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

Can Agro-dealers deliver the Green Revolution in Kenya?
April 11, 2012 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 45
by Hannington Odame and Elijah Muange

In a bid to return the country to food self-sufficiency, the Government of Kenya has been spearheading strategies for a new ‘Green Revolution’ in the food producing sector, as spelt out in its Strategy for Revitalizing Agriculture (SRA), a ten-year action plan launched in 2004. The SRA is entrenched in Kenya’s Vision 2030, the country’s framework for long-term investment and development (Republic of Kenya 2007; 2004). Crucial to the SRA is the increased generation, promotion and use of modern farming inputs and technologies, particularly improved seed and fertiliser. Small-scale independent stockists or input distributors, commonly known as ‘agro-dealers’, are seen to have a crucial role to play in distributing these inputs in a liberalised economy. As key actors in the Green Revolution agenda, agro-dealers are thus at the centre of current policy debates about the future of Kenya’s seed system.

This FAC Policy Brief sheds light on the rise of agro-dealers in recent national policy debates as central figures in the delivery of agricultural innovation, improved food security and the potential spark in igniting a smallholder-led revolution. It asks: can agro-dealers really deliver the Green Revolution in Kenya? Drawing on key informant interviews and surveys of agrodealers in two districts, Machakos in Eastern Province and Uasin Gishu in Rift Valley Province, it assesses the different politics and interests at play and the implications these raise for future investments in both formal and informal seed systems and the promotion of agro-dealers as catalysts of change in the agricultural sector.

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The Political Economy of Cereal Seed Systems in Africa’s Green Revolution
April 10, 2012 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 44
by John Thompson and Ian Scoones

Drawing on lessons from case studies from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe conducted by the Future Agricultures Consortium during 2009-11, this Policy Brief assesses the political economy of cereal seed system research and development programmes and processes across Sub-Saharan Africa.

By examining the contrasting politics and different configurations of interests affecting the way cereal seeds are produced and delivered in these countries, it identifies opportunities for reshaping the terms of the debate and opening up alternative pathways towards more sustainable and socially just seed systems.

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Policy Brief 044 Pdf 247.60 KB 2 downloads

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Local knowledge, agriculture and climate change
November 29, 2011 / Policy Briefs

A new policy brief explores what role local farmers’ knowledge can play in national climate change adaption policy, and how each can learn from the other?  As delegates meet at the 17th Conference of the Parties on climate change in Durban, the brief explores the opportunities and barriers to this process through examples from Kenya and Namibia.

In both countries, parts of the government are engaging well with local knowledge, but there is still resistance in other parts, where formal systems and official knowledge are more highly prized.

Looking at these issues in the context of longer-term changes in the climate, and the movement of large numbers of people into cities, raises more questions. Although recommending farming as a livelihood works in the short- to medium-term, in the long term it may be better to consider diversification into “climate insensitive” livelihoods. And although mass movements of people into cities may seem a promising response to rural decline, these people often face poverty and vulnerability to climate change in their new home.

Farmers’ Knowledge and Climate Change Adaptation: Insights from Policy Processes in Kenya & Namibia (pdf)

Climate change and agriculture: victim, villain or opportunity?
November 29, 2011 / Policy Briefs

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Agriculture and Climate Change in the UN Climate Change Negotiations

In a new policy brief for Future Agricultures Merylyn Hedger takes a critical look at the agricultural agenda in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to unscramble the issues surrounding agriculture which have become conflated in these negotiations. She also assesses whether UNFCCC is a useful route to addressing these issues and what other courses should be explored.

The 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17) kicked off in earnest this week in Durban, South Africa, with over 190 delegates converging to try and craft a new deal for cutting greenhouse gas emissions to reduce global warming.

Download: Agriculture and Climate Change in the UN climate negotiations (pdf)

Agriculture and Climate Change in the UN Climate Change Negotiations

The 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP17, kicked off in earnest this week in Durban, South Africa with over 190 delegates converging to try and craft a new deal for cutting greenhouse gas emissions to reduce global warming.

Negotiations are expected to continue for several days to come and no doubt agriculture will be in this the COP17 agenda as it has been in the previous convention. Merlyn Hedger, author of Future Agricultures Consortium’s new policy brief takes a critical look at the agricultural agenda in the UNFFC with an aim to unscramble the issues surrounding agriculture which have become conflated in these negotiations. She also assesses whether UNFFC is a useful route to addressing these issues and what other courses should people be looking into.

