Written by Toendepi Shonhe.
This paper examines postcolonial agricultural mechanisation in Zimbabwe in the context of recent land reforms. It pays particular attention to the central role played by state-capital relations – with notable links to international finance – in shaping a resurgence in tractor usage following Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP). Moreover, the economy-wide crisis triggered by land reform shaped the emerging agricultural mechanisation.
This study examines the decline in tractor supply by the government, and the growth and dominance of large-scale commercial farms as a source of second-hand tractors for smallholder and medium-scale farmers. This paper relies on archival sources as well as empirical data collected in Mvurwi through surveys, focus group discussions, tracker studies and in-depth interviews. While the tractors imported by the government from Brazil on concessional terms have become a major source of tractor services for the resettled farmers in Mvurwi, resettled farmers are also reinvesting proceeds from the sale of agricultural commodities predominantly in agricultural mechanisation, creating a new source for tractor hiring services and agrarian transformation. Although patronage politics has shaped the distribution of tractors and the establishment of tractor service cooperatives, there is no evidence of concrete political gains resulting from these investments.
Working Paper 20: Building Livelihoods: Young People and Agricultural Commercialisation in Africa: Ghana Country StudyMarch 11, 2019 / Working Papers
Written by Thomas Yeboah.
This paper is concerned with how rural young people in Ghana engage with or are affected by two processes closely associated with rural and economic transformation – agricultural intensification and agricultural commercialisation. The objective was to develop a better understanding of steps and pathways by which particular groups of young people seek to construct livelihoods in or around agricultural commercialisation hotspots, and the outcomes associated with these efforts. The research reported in this paper draws on in-depth interviews conducted with 35 rural youth in the Tuobodom and Adutwie communities in the Techiman North District of Brong Ahafo Region, Ghana, an area that we define as a ‘commercialisation hotspot’.
The overall conclusion of the study is that, whether or not a young person wants to be there, being in an area of intensive agricultural commercialisation compared to one with limited commercialisation is probably as good as it gets.
Working Paper 19: Zinc Roof of Mango Tree? Tractors, Modernisation and Agrarian Transformation in MozambiqueMarch 11, 2019 / Working Papers
Written by Lidia Cabral.
This paper analyses the design and implementation of Mozambique’s National Agriculture Mechanisation Programme and wider mechanisation policy, looking at the models devised for service provision, actors involved, their motivations and expectations, and access to machinery by the small-scale ‘family sector’. The paper also discusses the role played by mechanisation in processes of agrarian change and social differentiation in rural Mozambique and, specifically, its part in efforts by the state to nurture a modern agribusiness entrepreneur.
Working Paper 18: A Historical Analysis of Rice Commercialisation in Ethiopia: the Case of the Fogera PlainJanuary 25, 2019 / Working Papers
This paper presents a historical analysis of rice commercialisation and its impacts on local livelihoods and rural economies in Ethiopia, drawing insights from the experience of the Fogera Plain, a dynamic farming area in Amhara Region to the west of Lake Tana. This background paper begins with a brief overview of the history of rice introduction into the country, assesses the extent of agro-ecological suitability for the production of the crop, and then examines the current status of rice research and development based on a review of relevant literature and secondary data. This is followed by a presentation of the results from a reconnaissance study on rice commercialisation carried out by the authors and local partners in the Fogera Plain during 2017–18, which considered: (1) the changing dynamics of the farming system, trends in rice production, processing, and marketing practices and support services, and (2) rice commercialisation and the observed livelihood outcomes. The conclusion provides a brief summary of the key trends and findings, along with a list of emerging research questions.
This paper examines the political economy of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi over the past three or so decades both in a contemporary and historical perspective. Drawing insights from Keeley and Scoones (2003) and Chinsinga and Poulton (2014), the underlying argument of this paper is that the twists and turns in the country’s agricultural commercialisation processes have been shaped and influenced to a very large extent by the changing configurations of political elites and their underlying interests, incentives and motivations, including the influence of donors, especially since the transition to democracy in May 1994.
Much of the existing literature on the political economy of agricultural policy in Africa, including studies by the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) and Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA), adopts a case study approach to explore the dynamics of policymaking and implementation. These studies highlight numerous local, national and international factors that influence policy outcomes, but this raises the question as to whether any consistent patterns can be discerned across cases. This paper focuses on the policy that influences the process of agricultural commercialisation. Poulton (2017a: 4) defines agricultural commercialisation as occurring ‘when agricultural enterprises and/or the agricultural sector as a whole rely increasingly on the market for the sale of produce and for the acquisition of production inputs, including labour’.
This paper examines the political economy of agricultural commercialisation in Ghana from the year 2000 to 2018. Agriculture is a major economic activity in Ghana, contributing about 20 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employing 42 percent of the economically active population (GSS 2016). Over the past three decades, the agricultural sector averagely grew at about 5 percent per annum, making Ghana’s agricultural sector one of the top performers in Africa, and contributing to poverty reduction and food security (Wiggins and Leturque 2011; Sarpong and Anyidoho 2012).The paper is structured into five sections. Section 2 presents the agricultural policy context which highlights features of the agricultural sector, contribution of agriculture to the economy of Ghana and political changes. Section 3 presents theoretical perspectives that will be relied upon for the analysis, while Section 4 discusses the main policies and how they have been shaped by various narratives, actors and interests. Finally, Section 5 presents the main conclusions from the analysis.
Working Paper 14: The Political Economy of Agricultural Commercialisation in Ethiopia: Discourses, Actors and Structural ImpedimentsJuly 30, 2018 / Working Papers
Written by Dawit Alemu and Kassahun Berhanu
This country review aims to identify the key dynamics, actors and associated discourses of agricultural commercialisation in Ethiopia. To this end, we aim to shed light on the forces and factors that influence policy processes and the contexts in which the political and bureaucratic establishments operate. Moreover, we examine the incentives generated by the mode of operation of existing working systems by inducing involved actors to expedite the venture of agricultural commercialisation.
