Working Papers

This series reports research activities or interim findings and aim to share ideas and elicit feedback. Future Agricultures publishes approximately six to ten Working Papers per year.

We also support a series of LDPI Working Papers through our involvement in the Land Deal Politics Initiative.

Some of our Working Papers are also available in a French translation: see Documents de travail for a full list.

Latest articles

Graduation from the Food Security Programme in Ethiopia: FAC Ethiopia Final Report
May 23, 2014 / Working Papers

Working Paper 80
Stephen Devereux, Rachel Sabates-Wheeler, Mulugeta Tefera Taye, Ricardo Sabates and Feyera Sima

The Government of Ethiopia launched the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) in 2005. The overarching objective of the FSP was to break Ethiopia’s chronic dependence on annual emergency appeals for humanitarian assistance, by providing structured support to food insecure households over an extended period. The initial expectation was that the numbers of PSNP participants would fall over time as households achieved food security and no longer needed programme support. In reality, the numbers increased due to several shocks that increased food insecurity in rural Ethiopia, such as food price spikes and rain failures. This highlights the challenge of ‘graduating’ households out of chronic food insecurity in a fragile agro-ecological context characterised by dependence on rain-fed agriculture but with highly variable rainfall.

This study aims to add to the understanding of how graduation is happening in Ethiopia through the Food Security Programme. The specific objectives of this study are:

  • To explore how graduation is conceptualised and operationalised in Ethiopia’s Food Security Programme, from the perspective of both programme administrators and programme participants.
  • To analyse the range of factors that ‘enable’ and ‘constrain’ graduation at different levels, from programme design and implementation to participants’ or beneficiaries’ characteristics, to contextual factors such as market access and climate variability.
  • To draw lessons for good practice and recommendations for improved graduation outcomes, from suggestions made by programme administrators and participants.

FAC Working Paper 080 Pdf 1.62 MB 2 downloads


Young people, agriculture, and employment in rural Africa
April 23, 2014 / Working Papers

WIDER Working Paper 2014/080
James Sumberg,  Nana Akua Anyidoho,  Michael Chasukwa, Blessings Chinsinga, Jennifer Leavy, Getnet Tadele, Stephen Whitfield, and Joseph Yaro
April 2014

This paper examines the current interest in addressing the problem of young people’s unemployment in Africa through agriculture. Using notions of transitions and mobilities we set out a transformative work and opportunity space framework that privileges difference and diversity among work opportunities, rural areas and young people. We argue that policy and programmes that seek to engage young people with agriculture must be more realistic, rooted in more context-specific economic and social analysis, and appreciative of the variety of ways that rural men and women use agriculture to serve their needs and interests.

Social protection and graduation: Case of heifer-in-trust in Burkina Faso
April 15, 2014 / Working Papers

Working Paper 79
Gountiéni Damien Lankoandé and James Sumberg

March 2014

The distribution of livestock to poor people, commonly known as heifer-in-trust (HIT) or ‘livestock-in-kind credit’, can be seen as a specific type of asset-based social protection. Because of their growth and reproductive potential, some suggest that livestock can play a particularly important role in asset accumulation and thus graduation. This study tests the assumption that livestock will remain a part of the asset portfolio of HIT recipients. Beneficiaries of five HIT-type projects in Burkina Faso were interviewed. The analysis suggests that either because of poor targeting or an appreciation of the demands of livestock keeping, the HIT projects are not reaching the poorest. It also provides only limited support to the assumption that poor people will use the HIT gift to increase their livestock assets. There would appear to be good reason to question the general proposition that livestock are a particularly appropriate asset for transfer to the poor. Because of the demands of livestock – in terms for example of feed, water and management – for the poorest, they may be more of a liability. Understanding the role of asset-transfer programmes in graduation demands a holistic understanding of asset dynamics, which presents important methodological challenges.


