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

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.


FAC Working Paper 055 Pdf 1.25 MB 14 downloads


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.


FAC Working Paper 054 Pdf 648.42 KB 14 downloads


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.


FAC Working Paper 053 Pdf 760.18 KB 3 downloads


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.


FAC Working Paper 049 Pdf 1.17 MB 2 downloads


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.


FAC Working Paper 052 Pdf 419.85 KB 2 downloads


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.


FAC Working Paper 050 Pdf 538.03 KB 2 downloads


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.


FAC Working Paper 048 Pdf 649.68 KB 2 downloads


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.


FAC Working Paper 047 Pdf 1.01 MB 9 downloads


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.

FAC media competition
November 29, 2012 / Media

The Future Agricultures Consortium is inviting journalists and media specialists to enter a competition for writing on the politics and processes that influence agricultural investment in Africa.

The entry deadline is 8 February 2013 and the winners will be supported to attend FAC’s major conference on the Political economy of agricultural policy in Africa, which takes place in South Africa in March 2013.

The Green Belt Initiative and Land Grabs in Malawi
November 18, 2012 / Policy Briefs

FAC Policy Brief 55
by Blessings Chinsinga and Michael Chasukwa

There is often a mismatch between the apparent benevolent intents and the practical manifestations of the large scale land deals. The empirical realities of the large-scale land deals call for critical scrutiny and interrogation of the underlying interests of the stakeholders involved to assess the extent to which they genuinely prioritize win-win scenarios. As the experiences of the Green Belt Initiative (GBI) in Malawi demonstrated, the smallholder farmer is almost always the loser.

This raises doubt as to whether the international initiatives such the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) voluntary guidelines on responsible governance of tenure of land and other natural resources; the World Bank’s principles for responsible agricultural investment; and the Africa Union’s (AU) framework and guidelines on land policy shall make any significant difference on the actual outcomes of the large-scale land deals across the continent.


Policy Brief 055 Pdf 273.02 KB 4 downloads


The Politics of Agricultural Carbon Finance: The Case of the Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project
November 5, 2012 / Working Papers

STEPS Centre Working Paper 49
by Joanes Atela

In the context of major scientific and policy concern with the causes and implications of climate change, various actors are now keen to demonstrate how agricultural carbon finance can help achieve multiple benefits or ‘triple wins’ for sub-Saharan African agriculture.

The target areas for these demonstrations have complex sociopolitical histories including prior donor interventions seeking to address related problems of poverty and the environment. Agricultural carbon finance, with associated globally framed narratives and interests, arrives on the back of these interventions and intersects with existing socio-cultural contexts and local and national policy processes to reshuffle livelihoods and ecologies.

This paper explores this interplay empirically, drawing on evidence from the Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project (KACP). KACP is the first World Bank supported project on agricultural carbon finance in Africa and has worked with groups of smallholders in western Kenya since 2008. Fieldwork, interviews and document analysis show how a powerful donor-science network has established a dominant narrative around ‘triple wins’ which does not resonate well with local circumstances.

Farmers, concerned with food security through maize farming, focus on only one ‘win’- increases in maize production – with little awareness of or attention to climate resilience or carbon income. The Kenyan government, on the other hand, faces an implicit dilemma as to whether to mechanize agriculture as a quick fix for looming hunger or to embrace conservation agriculture for carbon finance.

As more powerful, resource and scientifically endowed global and project development institutions intersect rather messier, informal and complex local institutions, there is not a neat unfolding of a planned ‘agricultural carbon project’ – but a more complex situation from which various actors are nevertheless able to draw benefit, but from which certain farmers lose.

This paper therefore justifies the need to go beyond top-down donor and science-driven projectization of agricultural carbon finance. Approaches and associated capacity-building need to inform farmers more fully of links between sustainable farming practices and carbon; clarify their carbon rights, and attend to wider development issues such as water access and secure land tenure which bear heavily on carbon projects. This is vital if smallholder farmers are to become more empowered to expand their opportunities and wellbeing in the context of climate change and the uncertain promise of carbon money.

This paper was produced jointly by Future Agricultures and the ESRC STEPS Centre

Food security in a transforming system of global environmental change (GEC)
November 2, 2012 / Policy Briefs

FAC Policy Brief 54
by Laura Pereira

The world’s food system is undergoing an unprecedented transformation: not just from the significant impacts of global environmental change (GEC), but also from the rapid expansion of transnational agribusiness. The food system is now a globalised, interconnected socioecological system and the global South is increasingly being integrated into this new, interconnected, efficiency-driven model.

There are three key outcomes of a wellfunctioning food system: food security, social welfare and environmental welfare (see Figure 1) yet, our current system has so far failed to provide these for the planet’s poor. How, then, will the future food system respond to the challenge of providing food security whilst also adapting to issues of rapid environmental and sustainability issues – most notably climate change? Developing a system of adaptive governance to meet these challenges is clearly an important area for research, but it requires an understanding of the complexity and uncertainty inherent in such measures.