Agriculture and Climate Change in the UN climate negotiations
November 28, 2011 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 43
by Merylyn Hedger

Agriculture is both victim and villain in respect of climate change. Victim because most estimates indicate that climate change is likely to reduce agricultural productivity, production stability and incomes in some areas that already have high levels of food insecurity. Villain because agriculture is a key source for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Yet agriculture may also be part of the climate change solution: there is a considerable, albeit uncertain, technical potential for carbon storage in soils, particularly in developing countries.

This briefing paper aims to

  • Unscramble the various issues around agriculture which have become conflated in the climate negotiations
  • Outline what is formally being sought in negotiation texts under the Climate Convention (UNFCCC) and assess whether this is a useful route, and what other courses might be possible.
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Farmers’ Knowledge and Climate Change Adaptation: Insights from Policy Processes in Kenya & Namibia
November 28, 2011 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 42
by Andrew Newsham, Lars Otto Naess and Paul Guthiga

One major policy challenge for the agricultural sector is to make sure that lessons from farmers’ knowledge and experience are informing emerging climate change policy processes. This briefing paper reports on lessons from recent studies in two areas: first on seasonal forecasting and indigenous knowledge in Kenya, and second, agro-ecological knowledge and science in Namibia.

Advocates of local knowledge playing a role in adaptation policy and practice need a clearer understanding of how policy processes really work, in order to be more effective in making it happen. Efforts to link local to national are subject to broader processes of global change. Two of these are particularly discussed: first, the prospect of accelerated and more dangerous climate impacts by the 2060s; and second, deagrarianisation (a long-term shift away from farming livelihoods in rural areas).

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Land Grabbing in Africa and the New Politics of Food
June 22, 2011 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 41

by Ruth Hall

‘Africa is for sale’ is how some characterise it: there is a ‘land grab’ underway. Others are more cautious, speaking of ‘large-scale land acquisitions’, while the World Bank notes euphemistically the ‘rising global interest in farmland’. Whatever the prevailing terminology and ideologies, there is now ample evidence that large swathes of African farmland are being allocated to investors, usually on long-term leases, at a rate not seen for decades—indeed, not since the colonial period. The fact that much of this land is being acquired to provide for the future food and fuel needs of foreign nations has, not surprisingly, led to allegations that a neo-colonial push by more wealthy and powerful nations is underway to annex the continent’s key natural resources.

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Policy Brief 041 Pdf 419.12 KB 3 downloads

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CAADP and Fisheries Policy in Africa: are we aiming for the right reform??
May 9, 2011 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 40
by Christophe Béné

There has been much talk in the last few years about how agriculture is key to both poverty reduction and economic growth. In Africa, the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) launched the Comprehensive Af rican Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) in 2003 with the objective to attract significant donor funding for a new push for agricultural development. Although fisheries are officially part of the CAADP, the sector has yet to demonstrate its capacities to contribute to the CAADP objectives. This brief reviews the main policy issues related to fisheries in Africa. It discusses in particular the current model (the so-called “wealth-based approach”) that is being proposed as the overall policy ‘blanket’ for the continent’s fisheries, and examines why this model may not be the most appropriate for African small-scale fisheries.

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Integrating Social Difference, Gender and Social Analysis into Agricultural Development?
May 9, 2011 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 39

There is a widespread perception that ongoing social, economic, political, and environmental change processes in sub- Saharan Africa are leading to increasing levels of disadvantage based on social difference. This perception reflects the apparent inability of some groups to engage with new institutions for accessing and managing natural resources; new value chain governance models; and new regulatory measures affecting market access. In many rural locations it is women, along with young and poor men who are pinpointed as being increasingly disadvantaged.

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Policy Brief 039 Pdf 383.92 KB 2 downloads

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Innovation works:pastoralists building secure livelihoods in the Horn of Africa
March 17, 2011 / Policy Briefs

Pastoralist areas of the Horn of Africa are experiencing rapid change. Markets are opening up, helping to improve livelihoods and generate substantial new wealth for local and national economies. Political and constitutional changes are creating opportunities for pastoralists to influence decision-making around the allocation of public resources as well as laws and practices affecting their rights. New technologies such as mobile phones as well as improvements in roads are opening up pastoral areas to greater movements of people, goods, and ideas. And new ways of delivering services to mobile and remote pastoralist populations have improved their access to healthcare, veterinary services and education.

