IFPRI Kampala Newsletter – week of June 25th

Hello, and welcome to a new edition of the IFPR-Kampala’s USSP news and research digest!

As usual, this collection of recent news articles related to agriculture is compiled from online news sources. We also include links to recent publications on agricultural and policy-related research topics pertinent to Uganda and the wider region.

This week, we report on Calls for modern farming in north and on
The perks of sustainable coffee, for Ugandan farmers. We also have an article on Malawi’s  new seed policy and on Agricultural advisory services at a global scale.

Under research, we provide links to:

Finally, we also highlight a new World Bank report on Uganda’s tepid agricultural sector performance.


Calls for modern farming in north

Northern Uganda Transforming the Economy (NU-TEC MD), a project funded by the UK Department for International Development, has called upon agribusinesses to seize existing to invest in mechanized agriculture in region.  Collins Apuoyo, the team leader NU-TEC market development programme, said recently that studies have shown that 99 per cent smallholder farmers in Uganda use traditional, undeveloped, obsolete technologies for post-harvest handling which retards development.

Fast-tracking policy development for a food secure future: Uganda’s National Extension Policy

Efforts by the government of Uganda and development partners to advance policy instruments have historically had mixed success due to limited involvement of political leaders, exclusion of private sector actors and the slow pace at which the process progressed.

The perks of sustainable coffee, for Ugandan farmers
Rain forest Alliance

Volcafé’s Kyagalanyi Coffee Ltd. has been working closely with the UTZ certification program (UTZ has since merged with the Rainforest Alliance) to equip smallholder farmers in West Nile and Mt. Elgon with tools to increase their yields through sustainable farming methods.

Agriculture contribution to GDP falling

Uganda loses between 4 and 12 per cent of GDP due to inefficiencies in the agricultural sector, according to the World Bank report.  The report provides an unprecedented review of the structural context of Ugandan agriculture, its main actors and the trends, opportunities and challenges of the sector.

EAC tea consumption to increase in the next decade
East African

East African countries could lead the world in growth in consumption of tea during the next decade, even as they occupy top positions in exports of the commodity.  Estimates show that Rwanda will lead in growth at nine per cent followed by Uganda at five per cent and Kenya at 4.4 per cent.

Caffeine highh? Ethiopia shifts coffee fields uphill over climate change

Few countries take coffee as seriously as Ethiopia – and that’s not only because it prides itself as being the source of the prized Arabica bean.  But rising temperatures and worsening drought linked to climate change are now hitting production – and fixing that may require moving many Ethiopian coffee fields uphill, experts say.  Aside from its cultural value, coffee is Ethiopia’s single largest source of export revenue, worth more than $860-million in the 2016-2017 production year.

Malawi releases new seed policy
International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications

Malawi launched a new national seed policy which includes farmers’ rights and other emerging issues in the sector, replacing the 1993 seed policy. The Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development mentioned that the new policy is vital for the growth of the seed industry.  He emphasized that as an agro economy, Malawi needed a seed policy that aligns with the regional frameworks to satisfy the growing demand for quality and high yield.

Ethiopia approves environmental release of Bt cotton and grants special permit for GM maize
International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications

The Government of Ethiopia is the latest African country to authorize cultivation of biotech crops by granting two landmark approvals for environmental release of Bt cottonand research trials on biotech maize.

Farmers need long-term and short-term solutions to combat Fall Armyworm in Kenya
Farming First

Fall Armyworm has arrived in Kenya to stay, but while the government develops a long-term strategy, farmers need ready and accessible solutions, now.

Success with electronic vouchers for farmers in Mozambique
ICT works

In 2014, the Government of Mozambique and FAO agreed that targeted “smart subsidies” using e-vouchers coupled with a participatory agricultural extension approach (Farmer Field Schools), could be a powerful tool to facilitate farmers’ access to seeds, fertilizers and other inputs needed to increase production and productivity.

America is still fighting a war on marijuana – in Congo
Columbia Global Reports

Little attention is paid to Congo’s agriculture, which generates 42 percent of its GDP and involves the majority of the Congolese population. Only recently have researchers become aware of the extent to which some of eastern Congo’s small-scale farmers are benefiting from a surprising—and illegal—crop.

Why African cocoa growers are having an OPEC moment

The world’s top cocoa producers have long been at the mercy of traders who set cocoa prices thousands of miles away in London and New York. Now the producers are trying to do something about it. West African neighbors Ivory Coast and Ghana, which grow about 60 percent of the world’s cocoa, have outlined wide-ranging plans to cooperate on production and marketing in hopes of gaining more influence over global prices. But some industry analysts remain sceptical.

Agricultural advisory services at a global scale

In just over a decade—or to put it bluntly, in many cases only 11 growing seasons—we have to reach 500 million farmers, potentially expanding to 750 million by 2030. These farmers need advisories to help them adapt to climate variability, improve their farming operations and enhance their livelihood. How do we move forward?

FAO lists 20 tools for transforming food and agriculture to achieve SDGs

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has released a set of 20 inter-connected actions designed to show the impact that sustainable agriculture can have on tackling the world’s greatest challenges.

