Policy Briefs

The Policy Brief series was launched by Future Agricultures in 2005 to provide a forum for the analysis of important agriculture policy issues by leading researchers. The series aims to identify key issues, apply the best and most up-to-date research to help understand these issues, and explore the implications of this research for the design and conduct of policy. We typically publish between 8 to 10 Policy Briefs each year.

A significant number of our policy briefs are also translated into French.

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Latest articles

Chinese Agricultural Investment in Mozambique: the Case of Wanbao Rice Farm
December 18, 2014 / Policy Briefs

SAIS-CARI Policy Brief No. 2
by Sérgio Chichava

November 2014

China’s largest agricultural investment in Africa is reported to be the Hubei Gaza Friendship Farm, established in 2007 in Mozambique and now managed by a private Chinese firm, Wanbao Africa Agriculture Development Limited (WAADL). While officials have welcomed external investment as a source of employment and development, local communities have decried the project as a “land grab”. Tensions among local activists, the government and the Chinese investors continue to run high, posing a challenge to the future of agricultural investment in the country.

Published by the SAIS China Africa Research Initiative

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International and regional guidelines on land governance and land-based investments: An agenda for African states
December 3, 2014 / Policy Briefs

Future Agricultures policy brief 77
Emmanuel Sulle and Ruth Hall

Global and regional guidelines have been developed in the period 2009–2014 to improve land governance in the context of large-scale land acquisitions in developing countries. These provide an opportunity for affected countries to make necessary reforms to mitigate negative impacts of such acquisitions. They also challenge governments, private companies and rural communities to know their rights and responsibilities and to act on them.

Many African countries are yet to fully implement land and other natural resources policy frameworks developed by the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). These require states to strengthen the rights of rural populations to access, control and own such resources and to decentralise land administration. To date, rural communities in many countries lack proper knowledge about their rights and responsibilities; the roles of public and private sector and civil society – in their national policies; and legal frameworks governing natural resources.

African governments have challenged themselves to develop proper plans, garner political support at all levels of government and implement the intended policy, legal and institutional reforms on the ground. The global and regional guidelines must still be translated into binding regulations and enforceable laws in each country. This is a precondition for the global and regional guidelines to improve land governance and regulate land-based investments, as intended by all member states that acceded to them.

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Policy Brief 077 Pdf 356.54 KB 2 downloads

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Emerging Seed Markets: The Role of Brazilian, Chinese and Indian Seeds in African Agriculture
November 7, 2014 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 79
Henry Tugendhat

In recent years, three of the largest emerging powers, Brazil, China and India, have all brought about incredible agricultural revolutions and seeds have played a big part in that story. Nowadays, their seed markets are all within the world’s top ten in terms of value and their companies are eager to expand into new markets, particularly in Africa. Their development cooperation agendas are already focused on facilitating these overseas moves, and they come with a strong narrative that these seed producers and technical experts can help bring about similar success for Africa. It remains to be seen how true this is; however, we can already identify and analyse certain trends in the technology and policy that each is transferring.

This policy brief examines the development and expansion of each country’s seed industry and how it is engaging with African seed systems. An understanding of these trends matters primarily for the African farmers and policymakers engaging with these new flows, but it can also shed light on contrasts and opportunities for collaboration on seeds with the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN).

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Policy Brief 079 Pdf 271.22 KB 1 downloads

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Opportunities and Challenges in Tanzania’s Sugar Industry: Lessons for SAGCOT and the New Alliance
August 7, 2014 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 76
Emmanuel Sulle

Sugarcane outgrower schemes are central to several policy and donor strategies for driving agricultural growth and reducing poverty, including the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor project in Tanzania (SAGCOT). But field research into the outgrower component of Kilombero Sugar Company, Tanzania’s largest and best regarded sugar producer, demonstrates a pressing need for change.

Sugarcane production in Kilombero has had benefits for farming households as well as the local and national economy. However, unsustainable expansion and governance issues in the outgrower scheme have created new risks. There are pressures on food security as a result of a decline in land for food crops, and on incomes, particularly when outgrowers’ cane remains unharvested and farmers’ payments are delayed. These problems have been aggravated by the importation of foreign sugar into the country. For this industry to provide its maximum benefits to the economy and to the household, a policy, legal and institutional framework is needed that provides greater efficiency, accountability and transparency, as well as greater security for all participating stakeholders. There are lessons for the sugar industry, as well as donors and investors of ongoing and future agribusiness developments in Tanzania.