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The Malawi Agricultural Input Subsidy Programme: Lessons from Research Findings, 2005 – 2008
October 5, 2010 / Policy Briefs

Ephraim W. Chirwa, Victor Mhoni, Richard Kachule, Blessings Chinsinga, Edson Musopole, Beatrice Makwenda, Connex Masankhidwe, Willie Kalumula and Chrispin Kankangadza
January 2010

Maize, the main staple crop remains the dominant crop among smallholder farmers in Malawi. Smallholder farmers devote almost 70 percent of their land to maize cultivation, and maize availability in the country defines the food security situation of the country. Smallholder agriculture in Malawi has been characterized by low productivity, low technology and labour intensive, with maize mainly produced for subsistence consumption. The low productivity in smallholder agriculture has been attributed to loss in soil fertility, low application of inorganic fertilizers and traditional low technology rain-fed farming systems.

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Future Farmers? Exploring Youth Aspirations for African Agriculture
August 5, 2010 / Policy Briefs

Demographic trends point to more young people in the African population than ever before – approximately 70 percent of Africa’s 1 billion people is under the age of 30. Across the continent many young people are reportedly choosing not to pursue livelihoods in agriculture, especially as farmers. If this is the case there are clear implications for the future of African agriculture, at a time of renewed government, donor and private sector investment in the sector given its links to economic growth, poverty reduction and food security.

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Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant? The Potentials and the Pitfalls
July 19, 2010 / Policy Briefs

In 2009 the World Bank published a report entitled Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant: Prospects for Commercial Agriculture in theGuinea Savannah Zone and Beyond. The report highlights the agricultural potential of Africa’s Guinea Savannah (henceforth GS) zone, which it describes as “one of the largest underused agricultural land reserves in the world” (p2). It argues that the time has come for this potential to be realized, noting the strengthening demand for agricultural commodities both in world
markets and within Africa, where population growth, rising incomes and urbanization are driving demand for staple foods as well as for
livestock and hor ticultural products. Macroeconomic and sectoral (taxation) policies are also increasingly favourable to agricultural
investment within Africa.

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Policy Brief 036 Pdf 381.03 KB 2 downloads

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Agricultural Services and Decentralisation in Kenya
July 19, 2010 / Policy Briefs

Colin Poulton and Gem Argwings-Kodhek
June 2010

Kenya will vote on a new constitution in August 2010. The document proposes greater decentralisation of government with elected governors heading 47 counties that will replace the current system of provinces and districts. This realignment of the institutional landscape presents a number of opportunities and challenges for agricultural service provision in the country. This brief draws on case studies in four districts of Kenya – Mwingi, Rachuonyo, Eldoret West and Nyeri South – that were conducted in 2007 and 2009 to explore the roles and performance of the Ministry of Agriculture and other rural development ministries in the country to provide context to discussions that need to be held in Kenya about the delivery of agricultural extension and other services in Kenya under the new constitutional order. The new constitution has the national ministry making policy, but crop and animal husbandry, fisheries, disease control and other services being undertaken at the county level.

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Policy Brief 035 Pdf 319.26 KB 4 downloads

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The limits of decentralised governance: the case of agriculture in Malawi
March 31, 2010 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 33

Decentralisation reforms and the new policy extension in Malawi held the promise of a stronger role for districts and lower levels in agricultural governance and increased plurality of agricultural service providers. Such potential is yet to be realised. There is an impasse with the decentralisation process and local government performance and interaction with other service providers face considerable institutional and operational challenges. Such challenges are compounded by the increasing politicisation of Malawian agriculture policy. In the absence of progress in decentralisation or in the development of a diversi ed and competitive supply of agricultural services, traditional leaders are, in some cases, emerging as progressive actors with capacity to mobilise people to agricultural activities in a developmental way.

