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

Promoting Agriculture for Social Protection or Social Protection for Agriculture? (ii) Policy
January 2, 2007 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 12
By Andrew Dorward, Rachel Sabates Wheeler, Ian MacAuslan, Chris Penrose Buckley, Jonathan Kydd, and Ephraim Chirwa

Risk and vulnerability play important roles in keeping poor rural people poor. Both agricultural and social protection policies can help growth benefit the poorest and most vulnerable people. In this second briefing paper on Agriculture and Social Protection we outline important interactions between social protection and agriculture development policies. Four strategic approaches addressing (with differing success) these interactions are described, together with the main policy instruments associated with them, and design and implementation issues for these instruments discussed.

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Promoting Agriculture for Social Protection or Social Protection for Agriculture? (i)Concepts/Frame
January 1, 2007 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 11
By Andrew Dorward, Rachel Sabates Wheeler, Ian MacAuslan, Chris Penrose Buckley, Jonathan Kydd, and Ephraim Chirwa

Agriculture’s major role in pro-poor economic growth in countries with large, poor rural sectors is increasingly recognised. There is also a major focus on social protection interventions to address risks and insecurity affecting poor people. However current policy debate and formulation makes limited attempts to integrate agricultural and social protection policies.

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Too many people, too few livestock: the crisis affecting pastoralists in the Greater Horn of Africa
January 1, 2007 / E-debates

The crisis in the Horn of Africa

In April 2006 OXFAM, writing of this year’s drought in the pastoral areas of Kenya said, “the recovery process could take 15 years.” Alas, without a substantial change in attitudes and approach, that prediction will prove grossly over-optimistic. There will be no recovery.

For many years the average level of well-being of pastoralists in the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA) and the distribution of individual households around the average have been getting worse, and they will continue to get worse even if all the risks (unfavourable uncertainties such as drought, conflict, disease and further loss of land) commonly cited as afflicting pastoralism are eliminated. This is a consequence of the growing imbalance between humans, livestock, natural environment and the technology available to improve land productivity and of the economies of scale (see PARIMA publications2) that ensure poorer households fare worse than richer.

What is the difference between Archiving and Trashing an Article?
October 11, 2006 / African Green Revolution

How can Africa’s farmers, scientists, development practitioners, private entrepreneurs and public officials spark a “uniquely” Green Revolution in Africa, one that responds to the region’s unique social, political and ecological conditions?

The aim of this moderated e-Discussion is to focus the discussions on action-oriented approaches to address the “how” part of the African Green Revolution discussions.

The Salzburg Global Seminar (SGS), in partnership with the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), has undertaken a series of events on the theme of an “African Green Revolution”. The main purpose of these initiatives is to assess the most critical issues and to review, refine and articulate an agenda for a new sustainable “Green Revolution” for Sub-Saharan Africa.  The Salzburg report represents a summary of the week-long deliberations, highlights key points of agreement and divergence, and sets out a number of recommendations for follow-up and future action.

In light of the considerable interest generated by the conference and seminar, SGS, FAC, and IDS are creating a space for people to contribute to and extend this important discussion.

We will be holding a moderated discussion on substantive action-oriented issues over a seven-week period during the months of October and November, 2008. The debate will focus on three central themes raised by the conference/seminar delegates and outlined in the report

What Role for Ministries of Agriculture in the 21st Century?
September 1, 2006 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 10
By Lídia Cabral and Ian Scoones
September 2006

Different ‘narratives’ – or storylines – about agricultural policies are being pushed by different actors in the policy process, each envisages a different kind of ministry of agriculture. Three different versions are elaborated. One sees the return of the heyday of the sectoral ministry with capacity and policy clout – to address the major constraints of agriculture, it is argued, what is required is a strong, well-funded line ministry, and the challenge today is to rebuild such an organisation. A second – at the other extreme – sees such sectoral ministries taking on a minimal role, focused on oversight and regulation, as the private sector takes on a more substantive role in a ‘free market’ environment. A third, perhaps less stridently articulated than the others, sees an important role for the state – and the ministry of agriculture, together with other state agencies – in addressing the coordination and intermediation roles of getting markets to work effectively, while ensuring at the same time public efforts are targeted to poverty reduction.

