Newsletter

IFPRI Kampala newsletter – week of April 1st 2019

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 Pastoralist women in Uganda and on how Ugandan farmers test big-data solution to climate challenges. We also have news articles on tariff, non-tariff barriers hitting Eastern Africa grain trade and link to an article explaining how good urban farming can combat bad eating

Under research, we provide links to:

We also highlight new discussion papers on subsidies in Mozambique and on peer learning among farmers.

Note that newsletters are archived on http://ussp.ifpri.info/.

Do you know others who may be interested in this newsletter? Please encourage them to subscribe on http://bjornvancampenhout.com/newsletter/subscribe/

Happy reading

News:

Pastoralist women in Uganda “moving mountains”

Medium

Karamoja’s  pastoralist communities are deeply rooted in tribal traditions, with strong gender disparities between men and women. While women rarely make decisions in the family, small but significant changes are starting to sprout, initiated by the women themselves, turning a life of obstacles into potential opportunities.  

Add value to agricultural commodities

Monitor

Did you know that you can cash in on agriculture without necessarily tilling the land?  You can increase the value of primary agricultural produce through value addition.

Ugandan farmers test big-data solution to climate challenges

Thomson Reuters Foundation

When the MUIIS (Market-led, User-owned, ICT4Ag-enabled Information Service) launched in 2017, farmers who signed up paid a small monthly fee and contributed details about their farms to the programme database.  In return 10 companies and other groups, including financial technology firm Ensibuuko, the Uganda Cooperative Alliance and the Uganda National Farmers Federation, teamed up to harness the data to give subscribers training and access to finance.

WFP suspends food distribution in Karamoja as investigations into poisonous food continue

Monitor

One person has died in Amudat District and several others are said to be in critical condition and currently admitted to different health centres after eating porridge supplied by World Food Programme.

How sustainable is our future? – Global Coffee Platform-International Coffee Organisation seminar

Global Coffee Platform

In Uganda, Emmanuel Iyamulemye highlighted the findings of the most recent study on Economic Viability of Coffee Farming, which has provided much needed facts on the investment cases for commercial coffee farming in Uganda, as well as creating awareness of the imperious need to empower farmers and act collectively to increase profitability of small holders.

Tariff, non-tariff barriers hit Eastern Africa grain trade

News Ghana

Tariff and non-tariff barriers are adversely affecting grain trade across the Eastern African region, a report by the East African Grain Council showed on Tuesday.  According to the report, in Uganda, authorities are employing stringent measures on rice importation from Tanzania with more requirements from the Uganda Bureau of Standards (UNBS).  Traders from Uganda selling to Tanzania, on the other hand, are required to retest products that had been already certified by UNBS.

Tanzania injects $72.4 million into agricultural sector

The exchange

Tanzania plans to invest 170 billion Tanzanian shillings ( $72.4 million) in a five year ambitious project to transform its agriculture sector under the second phase of its National Agricultural Sector Development Plan.  To achieve the transformation, the ministry is targeting four major areas: (i) Renewable water sources (ii) Land conservation (iii) Environment protection and (iv) Increased use of irrigation schemes.

Liquid Telecom Kenya’s IoT network enables fish farmers to monitor ponds and increase production
Liquid Telecom

“Farmers have been closing down ponds and setting aside fish production as they struggle to feed fish correctly due to changing temperatures and conditions,” said Dave Okech, who initiated the AquaRech project and partnership, as the founder of a local fish farming group RioFish. “Our sensors transmit data to the cloud, where it is processed before sending specific instructions to farmers on the timing and quantity for feeding.”  

Drought pushes Kenya’s pastoralists to the brink

The New Humanitarian

Long dry spells and occasional droughts have always been part of the rhythm of pastoralism here, but Turkana, like much of east Africa, is currently nine months into one of severest droughts in living memory.

Comesa wants members to lift barriers on seed trade

The East African

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa is pushing member states to align their laws with the bloc’s regulations to abolish trade barriers.  It is argued that the Comesa Seed Trade Harmonisation Regulations will lead to increased seed production, supply reliability, enhanced trade and competitiveness of the seed sub-sector.

Guns, religion and climate change intensify Nigeria’s deadly farmer-herder clashes

LA Times

Farmers and cattle herders have clashed over land for as long as most people can remember in Kaduna. But they’re coming into increased proximity due to climate change.  As grasslands have been degraded in northern Nigeria, semi-nomadic herders have starting moving their herds into densely populated farming areas to the south. At the same time, as Nigeria’s population has boomed, farmers have expanded their fields, often into the herders’ traditional grazing routes.

