Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Official Launch

The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme officially launched at the second Conference on Land Policy in Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Wednesday 15th November 2017.

APRA is a five-year research programme aiming to analyse pathways to agricultural commercialisation and their differential impacts on empowerment of women and girls, poverty reduction, and food and nutrition security and in Sub-Saharan Africa, led by the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) and funded by the UK Department of International Development (DFID). With the Directorate at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK, APRA works through Regional Hubs in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa and with collaborators in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Dr Janet Edeme, Head of Rural Economy Division, Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission and Chair of the APRA International Advisory Group, opened the APRA launch event, highlighting the AU’s agenda for ‘agricultural transformation’ under the Malabo Commitments of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). She explained that a key objective of the CAADP Malabo process is to eliminate hunger and food insecurity and increase agriculture productivity, while promoting private sector engagement and inclusive agribusiness development.

In line with the AU’s values and commitments, APRA’s work will provide much-needed research in identifying pro-poor, gender equitable routes to commercialisation.  The research will address key ‘evidence gaps’ by undertaking in-depth studies on the impact of ongoing and emerging processes of commercialisation in African agriculture. It will address the core question: ‘What are the pathways to agricultural commercialisation that have been most effective in empowering women and girls, reducing rural poverty and improving food and nutrition security?’

Adopting a mixed-methods approach, APRA researchers will apply a typology of four pathways to agricultural commercialisation – large-scale estates/plantations; medium-scale commercial producers; outgrowers/contract farmers; and small-scale independent producers – to assess how they influence the livelihood trajectories of rural men and women in different agricultural contexts.

The APRA research will investigate five crucial outcome areas:

  • Agricultural commercialisation;
  • Empowerment of women and girls;
  • Employment rates and conditions;
  • Food and nutrition security;
  • Assets, poverty, income and patterns of inequality.

In the long-term, we believe that positive changes in these outcome indicators resulting from agricultural commercialisation will have important implications for the livelihood trajectories of rural households. Likewise, these transitions will be mediated by household characteristics and social differentiation as well as the drivers of commercialisation and rural development. Agricultural commercialisation is successful if more people are ‘stepping up’ (accumulating and investing) and ‘stepping out’ (diversifying and creating non-farm rural economic activity), and fewer people are ‘hanging in’ (simply surviving) or ‘dropping out’ (moving away or slipping into destitution). For structural transformation to occur, commercialisation should lead to a greater proportion of households stepping-out of agricultural activities.

APRA’s research will spread across three Work Streams (WS). The first WS involves four in-depth panel studies which are analysing a range of livelihood outcomes resulting from engagement with APRA’s four agricultural commercialisation types or models. These studies are focusing on understanding how engagement with those models influences individual and household commercialisation choices and affects the empowerment of women and girls; employment rates and conditions; food and nutrition security; and assets, poverty, income and patterns of inequality.

The second WS includes six longitudinal studies which are examining how different pathways of agricultural commercialisation evolve over time from a wider historical assessment of the dynamics of agrarian change, and how these influence the different livelihood opportunities and outcomes of rural women and men in different contexts. These studies will pay particular attention to understanding the processes leading to individuals and households ‘stepping up’ and ‘stepping out’ of commercial agriculture.

The third WS is comprised of a set of six multi-country studies covering a range of important policy topics:

  1. Business investment in agricultural commercialisation;
  2. Growth corridors and commercialisation;
  3. Rise of medium-scale farmers;
  4. BRICS interventions and mechanisation;
  5. Livestock commercialisation in pastoralist areas;
  6. Young people and agricultural commercialisation.

Through this multi-pronged research, APRA programme aims to produce high-quality evidence to inform national and regional policies and investments in commercial agriculture as well as provide a much better understanding of the political economy behind decision making on agricultural commercialisation in Africa.

An overview slide presentation of the APRA programme and a summary of the panel sessions organised at the Addis conference can be found here: www.slideshare.net/futureagricultures/apra-overview-for-lpi-land-conference

Along with the official launch, APRA convened four-panel sessions at the Conference on Land Policy in Africa. Click on the link to view panel presentation. To find out more about APRA, visit: www.future-agricultures.org/apra


  1. Agricultural Corridors and Commercialisation in Eastern Africa panel


Corridors: Large-scale infrastructure projects and struggles for land: www.slideshare.net/futureagricultures/corridorslargescale-infrastructure-projects-and-struggles-for-land


‘A plot of land along the corridor’: youth, bureaucracy and the planning of land uses in Nacala and Beira, Mozambique: www.slideshare.net/futureagricultures/a-plot-of-land-along-the-corridor-youth-bureaucracy-and-the-planning-of-land-uses-in-nacala-and-beira-mozambique


The politics of SAGCOT: Implications for small-scale producers and pathways for rural livelihoods: www.slideshare.net/futureagricultures/the-politics-of-sagcot-implications-for-smallscale-producers-and-pathways-for-rural-livelihoods


Agricultural growth corridors: prospects for mobilising investment and delivering policy: www.slideshare.net/futureagricultures/agricultural-growth-corridors-prospects-for-mobilising-investment-and-delivering-policy


  1. Land and Commercialisation in Africa (LACA) panel


Land and agricultural commercialisation Introduction: www.slideshare.net/futureagricultures/land-and-agricultural-commercialisation-intro


Land and agricultural commercialisation in Kenya: Evidence from Three Farming Models: www.slideshare.net/futureagricultures/land-and-agricultural-commercialisation-in-kenya-evidence-from-three-farming-models


Land and agricultural commercialisation Ghana: www.slideshare.net/futureagricultures/land-and-agricultural-commercialisation-ghana


Land and agricultural commercialisation Zambia: www.slideshare.net/futureagricultures/land-and-agricultural-commercialisation-zambia


Land and agricultural commercialisation Conclusion: www.slideshare.net/futureagricultures/land-and-agricultural-commercialisation-conclusion



  1. MATASA Fellows’: Land Rights and Youth Employment in Africa panel


Land rights, Land-Based Innovations, and Diversified Livelihoods for young farmers in Kenya: www.slideshare.net/futureagricultures/land-rights-landbased-innovations-and-diversified-livelihoods-for-young-farmers-in-kenya


Land Rights and Youth Employment in Uganda: www.slideshare.net/futureagricultures/land-rights-and-youth-employment-in-uganda


Land rights, Land-Based Innovations, and Diversified Livelihoods for young farmers in Kenya: www.slideshare.net/futureagricultures/land-rights-landbased-innovations-and-diversified-livelihoods-for-young-farmers-in-kenya-84014319


  1. Young African Researchers in Agriculture (YARA) network: Africa’s Youth and Rural Futures panel


Large-Scale Agricultural Land Investments and (Un) Employment in Nigeria: www.slideshare.net/futureagricultures/yara-largescale-agricultural-land-investments-and-unemployment-in-nigeria


“Farming is our Future”: Rural Youth Discourse on Commercial Agriculture in the Kwaebibirem District in Ghana: https://www.slideshare.net/futureagricultures/yarafarming-is-our-future-rural-youth-discourse-on-commercial-agriculture-in-the-kwaebibirem-district-in-ghana


YARA: Participation Des Jeunes À L’élaboration De La Politique Foncière Au Sénégal: www.slideshare.net/futureagricultures/yara-participation-des-jeunes-llaboration-de-la-politique-foncire-au-sngal


Agro-Food Systems Change and Food Security: Beyond the Land Grab Discourse, South Africa: www.slideshare.net/futureagricultures/yaraagrofood-systems-change-and-food-security-beyond-the-land-grab-discoursesouth-africa