This paper reviews thinking about agricultural development in Africa since 2010, and the record of agricultural development in the continent since 1990. In many respects, the context for agricultural development has changed for the better since 1990. Renewed growth with urbanisation is creating markets for farmers, especially for higher-value produce. The deficit on agricultural trade provides scope for substituting domestic for imported production. The opportunities for increased commercialisation are clear, in domestic and international markets. The means to produce and market more are greater than in the past. The political priority to agricultural development is promising. However, substantial challenges arise in overcoming the disadvantages that smallholders face in rural markets, the need to generate decent jobs for the large youth cohorts stepping into the job market, and making agriculture environmentally sustainable and climate-smart.
Written by Toendepi Shonhe
Debates on Zimbabwe’s agricultural development have centred on different framings of agriculture viability and land redistribution, which are often antagonistic. Yet, emerging evidence of agricultural commercialisation pathways shows complex and differentiated deepening and stagnations across settlement models. Normative– political constructions of ‘good’, ‘modern’ and ‘progressive’, as advocated by large-scale farmers and some bureaucrats, are countered by proponents for redistribution, mainly the landless rural peasants, keen on social and economic justice as well as democratic land ownership. Across the divide, commercialisation of agriculture is seen as efficient and poverty-reducing. This paper explores how these contrasting debates have played out in Zimbabwe over time, and what interests are aligned with different positions. The paper locates the discussion in a critical examination of the politics of agrarian change and presents a political economy and policy process review of winners and losers in commercialisation.
Written by Steve Wiggins, Rachel Sabates-Wheeler and Joseph Yaro
APRA’s cross-cutting theme on rural transitions, nonfarm rural economies and rural–urban links intends to address two sets of issues. One concerns the way in which commercialisation of agriculture interacts with the development of the rural non-farm economy (RNFE), the links between rural and urban areas and, indeed, overall processes of economic growth and transformation. It is expected that growth of agriculture and better links between urban and rural areas can create profound transformations of the rural economy. Just how this takes place depends on several factors, including the nature of agricultural growth and commercialisation (Hall et al. 2017), the nature of urbanisation (Gollin, Jedwab and Vollrath 2016, rural location (Wiggins and Proctor 2001), infrastructure (Allen et al. 2015), the scale of towns (Baker 1990), and social relations (Potts 2000).
Working Paper 10: Partnerships, Platforms and Policies: Strengthening Farmer Capacity to Harness Technological Innovation for Agricultural CommercialisationMarch 13, 2018 / Working Papers
Written by Hannington Odame and Dawit Alemu
Innovation capacity presupposes capacity to harness science, technology and innovation (STI) for agricultural commercialisation. Agricultural commercialisation requires an enabling policy environment on STI issues such as the impact of climate change, nutrition, improved seed and inputs, emerging technologies, infrastructure, research and extension, and financing. These issues are consistent with the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA) 2024 (African Union Commission undated). This paper uses three STI revolution storylines (case studies on rice, information and communications technology (ICT) and cocoa) to highlight the enabling factors that make STI a vehicle for agricultural commercialisation.
Written by Andrew Newsham, Sarah Kohnstamm, Lars Otto Naess and Joanes Atela
This paper presents a review of recent literature on the implications of climate change for agricultural commercialisation, focusing chiefly on sub-Saharan Africa, and incorporating evidence, where relevant, from around the world. Climate change is one of the crosscutting themes of the Department for International Development (DFID)-funded Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) consortium.1 APRA is intended to produce new data and insights into agricultural commercialisation processes, and their impacts and outcomes with regard to rural poverty, empowerment of women and girls, and food and nutrition security. In addition to outlining our rationale and aims, this introduction sets out (a) the approach we have taken to classifying climate impacts upon agricultural commercialisation, and (b) the structure.
Working Paper 8: Social Difference and Women’s Empowerment in the Context of the Commercialisation of African AgricultureJanuary 25, 2018 / Working Papers
Written by Helen Dancer and Naomi Hossain
This paper was commissioned to support the research design activities of the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Consortium, generating new evidence on pathways to agricultural commercialisation, on the theme of social difference and women’s empowerment. First, the paper explores methodological approaches and key concepts that underpin the analysis of social difference, as people move along different pathways to commercialisation. It analyses social difference in terms of gender, age, wealth, ethnicity and indigeneity, while placing special emphasis on APRA’s focus of women’s empowerment. Second, the paper draws on three key outcome criteria – which we identify as power relations, structures and mechanisms, and distribution of resources – to analyse APRA’s hypotheses and research questions through a lens of social difference. Third, the paper explores avenues for inquiry at the level of household and community, sectoral changes and political-economic factors, bringing attention to the interconnections between individual, social structures and wider political-economic developments, and makes recommendations for research questions in these areas.
Written by Steve Wiggins
This paper aims to draw out lessons from experiences of smallholder commercialisation in Asia and Latin America that may be instructive for sub-Saharan Africa. It addresses the following questions: To what extent has agriculture in Asia and Latin America been commercialised? What forms of commercialisation have been seen? What scale of farms have been able to commercialise? For smallholders, what kinds of supply chains have been created to link them to markets, as well as to suppliers of inputs and services? What have been the drivers of commercialisation of smallholders? How important have public policies been in shaping the processes seen? What have been the outcomes of smallholder commercialisation? How well-distributed have been the processes and their outcomes? Has smallholder commercialisation contributed to broad-based agricultural and rural development? Have any groups suffered losses from commercialisation by others?
