IFPRI Kampala newsletter – week of sept 3rd 2018

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

You may have noticed we have taken a short break, but now we are back with your usual collection of recent news articles related to agriculture 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 standards created to promote Shea nut exports
and on how digital technology can help transform Africa’s food system. Also, make sure to read the fascinating story on the wonder plant that could slash fertilizer use.

Under research, we provide links to:


Hundreds lose jobs as factories close in Jinja over fish scarcity
Nile Post

Most fish factories in Jinja have closed down and hundreds of employees lost jobs due to fish stock outs. As fishermen and fish traders ponder their next step, Jinja Municipal Council authorities are decrying the loss of revenue. Masese Fish Parkers Ltd, Marine and Agro Export Processors Ltd, Gomba fish Processing Factory and Kamic foods, have all closed down.

Four standards created to promote Shea nut exports

Uganda’s effort to grow shea nut as an export commodity have been boosted by four new standards that will be used at the local, regional and international market. The cosmetics standards that have been developed by Uganda National Bureau of Standards and Uganda Export Promotions Board include pure shea nut butter cosmetics, lip balm; lip shine and after- shave, plus the already developed shea nut butter food products standards.

Fourteen youths profit from fish exports

Masese youth earn a living through farming fish in four cages, with a capacity of 5,000 each. Through the whole exercise, the boys jointly clear the water, clean the boats, harvest the fish from the cages while the girl does all the record keeping.   Youth have always been criticised for seeking quick money from their jobs. But this is not the case with the Masese youth. They have to wait nine months until they can harvest the 20,000 fingerlings they put in the water.

Maize prices drop miserably: implications and the need for price stabilisers

Maize prices have in the recent past dropped miserably to as low as 200/= per kilo of grain. The reality is, farmers are disheartened.  While commodity price fluctuations are normal, this drop is too significant to be ignored because it carries heavy implications

Increasing coffee production and market is a realisable commitment
New Vision

A lot has been happening in the coffee sector since the establishment of Operation Wealth Creation by President Yoweri Museveni in 2013. To start with, coffee seedlings planted have since increased from 19.3 million at the commencement of the initiative five years ago to the current 172.77 million.

Innovative aproaches to boosting financing of African agro-industry
Initiative for Global Development

Agro-industry offers enormous potential in advancing sustainable economic growth and job creation for African economies. Yet, African agribusinesses receive less than 3% of financing from the traditional banking and finance sector to power agro-industrialization across  the continent.

Growth in agricultural mechanization
Food Security Portal

The recent meeting of the Malabo Montpellier Forum focused on mechanization along the agricultural value chain and launched the Malabo Montpellier Panel’s new report,  Mechanized – Transforming Africa’s Agriculture Value Chains. This report provides best practices and lessons learned from several African countries that have achieved significant agricultural growth and economic development through systematic mechanization efforts.

How can digital technology help transform Africa’s food system?
World Bank IC4D blog

Clearly, business as usual approaches to agriculture in Africa aren’t fit for transforming the sector to meet its full potential. Digital technology could be part of the solution. But how can digital technology help transform Africa’s food system?

Iron-biofortified pearl millet consumption improves cognitive outcomes in Indian adolescents

This is the second study which demonstrates that iron biofortification, which uses conventional crop breeding to increase micronutrient levels, results in functional cognitive improvements that could profoundly impact women and teen’s daily lives, including their ability to succeed at school and work.

Forced labour report draws attention to ongoing issues in cocoa and tea
Global Business of Forced Labour

The Global Business of Forced Labour project is an international research study investigating the business models of forced labour in global agricultural supply chains. The project has systematically mapped the business of forced labour, focusing on case studies of cocoa and tea supply chains.  It found that there is a coherent pattern of labour exploitation including forced labour at the base of global tea and cocoa supply chains.

Supporting healthy digital platform competition in the Georgian agriculture market
ICT Works

Instead of choosing a single “winner,” the project has chosen to support multiple actors, each with their own approach to revenue generation. As a result, the project has established a viable market that has potential for continuous improvement and buy-in from farmers, customers, government stakeholders, and others in Georgia and beyond.

The wonder plant that could slash fertilizer use
The Atlantic

For thousands of years, people from Sierra Mixe, a mountainous region in southern Mexico, have been cultivating an unusual variety of giant corn. A team of researchers has shown that the secret of the corn’s success lies in its aerial roots. These roots drip with a thick, clear, glistening mucus that’s loaded with bacteria. Thanks to these microbes, the corn can fertilize itself by pulling nitrogen directly from the surrounding air….”a thing I’d have called a little far-fetched if I saw it on an episode of Star Trek”.

Aroma of coffee could boost cognitive performance
Coffee and Cocoa

Research suggests that the aroma of coffee – which has no caffeine in it – can help people perform analytical tasks. The work suggests that the aroma of coffee helped students undertaking a Graduate Management Aptitude Test, or GMAT, a computer adaptive test required by many business schools.

GE unveils methodology to accelerate gender equity in coffee
Coffee and Cocoa

The Partnership for Gender Equity has launched its third tool designed to enable the coffee industry to more effectively engage in gender equity. Presented to industry at World of Coffee 2018 in Amsterdam in June, the Project Methodology provides partners with the ability to implement a field-level project within their own value chain.