FAC Working Paper 079 Pdf 1.64 MB 0 downloads


Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa: Has CAADP Made a Difference? A Rwanda Case Study
March 17, 2014 / Working Papers

Future Agricultures Working Paper 78
Frederick Golooba-Mutebi
February 2014

The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) is an African Union initiative intended to accelerate agricultural growth across Africa and improve food security as well as strengthen the resilience of the continent’s environment. Rwanda has been enthusiastic in its embrace of the initiative, with the government making an effort to fulfil all its obligations. Has CAADP made a difference? This paper argues that it has, and that in this, it has been helped significantly by the government’s own prior ambitions and the centrality of agriculture therein. Section 2 of the paper explores the background against which Rwanda embraced CAADP, showing evolutions in thinking about agriculture among the country’s policy elite and its development partners.

Section 2.1 looks at the politico-social incentives for agricultural policy, while section 2.2 looks at the steps taken to revalorise agriculture once a decision was made that it would be a key component of the foundation on which the country’s wider strategy for pursuing prosperity would rest. The post-war political settlement has been important in providing the necessary stability without which the pursuit of development is impossible. Section 2.3 examines the contours of the settlement, while section 3 tells the story of how CAADP in Rwanda unfolded.

Section 3.1 highlights the critical role of donors whose efforts have been supplemented by those of non-donor actors, including the business community and farmers’ groups, both of which are explored in sections 3.2 and 3.3. Section 4 highlights the limited but still important regional dimension of the CAADP process, while section 5 assesses the overall significance of CAADP in cementing the central role of agriculture in Rwanda’s pursuit of economic development and prosperity, before section 6 wraps up the story.


FAC Working Paper 078 Pdf 1.32 MB 0 downloads


The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP): Political Incentives, Value…
March 17, 2014 / Working Papers

Full title: The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP): Political Incentives, Value Added and Ways Forward

Future Agricultures Working Paper 77
Colin Poulton, Kassahun Berhanu, Blessings Chinsinga, Brian Cooksey, Frederick Golooba-Mutebi and Augustin Loada
February 2014

It is now ten years since African Heads of State made their declaration in support of the continent’s agricultural sector in Maputo in July 2003. This paper contributes to a small but growing body of independent critical analysis of CAADP, and to debates on future directions for the programme. The paper draws on studies of CAADP engagement in six countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania) plus preliminary reflections on two more (Kenya and Mozambique). Its particular contribution is to examine CAADP’s interaction with domestic political incentives for support to smallholder agriculture in African countries. Following Poulton 2012, we differentiate countries according to whether the domestic political incentives to invest in smallholder agriculture are strong or weak. In the former, the key question for CAADP is what value it can add to existing policy and planning frameworks for the agriculture sector. In the latter, which are more numerous, the key question is whether the CAADP process contains any mechanisms or provisions that can significantly change the incentives perceived by the governments in question. Experience to date is reviewed and ways forward for CAADP’s second decade are suggested.


FAC Working Paper 077 Pdf 1.27 MB 1 downloads


Narratives of scarcity: understanding the ‘global resource grab’
February 17, 2014 / Working Papers

Future Agricultures Working Paper 76
Ian Scoones, Rebecca Smalley, Ruth Hall and Dzodzi Tsikata
February 2014

Global resource scarcity has become a central policy concern, with predictions of rising populations, natural resource depletion and hunger. Resulting narratives of scarcity drive behaviour and justify actions to harness resources considered ‘under-utilised’, leading to contestations over rights and entitlements and producing new scarcities. Yet scarcity is contingent, contextual and above all political. We present an analysis of three framings – absolute scarcity, relative scarcity and political scarcity – associated with the intellectual traditions of Malthus, Ricardo and Marx, respectively. A review of 134 global and Africa-specific policy and related sources produced over the past six years demonstrates how diverse framings of scarcity – what it is, its causes and what is to be done – are evident in competing narratives that animate debates about the future of food and farming in Africa and globally. We argue that current mainstream narratives emphasise absolute and relative scarcity, while ignoring political scarcity. We suggest a more political framing of scarcity requires paying attention to how resources are distributed between different needs and uses, and so different people and social classes. This requires, we argue, a policy emphasis for land and resource issues on rights and access, and distributional issues, centred on equity and justice.