Working Paper 6: What is Agricultural Commercialisation, Why is it Important, and how do we Measure it?December 19, 2017 / Working Papers
Written by Colin Poulton
Agricultural commercialisation occurs when agricultural enterprises and/or the agricultural sector as a whole rely increasingly on the market for the sale of produce and for the acquisition of production inputs, including labour. It is an integral and critical part of the process of structural transformation (see section 1.1), through which a growing economy transitions, over a period of several decades or more: from one where the majority of the population live in rural areas and depend directly or indirectly on semi-subsistence agriculture for an important part of their livelihood to one where the majority of the population live in urban areas and depend on employment in manufacturing or service industries for the major part of their livelihood.
Written by Colin Poulton
The objective of this review is to highlight key features of the political landscape that are considered to affect both the prospects for and the outcomes of agricultural commercialisation in Tanzania. It will highlight key dynamics and actors that subsequent empirical work within the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme should pay attention to.
Working Paper 4: Gender and Rural Livelihoods: Agricultural Commercialisation and Farm Non-Farm DiversificationDecember 19, 2017 / Working Papers
Written by Agnes Andersson Djurfeldt
This paper uses a cross-country comparative perspective in analysing gendered patterns of agricultural commercialisation and rural livelihoods. A first research question addresses whether female farm managers are in fact excluded from agricultural commercialisation (and by implication incomes) when compared to their male counterparts. Whether the sources of this exclusion can be found in the functioning of markets themselves or factors inherent to the household constitute an important sub-question. Secondly, the paper analyses if and how access to non-farm incomes varies by gender and by extension, whether incomes from the non-farm sector can compensate for poorer access to agricultural incomes among female farm managers. Thirdly, how the prospects vary for commercialisation and livelihood diversification among the two different types of femaleheaded households (de facto and de jure) will be considered. Finally, the income-generation patterns of those women who live in male-headed households will be addressed. The analysis in what follows will be guided by these questions, and positioned in relation to existing theoretical and empirical research frontiers and gaps.
Written by Agnes Andersson Djurfeldt
This paper takes a village-level perspective, drawing on an earlier study that used the same data, which suggested that patterns of pro-poor agricultural growth were highly spatially concentrated to particular villages. Qualitative fieldwork in these villages has since aimed to identify any common institutional explanations for such growth, viz. gendered rights to land and markets. This paper follows up on the trends found in the quantitative data and aims to operationalise the concept of pro-poor agricultural growth to distinguish between patterns of longer-term growth (from 2002 onwards) and more recent patterns of growth found since 2008. The purpose is to compare such patterns to shed light on the drivers of commercialisation in different village settings and in different time periods, to identify which markets and which crops hold the largest promise for pro-poor agricultural growth.
Working Paper 2: Food Security, Nutrition and Commercialisation in Sub-Saharan Africa – a Synthesis of Afrint FindingsOctober 16, 2017 / Working Papers
Written by Agnes Andersson Djurfeldt
The paper uses data from the Afrint database covering roughly 2,100 smallholders in six African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, surveyed in 2002, 2008 and 2013. It addresses key aspects of food and nutrition security and their linkages to commercialisation. Following a presentation of the data at the country level, regional comparisons will be made, discussing the linkages between food security outcomes and particular commercialisation pathways for the final wave of panel data (2008–13).
Written by Rebecca Smalley
This Working Paper describes and critically reviews the recent emergence of agricultural growth corridors and other types of corridor with a prominent agricultural component. It offers a descriptive overview and poses some political economy questions. It focuses on four projects on the eastern seaboard of Africa: the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT); the Beira Agricultural Growth Corridor (BAGC); the Nacala development corridor in Mozambique; and the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor based in Kenya.
Beyond ‘family farming versus agribusiness’ dualism: unpacking the complexity of Brazil’s agricultural modelNovember 14, 2016 / Working Papers
Future Agricultures Working Paper 138
By Arilson Favareto
Agriculture has played a hugely important role in the recent history of Brazil’s economy. The country had a food production deficit until as late as the 1970s, but since the early twenty-first century has been one of the world’s principal exporters and a leader in production technologies adapted to tropical climates. Many researchers – and diplomats – have concluded that this is where Brazil can make its principal contribution to the African continent: supporting agrarian transition and helping to find ways of using local natural resources to build an agriculture with high productivity and improved commercial value. Brazil’s image of success always appears associated with the experience of programmes such as Prodecer and Proálcool, which led to its excellence in the production of soybeans and sugarcane bioethanol respectively. What underlies this image? The official discourse seeks to present the country as a simple case of complementary coexistence between a modern large-scale corporate agriculture segment and another segment based on small family producers. At another extreme of the debate is an alternative view: the discourse of the social movements, with a different reading but based on a similar dualism. The so-called Brazilian model, this discourse argues, is underpinned by an incurable conflict between these two segments, agribusiness being the antithesis of family farming. This paper seeks to show that a much more complex reality exists behind this binary interpretation. On the one hand, where the usual polarised view sets up the figure of agribusiness there are in reality at least three segments of the economy (one, indeed, made up of family producers, and another of companies that can hardly be described as agribusinesses). And where that view, on the other hand, posits ‘family agriculture’ as a single category, there are also three distinct narratives within that notion – each one articulated by a group of interests and organisations with different concepts about the role of agriculture in today’s world, the uses of technology and nature, and relations with the state and the market.