Cocoa and the global goals: accelerating women’s empowerment
World Cocoa Foundation

To foster more transformational change and empower women in cocoa producing communities we need to bring together government, industry and civil society to work together on the systemic barriers to gender equality. This includes addressing: (i) the fact that women often lack available time as they usually juggle multiple responsibilities; (ii) the very weak representation of women in available data and in formal agricultural institutions; and (iii) the barriers women face gaining access to resources and finance.

Biofortification’s growing global reach

The diets of more than two billion people lack essential vitamins and minerals, making them vulnerable to disease and disability. But as our latest crop map shows, the global effort to end this hidden hunger is gaining momentum, thanks to hundreds of partners around the world.

Making buildings, cars and planes from materials based on plant fibres
The Economist

Using carrots to create concrete, turning wood into plastic, or even compressing it into a “super wood” that is as light and strong as titanium might sound like a series of almost Frankensteinish experiments. Yet all three are among the latest examples of employing natural fibres from plants as eco-friendly additives or alternatives to man-made materials.
Reports, Policy Briefs and Discussion Papers:

Closing the potential-performance divide in Ugandan agriculture
World Bank

Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of employment, overwhelmingly on small farms; occupies half of all land area, and provides half of all exports and one-quarter of GDP in Uganda. It is considered a leading sector for future economic growth and economic inclusion in the current National Development Plan. Yet despite having very favorable natural resource and climate conditions for production of a wide variety of crops and livestock, average Total Factor Productivity (TFP) growth–the difference between aggregate output growth and the growth of all inputs and factors of production that produced it–in Ugandan agriculture has been negative for the last two decades. This suggests that on balance the country is now getting less for equal or greater effort. While drought and pest issues likely have played a harmful role, other plausible explanations are a combination of the following: weakening over time of the public institutional base for promoting agricultural productivity at the level of small farms, inefficiencies in agricultural public expenditures, inadequate agricultural regulation and policies, and a lack of collateralizable farm assets. National agricultural output has grown at only 2 percent per annum over the last five years, compared to agricultural output growth of 3 to 5 percent in other EAC members and 3.3 percent per annum growth in Uganda’s population over the same period.


Key factors influencing food security of smallholder farmers in Tanzania and the role of cassava as a strategic crop
K Reincke, E Vilvert, A Fasse, F Graef, S Sieber… – Food Security, 2018

Due to beneficial characteristics of cassava such as robustness and versatility for multiple uses, it can have a major role in contributing to local food security. The objective of this study was to find out whether and how the cultivation of cassava benefits smallholder farmers in the regions of Dodoma and Morogoro, Tanzania. In addition, the study assessed the main factors that support or threaten food security of smallholder farmer households in the survey region and analysed whether cassava cultivation could counteract them. We applied a mixed methods approach. Quantitative data were provided by a comprehensive household survey of the Trans-SEC project, and qualitative data were collected by conducting semi-structured interviews. To approach the complexity of our chosen food security definition, three approaches for household food security measurement were applied. These covered the components of food availability, food access, and food utilization. Additionally, dependent variables for regression models were constructed and a multivariate analysis was run. The results show that cassava contributes to food security in the households, but achieving food security through cassava cultivation was constrained by several factors, including pests, missing markets, poor processing, social perception and lack of knowledge. Besides these, other factors affecting food security in the study area were found, uncovering some roots of local food insecurity and serving as a basis for further research and action on how to enhance food security.

Post-harvest losses reduction by small-scale maize farmers: The role of handling practices
Martin Julius Chegere – Food Policy, 2018

Concerns about food insecurity have grown in Sub-Saharan Africa due to rapidly growing population and food price volatility. Post-harvest Losses (PHL) reduction has been identified as a key component to complement efforts to address food security challenges and improve farm incomes, especially for the rural poor. This study analyses the role of recommended post-harvest handling practices in PHL reduction; and conducts a cost-benefit analysis of adopting practices associated with lower losses. The study finds that maize farmers lose about 11.7 percent of their harvest in the post-harvest system. About two-thirds of this loss occurs during storage. The study shows that adoption of recommended post-harvest handling practices is highly correlated with lower PHL. Lastly the study finds that the cost of implementing some of the recommended practices outweighs the benefits associated with lower PHL. It then discusses the reasons why some farmers may not adopt some of the practices and points out some contributions to the literature.

Discipline, Governmentality and ‘Developmental Patrimonialism’: Insights from Rwanda’s Pyrethrum Sector
Chris Huggins – Journal of Agrarian Change, 2016

An ongoing academic debate examines the implications of ‘developmental patrimonialism’ for African citizens. Rwanda is a key case study in this debate, with proponents of developmental patrimonialism and ‘party capitalism’ arguing that companies owned by the ruling party or the military play positive roles in economic development. This debate often focuses on macro-level, elite politics. This paper instead uses a Foucauldian lens to examine the micro-level politics of pyrethrum production in Rwanda, which is managed by a military-owned company. The company utilizes incentive-based governmental strategies, in line with state discourses, in addition to punitive, disciplinary regimes. The paper demonstrates that state agricultural strategies depend on multiple factors, including multi-scale political tensions between the ruling party’s desire for control and its discourse of ‘entrepreneurship’.

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