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Smallholder Agriculture in Ethiopia
January 12, 2010 / Policy Briefs

By Samuel Gebreselassie
Policy Brief 001

Land, Land Policy and Smallholder Agriculture in Ethiopia Land and land tenure is a hot policy issue in Ethiopia. Three key issues are raised – farm size and fragmentation and the question of what is a ‘viable’ farm unit; tenure security and whether lack of land registration/certification or titling undermines investment in productivity improvements; and finally the issue land markets and whether imperfectly functioning markets constrain opportunities for land consolidation, investment and agricultural growth.{jcomments off}

 

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Farmers’ Organisations
June 2, 2009 / Policy Briefs

By John Thompson, Amdissa Teshome, David Hughes, Ephraim Chirwa and John Omiti
June 2009

This FAC Policy Brief presents what we have termed ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Farmers’ Organisations’. This seeks to provide some insights into what may be described as the ‘critical elements of success’ in high-performing farmers’ organisations in Africa. The seven ‘habits’ identified are:

(1) Clarity of mission;
(2) Sound governance;
(3) Strong, responsive and accountable leadership;
(4) Social inclusion and raising ‘voice’;
(5) Demand-driven and focused service delivery;
(6) High technical and managerial capacity; and
(7) Effective engagement with external actors.

These habits offer a useful checklist of working principles and practices to assess the performance of farmers’ organisation in Africa and elsewhere.

 

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Policy Brief 032 Pdf 457.56 KB 7 downloads

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Challenges and Opportunities for Strengthening Farmers Organisations in Africa: Lessons
June 1, 2009 / Policy Briefs

By John Thompson, Amdissa Teshome, Ephraim Chirwa and John Omiti
June 2009

Farmers’ organisations (FOs) are increasingly being asked to play a central role in driving agricultural transformation processes in Sub-Saharan Africa, despite their mixed record of success. As governments, donors and NGOs rush to promote the scaling up and diversification of FOs’ activities and membership, this policy brief draws on findings of a study of the roles, functions and performance of FOs in Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi to suggest some principles and practices for supporting FOs in Africa.

 

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Agriculture and Social Protection in Ghana: A ‘LEAP’ in the Dark?
March 5, 2009 / Policy Briefs

By Stephen Devereux
March 2009 

Despite impressive progress on poverty reduction at national level in Ghana, chronic poverty and livelihood vulnerability persist, especially among small farmers in northern regions. This Briefing Paper reviews social protection mechanisms for addressing vulnerability among Ghanaian farming families, from ‘PAMSCAD’ in the 1980s to the new National Social Protection Strategy (NSPS) and the Livelihoods Empowerment Against Poverty (‘LEAP’) cash transfer programme.

 

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Agriculture and Social Protection in Ethiopia: The Politics of Land and ‘Graduation’
March 4, 2009 / Policy Briefs

By Stephen Devereux
March 2009

Agriculture and social protection are inextricably interconnected in Ethiopia. Smallholder farming is the dominant livelihood activity for most Ethiopians, but is also a major source of poverty and food insecurity. In terms of agricultural policy, the government’s belief in agriculture as the backbone and main source of economic growth is reflected in its view that land is the ultimate ‘safety net’ for rural households, who should therefore be prevented from selling it. In terms of social protection, the fact that farmers are the main recipients of food aid has fuelled the government’s fear of ‘dependency’ in rural communities, which explains the predominance of public works projects as their preferred delivery mechanism, as well as recent shifts in safety net thinking towards cash transfers rather than food aid, with predictable transfers expected to lead to ‘graduation’ within 3-5 years.

 

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Agriculture and Social Protection in Malawi: Fertiliser Policies and Politics
March 2, 2009 / Policy Briefs

By Stephen Devereux
March 2009

Agricultural and social protection policies must be understood in the context of political agendas, market development and trends in rural livelihoods. This Briefing Paper reviews interactions between agricultural and social protection policies in Malawi – classified as social protection from, independent of, for, through and with agriculture – and their impacts on livelihoods and welfare. Specific attention is given to the evolution of input subsidy policies (i.e. ‘fertiliser politics’).