Future Agricultures Working 137
By Alex Shankland, Euclides Gonçalves and Arilson Favareto
ProSAVANA, the Mozambique-Brazil-Japan Cooperation Programme for the Agricultural Development of the Savannah of Mozambique, is the most visible of Brazil’s international agricultural cooperation projects. In the period since its launch in 2010 it has become a magnet for internationally-minded Brazilian agribusiness interests and a rallying-point for their domestic opponents. It was initially framed as the centrepiece of the Mozambican government’s proclaimed strategy to promote an agrarian transformation of the ‘Nacala Corridor’ region, which includes some of the country’s poorest, most populous and most politically contested rural areas. It has now become a key focus for contention between government and civil society in Mozambique, as well as a source of tensions between different parts of Mozambican civil society. The contestation process has led to major changes in the programme’s focus and approach, and consultation is now under way on a ‘Master Plan’ for the Nacala Corridor that has little in common with the version initially outlined by the promoters of Brazilian agribusiness expansion to the region. At the same time, Brazil’s engagement with ProSAVANA has been transformed by major changes in the country’s own political and economic context. This paper traces the pathways that plans for ProSAVANA and transnational mobilisationsagainst the programme have followed over the course of the half-decade since work on the ‘Master Plan’ began. It examines how different visions of agricultural development and different practices of social mobilization have interacted within Brazil and Mozambique and travelled between the two countries, with the aim of drawing lessons for future studies of the South-South Cooperation initiatives that are increasingly connecting BRICS and other rising powers with African countries.
Gender and Livelihoods in Commercial Sugarcane Production: A Case Study of Contract Farming in Magobbo, ZambiaJune 22, 2016 / Working Papers
Future Agricultures Working Paper 136
by Vera Rocca
This paper presents a case study of farmers’ recent transition from growing traditional crops to cultivating sugarcane under a contract farming arrangement in Magobbo, Zambia. Responding to the need for a greater understanding of how the expansion of large-scale commercial agriculture impacts women, this study examines women’s control over resources, employment and labour, and impacts on their livelihoods. The research revealed that existing gender inequalities were perpetuated within new forms of agricultural production, but that widows experienced unique benefits compared to married women through increased status and income. A brief exploration of the gains and risks of commercialization in Magobbo illustrates there are significant benefits derived from the switch to sugarcane production, but also threats to the sustainability of those gains. Overall, this paper contributes to understanding the complexities of agricultural commercialization through contract farming arrangements, and the resulting gender and livelihood implications.
Future Agricultures Working Paper 134
by Marco Fiorentini
The establishment of the ‘Going Out’ (GO) policy at the beginning of the twenty-first century has reshaped China’s interactions with the world. Thanks to this strategy, private and state-owned companies have expanded their businesses overseas. This has largely involved Africa, which since the 1950s has always been very important to China’s foreign strategies. The agricultural sector has been a central constant in this partnership, and since the launch of the GO policy agriculture-related trade has grown exponentially. This has led many external observers to wonder why China decided to increase its investments in African agriculture. This paper, by analysing the import and export of agricultural machinery, food and agricultural products, aims to study the consequences the establishment of the policy has had for Sino-African relations, and to understand the reasons behind China’s increasing interest in Africa: is it to satisfy China’s increasing food demand, or to help the African continent achieve its own food security?
This paper was produced as part of the China and Brazil in African Agriculture (CBAA) project.
Future Agricultures Working Paper 135
by Dominic Glover, Amit Kumar, Dawit Alemu, Hannington Odame, Maureen Akwara and Ian Scoones
The international emergence of India’s generic pharmaceuticals industry is seen as a success for international development and cooperation, bringing affordable drugs to populations not only in India itself but across the developing world, including in Africa.
Could India’s thriving seed sector play a similar role in delivering affordable, high-quality seeds to African farmers? India shares some of the diverse agro-ecologies and crops found in Africa, so it is plausible that technologies and methods used by Indian farmers might also be relevant to African situations. India’s development story, as an emerging economy with millions of its own small-scale cultivators, might indeed provide relevant knowledge, expertise and investments to help develop the seed sector in Africa – and thereby to support economic development, food security and poverty alleviation in that continent. But what is the realistic nature and scope of this potential?
See also Policy Brief: Indian seeds for African markets: South–South trade and technical cooperation
Researching Land and Commercial Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa with a Gender Perspective: Concepts, Issues and MethodsNovember 17, 2015 / Working Papers
This paper offers critical reflections on the concepts, issues and methods that are important for integrating a gender perspective into mainstream research and policy-making on land and agricultural commercialisation in Africa. It forms part of the Land and Agricultural Commercialisation in Africa (LACA) project undertaken by the Future Agricultures Consortium between 2012 and 2015 and informs the case studies conducted across three countries: Kenya, Ghana and Zambia. The paper compares key gender issues that arise across three different models of agricultural commercialisation: plantation, contract farming and small- and medium-scale commercial farming.
It further discusses how concepts and research methods deriving from the literature on gender and agriculture may be applied to mainstream research. The paper highlights the need for an integrated approach to researching gender and agrarian change in Africa. In particular, the existing gender literature provides a rich legacy for researchers of all disciplines to inform their research design and analysis. The authors argue for a more systematic evaluation of the gender implications of agricultural commercialisation across interconnected social levels: household, local community and the wider political economy.
Perseverance in the Face of Hardship: Chinese Smallholder Farmers’ Engagements in Ghanaian AgricultureOctober 21, 2015 / Working Papers
Future Agricultures Working Paper 130
Lu Jixia, Yu Lerong and Henry Tugendhat
This paper uses qualitative research methods to study small-scale Chinese farmers in Ghana, in contrast to research generally found in mainstream media and academic literature which focuses on large-scale Chinese farms in Africa. Through field-based observations of three small Chinese-run farms, this article explores how some Chinese expatriates are engaging in agricultural development in Ghana. We argue that this engagement contributes diverse new agricultural products to the local market.
Furthermore, we find that the activities of these farmers are driven by increasing numbers of Chinese migrants in Africa, and that instead of being powerful competitors, they are in fact squeezed into the margins of the local market. They meet the needs of a specific niche market through perseverance and learning from failure. In doing so, they face unfamiliar challenges from both the natural climate and the social environment, and they are at a disadvantage in this process compared to local farmers who have over the years developed better adaptive mechanisms. Looking ahead, a decline in the specialised market for Chinese goods caused by a decline in Chinese migrant labour presents real challenges for the future viability of small Chinese farms in Ghana.
