Research Papers

The Research Paper series reports findings to the research community. It is intended to contribute new analysis to agricultural issues in Africa and FAC publishes five to ten Research papers annually.


Latest articles

APRA Outcome Indicators Paper
July 30, 2018 / Research Papers

Much of the debate about agricultural commercialisation offers simplistic, dichotomous comparisons between, for example, large and small-scale farming, or export-oriented and domestic markets. There is often an assumption that there is one ideal type of commercialisation that can be realised through investment and policy intervention. Yet in practice, there are diverse ways that different people engage with processes of agricultural commercialisation along value chains, from production to processing to marketing. This range of pathways will have both risks and benefits for different groups of people, often differentiated by gender. Our research will examine the consequences of different types of commercialisation, contrasting, for example, smallholder, contract farming and large-estate arrangements, and pathways of commercialisation, examining commercialisation over time and the outcomes for different people. A comparative research design, across six countries and between different cropping/livestock systems, will enable the APRA Programme to draw out wider recommendations that will help inform and guide investment and policy decisions around agricultural commercialisation in Africa into the future. In practical research terms, the agenda described above requires that a range of indicators are specified in relation to our five main outcome areas. This document compiles five separate papers, each one reviewing the established literature on a specific outcome area and then providing a justification for the proposed indicators to be applied in the APRA studies. Access the full paper via the link below:

APRA Outcome Indicators Paper

Uganda’s Dilemmas in the Transition to Modern Commercial Agriculture: Implications for the Poverty Reduction Agenda
March 26, 2015 / Research Papers

Leocardia Nabwire
February 2015

This paper draws on field data from farming households in Kabale and Kisoro districts of Uganda and early findings from monitoring the implementation of the Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA) and the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy and Investment Plan (DSIP) to investigate: (1) whether Uganda’s agricultural modernisation strategies constitute the right mechanism and target of transforming smallholder subsistence agriculture into highly productive commercial farming; and (2) whether the generation and promotion of modern farm inputs pursued is sufficient to increase household farm output and incomes, or whether there is need for more rigorous market/economic incentives.

Several key findings emanate from this study. First, the overall logic of agricultural modernisation as laid out in the PMA/DSIP (increase household farm output and income) still holds, but there are weaknesses within the implementation process, with most of the pillars that seek to address agricultural marketing problems not being visible on the ground. Overall, progress in generating and promoting knowledge on modern farm inputs (hybrid seed, fertiliser and pesticide) is good. However, smallholder farmers lag behind in the adoption of these inputs despite the high demand for them. The low adoption levels of these inputs coupled with low literacy levels, small land sizes, low asset endowments and low access to credit limit the capacity of smallholder subsistence farmers to produce surplus for the market.

Second, results on market participation show that smallholder farmers have significantly lower production volumes and lower market participation. Yet households that had higher total crop output also had considerable market surplus and reported greater market participation. These results point to the strong relationship between output level, market participation and exiting poverty, and indicate the role that access to productive assets, which improve a household’s capacity to produce marketable surplus, can play in poverty reduction. Chief among this paper’s recommendations is the need to mainstream input and output marketing issues within all intervention areas and the development of more differentiated strategies according to target groups.

This paper was produced with support from the Early Career Fellowship Programme.

The Role of Indigenous Gums and Resins in Pastoralists’ Livelihood Security and Climate Change…
April 15, 2014 / Research Papers

Full title: The Role of Indigenous Gums and Resins in Pastoralists’ Livelihood Security and Climate Change Adaptation in Garba Tula Area of Northern Kenya

Yasin Mahadi S. Salah
February 2014

The current study investigates the role of indigenous gums and resins in pastoralists’ livelihood security and climate change adaptation in Garba Tula area of northern Kenya. The communities in the area are heavily dependent on natural resources which are influenced by prevailing climatic conditions. In recent years droughts have increased in frequency and magnitude, constraining the livestock sector which is the mainstay of the pastoral communities in Garba Tula. Due to dwindling income from the livestock sector as a result of drought, community members are exploring complementary and alternative livelihoods to survive. One of the activities that has taken precedence in filling the gap in Garba Tula is exploitation of the abundant gums and resins found in the area. This study asks to what extent income from livestock is diversified or complemented by other livelihood strategies, in particular activities that act as climate change adaptation mechanisms.