Irrigation: key to feeding sub-Saharan Africa’s growing population

Agrilinks

For countries in the sub-Saharan Africa region to maintain current food self-sufficiency levels of around 80 percent, they would need to “radically” accelerate rates of yield improvement—or massively expand land areas (with associated greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss), or increasingly resort to food import dependency.  A new IFPRI study focuses on the potential of irrigation in providing food security for Sub-Saharan Africa’s growing population.  If the region is to feed its growing population over the coming decades, sustainable drylands irrigation will be essential. The time to make irrigation both a national and regional priority is now.

Agriculture task force takes aim at EU investment plan for Africa

Devex

An expert group convened by the European Union to offer advice on how to create jobs in African agriculture will point to shortcomings in the EU’s flagship initiative for the African continent, the External Investment Plan.  A Commission official, who requested anonymity, said: “It’s true, [EFSD] definitely didn’t turn out as successful in the first go for agriculture, because apparently, the risk is quite high. The banks are afraid to go there and the incentives being put by the External Investment Plan are not fully understood or not fully used in this sector of the economy.”

How good urban farming can combat bad eating

African Arguments

Governments must increase material, technical and informational support to urban farmers. This could include improving access to extension services, agricultural inputs, finance and insurance. Urban farmers could particularly benefit from help developing business plans and other technical advice. This could come from the government, NGOs, educational bodies or other organisations. 

Two reasons why three billion people aren’t getting adequate nutrition

Food Tank

There is still a long way to go in virtually every area of the world to ensure that all people have access to safe, nutritious, and affordable food.  Making the reduction of food waste and loss a priority will help to achieve this objective.

Checking in with prize-winning women business owners

Agrilinks

Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation helps women succeed as entrepreneurs around the globe by providing them with support services to commercialize agricultural technologies and grow their businesses. Six months ago, two of our clients won the Feed the Future Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs Prize for their promising business ventures.

Arabica and Robusta prices experience further declines

Coffee and Cocoa

Last week saw the price of Robusta coffee dip to a two-year low and close only marginally higher at US$1,485/ton.  Commerzbank Research said it shed around 3% during the course of the week, although the Robusta coffee price fared better than Arabica – the latter’s price dropped for a time to a 13-year low of under 95 US cents per pound. 

Inaction is not an option says coffee producers forum

Coffee and Cocoa

The World Coffee Producers Forum has condemned the global coffee industry and the price currently being paid for the coffee its members produce.  “According to the International Coffee Organization, about 25 million families – mostly smallholders – produce coffee. Today, most of them cannot even cover their production costs and many of them cannot make a living for themselves and their families,” said the Forum.

Discussion papers, policy briefs and research reports:

Subsidies and the Green Revolution in Africa

Michael Carter, Rachid Laajaj, and Dean Yang – 2019

The Green Revolution bolstered agricultural yields and rural well-being in Asia and Latin America, but bypassed sub-Saharan Africa. We study the first randomized controlled trial of a government-implemented input subsidy program (ISP) in Africa. A temporary subsidy for Mozambican maize farmers stimulates Green Revolution technology adoption, and effects persist in later unsubsidized years. Social networks of subsidized farmers benefit from spillovers, experiencing increases in technology adoption, yields, and expected returns to the technologies. Spillovers account for the vast majority of subsidy-induced gains. ISPs alleviate informational market failures, stimulating learning about new technologies by subsidy recipients and their social networks

Mobilizing P2P Diffusion for New Agricultural Practices: Experimental Evidence from Bangladesh

M Fafchamps, A Islam, A Malek, D Pakrashi – 2019

We run a randomized controlled experiment in which farmers trained on a new rice cultivation method (SRI) teach two other farmers selected by us. We find that farmers invited to teach others are much more likely to adopt new practices than farmers who only receive the BRAC training. Teacher farmers are effective at spreading knowledge and inducing adoption. Incentivizing teachers improves knowledge transmission but not adoption. Matching teachers with farmers who list them as role models does not improve knowledge transmission and may hurt adoption. Using mediation analysis, we find that the knowledge of the teacher is correlated with that of their student, consistent with knowledge transmission. We also find that SRI knowledge predicts adoption of some SRI practices, and that adoption by teachers predicts adoption by their students, suggesting that students follow the example of their teacher. Explicitly mobilizing peer-to-peer (P2P) transmission of knowledge thus seems a cost-effective way of inducing the adoption of new agricultural practices.