Blurring the Lines between Aid and Business in the Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre in ZimbabweOctober 21, 2015 / Working Papers
Future Agricultures Working Paper 129
Tang Lixia, Lu Yan, Zhao Wenjie, Langton Mukwereza and Li Xiaoyun
In recent years, tremendous attention has been given to China’s burgeoning agricultural engagements in Africa. Due to limited access to these engagements, most discussions have focused on macro-level discourse analysis as well as political and economic analysis on its impacts. Little research of an anthropological nature has been undertaken at the micro-level operation of ongoing projects, taking note of the nature of interactions between the donors and local counterpart staff within a given cultural setting. This article focuses on a Chinese- Zimbabwe Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre (ATDC) to provide insights into the daily activities, interactions and cultural encounters with locals. Ethnographic methodologies are used to examine the Chinese and Africans’ activities, ideas and dialogues at the Demonstration Centre to present through empirical observations how China’s macro strategy is implemented in actual practices of staff and local partners at the ATDC in Zimbabwe.
Future Agricultures Working Paper 131
Lu Jixia, Li Xiaoyun and Fu Gonghua
China’s transformation from a net food exporter to a net food importer has occurred in a very short period of time and this has implications for both China and the world. This paper argues that there is strategic and practical significance in China-Africa agricultural cooperation, as the current import structure of food and other agricultural products is imbalanced and China’s food supply-demand imbalances will continue to expand. This raises the possibility of political and economic crisis for China and threatens those poor countries who are relying on international food markets. Africa possesses substantial areas of arable land that can be developed and utilised; thus, China-Africa agricultural cooperation can potentially enhance African nations’ productive capacity and contribute to local food security, through which it can indirectly improve global food security and stabilise the international food market under China’s increasing food demand context.
Copying the Extension System of China and Beyond: Implementing the Chinese Agriculture Technology Demonstration Centre in EthiopiaOctober 21, 2015 / Working Papers
Future Agricultures Working Paper 128
Gubo Qii, Lerong Yui, Dawit Alemuii, Seth Cookiii and Xiaoyun Lii
The Chinese Agriculture Technology Demonstration Centre (ATDC) in Ethiopia is an aid project on agricultural technology cooperation between China and Ethiopia. The process of cooperation is the art of improvising on the ground when the original project plan doesn’t quite match reality. This study analyses the logic behind the improvising of implementation on the ground. It found that the running of this project is not following project management procedures and log-frame indicators but is instead based on the experiences of agricultural extension in China. Through Chinese experts, as individualactors, ATDC brought in the approach of top-down planning, assumption of package support and integration of commercial functions which can be found in the reformed extension system in China. The Chinese experts carry this working approach – along with its assumptions and principles – to Ethiopia, without considering the lack of any parallel institution and culture there at the beginning. This results in many challenges for implementing the ATDC activities and novel reactions by the ATDC experts, which also reflect the individual’s working style in the Chinese extension system. Though the technologies are still present inside the ATDC after many efforts, a request to extend the cooperation phase from the Ethiopian side implies an appreciation of the approach and its results to some extent.
Travelling Technocratic Rationality: Historical Narratives of China’s Agricultural Development and their Implications for China- Africa Agricultural CooperationOctober 21, 2015 / Working Papers
Future Agricultures Working Paper 127
Xu Xiuli, Li Xiaoyun and Qi Gubo
Contemporary China-Africa agricultural cooperation (CAAC) has been internally dominated by three streams of narrative: promotion of food security for state building in the post-war landscape; productivity enhancement through technocratic modernisation; and promotion of aid sustainability through business engagement in the new era of globalisation. This paper explores the domestic drivers and strategies underpinning these narratives, as well as their respective implications for CAAC, using a historical review approach. The paper summarises three elements entrenched in the narratives of CAAC – state leadership, productivity-centrism and the governmentbusiness nexus – which are examples of travelling technocratic rationality. These differentiate China’s aid, focusing on developmental state building, from the established aid consensus, with its marriage of orthodox neoliberalism and a new institutionalism.
Mixed Starts and Uncertain Futures: Case Studies of Three Chinese Agricultural Investments in ZimbabweOctober 21, 2015 / Working Papers
Future Agricultures Working Paper 125
Tang Lixia, Zhao Wenjie, Langton Mukwereza and Li Xiaoyun
Chinese agricultural investments in Africa have grown significantly in the past two decades, but there remains very little empirical research on the nature of these investments. This paper aims to address this knowledge gap by looking at three different types of Chinese investors in Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector: a National State Owned Enterprise (SOE), a Provincial SOE and a private company. Collectively, their experiences not only challenge the pervasive view that Chinese companies are progressing at unstoppable rates in African markets, but also raise deeper questions about the importance of company structures, financial stability and the environments in which they operate.
Future Agricultures Working Paper 123
Kojo Sebastian Amanor
This paper examines the nature of Chinese and Brazilian investments in agricultural development by focusing on the irrigated rice sector in Ghana. It examines this through a historic perspective that traces policy towards the rice sector in Ghana, and the influence ofvarious actors in developing this sector. Investment in the development of commercial rice originated in the 1970s when China developed smallholder demonstration rice projects and the government of Ghana pursued a policy of promoting large scale commercial rice production and smallholder contract farming on irrigation projects, tied to inputs suppliers and food marketers and processors.
The paper then traces the changing fortunes of the irrigated rice sector under structural adjustment and government support for private sector investment in irrigated rice development in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This resulted in new investors entering rice production in Ghana, including Brazilian interests, and renewed interests from Chinese investors. It argues that the main trends in commercial rice production have been towards contractual relations in which accumulation occurs through control over supplies of inputs and marketing and that these are defined by the policies of the Ghanaian government.