This paper was produced with support from the Early Career Fellowship Programme.

An investigation into the marginalisation of adolescent girls from the agrarian structure…
April 15, 2014 / Research Papers

Full title: An investigation into the marginalisation of adolescent girls from the agrarian structure and its impacts on their livelihoods in Africa: Experiences from Zimbabwe

Manase Kudzai Chiweshe
February 2014

The paper provides a nuanced and grounded understanding of how young girls relate to agriculture with special emphasis on land ownership, labour, participation in agricultural policy making. In particular, it questions how agriculture can enhance young women’s empowerment. It is based on research carried out in five districts across Zimbabwe. The study was initially a qualitative inquiry in Mazowe concentrating on in depth interviews, focus group discussions and life histories of adolescent girls. In the process of finishing this fieldwork there was an opportunity to increase the scope of the study to include four other districts across Zimbabwe. The research was done under the auspices of Ruzivo Trust from December 2012 to January 2013. This included a quantitative survey and qualitative case studies with adolescent youths in Gokwe South, Chimanimani and Goromonzi.

This paper was produced with support from the Early Career Fellowship Programme.

Market Structure and Price: An empirical analysis of Irish potato markets in Kenya
April 15, 2014 / Research Papers

Nancy M. Laibuni and John M. Omiti
February 2014

In many developing countries, Kenya included, food markets are characterised by information asymmetry, inadequate storage and transport infrastructure and weak physical and institutional market organisation. This study seeks to examine recent trends in domestic Irish potato prices in the production markets of Nakuru and Eldoret and the consumption markets of Nairobi and Mombasa, and investigate the relationship between market structure and price of Irish potato in the different markets. Monthly market data from January 1998 to May 2011 is used. The results show that there is a general rise in the price of potatoes. The farm-gate share of wholesale market prices for ware (fresh) potato increased in Nakuru and Eldoret to 52 percent in 2010 from 35 percent in 2009. These percentage shares suggest that there exist large marketing margins that are accrued by middlemen and brokers. Potato markets are oligopolistic in nature; a few market participants in the form of rural brokers, urban brokers and transporters have the market power. There are barriers to entry at the urban market centres where brokers provide the link between wholesalers and retailers. In many cases, brokers and transporters determine the market price for each potato consignment. The markets are integrated and price transmission does occur; however it is incomplete, the results showed that long run price transmission proportions range between 25 and 59 percent, implying that, the spatial arbitrage conditions are wanting in the markets that were examined. Proposed interventions include facilitation and up-scaling of market information sharing; investment in physical infrastructure (including storage and roads) to facilitate trade; and provision of incentives to encourage public-private partnerships in storage, distribution and marketing. From a policy perspective, efforts should be made to facilitate arbitrage through the improvement of storage and physical market infrastructure.

This paper was produced with support from the Early Career Fellowship Programme.

An integrated approach towards moderating the effects of climate change on agriculture: A policy…
April 15, 2014 / Research Papers

Full title: An integrated approach towards moderating the effects of climate change on agriculture: A policy perspective for Zimbabwe