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Promoting Agriculture for Social Protection
August 1, 2006 / Discussion Papers

By Andrew Dorward, Rachel Sabates Wheeler, Ian MacAuslan, Chris Penrose Buckley, Jonathan Kydd, Ephraim Chirwa

August 2006

It is increasingly recognised that agriculture must play a role in pro-poor economic growth incountries with large, poor rural sectors. There is also a major focus on social protection interventions to address risks and insecurity affecting poor people. However current policy debate and formulation makes only limited attempts to integrate agricultural and social protection policies.

 

This paper outlines significant paradigm shifts in policies affecting both these fields and highlights pertinent issues arising from interactions between agricultural and social protection policies. The paper begins by setting out the sources and effects of stress in rural people’s livelihoods, and their responses to stress. Poor rural people’s livelihoods are complex, diverse and risk prone with inherent seasonal instability. Vulnerability not only affects people’s welfare, it also reduces growth, directly by destroying assets, and indirectly as the threat of shocks and stresses diverts assets from more productive activities to those that reduce vulnerability.

These responses involve removal of, resistance to, recovery from and relief from stresses. These responses are nested within three broader livelihoods strategies which people adopt (often together) to survive and to advance their welfare:

• ‘Hanging-in’, where activities are undertaken to maintain livelihood levels at a ‘survival’ level;

• ‘Stepping-up’, where investments are made in existing activities to increase their returns; and

• ‘Stepping-out’, where existing activities are engaged in to accumulate assets as a basis for investment in alternative, higher-return livelihood activities.

Development normally involves shifts in emphasis in people’s livelihoods, from hanging in (through low risk /low return subsistence activities) to stepping up (in higher risk / higher return commercial agricultural activities) to stepping out (from agriculture to higher return non-farm and often urban activities). Social protection and agricultural development policies should support this progression, but means of support should change with structural changes in livelihoods and in rural economies.

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Promoting Agriculture for Social Protection or Social Protection for Agriculture
August 1, 2006 / Discussion Papers

By Andrew Dorward, Rachel Sabates Wheeler, Ian MacAuslan, Chris Penrose Buckley,Jonathan Kydd, Ephraim Chirwa

It is increasingly recognised that agriculture must play a role in pro-poor economic growth in countries with large, poor rural sectors. There is also a major focus on social protection interventions to address risks and insecurity affecting poor people. However current policy debate and formulation makes only limited attempts to integrate agricultural and social protection policies. This paper outlines significant paradigm shifts in policies affecting both these fields and highlights pertinent issues arising from interactions between agricultural and social protection policies.

Too Much Inequality or Too Little, Inequality and Stagnation in Ethiopian Agriculture
July 2, 2006 / Miscellaneous

inequalityThe agricultural sector remains our Achilles heel and source of vulnerability …Nonetheless, were main convinced that agricultural based development remains the only source of hope for Ethiopia. (PrimeMinister Meles Zenawi 2000).

A powerful strand of thinking about the causes of long-term agricultural stagnation in Ethiopia defines the problem in terms of inequality. Indeed, it is possible to interpret most Ethiopian agricultural policy initiatives of the past three decades in terms of divergent views on the extent and consequences of rural inequality.

This article investigates the hypothesis that (too little rather than too much) inequality has contributed to agriculture’s under performance, and considers the implications for policy in terms of four alternative pathways for Ethiopian agriculture. Any Ethiopian over 40 years old has lived through three remarkably different political regimes:

  • the feudal imperial era under Emperor Haile Selassie;
  • the socialist military dictatorship of ColonelMengistu’s Derg; and
  • the market-oriented,Westernaligned democracy of PrimeMinister Meles Zenawi.

Each regime has imposed an entirely different set of policies on smallholder agriculture, where over 80 per cent of the population makes its living, yet all three have presided over an agricultural sector that is stagnant and acutely vulnerable to recurrent drought and other livelihood shocks. Following the “creeping coup” that overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie during the 1974 famine,the Derg implemented a radical agrarian transformation based on redistribution of land.

Between 1976 and 1991, all rain-fed farmland in highland Ethiopia was confiscated and redistributed,after adjusting for soil quality and family size, among all rural households. This land reform was motivated not only by the Derg’s Marxist egalitarian ideology, but by its conviction that feudal relations in agriculture had exposed millions of highland Ethiopians to intolerable levels of poverty andvulnerability. Redistribution therefore had both equity and efficiency objectives. It was implementedas a mechanism not just for breaking the power of the landlords, but also for eradicating historically entrenched inequalities in control over land, with the aim of achieving sustainable increases in agricultural productivity and rural incomes.

