Publications

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

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.

Reforming Agricultural Policy: lessons from four countries SUMMARY
July 1, 2006 / Working Papers

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, 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.

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Narratives of Agricultural Policy in Africa: What Role for Ministries of Agriculture
March 20, 2006 / Miscellaneous

{jathumbnail off}Ministry_of_agricultureMuch policy research on African agriculture has focused more on ‘what policy’ type of questions,rather than on the processes by which policy is made and implemented (Omamo, 2004). The focus has been on ‘policy fixes’, based often on idealised models of the ways things should be, rather than the way they are, or are likely to be.

Researchers, consultants, donor agencies and decision-makersat government offices therefore concentrate on devising solutions for problems and overlook the complexities of the process of translating such elaborate, technical policy prescriptions into practice. Much of this translation role is left to ministries of agriculture. But what role should they play giventhe policy debates raging about the future of agriculture in Africa?

This paper provides a preliminary contribution to the debate on agricultural policy processes by focusing on the current roles and capacity of ministries of agriculture in devising and delivering agricultural policies. By unpacking the different ‘narratives’ – or storylines – about agricultural policies being pushed by different actors in the policy process, the paper asks what kind of ministry of agriculture is envisaged, either implicitly or explicitly? Three different versions are elaborated.

One sees the return of the hey-day 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 sector all 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 other narratives, 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. Which of these models – or hybrids and variants of them – make sense today? The analysis in this paper is conducted around two hypotheses.

The first is that, in the twenty-first century, ministries ofagriculture are no longer the key architect and driver of agricultural policies and policy reform. Other public sector agencies and non-state actors play, increasingly, a more central role in the reform and development of the agriculture sector. Indeed, over the years, the position of the state inthe agriculture sector seems to have been continuously eroded by a series of interconnected factors,which include inter alia:

(i) the demise of the socialist model of state intervention;

(ii) thewidespread adoption of the orthodox liberalization/privatisation approach to economic growth;

(iii) the structural transformation of the global economy (both at political, economic, social and culturallevels) driven to a large extent by the dramatic fall in transportation and communication costs;

(iv)the pervasive discourse on government failure, particularly in Africa; and

(v) the expansion of thethird (non-governmental and not-for-profit) sector beyond emergency relief, responding to both stateand market failures, and now emerging as an important actor in the development process.

These have contributed to the reshaping of agricultural governance structures, as well as of functions and structures of ministries of agriculture – including withdrawal from direct involvement production and marketing activities, privatization of public-sector enterprises, allegedly greater emphasis of the public sector on regulatory and enabling functions and provision of classic public goods (rural infrastructures and research) and development of new partnerships and outsourcing arrangements with the private and NGO sectors. Concomitantly, and to some extent in consistency with the above,there has been, over the last two decades, a persistent reduction in the amount of financial resources(domestic and external) allocated to the agriculture sector and to ministries of agriculture inparticular.

Agriculture,Growth and Poverty Reduction in Ethiopia Policy Processes Around the New PRSP (PASDEP)
March 20, 2006 / Research Papers

By Amdissa Teshome
March 2006

“Agriculture is the mainstay of the Ethiopian Economy”. This statement has almost become a cliché for development professionals in Ethiopia. Those who went to school 50 years ago, read it; and later on wrote about it. So has the present generation. The Report on the Ethiopian Economy, Volume IV (EEA/EEPRI, 2004/05:10) stated, for example: “…agriculture is the mainstay of the Ethiopian economy and the most volatile sector…. mainly due to its dependence on rain and the seasonal shocks that are frequently observed”. As things stand, our children and grandchildren will be repeating this refrain for generations to come. Yet, the sector has been unable to realise its potential and contribute significantly to economic development. How can we change this?

In the Ethiopian context, agriculture is proving to be the most complex sector to understand. On the one hand, it contributes the largest share to GDP, export trade and earnings, and employs 84% (PASDEP, 2006) of the population. On the other hand, despite such socio-economic importance, the performance of the sector is very low due to many natural and manmade factors. As a result, Ethiopia is characterised by large food self-sufficiency gap at national level and food insecurity at household level (EEA/EEPRI, 2004/05:145).

Whereas in the Northern highlands, farmers struggle to make ends meet on completely degraded land, in the South and Southwestern part of the country, people live in extreme poverty in the midst of plenty – fertile land and relatively preserved environment. To complicate matters further, the country’s future is pinned on agriculture as demonstrated in a statement by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia in 2000.