Denboy Kudejira
February 2014

This study was undertaken to provide a succinct assessment of the linkages between agricultural policy reform in Zimbabwe and the challenges that climate change poses to smallholder farmers in the country. The study is motivated by a lack of analysis of how post-independence agrarian reform processes in Zimbabwe may affect adaptation to climate change in the agricultural sector. The key driving factor behind land redistribution has largely been to enhance equity in the ownership of arable land. So far there has been less focus on assisting beneficiary farmers to adapt to climate change, which is increasingly becoming a reality and further aggravating the stresses already associated with smallholder production, including small farm sizes, informal land tenure, poorly developed infrastructure and unpredictable and uneven exposure to markets. The paper reveals that while the current status of land reforms has enabled previously disadvantaged peasants to acquire land, smallholders still face production challenges such as tenure insecurity, inadequate technical support, poorly developed infrastructure, limited access to markets and the effects of HIV/AIDS. These factors also remain key concerns for farmers in the face of the risks posed by climate change. The study found that smallholder farmers would benefit from climate change adaptation goals that focus on irrigation development, appropriate soil and water conservation technologies and sustainable utilisation of forest resources. While the government has been investing heavily in input support to smallholder famers, this paper argues for a more systemic targeting in resource allocation which is anchored on crop diversification in response to productivity trends across the agro-ecological zones of the country. A ‘market-oriented’ climate change adaptation approach which guarantees high returns to farmers who grow adaptable crop varieties like small grains should be considered, rather than the current situation where emphasis is put on cash crops like cotton and tobacco. Finally, the paper suggests a multi-sectoral and inter-disciplinary approach that involves government ministries, community based organisations, the private sector and other non-state actors. This would ensure a holistic approach in achieving climate change adaptation policy goals, and also help address other socio-economic challenges that smallholder farmers currently face.

This paper was produced with support from the Early Career Fellowship Programme.

Transnational Large Scale Agricultural Firms in Gambella Regional State, Ethiopia
April 15, 2014 / Research Papers

Full title: Transnational Large Scale Agricultural Firms in Gambella Regional State, Ethiopia: Local Potentials, Opportunities and Constraints for Market Linkage and Contractual Farming Schemes

Adil Yassin
January 2014

Even though Transnational Corporations (TNCs) yield a huge potential in supporting the local economy, this opportunity is not realised yet. Concerns on weak market linkage with TNCs are not keenly explored in the literature, if weak linkages result from TNCs failure to utilise local market opportunities or if it is associated with weak local capacity with regard to labour availability, institutional capacity, market demand, and legal support. This study, based on annual import data, discovered that that there is potential demand for TNCs’ products (particularly rice, palm oil, maize, sugar and wheat) to establish forward linkage. Hence, high foreign currency expenditure might be cut, if imports can be substituted by TNCs supply to local market. The government, however, seems to focus on acquiring foreign currency more than reducing its expenditure through local transaction with TNCs. On the other hand, local economy’s capacity in providing inputs for TNCs is weak indicating challenge in backward linkage. Since the introduction of TNCs in Gambella, five years down the line, the most dominant and visible linkage happened in the form of labour [unskilled] employment. The volume of jobs created is insignificant compared to other countries’ standards. Thus far, due to the poor performance of TNCs, government’s expectation of employment generation, infrastructure development, market linkage and foreign currency acquisition are not realised adequately; as a result, it has regarded them as ‘failed’ projects. An absence of linkages with the local economy may lead to enclave development in the near future where there is limited market or economic benefit. Contract Farming (CF), if managed well, can be a viable means to enhance linkage with the local economy. However, there are considerable challenges to establish and facilitate CF in the Gambella region. Undefined land tenure system in the region, less government emphasis on CF in low land areas, TNCs business interest and financial problems, quality of farmers products and lack of modern inputs, and limited experience in CF, among others, are the main current and future challenges. It is concluded that weak linkage happens from both corners due to: lack of TNCs realisation and interest of local potentials and inadequate local capabilities.

This paper was produced with support from the Early Career Fellowship Programme.

Leaping and Learning case studies
September 17, 2013 / Research Papers

This set of 41 case studies accompanies the Leaping and Learning research report.

 

 

Leaping and learning: linking smallholders to markets
September 17, 2013 / Research Papers

Agriculture for Impact research report
by Steve Wiggins and Sharada Keats
May 2013

This report provides a comprehensive review of the existing literature on smallholder-centred market-based interventions.