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Policy Brief 076 Pdf 772.77 KB 0 downloads

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Neo-traditionalism, chieftaincy and land grabs in Ghana
June 24, 2014 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 74
Joseph Yaro and Dzodzi Tsikata

The achievement of the Ghanaian state’s objective of modernising agriculture by encouraging transnational capital necessarily requires the regulation of the activities of chiefs in land transactions to prevent the misuse of neo-traditional norms to dispossess community members of their rights to land. The current context of land transactions, which has been characterised by poor governance, opens the gate for opportunism by local and state elites, and the risk of transnational companies ‘colonising’ large parts of rural Ghana. Without fundamental institutional reforms and social protection mechanisms which privilege the land rights of smallholders, large-scale transnational land acquisitions threaten the socio-economic development of rural Ghana.

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Policy Brief 074 Pdf 120.48 KB 2 downloads

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Kenya’s Land Reform Agenda: Pastoralism within the Current Land Debate
June 24, 2014 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 73
John Letai

Kenya’s Community Land Bill could herald a new and improved approach to securing the rights of pastoralists to land, grazing and water. Devolving the governance of these resources to the local level could provide pastoralists with greater influence over decisions affecting their livelihoods.

This policy brief explores and argues for the enactment of a people-driven Community Land Act. The objective is to provide key observations and arguments that can help guide the process that will recognise and respect efficient management, control and use of community land. The process is informed by past practices and experiences whereby pastoralists in Kenya accessed land and natural resources through customary systems and institutions that operated largely outside the statutory legal framework of land administration.

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Policy Brief 073 Pdf 142.83 KB 1 downloads

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Pastoral Livestock Trade and Growth in Ethiopia
June 4, 2014 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 72
Yacob Aklilu and Andy Catley

In Ethiopia, government support to the export of livestock and livestock products started soon after the eradication of rinderpest. This was generic multi-sector support from which the livestock sector benefited, and pre-dated the New Alliance. Although Ethiopia has seen dramatic increases in formal exports, it is less recognised that pastoralist areas supply most of the animals for export. For this supply to be maintained or increased, specific livestock policy support is needed based on consultation with pastoralists, traders and other private sector actors, along with stronger coordination of the government ministries that oversee different aspects of the production and trade system. There are also opportunities to further apply systems to support cross-border trade, in line with the policies of the African Union and IGAD, and supported by certification systems such as the COMESA Green Pass. In terms of the New Alliance objective of supporting equitable growth, commercialisation of pastoral systems is associated with increasing wealth disparity and out-migration of poorer or destitute pastoralists.

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Policy Brief 072 Pdf 627.34 KB 7 downloads

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Investment in drylands: widening the benefits for food security and development
June 4, 2014 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 71
Izzy Birch and Jeremy Lind

After decades of comparative neglect, the drylands of the Horn of Africa are experiencing an unprecedented surge of investment. Largescale infrastructure projects now dominate national development plans. They represent a welcome renewal of interest by states in drylands and an opportunity to reduce long-standing inequalities in the provision of public goods and services. Uneven investment has been a barrier to formal private sector engagement; it has also left pastoralists more vulnerable to shocks and ill-equipped to take advantage of processes of economic transformation. Of all types of investment, state-driven investment should provide for the greater public good. Careful planning and management will be required if it is to contribute to inclusive growth rather than deepen inequality.

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Policy Brief 071 Pdf 0.00 KB 3 downloads

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Social protection in pastoral areas: promoting inclusive growth at the margins
June 4, 2014 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 70
Jeremy Lind and Izzy Birch

Vulnerability and poverty levels remain stubbornly high and arguably are deepening in many pastoral areas of the Horn of Africa. This is in spite of galloping livestock commercialisation in these areas and their closer incorporation into wider systems of marketing, trade and investment. The fact remains that the benefits of recent growth and investment in pastoral areas have yet to result in wider benefits for addressing food insecurity and poor nutrition. Chronically food insecure, poor or vulnerable people with limited assets cannot engage in or contribute to more productive livestock-keeping or other growth-oriented economic activities that are the intended focus of the New Alliance. Thus, strengthening social protection systems in the region is a prerequisite for realising more inclusive growth at the pastoral margins. This brief details the role of social protection in agendas to promote agricultural growth, highlighting areas of innovative programme design and implementation where further efforts might focus.

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Policy Brief 070 Pdf 429.09 KB 2 downloads

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Policy processes and agriculture – what difference does CAADP make?
May 29, 2014 / Policy Briefs

CAADP Policy Brief 14

It is just over ten years since African Union (AU) Heads of State made their declaration in support of Africa’s agricultural sector in Maputo. Through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), they committed to a common process for the development and refinement of national agricultural strategies and investment plans, intended to guide the investments of governments, donors and the private sector. This Brief draws on research by the Future Agricultures Consortium on the political and economic context of CAADP in eight African countries (Poulton et al. 2014)and asks:

  • How does CAADP fit with existing national agricultural strategies and policies?
  • Who and what drives the CAADP process at country level?
  • What value has CAADP added to national agricultural policies?

The findings add to our understanding of how domestic political incentives affect pro-poor agricultural policy in Africa.