Although Brazilian companies have contributed towards innovation in this sector, they lack support from Brazilian agribusiness and agricultural development institutions. As a result of this their access to technology is constrained by the nature of Ghanaian markets and research establishments, and the lack of institutional embedding of Brazilian technologies within these. However, there are attempt by the Brazilian state to build up markets for machinery and develop joint research, although this occurs outside of rice.
Although Chinese companies are absent from the development of rice, they have expressed interests in its future developments and are attemptingto build up interactions between inputs supply, seed development and production, which will effectively embed Chinese technologies within Ghanaian research institutions and markets. The future of commercial rice production by these rising powers is likely to develop through expansion of seed development, inputs and machinery markets, and food trading and processing, rather than through a dramatic expansion in large estates. In this Chinese and Brazilian interventions are not markedly different from other agribusiness models.
Future Agricultures Working Paper 120
The growing involvement of the Chinese state and business in Africa has generated significant debate about China’s Africa strategy and its benefits for Africa’s development. Chinese policymakers have become increasingly oriented toward improving African countries’ agricultural productivity. This paper focuses on how state-business interactions influence agricultural development outcomes, using Zimbabwe as a country of study. It explores the question of how far the State can control business and direct development by identifying the key relationships that influence the decision-making processes of state and business actors within China and its African engagement.
The paper challenges the conventional wisdom of homogenised, unitary relations, and argues that these relations are, in practice, heterogeneous, as a result of the Chinese state being disaggregated into a multiplicity of provincial relations and central state agencies, and because of tensions arising between commercial market and political interests. The active role of African governments in agricultural schemes is also affecting outcomes.
The findings of a brief ethnographic analysis of four state-business schemes in Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector suggest that where African agriculture is concerned, a wide range of Chinese agencies are involved, with businesses being driven by either market forces or national state interests, which together make outcomes increasingly less generalisable.
Interpreting China-Africa Agricultural Encounters: Rhetoric and Reality in a Large Scale Rice Project in MozambiqueOctober 14, 2015 / Working Papers
Future Agricultures Working Paper 126
Zhang Chuanhong, Li Xiaoyun, Oi Gubo and Wang Yanlei
In recent years, China’s burgeoning agricultural investment in Africa has attracted tremendous attention from media, academics and policymakers worldwide. The macro-level discussions around the nature and significance of these engagements have been debated and well documented within a vast body of literature.
However, little research had been done concerning the local encounters through a particular project, which constitutes a very important angle in understanding how success or failure of a development model is produced. In this article, the authors went beyond apolitical economic approach and examined how local encounters construct and reshape the practice of a particular agricultural investment project using actor-oriented approaches. The perspectives of both Chinese actors and their African counterparts were explored and analysed based on a large-scale Chinese rice project in Mozambique.
The research found that the optimistic rhetoric of state actors and investors fell short of the reality of the many unacknowledged structures and chance events. However, despite the unintended outcomes, the rhetoric persists due to the project’s significance – not only in its potential for economic profit, but also in terms of its political prestige.
Future Agricultures Working Paper 124
Yu Lerong, Lu Jixia, Henry Tugendhat and Li Xiaoyun
This working paper explores the motivations, impacts, challenges and interactions of a successful Chinese pesticide enterprise in Ghana. In the context of much China-Africa literature focusing on state-backed Chinese business initiatives in Africa, this paper takes an ethnographic approach to explain the rise of a private sector Chinese agrochemicals company in Ghana. This is significant because of the frugal amount of literature that does cover Chinese migrant businesses in Africa, very few studies look at agricultural firms in particular. The main conclusion of this research is that the pushfactors from China’s domestic market and opportunities from Ghana’s agrochemicals market are important driving forces for Chinese pesticide enterprises to ‘go out’. Furthermore, diversified strategies are necessary to deal with local market environments based on business and social networks that intertwine formal and informal relations.
Future Agricultures Working Paper 122
China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) has launched one of the largest training course programmes in the world as part of its international cooperation programme with Africa. In these training courses, China’s foremost universities, state bureaux, and private companies transfer their knowledge to 10,000 African government officials per year. The courses cover everything from the management of health epidemics to customs office administration, all drawing from China’s most recent socio-economic development experiences. In 2013, agriculture-related topics made up a significant 15 percent of total training courses, covering courses on both policy and technology.
There has been a strong narrative, from Chinese government officials and their African counterparts alike, that what is particularly appealing about China is that its agricultural sector has similarities with that of many African countries. They talk of China’s diversity of climates to match the many African environments, as well as China’s dependence on smallholder farming. The logical conclusion from such narratives would appear to be: what worked for China, must work for Africa. In this context, the MOFCOM training courses consist of one of the most direct forms of knowledge transfer from Chinese experts to African state leaders and policymakers. Many of the Chinese experts involved are not just qualified in the theory of what they teach, but have had first-hand experiences of effecting the change that brought about China’s own agricultural achievements.
As such, this paper seeks to understand how China’s agricultural training courses have affected agricultural practices in the African countries where they train. This looks at how the training courses work, how transferable this knowledge really is for African agricultural contexts, and finally, what these training courses really achieve in the broader context of China-Africa relations. Ghana and Zimbabwe are focused on as key case studies for this paper, and fieldwork was also conducted with training institutions and lecturers in China.
This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture
Jumping into the Sea: Chinese Migrants’ Engagement in Non-Traditional Agricultural Commodities in EthiopiaJuly 9, 2015 / Working Papers
Future Agricultures Working Paper 121
Seth Cook and Dawit Alemu
This paper explores the nature and extent of Chinese migrants’ involvement in the demand and supply of non-traditional agricultural commodities in Ethiopia, shares the perspectives of the different actors involved, and discusses the implications of this presence for Ethiopian development.