Smallholder farms in sub-Saharan Africa number around 33 million, represent 80% of all farms in the region, and contribute up to 90% of food production in some sub-Saharan African countries. Developing smallholder agriculture can be effective in reducing poverty and hunger in low income countries, but only through sustainable access to markets can poor farmers increase the income from their labour and lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

Most poor farmers are not linked to markets for a variety of reasons: remoteness, low production, low farm-gate prices, and lack of information, to name a few. Addressing and overcoming these market failures in order to increase smallholder farmers’ access to markets was the subject of this research project.

In short, the project aimed to answer the question:

how can smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa use a combination of agricultural growth and links to markets to raise their incomes and reduce poverty and hunger?

What follows is a summary of the considerations, conclusions and recommendations that resulted from the synthesis and exploration of existing material, case studies and workshops.

Small farm commercialisation in Africa: Reviewing the issues
May 16, 2012 / Research Papers

FAC Research Paper 23
by Steve Wiggins, Gem Argwings-Kodhek, Jennifer Leavy & Colin Poulton

Small farmers in Africa have long been engaged with markets. Whenever villages have been connected to urban or overseas markets, smallholders have produced surpluses for them — at times prompting remarkable transformations in rural economies. The opportunities to engage with markets for small farmers are increasing — making questions that arise about smallholder commercialisation all the more important. This review looks at the debates, evidence and policy implications associated with these new opportunities.

Not Ready for Analysis? A Critical Review of NRA Estimations for Cotton and other Export Cash Crops
August 1, 2011 / Research Papers

Claire Delpeuch and Colin Poulton

Research Paper 22

This paper discusses the estimation methods used in Anderson and Masters (2009) to calculate nominal rates of assistance (NRAs) for cotton and other traditional export cash crops in sub- Saharan Africa (SSA) and offers alternative estimates for cotton for a sub-set of countries, on the basis of a standardised approach, alternative data sources and correcting some basic but important errors concerning processing ratios.

Can State Capacity for Agricultural Development be Compared Across Countries? Insights from Africa
June 29, 2011 / Research Papers

Claire Delpeuch and Colin Poulton
June 2011

Research Paper 21

Recent years have witnessed a renewed recognition both of the importance of agricultural development to growth and poverty reduction in Sub-Saharan Africa and of the important role that the state has to play in stimulating market development in rural areas (Poulton et al. 2006; World Bank 2007). However, there is an “agricultural development paradox” during the early stages of rural development in that “the need for pro-poor state services is high when state failure is profound” (Kydd 2009, p453).

This raises important questions: what are the key dimensions of state capacity for agricultural development and how can they be measured? These questions are of interest to development organisations seeking to design and to monitor the impact of “capacity building” interventions. Increasingly, researchers are also likely to be interested in comparing (changes in) state capacity across countries. This raises the question of whether the rather intangible concept of capacity can be compared in this way.

This brief presents some reflections on this question. It investigates the concept of state capacity for agricultural development in Africa (section 2), then considers both direct (section 3) and indirect (section 4) approaches for measuring state capacity for agricultural development across countries.

The Role and Performance of Ministry of Agriculture in Nyeri South District
July 13, 2010 / Research Papers

Booker Owuor, Beatrice Wambui, Gem Argwings-Kodhek and Colin Poulton
December 2009

Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy with many urban, and most rural folk deriving their livelihoods directly or indirectly from agriculture. The performance of the sector is therefore refl ected in the performance of the whole economy. Growth in the agricultural sector translates directly to the improvement in living standards of many farm families. Nyeri South District has a vibrant agricultural sector that provides the main source of livelihood for over 82% of its residents. Three commodities with varied histories – tea, coff ee and dairy – are the main agricultural enterprises. Eff ective realization of the agricultural sector’s goals in the district depends on reviving these commodities in a sustainable manner. For this to be achieved however, the structure, capacity and coordination capabilities of the agricultural sector ministries must be up to the task.

