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

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Latest articles

Donor Policy Narratives: What Role for Agriculture?
March 3, 2007 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 16
By Lidia Cabral and Ian Scoones

How do international agencies concerned with agricultural development see the role of agriculture? What is the role for the market and the state? This briefing examines four recent statements from major aid agencies, asking how they see the role of agriculture in development.


Policy Brief 016 Pdf 359.96 KB 1 downloads


Politics and the Future of Ministries of Agriculture: Rethinking Roles and Transforming Agendas
March 2, 2007 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 15
By Lidia Cabral and Steve Wiggins

What form should a contemporary Ministry of Agriculture take, and how should it function? The answers to these questions depend on three major issues set within the context of agriculture. The first and foremost is the role assigned to agriculture. Is it an economic activity like any other, or it expected to fulfil roles in, for example, food security, regional equity or providing a buffer against destitution for the rural poor?


Policy Brief 015 Pdf 358.70 KB 1 downloads


The Limits of Success: The Case of the Dairy Sector in Kenya
March 1, 2007 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 14
By Rosemary Atieno

By most accounts the dairy sector in Kenya has been a long-term success story. In many respects it can be viewed as a classic ‘new’ agriculture case. It is smallholder based, integrated with the private sector, commercially oriented, and with wide pro-poor benefits (Leksmono, et al. 2006, Ngigi 2005, Hooton 2004, Republic of Kenya 2005). According to Ngigi (2004), more than 600,000 small-scale farmers produce milk, using dairy cows of improved breeds. Annual net earnings from milk sales are estimated at US $370 per year per household. Those holding between one and three cows produce 80 percent of Kenya’s milk, and the poorest group earn around half of their income from milk sales.


Policy Brief 014 Pdf 348.90 KB 1 downloads


Reclaiming Policy Space: Lessons from Malawi’s Fertiliser Subsidy Programme
February 1, 2007 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief
By Blessings Chinsinga

This case study argues that political context matters in agricultural development issues. No matter what the technical or economic arguments for or against particular policy positions are, it is ultimately the configuration of political interests that influence agricultural policy outcomes on the ground.


Policy Brief 013 Pdf 346.27 KB 1 downloads


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.


Policy Brief 012 Pdf 320.79 KB 2 downloads


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.


Policy Brief 011 Pdf 474.59 KB 2 downloads


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.


Policy Brief 010 Pdf 405.61 KB 1 downloads


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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