The focus here is not simply on the food and agriculture sector; the study also aims to shed light on the Chinese migrants involved in that sector. For instance, who are they and where do they come from in China? Why do they come to Ethiopia, and how do they end up in the food and agriculture sector? How do their business networks operate? What are their aspirations, and do they see Ethiopia as a permanent home?
This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.
Pathways for irrigation development in Africa – insights from Ethiopia, Morocco and Mozambique (Summary)June 30, 2015 / Working Papers
Future Agricultures Working Paper 119 (Summary version)
Naomi Oates, Guy Jobbins, Beatrice Mosello and John Arnold
This paper summarises the findings of a rapid review to determine the policies and practices that have shaped irrigation performance over the last 50 years in three African countries: Ethiopia, Morocco and Mozambique.
The research combined a review of national (sector) level trends with short case studies of specific irrigation schemes. Evidence was drawn from the literature, supplemented by in-country key informant interviews and brief site visits. The review considers changes in policy and their drivers; linkages between policy, practice and performance; factors determining scheme performance; and key issues for future policymaking.
Full details can be found in the main working paper.
Future Agricultures Working Paper 119
Naomi Oates, Guy Jobbins, Beatrice Mosello and John Arnold
Irrigation has played an important role in agricultural modernisation around the world. In Africa, however, agricultural production has increased very slowly over the last fifty years, barely keeping pace with population growth. After a period of relative neglect, the international community is showing renewed interest in African irrigation as a means to tackle food insecurity, increasing water scarcity and climate change. Calls for increased investment present an opportunity to learn from past experiences in order to chart plausible pathways for future development.
This working paper reviews the policies and practices that have shaped irrigation development in Ethiopia, Morocco and Mozambique of the last fifty years. The research combines an analysis of sector trends with case studies of specific irrigation schemes, considering linkages between policy, practice and performance, drivers of change, and key issues for future policymaking.
A summary version of this paper is also available.
Gender implications of agricultural commercialisation: The case of sugarcane production in Kilombero District, TanzaniaMay 11, 2015 / Working Papers
Future Agricultures Working Paper 118
Helen Dancer and Emmanuel Sulle
Since the global food crisis of 2008 the Tanzanian government, amongst other African governments, has made food security through increases in agricultural productivity a policy priority. The emphasis in Tanzania is on commercialisation, with a particular focus on large-scale rice and sugarcane production. Gender equity within African agricultural production is a critical issue; yet limited empirical research exists on the gender implications of agricultural commercialisation now taking place in the region.
This paper presents findings from fieldwork conducted in Kilombero District of Tanzania in 2013 and 2014. The research takes the country’s largest sugar producer – Kilombero Sugar Company Ltd – as its focus and analyses the socio-economic implications of the commercialisation of sugarcane production from a gender perspective. The findings demonstrate the significance of gender relations in the development of commercial agricultural business models, local socio-economic development and land titling measures. They also illustrate the pressures and benefits for relationships and resource-sharing within households in the transition from food crops to sugarcane production.
Future Agricultures Working Paper 108
Steve Wiggins, Sharada Keats and Jim Sumberg
Rural Africa has changed considerably since the early 1990s. Demand for agricultural output is greater owing to higher world prices, economic growth, urbanisation and an enlarged urban middle class. Above all, governments and their development partners have revived their interest in agriculture during the 2000s. Concerted efforts are now underway to raise agricultural productivity and the rate of agricultural growth.
This prompts the two main questions addressed by this study. Is agriculture in Africa growing faster than in the past, and closer to the ambitious goal set in Maputo in 2003 of six percent growth per year? Equally important, is productivity in agriculture rising? Increased labour productivity will be critical for the transition of African countries from agrarian to urban economies. The focus here is on the countries that had by early 2014 joined the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania.
International Drivers of Brazilian Agricultural Cooperation in Africa in the Post-2008 Economic CrisisApril 21, 2015 / Working Papers
Future Agricultures Working Paper 117
Alcides Costa Vaz
This text focuses on the major drivers of Brazilian agricultural cooperation in Africa as conceived and pursued from 2004 to 2014, with emphasis on the impacts of political and economic international changes that took place in that period, and particularly the impacts of the 2008 economic crisis, in framing Brazil’s foreign policy and development assistance initiatives. It addresses current international forces and developments at the systemic level, but also analyses recent economic domestic developments, in particular those directly related to Brazilian agriculture and those related to the policy framework of its evolving internationalisation. Special attention is paid to the dual dimensions of Brazilian agricultural policy and to its projection in agricultural cooperation as pursed in Africa.
Perspectives on jobs and farming: Findings from a Q study with young people, parents and development workers in rural GhanaApril 14, 2015 / Working Papers
Future Agricultures Working Paper 109
James Sumberg, Thomas Yeboah, Justin Flynn and Nana Akua Anyidoho
This paper presents the results of a series of Q Methodology studies with secondary students and parents at two sites in Ghana (Ashanti Region and Northern Region), and with development officials. The studies were informed by the argument that there is a significant risk of implementation failure when there is a clash of assumptions or world views among the parties associated with a policy process. Specifically the objective was to explore in a systematic way the perspectives of rural young people, their parents and development officials on a series of questions relating to work in general and agriculture in particular. Five specific research questions were addressed: What is a desirable job? What makes a job desirable? What explains young people’s attitude toward farming? Why should we be concerned about rural young people and farming? What should be done about rural young people and farming?
Future Agricultures Working Paper 116
The expanding footprint of BRICS countries in Africa, especially over the last 15 years, has remained a subject of intense public interest in academic, development and diplomatic circles. There is some understandable trepidation among traditional donors towards the BRICS approach, and their focus remains on China.