The Role and Performance of the MoA and Rural Development in Nyeri South District
July 13, 2010 / Research Papers

The Role and Performance of the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nyeri South District

June 2010

The workshop was held in the CDF Hall, Othaya, Nyeri South district, on 5th February 2010. The main objectives of the workshop were to disseminate and seek validation of the main findings of research into “The Role and Performance of the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development” in the district. This research was conducted during November and December 2009 and the resulting report can be downloaded from www.future-agricultures.org

Workshop Report on the Ministry of Agriculture at the District Level in Malawi
July 13, 2010 / Research Papers

FAC’s Malawi team
October 2009

This workshop was held on 23rd October 2009 at Panjira Lodge in Dedza district. The workshop brought together officials working in the agricultural sector from Thyolo, Dedza and Rumphi districts. The participants included District Agricultural Development Officers, Subject Matter Specialists from the Extension Sections including the Agricultural Extension Development Officers (AEDOs), Directors of Planning and Development, NGO Officials, Agro-dealers and farmer representatives. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MoAFS) Headquarters was represented by the Chief Economist responsible for Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E).

Getting Agriculture Moving: Role of the State in Increasing Staple Food Crop Productivity
July 13, 2010 / Research Papers

Colin Poulton and Andrew Dorward
June 2008

This paper argues that the state has a large potential role in increasing staple food crop productivity as a result of

  • The importance of staple food crop intensification in driving and supporting pro-poor growth in poor rural areas and
  • Intrinsic difficulties that inhibit staple food crop intensification without significant investment and coordination by the state.

Active state involvement was a pervasive feature of Asian green revolutions, but the task is not easy, particularly with the varied and often difficult agro-ecological conditions in Africa, the lack of irrigation infrastructure, likely impacts of climate change, the limited human and financial resources available to governments, and the political challenges facing governments in pursuing consistent policies.

Reclaiming Policy Space: Lessons from Malawi’s 2005/2006 Fertiliser Subsidy Programme
May 15, 2010 / Research Papers

Blessings Chinsinga
July 2007

This paper is based on research work carried out the under auspices of the Politics and Policy Processes theme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC). It demonstrates that political context matters in agricultural development policy issues, using as illustration the case of the fertilizer subsidy programme (FSP) launched in Malawi in the 2005/2006 growing season.

The Role and Performance of the Ministry of Agriculture in Rachuonyo District
May 14, 2010 / Research Papers

Geophrey O. Sikei, Booker W. Owuor and Colin Poulton
June, 2008

A widely accepted objective of agricultural development is to achieve sustainable intensification. With many people especially in the rural areas deriving their livelihoods directly or indirectly from agriculture, the performance of the sector is therefore reflected in the performance of the whole economy. Growth in agriculture is expected to have a greater impact on a larger section of the population than any other sector. For effective realization of the sector’s goals, the structure, capacity and coordination capabilities of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) cannot be overlooked.

The Political Economy of Ministry of Agriculture at the District Level: The Case of Rumphi District
May 14, 2010 / Research Papers

Blessings Chinsinga
March 2008

The main motivation of this research is to understand the functioning of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) at district level and beyond in a changing context shaped by political and market liberalization in which policy reforms have been greatly driven by the economic reform agenda of the IMF and World Bank (Omamo & Farrington, 2004). These reforms were designed to reduce the role government, cut back on public sector expenditures, improve balance of payments, reduce government deficits, enhance macroeconomic performance and help developing countries achieve higher economic growth rates. Referred to as structural adjustment programmes (SAPs); the key elements of policy reforms included macroeconomic restructuring, privatization of government agencies, liberalization of markets, removal of the government from the agricultural markets and elimination of subsidies. In the agricultural sector, SAPs “forced African governments to dismantle public agricultural research and extension programmes and drop whatever protection and incentive mechanisms existed for their small farmers” (UK Food Group, 2008: 9). The main goal of the SAPs was “to convert the role of the state into that of facilitator and regulator of the private sector” (Omamo and Farrington, 2004: 1). The MoAs would thus act merely as part players and not as the principal architects and drivers of agricultural policies and policy reforms.