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Agriculture and Social Protection in Africa
March 1, 2009 / Policy Briefs

By Stephen Devereux
March 2009

The following propositions are generally accepted:
1. Progress in reducing hunger and food insecurity in Africa is unacceptably slow.
2. Hunger and food insecurity are major impediments to poverty reduction in Africa.
3. Poverty, hunger and food insecurity in Africa are still predominantly rural.
4. Agriculture is a key sector in rural household strategies to exit poverty and food insecurity.
5. There is an urgent need for a renewed commitment to agricultural extension and

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Policy Brief 027 Pdf 321.50 KB 4 downloads

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Fertiliser Subsidies: Lessons from Malawi for Kenya
February 1, 2009 / Policy Briefs

By Colin Poulton
February 2009

Since 2005/06 a large-scale agricultural inputs subsidy programme has been in place in Malawi, which, combined with good rains, has resulted in the country moving from chronic food insecurity to maize surplus. This in turn has excited interest in fertiliser subsidies in other countries, including Kenya (itself chronically maize deficit). In this briefing note we summarise some of the key lessons learnt from evaluation of the Malawi fertiliser subsidy to date. Some of these are directly applicable to Kenya. However, the agro-ecological political and market contexts of Malawi and Kenya are different, so we also consider how these differences affect the transferability of the fertiliser subsidy programme.

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The Global Fertiliser Crisis and Africa
June 1, 2008 / Policy Briefs

By the Future Agricultures Consortium
June 2008

Political and media attention has rightly been focused on recent increases in food and energy prices and their impacts on consumers and national economies, particularly poor consumers and poor economies but much greater increases in fertiliser prices have received much less attention in industrialised economies. The impacts of these fertiliser price increases on many countries in Africa, however, are potentially very damaging in their effects on food security, poverty, and long term economic growth. In the many African countries that are heavily dependent on agriculture the impacts of high fertiliser prices and scarcity will extend beyond farmers to affect consumers, export earnings from cash crops, exchange rates, and the whole economy.

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The Social Protection Policy in Malawi: Processes, Politics and Challenges
February 7, 2008 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 24
By Blessings Chinsinga
February 2008

The livelihoods of Malawians are much more precarious today than they were probably two decades ago. Repeated shocks over the years have forced most households to dispose of key productive assets to meet immediate consumption needs, leaving them incapable of maintaining sustainable livelihoods.

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Malawi’s Agriculture Ministry: Fit for Purpose?
February 6, 2008 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 23
By Blessings Chinsinga and Lídia Cabral
February 2008

Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has a mandate to promote and accelerate broad-based and sustainable agricultural development, so as to stimulate economic growth and contribute to poverty reduction. The MoA is responsible for policy formulation and regulation, the coordination of training and collaboration with other stakeholders in the agriculture sector, and supervision of parastatal organisations, for which it also guarantees loans.

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The Malawi Fertiliser Subsidy Programme: politics and pragmatism
February 5, 2008 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 22
By Blessings Chinsinga
January 2006

Many people hoped that the end of one-party rule in Malawi in May 1994 would pave the way for economic recovery and social development. Instead, however, the democratisation process has coincided with a deepening crisis in Malawi’s agricultural sector. Between the 1970s and the 1990s, the country went from producing an agricultural surplus to a substantial food deficit. Per capita maize production fell significantly during the 1990s.

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Smallholder Coffee Commercialisation in Malawi
February 4, 2008 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 21
By Ephraim Chirwa, Andrew Dorward and Jonathan Kydd
February 2008

Coffee cultivation in Malawi is dominated by a small number of large-scale commercial estates, located mainly in the Southern region. In the Northern and Central regions, however, coffee is grown predominantly by large numbers of smallholder farmers on customary land, concentrated in the districts of Chitipa, Rumphi, Mzimba and Nkhata-Bay.

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Using Social Protection to Reduce Vulnerability and Promote Economic Growth in Kenya
February 3, 2008 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 20
By John Omiti
February 2008

While reducing risk and vulnerability, social protection (SP) measures can also promote productive activity and economic growth. This paper discusses how SP policies can be used to address key aspects of risk and vulnerability, and to promote economic growth in agriculture.

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The Politics of Policy Reforms in Kenya’s Dairy Sector
February 2, 2008 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 19
By Rosemary Atieno and Karuti Kanyinga
Febuary 2008

Recent reforms of Kenya’s dairy sector have been hailed as a long-term success story. This paper discusses the strengths and limits of Kenya’s dairy sector reforms and identifies some lessons to be drawn from its experience.