Policy Brief 054 Pdf 524.94 KB 7 downloads


Assessing Enablers and Constrainers of Graduation: Evidence from Ethiopia’s Food Security Programme
November 2, 2012 / Working Papers

Assessing Enablers and Constrainers of Graduation: Evidence from the Food Security Programme, Ethiopia

FAC Working Paper 44

Rachel Sabates-Wheeler, Mulugeta Tefera and Girma Bekele
April 2012

The purpose of this report is to identify the main enablers and constrainers of resiliency and graduation from food and cash support provided through the Food Security Programme (FSP) in Ethiopia. Different groups of women and men were interviewed to explore and interrogate the gendered experiences of change in relation to social protection provisions.

The aim was to: identify different pathways to graduation for different participating households; identify indicators of graduation, resilience and sustainability that go beyond simple benchmarks or thresholds; and understand the enablers and constrainers to graduation. The larger objective of this work is to learn from the ways households strengthen their livelihoods in different PSNP scenarios in order to inform policy debates around assessing sustainable graduation from social protection programmes.


FAC Working Paper 044 Pdf 518.67 KB 11 downloads


Public Agronomy: Norman Borlaug as ‘Brand Hero’ for the Green Revolution
November 2, 2012 / Journal articles

by James Sumberg, Dennis Keeney and Benedict Dempsey
The Journal of Development Studies, Volume 48, Issue 11, 2012

This article examines the role played by Norman Borlaug in promoting the notion of Green Revolution as a way to rapidly transform agriculture in the developing world. It develops the argument that Borlaug used his profile as a ‘public agronomist’, gained through his successful breeding of semi-dwarf wheat varieties, to actively and instrumentally bolster the case for Green Revolution style agricultural development. In effect he played and continues to play the role of a ‘brand hero’ for the Green Revolution.

Climate Change and Agricultural Policy Processes in Malawi
October 3, 2012 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 46
by Blessings Chinsinga, Michael Chasukwa and Lars Otto Naess

This paper explores climate change – agriculture debates in Malawi in view of the increasing interest and funding pledges for the agricultural sector in a changing climate. While there is increasing evidence of how climate change may affect Malawian agricultural systems, and a growing body of literature on possible response strategies, less is known about how priorities are made, by whom and with what outcomes. This matters because climate-related funding can be a major factor for how the agricultural sector develops, in Malawi as in other countries across Africa. This paper is the first of its kind to analyse policy discussions on climate change and agriculture in the country. The primary focus is the national level, but some of the implications of national debates at sub-national levels, and the questions they raise, are also discussed.


FAC Working Paper 046 Pdf 470.40 KB 6 downloads


Climate Change and Agricultural Policy Processes in Ghana
October 3, 2012 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 45
by Daniel Bruce Sarpong and Nana Akua Anyidoho

This paper examines agriculture-climate change policy discussions in Ghana in the context of, on the one hand, increasing international interest and activity around climate change and agriculture, and on the other, concerns over whether climate policy and funding priorities are aligned to domestic development priorities. The paper poses the following questions: What are the contested areas and dividing lines in policy discussions and practices around climate change, which actors are supporting different viewpoints, and what traction do they have in the types of interventions that are being promoted?


FAC Working Paper 045 Pdf 529.44 KB 2 downloads


L’Économie Politique du Succès de la Filière Coton au Burkina Faso: Entre Paradoxes et Incertitudes
September 21, 2012 / Documents de travail / Working Papers in French

FAC document de travail no. 41
par Augustin Loada

Le présent article porte sur l’économie politique de la filière coton au Burkina Faso. Si l’histoire du succès économique de cette filière est bien connue, il n’en va pas de même pour le rôle de l’économie politique jusque là peu étudié.

Pays sahélien enclavé confronté à des conditions climatiques et écologiques peu propices au développement de l’agriculture, le Burkina Faso est pourtant cité comme un exemple de réussite dans la filière coton. Introduite en Afrique l’Ouest sous l’ère coloniale dans les années 20, la culture du coton connaît un succès qui n’est pas seulement dû aux innovations techniques apportées de l’extérieur mais aussi à la capacité d’innovation des producteurs (Thomas J. Basset, 2002). Mais la filière ne prendra son envol qu’au lendemain de l’indépendance en 1960, sous l’impulsion de la Compagnie française pour le développement des fibres textiles (CFDT), une société publique dont le champ d’intervention s’étendait dans la sous-région francophone.

Democratisation and the Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa
August 29, 2012 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 43
by Colin Poulton

Theories of policy neglect of, or discrimination against, agriculture in Africa include urban bias (Lipton 1977; Bates 1981) and the narrow self-interest of autonomous elites (van de Walle 2001). Whilst structural adjustment removed much of the previous tax burden on African agriculture (Anderson and Masters 2009), the sector also saw declining investment from international development partners and through national budgets (Fan et al. 2009). Whilst there has been some recovery in public investment in agriculture over the past decade, signalled by the 2003 Maputo Declaration (Assembly of the African Union 2003), investment in the infrastructural and institutional public goods needed to support smallholder-led agricultural growth remains disappointing. As a result, the contribution of the agricultural sector to growth and poverty reduction objectives in Africa is widely believed to have been below potential.