The agriculture sector remains our Achilles heel and source of vulnerability …. Nonetheless, we remain convinced that agricultural based development remains the only source of hope for Ethiopia [emphasis added] (quoted in Devereux et.al. 2005: 121) ].

This complex nature and such high profile statements about the sector has led some commentators to believe that Ethiopia is unusual in emphasising agriculture over a long period of time. Carswell (2002) and Keeley and Scoones (2003) review four decades of intensive agricultural research and extension and policy debate, which brought about little change, primarily because the research focused on a “narrow range of technical options” that failed to appreciate the wider livelihood contexts within a given region let alone the entire country.

Agricultural Policy in Kenya: Issues and Processes
March 20, 2006 / Research Papers

Agricultural_Policy_in_KenyaAgriculture remains the backbone of the Kenyan economy. It is the single mostimportant sector in the economy, contributing approximately 25% of the GDP, andemploying 75% of the national labour force (Republic of Kenya 2005). Over 80% of theKenyan population live in the rural areas and derive their livelihoods, directly orindirectly from agriculture.

Given its importance, the performance of the sector istherefore reflected in the performance of the whole economy. The development ofagriculture is also important for poverty reduction since most of the vulnerable groupslike pastoralists, the landless, and subsistence farmers, also depend on agriculture as theirmain source of livelihoods. Growth in the sector is therefore expected to have a greaterimpact on a larger section of the population than any other sector. The development of thesector is therefore important for the development of the economy as a whole.

The importance of the sector in the economy is reflected in the relationship between itsperformance and that of the key indicators like GDP and employment. Trends in thegrowth rates for agriculture, GDP and employment, show that the declining trendexperienced in the sector’s growth especially in the 1990s, is reflected in the declines inemployment and GDP as a whole.

Policies that affect the performance of the sector have important implications for the economy.Policies for agriculture consist of government decisions that influence the level and stability of input and output prices, public investments affecting agricultural production, costs and revenues and allocation of resources. These policies affect agriculture either directly or indirectly. Improved agricultural production has been seen as one of the overall objectives for poverty reduction in the country.

The objectives of agricultural sector strategy have been increasing agricultural growth,seen as important for increasing rural incomes and ensuring equitable distribution. Due to limited availability of high potential land, it has been envisaged that increasing agricultural production will have to come from intensification of production through increased use of improved inputs, diversification especially from low to high valuecrops, commercialisation of smallholder agriculture, and increased value addition through stronger linkages with other sectors.

In the following sections, we review some of the key policy issues and concerns with respect to the sector’s development.

Future Scenarios for Agriculture in Malawi
March 19, 2006 / Miscellaneous

{jathumbnail off}Future_Scenarios_for_Agriculture_in_MalawiMalawi is one of the poorest countries in the world with per capita gross domestic product of $190, 30 percent of under-five children being malnourished and the infant mortality rate of 229 per 1,000 live births and a life expectancy at birth of 42 years (World Bank, 2001).

Data from a recent household survey shows that about 52.4 percent of the population lived below the poverty line, with 22.4 percent barely surviving in 2004 (NSO, 2005). There are gender differences in food insecurity with 62.9 percent of female-headed households and 54.6 percent of male-headed households reporting inadequate food consumption.

Report on the Future Agricultures Workshop, Awassa, SNNPR
March 1, 2006 / Miscellaneous

Future Agricultures is the UK Department for International Development funded learningconsortium comprising the Institute of Development Studies, Imperial College London and the Overseas Development Institute. The Consortium has been formed to stimulate debate and generate policy options for agricultural growth. The study focuses on three countries, namely Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi. As local partners of the Consortium the Ethiopia team was tasked with initiating policydebate through key informant interviews and where possible holding discussions in a form of workshops. The Awassa 2006 is one such workshop.

Organisation of the workshop. The Ethiopia team contracted a local NGO based in Awassa to organise the workshop. Participants were carefully selected from a range of institutions – government bureaus, nongovernment, research and academic institutions. A total of 22 individuals from Awassa and about 10 from Addis Ababa showed interest. However, a total of 21 participants (14 regional and 7 Addis Ababa) attended the one-day workshop. It was unfortunate that that all those registered could not attend because the workshop coincided with government meetings.