Ministries of Agriculture: Structures, Capacity and Coordination at District Level in Malawi
May 14, 2010 / Research Papers

Blessings Chinsinga
February 2008

This study was carried out under the auspices of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) politics and policy processes sub-theme. Building on the earlier work of the sub-theme on the debates about the Ministries of Agriculture (MoAs) in developing countries, the study was intended as an entry point for grasping the functions, structures, rules, financial and human capacities of MoAs in Africa.

Democratic Politics and State Capacity Building: Ministries of Agriculture in Malawi and Kenya
May 14, 2010 / Research Papers

October 2009

Although fluctuating in intensity, debates about the role of the state remain fundamental to strategies for rural development and poverty reduction. Under structural adjustment African states were scaled back to play a minimalist public goods provider role, motivated in large part by the weakness and over-extension of the state prior to that. Whilst there is now broad recognition that a more activist, coordinating role is required to stimulate market development (World Bank, 1997, Dorward et.al. 2004), this places extra demands on the capacity of the state. Meanwhile, most African states are almost two decades into a transition to democracy. Whilst the median voter in most of these states is rural and poor, it remains unclear as to whether democratic politics can generate the incentives for the creation of “developmental” states that will serve the needs of such voters.

The Role and Performance of the Ministry of Agriculture in Eldoret West District
March 1, 2010 / Research Papers

Booker W. Owuor, Job O. Ogada, Colin Poulton, and Gem Argwings-Kodhek
June 2010

Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy. Well managed, agriculture can be the single source that will spearhead the economy and alleviate poverty among the over 80 percent of Kenya’s population dependant on it. The sector has been fragmented into 10 ministries that all came out of a large Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) that is still seen as the parent Ministry and is viewed as the main player in the sector. This study was aimed at gaining a better understanding of how the sector is managed, and to critically examine the structure, capacity and coordination capabilities of the Ministry of Agriculture in Eldoret West District.

The Social Protection Policy in Malawi: Processes Politics and Challenges
November 2, 2009 / Research Papers

Blessings Chinsinga
September 2007

This paper is based on a study undertaken to critically understand the dynamics of policy-making and processes under the auspices of the Future Agricultures Consortium’s (FAC) sub-theme on politics and policy processes hosted by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in the United Kingdom. FAC’s operative philosophy is that contrary to the traditional and highly stylized perspective, policy-making does not happen in neat distinct stages except perhaps in the minimal sense that policies are proposed, legislated and implemented. Policy processes are thus a complex mesh of interactions and ramifications between a wide range of stakeholders driven, and constrained by the contexts in which they operate (cf. IDS, 2006; Oya, 2006). Understanding the policy processes therefore requires:

  1. Grasping the narratives that tell the policy stories
  2. The way positions become embedded in networks of various actors
  3. The enabling or constraining power dynamics (politics and interests)

Improving access to input & output markets
December 8, 2008 / Research Papers

By Andrew Dorward, Ephraim Chirwa and Colin Poulton
December 2008

Agriculture can play two potential roles in wider economic growth,fundamental increases in productivity and earnings) and/or multiplying and spreading the benefits of primary growth drivers through an economy. Growth drivers include exports of tradables and increased production of foods (both tradables and non-tradables). Non-tradable staple foods have particular importance in poor rural economies as they are important to the real incomes of large numbers of poor net food consumers and small scale net producers, and they tend to have high positive growth linkages and low leakages. Increased production of non-staple horticultural and livestock products for domestic consumption are important as growth supports where these are semi-tradeables or non-tradeables, but are only effective in the context of an economy benefiting from other growth drivers.

Consideration of the contributions of different types of agricultural production in the context of wider national growth processes allows the contributions of different types of smallholder agricultural development to be placed in the context of different types of economy. Three broad types ofeconomy are identified – countries with minerals, coastal countries without minerals, and land locked countries without minerals. Challenges and opportunities facing the development of smallholder production of different agricultural products are also identified.

