the role of uncertainty and complexity, and the role of financial markets in this regard, and considers some policy options.

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FAC Working Paper 047 Pdf 1.01 MB 6 downloads

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FAC Africa brochure (June 2013)
January 18, 2013 / Media

Brochure about the Future Agricultures Consortium.

Government and land corruption in Benin
December 7, 2012 / LDPI Working Papers

LDPI Working Paper 12
by Sèdagban Hygin F. Kakai

This paper tries to explain the land problem in terms of the corruption of the urban elites, the policy brokers and, more generally, the players in the political arena. Indeed, in the context of democratising African States such as Benin, corruption has become a social phenomenon, as has the exercise of political power. There is almost no political system that is free from corruption scandals, where the economy in general and the rural economy in particular has not been pillaged. Land corruption is equally well organised in the corridors of power at local, intermediate and central level. Indeed we could talk about a ‘chain of corruption’ for land. From the viewpoint of public action, this paper offers an empirical definition of land corruption and a typology of players. It studies the major trends and the critical uncertainties surrounding this phenomenon, i.e. using land as an object of political clientelism. It also explores the future prospects for land in the face of land corruption, and the possible mechanisms for escaping the crisis.

The mining-conservation nexus: Rio Tinto, development ‘gifts’ and contested compensation
December 7, 2012 / LDPI Working Papers

Full title: The mining-conservation nexus: Rio Tinto, development ‘gifts’ and contested compensation in Madagascar

LDPI Working Paper 11
by Caroline Seagle

his paper traces a genealogy of land access and legitimisation strategies culminating in the recent convergence of multinational mining and conservation in southeast Madagascar. Drawing on empirical research carried out on the Rio Tinto/QMM ilmenite mine in Fort Dauphin, it focuses on how local Malagasy land users are incorporated into new forms of inclusion (into the neoliberal capitalist economy) and exclusion (from land-based, subsistence activities) resulting from private sector engagement in conservation. Various material impacts of the mine were inverted and remediated to global audiences as necessary to sustainable development and biodiversity conservation. By financing, partnering with and participating in the same land access markets as international conservation NGOs, and setting aside small ‘conservation enclaves’ in each mining site, Rio Tinto/QMM legitimise mining in situ despite the negative socio-environmental consequences for the Malagasy. Mining–conservation partnerships may fail to adequately address — and ultimately exclude — the needs of people affected by the mines.

Drivers and actors in large-scale farmland acquisitions in Sudan
December 7, 2012 / LDPI Working Papers

LDPI Working Paper 10
by Martin Keulertz

This study analyses the political, economic and social impacts of the land and ‘virtual water’ grab in Southern Sudan. The ‘virtual water’ concept, which explains the absence of water wars through water embedded in agricultural imports, has been a major breakthrough in the study of the Middle Eastern water question. This paper shows how agricultural commodities in the form of virtual water are at the heart of Middle Eastern investors’ interests. The paper sheds light on investments in Southern Sudan, which are a form of water arbitrage by investing countries. The virtual extension of the investing countries’ Lebensraum into the recipient countries is part of a ‘new scramble’ over African resources — namely water resources. However, the risks of such investment activities lie in the social and environmental sphere with tribal conflicts and poor soil quality.

Conservation and ecotourism on privatised land in the Mara, Kenya
December 7, 2012 / LDPI Working Papers

Full title: Conservation and ecotourism on privatised land in the Mara, Kenya: The case of conservancy land leases

LDPI Working Paper 9
by Claire Bedelian

This paper investigates private sector investment in conservation and ecotourism through conservancy land leases in the Mara region of Kenya. In a recent and growing tourism development, groups of Maasai landowners are leasing their parcels of land to tourism investors and forming wildlife conservancies. The paper examines this new conservation and ecotourism model and the implications it has for Maasai livelihoods and the environment. The subdivision of Kenya’s rangelands has tended to benefit elites, and as a consequence this trend is reinforced in land-based schemes such as these. Given the large extent and recent change in ownership in these areas, land leases do however keep the lands they cover together and are potentially an optimistic outlook for such open rangeland areas. Consideration however must be given to adjacent areas and communities that may face the negative knock on effects of such schemes. The Mara is a unique area in terms of its tourism and wildlife, so land leases may not be able to offer as much to landowners in other areas, or be financially sustainable across vast areas. However, within the Mara, land leases have been rapidly expanded upon, implying that similar schemes might be of interest to both investors and communities alike in other wildlife areas.