Was the Derg’s economic analysis flawed? Hindsight suggests that the land reform was a political success but an economic failure. The Derg period is now remembered as a time of militarisation, war and repression, the worst African famine of the twentieth century, economic stagnation and failed development programmes –villagisation, state farms, forced resettlement. Redistributing land may or may not have been anecessary step for enhancing rural livelihoods, but it was evidently not sufficient. The Derg’s land reforms did not extend to the right to buy and sell land, which constitutionally belongs jointly to the state and the people.

Reforming agricultural policy: lessons from four countries
July 1, 2006 / Working Papers

By Lidia Cabral, Colin Poulton. Steve Wiggins, Linxiu Zhang
July 2006

Comparing reform of agricultural policy in Bangladesh,Chile, China and New Zealand, this paper derives lessons for countries contemplating reform. In all cases reforms to farm policy were undertaken as part of overall reforms across the whole economy, started in response to a perceived national crisis and usually implemented by new governments with a mandate to make major changes. Political will is, not surprisingly, anecessary condition.In designing reforms and their implementation, much depends on context, including external conditions such as world market prices.

The scope for change, and certainly the sequence and pace of reform, may be as much a matter of administrative feasibility as choice.Where outcomes are uncertain and state capacitylimited, gradual approaches to reform that allow for learning may be better than swift and comprehensive .‘big bang’ . packages. This working paper presents the first stage of a review of agricultural reform experiences within African countries, specifically Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi. Itaims to draw out issues for would-be reformers by examining the experience of four cases of agricultural reform, purposely selected as often being seen assuccessful. These are:

• Reform of agricultural input markets in Bangladesh inthe early 1980s, followed by liberalisation of graintrading and the cancellation of several longstanding programmes of public distribution of grains during the late 1980s and early 1990s;

• The impact of economy-wide reforms and counterr eform of land on Chilean agriculture from 1973through to the 1980s;

• Introduction of the ‘household responsibility system’of production and liberalisation of marketing in China startimg around 1978;

Reforming Agricultural Policy: Lessons from four countries SUMMARY
July 1, 2006 / Research Papers

{jathumbnail off}reforming-agricultureComparing reform of agricultural policy in Bangladesh, Chile, China and New Zealand, this paper derives lessons for countries contemplating reform. In all cases reforms to farm policy wereundertaken as part of overall reforms across the whole economy, started in response to a perceived national crisis and usually implemented by new governments with a mandate to make major changes. Political will is, not surprisingly, a necessary condition.

In designing reforms and their implementation, much depends on context, including external conditions such as world market prices. The scope for change, and certainly the sequence and pace of reform, may be as much a matter of administrative feasibility as choice. Where outcomes are uncertain and state capacity limited, gradual approaches to reform that allow for learning may be better than swift and comprehensive ‘big bang’ packages.

This working paper presents the first stage of are view of agricultural reform experiences within African countries, specifically Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi. It aims to draw out issues for would be reformers by examining the experience of four cases of agricultural reform, purposely selected as often being seen as successful. These are:

• Reform of agricultural input markets in Bangladesh in the early 1980s, followed by liberalisation of grain trading and the cancellation of several longstandingprogrammes of public distribution of grains during the late 1980s and early 1990s;

• The impact of economy-wide reforms andcounter-reform of land on Chilean agriculture from 1973 through to the 1980s;

• Introduction of the ‘household responsibility system’ of production and liberalisation of marketing in China starting around 1978;and,

• Removal of price and other support to New Zealand farming that began in 1984 andcontinued into the 1990s. This review seeks to answer the following questions:

• What were the conditions that created the impetus for agricultural reform?

• What factors determined the actual content of the reform packages?

• What challenges were faced in the implementation of the reform and what lessons, if any, can be learnt from these for future reform programmes?

• What opposition was there to the reforms and how was this overcome?

• What factors exerted the greatest influence on the outcomes of the reform?

The country cases Bangladesh undertook two waves of agriculturalre forms between the late 1970s and early 1990s. In the first, the markets for agricultural inputs. above all fertiliser and irrigation equipment were liberalised. This led to falling prices, greater availability, and increased use of these inputs. Tubewells and pumps, in particular, allowed a major expansion of winter (‘boro’) rice production that saw increases in domestic supply of rice outstrip population growth and thereby drove down the price of rice.

This in turn made it easier to implement the second round of reforms where the markets for food grains were liberalised and some large-scale programmes of food subsidies were ended. Bangladesh benefited from phased implementation of reforms that allowed for learning, monitoring and adjustment to developments in the markets.