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Rethinking Agricultural Input Subsidies in Poor Rural Economies
February 1, 2008 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 18
By Andrew Dorward, Peter Hazell and Colin Poulton
February 2008

Agricultural input subsidies were a common element in agricultural development in poor rural economies in the 1960s and 70s, including successful green revolutions. Although subsidies have continued, to a greater and lesser extent, in some countries, conventional wisdom as well as dominant donor thinking in the 80s and 90s was that subsidies had been ineffective and inefficient policy instruments in Africa, which contributed to government over-spending and fiscal and macro-economic problems.

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Agricultural Commercialisations – A Level Playing Field for Smallholders?
October 1, 2007 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 17
By Jennifer Leavy and Colin Poulton

Accelerated growth in agriculture is seen by many as critical to meeting MDGs in Africa. Many national governments and international development agencies see intensification and commercialisation of smallholder agriculture playing a central role in achieving poverty reduction. The potential benefits of commercialisation are well documented. According to this thinking, smallholder agriculture is uniquely positioned to deliver broad-based growth in rural areas, where the vast majority of the world’s poor people still live.

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

Policy Brief 16
By Lidia Cabral and Ian Scoones

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

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

Policy Brief 15
By Lidia Cabral and Steve Wiggins

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

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

Policy Brief 14
By Rosemary Atieno

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

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

Policy Brief
By Blessings Chinsinga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Policy Brief 011 Pdf 474.59 KB 3 downloads

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

Policy Brief 10
By Lídia Cabral and Ian Scoones
September 2006

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

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Future Scenarios for Agriculture in Malawi: Challenges and Dilemmas (ii) policy
January 9, 2006 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 09
By Ephraim W. Chirwa, Jonathan Kydd and Andrew Dorward

This Briefing Paper examines challenges and dilemmas for Malawi’s agricultural policy-makers, emerging from current policy processes as well as being rooted in past policies and outcomes.

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Future Scenarios for Agriculture in Malawi: Challenges and Dilemmas
January 8, 2006 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 08
By Ephraim W. Chirwa, Jonathan Kydd and Andrew Dorward
January 2006

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with per capita gross domestic product of $190 and high rates of child malnourishment and infant mortality. More than half the population lives below the poverty line, with almost a quarter on the verge of survival. Agriculture plays an important role in the economy. The sector performed well in the first two decades since Independence in 1964, but subsequent performance has been disappointing.

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Policy Brief 008 Pdf 359.11 KB 3 downloads

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Agriculture Policy Processes in Kenya
January 7, 2006 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 07
By Patrick O. Alila and Rosemary Atieno
January 2006


The success of Kenya’s Strategy for Revitalising Agriculture (SRA), discussed in the Future Agricultures briefing Agricultural Policy in Kenya, depends critically on policy processes, structures and actors affecting agricultural policy in Kenya. This briefing examines the impact of each of these factors on Kenyan agricultural policy-making, both historically and in the present. It situates the various policy-making, ‘nodes’ within the SRA framework and considers whether or not these structures and processes are sufficient for implementation of the SRA.

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Policy Brief 007 Pdf 366.83 KB 3 downloads

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Agricultural Policy in Kenya
January 6, 2006 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 06
By Patrick O. Alila and Rosemary Atieno
January 2006

Agriculture is the backbone of the Kenyan economy. It contributes approximately 25% of GDP, employing 75% of the national labour force. Over 80% of the Kenyan population live in rural areas and make a living, directly or indirectly, from agriculture.
The sector is important for poverty reduction since the most vulnerable groups, such as pastoralists, the landless, and subsistence farmers, depend on agriculture as their main source of livelihoods. Growth in agriculture therefore can be expected to have a significant impact on a larger section of the population than any other sector. Likewise, policies affecting the performance of agriculture have important implications for the economy as a whole.

 

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Policy Brief 006 Pdf 371.00 KB 3 downloads

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Agriculture, Growth and Poverty Reduction in Ethiopia
January 5, 2006 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 05
By Amdissa Teshome
January 2006

Trade-offs between growth and poverty reduction and the role of agriculture are major contemporary issues in debates about future agricultures in Africa. In Ethiopia, this has been a long-running debate, but one that has been brought into sharper focus by the recent discussions about the second PRSP (Povery Reduction Strategy Paper) –the Plan for Accelerated and Sustainable Development to End Poverty (PASDEP). This briefing explores the policy processes surrounding PASDEP, and the implications this has for agricultural policy and rural development more broadly.

