Understanding policy processes in agriculture – or any other area – is not straightforward. It means rejecting the linear, rational policy model and embracing the complex and messy processes by which policy is understood, formulated and implemented, and the range of actors involved. It means asking how problems and policy solutions come to be defined, by whom, and with what effects?
These are important questions when considering policy change in any context. Policy process approaches involve understanding the mechanics of decision-making and implementation pathways – and just as importantly understanding underlying practices of policy framing. Questions asked might include: why is it that particular views about the nature and causes of ‘problems’ stick with such tenacity in policy debate; how do particular perspectives, and the interests they represent, find their way into policy; why is there so often a gulf in analysis and aspiration between the perspectives of diverse farmers and those underlying and driving policy; and how might policy processes be changed to encourage a greater inclusion of otherwise excluded voices?
Policy process analysis is increasingly recognised as critical to any study of development process. It is central to the work of the Future Agricultures consortium. A major concern of the consortium is how future scenarios of agriculture interact with policy process to constrain or enable different options in different places. A consortium working paper has been prepared which outlines some of the approaches to scenario analysis.‘Envisioning futures of African agriculture: representation, power, and socially constituted time’, Aaron deGrassi