FAC Working Paper 076 Pdf 1.37 MB 2 downloads


Jostling for Trade: The Politics of Livestock Marketing on the Ethiopia-Somaliland Border
February 10, 2014 / Working Papers

Future Agricultures Working Paper 75
Abdurehman Eid
February 2014

Cross-border livestock trade (CBLT) is an important livelihood activity for many pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in the Horn of Africa. The trade has developed into an informal industry supporting many stakeholders along the value chain: livestock-keepers, fodder suppliers, ranch owners, itinerant traders, large livestock traders and transporters. This paper examines the CBLT spanning the border between Somali Region of Ethiopia and Somaliland. Specifically, it considers policies and controls shaping the dynamics of the trade in recent years. The study also highlights the competition that Somaliland and Djibouti have found themselves in to become the livestock export hub in the Horn of Africa, as well as clan dynamics.


FAC Working Paper 075v2 Pdf 2.52 MB 5 downloads


What difference has CAADP made to Tanzanian agriculture?
January 29, 2014 / Working Papers

Future Agricultures Working Paper 74
Brian Cooksey
November 2013

This paper examines the impact of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) on Tanzania’s agricultural sector. It discusses how CAADP relates to national and regional policy initiatives (including the country’s Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plan, the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition) and their governance; the possible impacts of CAADP on spending on agriculture in the country; and the extent of the influence and inclusion of civil society organisations on agricultural policy processes.


FAC Working Paper 074 Pdf 1.89 MB 0 downloads


Commercialisation of African Smallholder Farming. The Case of Smallholder Farmers in C. Tanzania
January 22, 2014 / Working Papers

Future Agricultures Working Paper 72
Khamaldin Mutabazi, Steve Wiggins & Ntengua Mdoe
August 2013

African agriculture is predominantly carried out on small-scale family farms. The big question about such family farms is whether they can be successfully commercialised within their current structures, or whether they should give way to commercial medium and large-scale farm enterprises. In more detail, the following questions arise about the experience of commercialisation of small farms in Africa and their prospects. Under what conditions, and with what encouragement from policy, may small farms be commercialised? Does commercialisation benefit smallholding households? Does commercialisation increase social differences? Does commercialisation raise risks in the markets to unacceptable levels?

This study addresses primarily the first two questions about the nature of commercialisation, its benefits and impacts on food security. Four villages in Tanzania that produce commercial crops for sale, mainly onions, were studied.


FAC Working Paper 072 Pdf 2.51 MB 1 downloads


Biofuels Investment and Community Land Tenure in Tanzania
December 16, 2013 / Working Papers

Future Agricultures Working Paper 73
Emmanuel Sulle and Fred Nelson
December 2013

Like much of sub-Saharan Africa, Tanzania has experienced a surge in land-based investment during the past decade. While expanding private investment in agriculture is a core ambition of the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, experiences of prior investments raise questions about possible negative impacts. A notable element of this pattern of international private investment in Tanzania has been the emergence of biofuels as a form of agriculture; biofuel investments occurred rapidly and on a large scale around 2005–2008, with about four million hectares around the country requested for allocation to commercial biofuel projects. Many of those investments were large-scale projects based on the cultivation of jatropha or sugarcane, headed by European companies. One of the most well-known biofuel investments was that of Bioshape, which acquired approximately 34,000 ha in Kilwa District for the cultivation of jatropha.

The report documents, insofar as is possible using available information, the process Bioshape and government authorities at national and district level undertook to acquire the land from the four villages in Kilwa where Bioshape established operations.


FAC Working Paper 073 Pdf 1.54 MB 0 downloads