Policy Briefs, Research Reports and Discussion papers:

Building resilience of livelihoods in Karamoja, Uganda

This policy brief has been published by FAO as part of the policy brief series of its Agricultural Development Economics division.  It summarises the main findings and policy recommendations first presented in the 2018 Resilience Analysis in Karamoja report.

What are we getting from voluntary sustainability standards for coffee?
Center for Global Development

The available research suggests that certification schemes can be beneficial, but context matters, and the poorest, most vulnerable smallholder producers are able to comply with sustainability standards only with substantial external help.


Participation without Negotiating: Influence of Stakeholder Power Imbalances and Engagement Models on Agricultural Policy Development in Uganda
Mastewal Yami, Piet van Asten, Michael Hauser, Marc Schut, Pamela Pali, Rural Sociology, 2018

Although the political context in Uganda exhibits democratic deficit and patronage, research and development actors have given little attention to the possible negative impact these may have on agricultural policymaking and implementation processes. This article examines the influence of power in perpetuating prevailing narratives around public participation in agricultural policymaking processes. The analysis is based on qualitative data collected between September 2014 and May 2015 using 86 in‐depth interviews, 18 focus group discussions, and recorded observations in stakeholder consultations. Results indicate that while the political setting provides space for uncensored debates, the policymaking process remains under close control of political leaders, technical personnel, and high‐level officers in the government. Policy negotiation remains limited to actors who are knowledgeable about the technical issues and those who have the financial resources and political power to influence decisions, such as international donors. There is limited space for negotiation of competing claims and interests in the processes by public and private actors actively engaged in agricultural development, production, processing, and trade. Thus, efforts to achieve good governance in policy processes fall short due to lack of approaches that promote co‐design and co‐ownership of the policies

Opportunities and pitfalls for researchers to contribute to the design of evidence-based agricultural policies: lessons from Uganda
P. N. Pali, M. Schut, P. Kibwika, L. Wairegi, M. Yami, P. J. A. van Asten & V. M. Manyong – International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 2018

Agricultural policies in sub-Saharan Africa have paid insufficient attention to sustainable intensification. In Uganda, agricultural productivity has stagnated with aggregate increases in crop production being attributed to expansion of cultivated land area. To enhance sustainable crop intensification, the Ugandan Government collaborated with stakeholders to develop agricultural policies using an evidence-based approach. Previously, evidence-based decision-making tended to focus on the evidence base rather than evidence and its interactions within the broader policy context. We identify opportunities and pitfalls to strengthen science engagement in agricultural policy design by analysing the types of evidence required, and how it was shared and used during policy development. Qualitative tools captured stakeholders’ perspectives of agricultural policies and their status in the policy cycle. Subsequent multi-level studies identified crop growth constraints and quantified yield gaps which were used to compute the economic analyses of policy options that subsequently contributed to sub-national program planning. The study identified a need to generate relevant evidence within a short time ‘window’ to influence policy design, power influence by different stakeholders and quality of stakeholder interaction. Opportunities for evidence integration surfaced at random phases of policy development due to researchers’ ’embededness’ within co-management and coordination structures.

Ex-post economic analysis of push-pull technology in Eastern Uganda
Ruth T. Chepchirchir, Ibrahim Macharia, Alice W. Murage, Charles A.O. Midega, Zeyaur R. Khan – Crop Protection, 2018.

Push–pull technology (PPT) simultaneously reduces the impact of three major production constraints, pests, weeds and poor soil, to cereal–livestock farming in Africa. In order to ascertain the social value of the technology and to make decisions about the trade-offs in the allocation of scarce resources in research, gross margin analysis and the Dynamic Research for Evaluation Management economic surplus model were applied to calculate and analyze the benefits of PPT for 568 households located in four districts in eastern Uganda. The results showed that with PPT the economy of these districts would derive an overall net gain of 3.8 million USD. At a discount rate of 12% for a period of 20 years (2015–2035), Net Present Value was about 1.6 million USD, the internal rate of return 51%, and the Benefit to Cost Ratio 1.54. This implies that PPT is economically viable and profitable. Hence the technology should be further up-scaled and disseminated to other regions to reduce poverty and increase household food security.

Fertilizer and sustainable intensification in Sub-Saharan Africa
Stein T Holden – Global Food Security, 2018

The paper investigates the important role of fertilizer to enhance sustainable intensification and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) based on a multi-disciplinary literature review. The review starts with a macro-perspective taking population growth, economic development and climate change into account. This is complemented with a micro-perspective summarizing findings from comprehensive micro-data in selected African countries. Agronomic, environmental and economic profitability implications of fertilizer use are reviewed. The poor but efficient hypothesis is assessed in light of recent evidence in behavioral economics. Is low fertilizer use due to hard constraints farmers face or partly due to irrational behavior, and what are the policy implications? Two policy approaches, input subsidy and productive safety net programs, are reviewed and their potential roles to enhance sustainable intensification and nutrient use efficiency in SSA agriculture are discussed before I conclude.

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