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Improving access to input & output markets
December 8, 2008 / Research Papers

Andrew Dorward, Ephraim Chirwa and Colin Poulton
December 2008

Agriculture can play two potential roles in wider economic growth,fundamental increases in productivity and earnings) and/or multiplying and spreading the benefits of primary growth drivers through an economy. Growth drivers include exports of tradables and increased production of foods (both tradables and non-tradables).Non-tradable staple foods have particular importance in poor rural economies as they are important to the real incomes of large numbers of poor net food consumers and small scale net producers, and they tend to have high positive growth linkages and low leakages. Increased production of non-staple horticultural and livestock products for domestic consumption are important as growth supports where these are semi-tradeables or non-tradeables, but are only effective in the context of an economy benefiting from other growth drivers.

Consideration of the contributions of different types of agricultural production in the context of wider national growth processes allows the contributions of different types of smallholder agricultural development to be placed in the context of different types of economy. Three broad types ofeconomy are identified – countries with minerals, coastal countries without minerals, and land locked countries without minerals. Challenges and opportunities facing the development of smallholder production of different agricultural products are also identified.

Agricultural Commercialisation in Coffee Growing Areas of Ethiopia
October 31, 2008 / Research Papers

The coffee sub-sector is very important to the Ethiopian economy – in 2005, coffee export generated 41% of foreign exchange earnings – and provides income for approximately 8 million smallholder households. Policy attention to the sector was always considerable, and its importance has been renewed in the latest Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty (PASDEP). PASDEP puts forward a development strategy based on accelerated economic growth, part of which is hoped to be achieved via increased smallholder commercialisation and market integration.

This paper addresses commercialisation in selected coffee growing areas in Ethiopia. The objectives of the study were (i) to assess the scale of commercialisation in coffee growing areas and to detect household and farm characteristics which might explain variation in the levels of coffee commercialisation among households; and (ii) to answer two separate questions: why some sampled households didn’t take part in output markets (i.e. identify determinants of market entry) and why some households sold more products than others (i.e. determinants of market supply). Answering these questions will help to identify policy options promoting market participation and commercialisation of smallholder agriculture.

Agricultural Commercialisation in Coffee Growing Areas of Ethiopia
October 31, 2008 / Research Papers

Samuel Gebreselassie and Eva Ludi
March 2008

The coffee sub-sector is very important to the Ethiopian economy. In 2005, coffee exports generated 41% of foreign exchange earnings and provides income for approximately 8 million smallholder households. Policy attention to the sector was always considerable, and its importance has been renewed in the latest Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty (PASDEP). PASDEP puts forward a development strategy based on accelerated economic growth, part of which is hoped to be achieved via increased smallholder commercialisation and market integration.

Getting Agricultural Moving: Role of the State in Increasing Staple Food Crop Productivity…
June 1, 2008 / Research Papers

Getting Agricultural Moving: Role of the State in Increasing Staple Food Crop Productivity with Special Reference to Coordination, Input Subsidies, Credit and Price Stabilisation

By Colin Poulton and Andrew Dorward
June 2008

This paper argues that the state has a large potential role in increasing staple food crop productivity as a result of:

  1. The importance of staple food crop intensification in driving and supporting pro-poor growth in poor rural areas
  2. Active state involvement was a pervasive feature of Asian green revolutions, but the task is not easy, particularly with the varied and often difficult agro-ecological conditions in Africa, the lack of irrigation infrastructure, likely impacts of climate change, the limited human and financial resources available to governments, and the political challenges facing governments in pursuing consistent policies.
  3. Increasing staple food crop productivity requires governments, with private sector actors, farmers and civil society, to address a number of challenges.