In theory, democratisation, which has proceeded unevenly across Africa during the past two decades, should encourage pro-poor agricultural policy, as the majority of voters in many countries remain rural and poor. This paper draws on case studies of recent policy change (attempted and actual) in eight African countries, plus an analysis of the political systems in these countries, to explore the evolving role of competitive electoral politics in agricultural policy making. An important observation is that politicians are as likely to rely on ethnic allegiances and forms of social or political control to secure votes as they are to engage in policy competition. Moreover, the political incentives facing senior policy makers in the agricultural and rural development sphere may be inimical to the development of strong institutions to promote smallholder agricultural growth. Instead the paper finds that it is exogenous factors – macroeconomic dependence on agriculture and, most strikingly, sustained threats to regime survival – that create positive incentives for agricultural investment, even where social or political control is relied on to secure votes. The implications for participants in agricultural policy processes are briefly explored.


FAC Working Paper 043 Pdf 975.95 KB 4 downloads


The Political Economy of Agricultural Extension in Ethiopia: Economic Growth and Political Control
June 13, 2012 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 42
by Kassahun Berhanu

The central argument in this paper is that, for the past two decades, state-led agricultural extension in Ethiopia, implemented by excluding other players in general and non-state actors in particular, has facilitated uncontested control of the public space by the incumbent Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). In addition to its presumed economic ramifications, the ongoing agricultural extension scheme that is a major component of transforming smallholder agriculture is driven by political imperatives aimed at effectively controlling the bulk of the Ethiopian electorate whose votes in periodic elections are crucial to the regime’s perpetuation in power.


FAC Working Paper 042 Pdf 424.57 KB 4 downloads


Politics, Patronage and Projects: The Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Tanzania
June 13, 2012 / Working Papers

FAC Working Paper 40
by Brian Cooksey

The Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa (PEAPA) Programme examines the impact of political competition, patronage, and foreign aid on agricultural policy outcomes across a sample of eight African countries. This report examines the effects of these factors on agricultural policy formulation and implementation in Tanzania through the lens of two initiatives, the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP) and the National Agricultural Input Voucher Scheme (NAIVS). The report asks whether competitive politics has improved the policy regime for rural voters as political parties compete for their support and the ruling elite responds to increasing electoral pressures to deliver concrete benefits. The broad conclusion is that both vote-seeking and patronage incentivise agricultural policy but that the benefits to voters in terms of private and public goods delivered as a result are limited by the same patronage practiced from national to local levels. On balance, donor aid supports essentially statist policies which serve to marginalise the private sector as the ‘engine of growth.’


FAC Working Paper 040 Pdf 651.47 KB 7 downloads


The Political Economy of Agricultural Policy Processes in Malawi: A Case Study
June 13, 2012 / Working Papers

Full title: The Political Economy of Agricultural Policy Processes in Malawi: A Case Study of the Fertilizer Subsidy Programme

FAC Working Paper 39
by Blessings Chinsinga

This paper examines the political economy of the agricultural policy processes in Malawi through the lenses of the fertilizer subsidy programme that has raised the profile of the country on the international stage since 2006. Malawi is a regular feature in the international agricultural policy debates as a model for the rest of Africa to emulate in order to achieve a uniquely African Green Revolution (Dugger, 2007; Perkins, 2009; AGRA, 2009). Through its subsidy programme, and against fierce resistance by donors as well as some local fiscal conservatives, the argument is that Malawi has pioneered the implementation of smart subsidy that has transformed the country from a perpetual food beggar for close to two successive decades to a self reliant nation.


FAC Working Paper 039 Pdf 719.79 KB 8 downloads


From Subsistence to Smallholder Commercial Farming in Malawi: A Case of NASFAM Commercialisation
May 28, 2012 / Working Papers

Full title: From Subsistence to Smallholder Commercial Farming in Malawi: A Case of NASFAM Commercialisation Initiatives

FAC Working Paper 37
Ephraim W. Chirwa and Mirriam Matita

This paper investigates the relationship between food security and commercialisation using data from a household survey in National Smallholder Farmer Association of Malawi (NASFAM) operated areas. NASFAM promotes commercialisation of agriculture by introducing the principle of farming as a business among its members who are largely smallholder subsistence farmers.

The study finds that households with plenty of family labour are therefore likely to participate in NASFAM commercialisation initiatives. We also find a positive relationship between participation and value of durable assets, suggesting that wealth is an important determinant in the decision to participate in commercialisation. Household food security also increases the probability of participation, suggesting that when food markets are unstable, farmers that are not food secure may be constrained in their attempt to commercialize their farming systems. Furthermore, we find that the degree of commercialisation is negatively associated with age and household size but positively associated with food security, access to fertilizers, NASFAM business orientation and market access benefits.


FAC Working Paper 037 Pdf 616.96 KB 19 downloads