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Policy Brief 005 Pdf 343.42 KB 3 downloads

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Intensification of Smallholder Agriculture in Ethiopia
January 4, 2006 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 04
By Samuel Gebreselassie
January 2006

The prevailing orthodoxy is to see the problem of smallholder agriculture in Ethiopia strictly as a technical and resource related problem. This view identifies the low level of agricultural productivity as the key problem. In response, the government of Ethiopia has since the mid-1990s, implemented a high-profile, national technology-led extension programme. But has this worked, and what are the limitations of such a strategy

 

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Policy Brief 004 Pdf 371.07 KB 3 downloads

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Food Aid and Smallholder Agriculture in Ethiopia
January 3, 2006 / Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 03
By Samuel Gebreselassie
January 2006

Ethiopia has been structurally in food deficit since at least 1980. Today, Ethiopia is the world’s most food aid dependent country. The country received 795 thousand metric tonnes of food aid annually between 1990 and 1999, about 10% of total domestic grain production. This Briefing asks what have been the impacts of food aid in Ethiopia and what are the implications for future policy, and particularly the links between food aid and smallholder agriculture?

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Policy Brief 003 Pdf 372.96 KB 3 downloads

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Pathways for Ethiopian Agriculture: Options and Scenarios
January 2, 2006 / Policy Briefs

By Samuel Gebreselassie, Amdissa Teshome, Stephen Devereux, Ian Scoones, and Kay Sharp
Policy Brief 002

The paradox facing agricultural policy in Ethiopia was neatly encapsulated in a statement by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, in 2000: “The agricultural 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.

” The reality is that most Ethiopians continue to struggle to make their living from smallholder farming, despite low returns, high risks, and the evident inability of agriculture to provide even a reliable subsistence income, let alone a ‘take-off’ to poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth.

Policy-makers and analysts, both national and expatriate, have vacillated between arguing for increased investment in smallholder farming, commercialising agriculture, or abandoning unviable smallholder agriculture by promoting diversification or urbanisation instead. It is often remarked that, if Ethiopia can solve the profound challenges facing its agriculture sector, the lessons will be applicable in many other parts of Africa.

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Policy Brief 002 Pdf 342.24 KB 5 downloads

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Land, Land Policy and Smallholder Agriculture in Ethiopia
January 1, 2006 / Policy Briefs

By Samuel Gebreselassie
Policy Brief 001

Land_Land_Policy_and_Smallholder_Agriculture_in_EthiopiaLand and land tenure is a hot policy issue in Ethiopia. Three key issues are raised – farm size and fragmentation and the question of what is a ‘viable’ farm unit; tenure security and whether lack of land registration/certi. Cation or titling undermines investment in productivity improvements; and finally the issue land markets andwhether imperfectly functioning markets constrain opportunities for land consolidation, investment and agricultural growth.

Farm size, land fragmentation andsmallholder production
Ethiopia is a country of smallholder agriculture. In the 2000 cropping season, 87.4 % of rural households operated less than 2 hectares; whereas 64.5 % of them cultivated farms less than one hectare; while 40.6 % operated land sizes of 0.5 hectare and less. Such small farms are fragmented on average into 2.3 plots. The average farm size can generate only about 50% of the minimum income required for the average farm household to lead a life out of poverty, if current levels of farm productivity and price structures remain constant. Such farmers have little or no surplus for investment and for input purchase.

The increasing decline of farm size also leads to a reduction of fallowing practice or shortening of fallow cycles, and rotation, with a consequence of declining soil quality and fertility in some highland areas. The average farm size is considered by many too be small to allow sustainable intensi. Cation of smallholder agriculture. The probability of adopting fertilizer and improved seeds decreases with declines in farm size. Households with relatively small farm size are generally poor in cash income, have less access to extension services and credit, and have less risk coping opportunities to take risks of rain failure, and less profitable technologies given higher transaction costs of acquisition and application of fertiliser per unit of operated land.