These are posed by specific technical constraints to productivity increases:

  • Lack of important public goods (principally infrastructure and institutions)
  • Recent dramatic increases in food and fertiliser prices; poor policy coordination
  • Lack of complementary coordination in rural service development and provision
  • The food price/ productivity tightrope
  • Un-affordability of on-farm productivity investments; and high price instability

The nature of and solutions to these challenges, and hence the nature and importance of responses to them, vary between three different types of crop – characterised as high response cereals (maize and rice), low response cereals (sorghum and millet), and roots and tubers (cassava and yams).

Narratives of Agricultural Policy in Africa: What Role for Ministries of Agriculture
March 1, 2008 / Research Papers

By Lidia Cabral and Ian Scoones
March 2006

Much 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 way things should be, rather than the way they are, or are likely to be.

The Revitalisation of Kenya Cooperative Creameries
February 1, 2008 / Research Papers

Rosemary Atieno and Karuti Kanyinga
February 2008

This paper presents a case study of politics of policy reforms in the dairy sector in Kenya with particular reference to the Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC). It is developed for the Policy Processes sub theme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC).

The sub theme recognises that that while many policy recommendations on how to get agriculture moving have been made, too often such recommendations have foundered. This has been attributed to among other things, the narrow focus on the technical dimensions of policy, with little attention paid to the political economy and the complex politics of policy making in specific contexts (FAC 2007).

Commercialisations in Agriculture
September 24, 2007 / Research Papers

By Jennifer Leavy and Colin Poulton

Accelerated growth in agriculture is seen by many as critical if the MDGs are to be met in Africa. Although there are debates about the future viability of small farms (Hazell et al. 2007), the official policies of many national governments and international development agencies accord a central role to the intensification and commercialisation of smallholder agriculture as a means of achieving poverty reduction. 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 still live). However, others fear that strategies for commercialising agriculture will not bring benefits to the majority of rural households, either directly or (in the view of some) at all. Instead, they fear that efforts to promote a more commercial agriculture will benefit primarily large-scale farms. At best, the top minority of smallholders will be able to benefit.

Resurrecting the Vestiges of a Developmental State in Malawi? Reflections and Lessons
August 22, 2007 / Research Papers

Blessings Chinsinga
August 2007

Malawi has experienced two distinct phases of development (although sub-phases can between be distinguished, especially in the second phase). The first phase spanned from the attainment of independence in July 1964 to the end of the 1970s, whilst the second phase began with the adoption of structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) in 1981 (cf. Chipeta, 1993; Chirwa, 1997; Harrigan, 2001; Chinsinga, 2002). The 1964–1979 period saw the country?s economy registering very high growth rates and enjoyed relatively favourable balance of payment positions. Almost every sector experienced tremendously rapid growth to the extent that the country was characterized at one point, alongside the Ivory Coast, as a star performer (cf. Archaya, 1978; World Bank, 1982). In stark contrast, the post-1979 phase witnessed almost every sector of the economy experiencing a stupendous decline, followed by persistently erratic recovery trends of boom-and-bust type patterns (cf. Kaluwa, et al., 1992; Chirwa, 1995; Chilowa, et al., 2000).

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.

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.

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.

Promoting Agriculture for Social Protection or Social Protection for Agriculture
March 1, 2006 / Research Papers

By Andrew Dorward, Rachel Sabates Wheeler, Ian MacAuslan, Chris Penrose Buckley, Jonathan Kydd, and Ephraim Chirwa
March 2006

There is widespread concern at continuing poverty and food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa and the poor record of agriculture in promoting broad based economic growth. African agriculture has performed poorly over the last forty years or so, with very low or negative per capita in much of this period, and much of the growth it has achieved has been from unsustainable land extensification rather than yield intensification (Kydd et al, 2004).

Future Scenarios for Agriculture in Malawi
March 1, 2006 / Research Papers

Ephraim W. Chirwa, Jonathan Kydd and Andrew Dorward
March 2006

Malawi 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.

Agriculture, Growth and Poverty Reduction in Ethiopia: Policy Processes Around the New PRSP (PASDEP)
March 1, 2006 / Research Papers

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?