Gendered Dimensions of Land and Rural Livelihoods: The Case of New Settler Farmer Displacement
December 7, 2012 / LDPI Working Papers

Gendered Dimensions of Land and Rural Livelihoods: The Case of New Settler Farmer Displacement at Nuanetsi Ranch, Mwenezi District, Zimbabwe

LDPI Working Paper 8
by Patience Mutopo

Nuanetsi Ranch had been invaded by villagers from different parts of Mwenezi, Chiredzi and Chivi communal areas since 2000. In February 2010, the government announced that the settlers had to be removed and resettled in other ’uncontested lands’ in the area, compromising their rights to sustainable livelihoods, human development and land acquisition. The perceptions of the men and women resident at Chigwizi has had a bearing on understanding the nature of gendered land and rural livelihoods in the context of biofuel production in Zimbabwe, after fast track land reform.


Agricultural land acquisition by foreign investors in Pakistan
December 7, 2012 / LDPI Working Papers

Full title: Agricultural land acquisition by foreign investors in Pakistan: Government policy and community responses

LDPI Working Paper 7
by Antonia Settle

This paper explores the Pakistani government’s 2009 agricultural investment policy package — a response to increasing foreign investor interest in agricultural land — and considers the likely implications for local communities. By analysing the policy pertaining to the categories of cultivated and uncultivated land, the paper explores possible consequences that peasant farming communities and grazing communities face. The policy’s dependence on arbitrary and anti-poor colonial-era laws and processes places the policy squarely in established centre–periphery relations rooted by colonial-era politics of land ownership. Thus, the offer of agricultural land to foreign investors is both an unprecedented international land grab and a development in ongoing land appropriation by influential people through state apparatuses, continuous with colonial practices. This in turn has spurred community responses within the same dynamic of colonially rooted centre–periphery conflict; community responses revolve around various ethnic separatist movements that originated in earlier colonial politics. Apart from the precarious balance of social and economic power in Pakistan — evident in the making and implications of the agricultural investment policy — the findings point to an urgent need for the Pakistani government to address environmental and food security issues.

Transforming traditional land governance systems and coping with land deal transactions
December 7, 2012 / LDPI Working Papers

LDPI Working Paper 6
by Christopher PI Mahonge

This study aimed to gain insight into how land deals have affected traditional Tanzanian land-based interactions and networks, and what coping mechanisms those affected have deployed. Case studies of land deal transactions — in both the Kisarawe district, in the Coast region and the Same district in the Kilimanjaro region —show the impact of cultivating bio-energy crops on traditional land. While the Same district employed an out-grower model to cultivate biofuel, Kisarawe district adopted the plantation approach. Traditional land governance systems and actors are affected differently by out-grower and plantation biofuel production models; the plantation model leads to traditional land governance frameworks being totally dismantled, while the out-grower model has insignificant impact on traditional land governance systems. For both models, laws and guidelines governing biofuel cultivation are ineffective: plantation and out-grower biofuel cultivation exacerbates a vicious cycle of poverty and environmental degradation. More research in other socio-ecological environments is necessary to understand broader interactions between land deals and traditional governance systems, and then to develop concrete, sound guidelines to govern foreign, national and local institutional actors involved in land deals.

Who Gets the Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production?: Biomass Distribution….
December 7, 2012 / LDPI Working Papers

Full title: Who Gets the Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production?: Biomass Distribution & the ‘Sugar Economy’ in the Tana Delta, Kenya

LDPI Working Paper 5
by Leah Temper

In this article we focus on the connection between purchases of land and the emerging ‘biomass-economy’, analysing biomass distribution in a region targeted for land-grabbing in order to understand the process from both bio-physical and political ecological perspectives. We narrow the focus down to a case study in the Tana Delta, Kenya, one of the new commodity frontiers in the recent large-scale land acquisitions, employing an indicator derived from social metabolism analysis — the Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production (HANPP). This allows us to examine biomass flows in the Delta, combining a biophysical perspective with a political-ecology analysis of the interests, stakes and power politics in the delta. The first section introduces the conceptual tools and theoretical framework, expanding on the concept of the ‘sugar economy’ as a socio-metabolic transition, and material and energy flow analysis (MEFA) as valuable instruments in gauging sustainability and potential sites of conflict over biomass. The second section contextualises the case study of the Tana Delta in Kenya as a site of conflict over biological resources through an analysis of property rights and historical dynamics. The third section presents the results of the analysis of biomass distribution. The fourth and fifth sections offer discussion of the results and the conclusions.