Zimbabwe experienced intractable socio-economic development challenges from 2000 and the period 1998- 2008 has been referred to mildly as one of ‘political and economic crisis’. The European Union, which had hitherto been the largest development partner for Zimbabwe, suspended development cooperation with the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) and confirmed the fallout by imposing sanctions on specified state entities and members of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANUPF). As Zimbabwe was actively courting investment from the East, Brazil was in its own way extending its tentacles across Africa in line with its increasing economic stature.
The GoZ has been in discussion with the Government of Brazil (GoB) for a major agricultural mechanisation cooperation programme since 2010, and the first batch of machinery and equipment was delivered between October 2014 and January 2015. The South American country is supplying tractors, tractor-drawn equipment and irrigation equipment under a concessionary loan agreement through the More Food Africa programme. The process to culminate in the supply of the equipment has been intractable and is yet to fully play out. Yet negotiations have been undertaken cordially and with mutual respect. This paper documents the negotiation process to date, situating it within the broad development encounters between Brazil and Africa, and in particular that BRICS country and Zimbabwe.
This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.
Situating Tian Ze’s role in reviving Zimbabwe’s Flue-Cured Tobacco sector in the wider discourse on Zimbabwe- China cooperation: Will the scorecard remain Win-Win?March 23, 2015 / Working Papers
Future Agricultures Working Paper 115
The milestone 1998 land reform conference convened by Zimbabwe and major donors ended in a stalemate on how the country was to proceed thereon. In the aftermath of that landmark event, Zimbabwe proceeded unilaterally in implementing a fairly radical land reform programme that saw land owned by almost all white large scale commercial farmers being redistributed among indigenous people.
The West proceeded in unison in imposing economic sanctions on the country and the economy experienced a major slump. Leveraging on strong political ties between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) that date back to Zimbabwe’s protracted liberation struggle, Zimbabwe succeeded in courting the Chinese as alternative development partners in a wide range of economic sectors. The two governments have framed discourses and narratives on Zimbabwe-China cooperation as win-win engagements, while the West and Zimbabwe’s private media have been sceptical, intimating that benefits have been skewed in favour of China bearing in mind Zimbabwe’s vulnerability in the face of limited options post land reform.
A Chinese state-owned company, Tian Ze, has since assumed a prominent status in Zimbabwe’s tobacco sector through its contract farming scheme and purchase of the country’s crop. This paper draws on the knowledge encounters framework in discussing the basis for the evolution of enhanced economic cooperation between the two countries and critically considers the current activities and power of Tian Ze and what influence the company could exert in the continued resurgence of Zimbabwe’s tobacco sector.
This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture
Future Agricultures Working Paper 114
Dawit Alemu, Seth Cook and Qi Gubo
The Government of Ethiopia’s (GoE’s) economic growth strategy, Agriculture Development Led Industrialization (ADLI, formulated in 1991), places very high priority on accelerating agricultural growth and achieving food security. Agriculture is also a main focus of the current GoE’s Growth and Transformation Plan, as was also the case for its predecessors. The effort to modernise the agricultural sector, the GoE has been heavily investing in agricultural education, research and extension. Linked with such investment, the GoE duly considers the importance of technology and skill transfer from all over the world.
This paper documents the role of the different acts of cooperation between China and Ethiopia in ensuring the transfer of agricultural technology and knowledge in the process of agricultural modernisation in the country. It specifically assesses how these interventions are aligned with ongoing public programmes; how they are perceived by both locals and Chinese; what challenges and opportunities are emerging in achieving the objectives set in their design, especially in support of the Ethiopian agricultural extension system’s improvement; and what implications can be drawn for other development partners engaged in support of the Ethiopian agricultural sector.
This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.
A study of Brazilian Trilateral Development Cooperation in Mozambique: The case of ProSAVANA and ProALIMENTOSMarch 4, 2015 / Working Papers
Future Agricultures Working Paper 113
Natalia N. Fingerman
The distribution of power in the international system has dramatically changed in the twenty-first century. Emerging countries like China, India, Brazil and South Africa have expanded their capacity of influence worldwide, shifting the balance of international organisations. A remarkable feature of the rise of these emerging countries has been their engagement in development assistance through South-South cooperation mechanisms and innovative aid modalities. In general, the limited literature around South-South cooperation and Trilateral Development Cooperation (TDC) is split into two antagonist perspectives: enthusiasts and sceptics.
In particular, no study has ever attempted to identify empirically the motivations, ideas, values and practices of all different actors involved during the implementation process, so ‘there is limited evidence on its impact and value from the recipient’s country perspective and whether or not it functions as an effective “partnership”. In order to narrow this gap, this research considers implementation as a complex social process, arguing that one must look at the ground of the implementation process to analyse whether TDC may reshape the architecture of development aid and what its impacts are on partners.
This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.
Chinese and Brazilian agricultural models in Mozambique. The case of the Chinese Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre and of the Brazilian ProALIMENTOS programmeMarch 4, 2015 / Working Papers
Future Agricultures Working Paper 112
Sérgio Chichava and Natalia N. Fingermann
China and Brazil have called increasing attention from the international community, especially in the field of development cooperation. In Africa, for instance, both countries have expanded their development activities and defined agriculture as one of the main sectors to boost mutual cooperation. Recognising that agriculture played a key role in both China’s and Brazil’s economic development, these countries, usually called ‘emerging donors’ or ‘new donors’, state that unlike ‘traditional donors’ they will be able to bring their respective agriculture-based developmental experiences to African countries.
Although both countries stress how their own local experience may inspire African agriculture, it is important to highlight that the modalities and models of technology transfer might differ from one country to another. In order to understand how Chinese and Brazilian models and modalities play out in the African context, this study has examined and compared the activities of a Chinese and a Brazilian project carried out in the district of Boane in Mozambique. Due to cultural and communication issues, as well as managerial practices, the Chinese agricultural model is facing more difficulties in Mozambique than the Brazilian one, although the Chinese have more financial capacity to implement their agriculture-based experience.
This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.