‘Land belongs to the community’: Demystifying the ‘global land grab’ in Southern Sudan
December 7, 2012 / LDPI Working Papers

LDPI Working Paper 4
by David K Deng

Sudan is among the global ‘hotspots’ for large-scale land acquisitions. Although most of this investment activity was thought to be focused in the Northern part of the country, recent research indicates that a surprising number of large-scale land acquisitions have also taken place in the South in recent years. Now that the Southern Sudanese have opted for independence in the 2011 referendum on self-determination, investment activity will likely increase further. This paper presents preliminary data concerning large-scale land acquisitions in two of the ‘Green Belt’ states of Southern Sudan: Central Equatoria and Western Equatoria. It explores the concept ‘land belongs to the community’; a statement communities have take up in their demand for greater involvement in decision-making regarding community lands. It also examines processes of company–community engagement and the extent to which rural communities are being involved in investment projects. Finally, the paper presents a number of case studies that illustrate the complex interplay between cultural sovereignty, conflict, and post-war reconstruction in Southern Sudan. It concludes with recommendations for the government moving forward.

Household livelihoods and increasing foreign investment pressure in Ethiopia’s natural forests
December 7, 2012 / LDPI Working Papers

LDPI Working Paper 3
by Bliss J; Guillozet K

Foreign investment in Ethiopia’s forestry sector is currently limited, but agricultural investments that affect forests — largely through forest clearing — are commonplace, but there are challenges and opportunities in implementing them. Given the key role forests play in rural livelihoods, new tenure arrangements will have significant implications for communities located at the forest–farm interface. We use evidence from a case study in the Arsi Forest area of Oromia Regional State to examine historic and contemporary forest benefit distributions and investigate the potential for conflict over competing forest access claims associated with new investments.

The role of foreign investment in Ethiopia’s smallholder-focused agricultural development strategy
December 7, 2012 / LDPI Working Papers

LDPI Working Paper 2
by Lavers, T.

Recent foreign agricultural investment in Africa has generated a great deal of interest and criticism, with western media warning of a neo-colonial ‘land grab’. This paper moves beyond this narrow assessment by examining the political and social dynamics of foreign agricultural investment in Ethiopia, a country that has figured prominently in recent debates. The paper links macro-level analysis regarding the types of projects and their role in the Ethiopian economy to case studies of investments at the micro-level, which examine changing patterns of land use and implications for displacement, employment and technology transfer. The paper concludes that the expansion of foreign investment in Ethiopia is part of a government move towards an export-led development strategy. As such, macro-benefits in terms of increased foreign exchange earnings come at the cost of increased micro-level risks to those living near new investments, in particular, politically marginalised pastoral populations in remote regions.

Commercial Biofuel Land Deals & Environment and Social Impact Assessments in Africa
December 7, 2012 / LDPI Working Papers

Full title: Commercial Biofuel Land Deals & Environment and Social Impact Assessments in Africa: Three case studies in Mozambique and Sierra Leone

LDPI Working Paper 1
by Andrew M; van Vlaenderen H

This paper examines three case studies of proposed biofuel developments in Mozambique and Sierra Leone in terms of their social displacement impacts and the extent to which such impacts can be avoided or minimised. The case studies show that even in areas with low population densities and settlements concentrated in villages where it is easier to minimise displacement impacts, livelihood displacement impacts still cannot be entirely avoided due to communal and scattered land use in most rural areas. Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) processes have changed the location, size and boundaries of developments to reduce displacement impacts, but more mitigation measures — such as outgrower schemes and land dedicated to food production — can provide further livelihood restitution and avoid food security impacts. The three biofuel ventures also highlight the influence of tenure security for local land right holders in determining the nature of the land deals and the consultation processes: cases where land leases are made with central government seem to provide fewer incentives for developers to negotiate directly with local communities and provide them with lower levels of compensation.

Evidence-based agricultural policy in Africa: Critical reflection on an emergent discourse
December 1, 2012 / Journal articles

by Stephen Whitfield
Outlook on Agriculture, Volume 41, Number 4, December 2012 , pp. 249-256(8)

Evidence-based policy represents an emergent discourse in African agriculture and is welcomed by many for the emphasis it places on the legitimization of policies and strategies through reference to observed realities. Its intuitive premise places realized results, as opposed to theory or bias, at the foundation of policy making. However, the universal appeal of evidence-based policy, as demonstrated by the geographical and inter-sector spread of the discourse, belies the fact that its legitimacy relies on a set of prerequisites that are by no means universally established. This paper highlights some of the current incompatibilities between a leaning towards evidence-based policy in African agriculture and various issues that currently compromise the quality of national agricultural statistics across the African continent. The case of NERICA rice is used to highlight how ‘success stories’ – which may become an evidence base of their own, justifying scaled-up investments and technology delivery – may be successfully constructed on the basis of weak or incomplete evidence. It is argued that the virtues of evidence-based policy rely critically on the quality of evidence and transparency in the way evidence speaks to policy, such that weaknesses do not become lost in a process that distorts data into policy truths.