Peer-reviewed Research

Mobile technology and food access

L Wantchekon, Z Riaz – World Development, 2019

Access to food is a basic pillar of human development. It is therefore unsurprising that it features so centrally on global development agendas and that a robust, interdisciplinary literature seeks to examine its determinants. This study focuses on the relationship between mobile technology and food access. Specifically, we ask whether mobile technology can strengthen the relationship between food access and certain social and political factors such as remittance flows and political participation. We use Afrobarometer surveys and highly disaggregated data on 2G network coverage to estimate a multilevel model testing how increased connectivity measured by mobile technology influences food access. We show that mobile phone use and higher frequency of use are significantly and positively correlated with food access, but we do not find evidence that remittances and political participation levels can explain the mechanisms linking mobile technology and food access. The study highlights that connectivity can play a powerful role in shaping food outcomes even when controlling for commonly identified impediments such as income constraints or physical isolation. These findings suggest that policies aimed at improving food access should devote attention to strengthening both communication and physical infrastructure.

Subsidies for Agricultural Technology Adoption: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment with Improved Grain Storage Bags in Uganda

OJ Omotilewa, J Ricker-Gilbert, JH Ainembabazi- American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2019

This article addresses the question of whether subsidizing an entirely new agricultural technology for smallholder farmers can aid its adoption early in the diffusion process. Based on a theoretical framework for technology adoption under subjective uncertainty, we implemented a randomized field experiment among 1,200 smallholders in Uganda to estimate the extent to which subsidizing an improved grain storage bag crowds-out or crowds-in commercial buying of the technology. The empirical results show that on average, subsidized households are more likely to buy an additional bag at commercial prices relative to the households with no subsidy who are equally aware of the technology. This suggests that under certain circumstances, such as when there is uncertainty about the effectiveness of a new agricultural technology, and the private sector market for the technology is weak or nascent, a one-time use of subsidy to build awareness and reduce risk can help generate demand for the new technology and thus crowd-in commercial demand for it. In this context, a subsidy can allow farmers to experiment with the technology and learn from the experience before investing in it.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this email and references to online sources is provided as a public service with the understanding that IFPRI-Kampala/USSP makes no warranties, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability of the information. Nor does IFPRI-Kampala/USSP warrant that the use of this information is free of any claims of copyright infringement. The views and opinions expressed in this this email and references to online sources do not necessarily reflect official policy or position of IFPRI, IFPRI-Kampala or USSP or should not be taken as an endorsement.

IFPRI Kampala newsletter – week of March 18, 2019

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 government procures 280 tractors for farmers and on WFP spends U.S.$147 million on food purchases in Uganda. We also have news articles on the commoditisation of pastoral milk and link to Iron Works: HarvestPlus and partners improve lives with iron-biofortified crops.

Under research, we provide links to:

Note that newsletters are archived on http://ussp.ifpri.info/.

Do you know others who may be interested in this newsletter? Please encourage them to subscribe on http://bjornvancampenhout.com/newsletter/subscribe/

Happy reading

News:

Government procures 280 tractors for farmers
Monitor

The government has procured 280 tractors under the National Agricultural Advisory Services to help farmers engage in large scale commercial crop production, an official said in a meeting on Tuesday.  The tractors will be given to organised and registered farmer groups, associations or cooperatives in a given locality who will manage them on business principles.

Coffee exporters top 2018 awards
Monitor

Coffee exporting companies have topped the 2018 Presidents’ Export Award.  Ugacof, a coffee processing and exporting company, was the overall winner followed by Kyagalanyi Coffee.  

WFP spends U.S.$147 million on food purchases in Uganda
Monitor

The World Food Programme has spent a total of $147m in the last three years in purchasing food rations in Uganda. Last year, the UN agency announced Uganda as a major hub for purchasing food.  Mr El-Khidir Daloum, WFP Country Director said of the 198,000 metric tonnes they bought last year, only a small percentage was bought from small-holder farmer groups. The rest was bought from local traders. He said they have the capacity to buy more from Uganda, adding that farmers should improve on their post-harvest handling.

How Acholi, Langi are embracing tea farming
Monitor

Just like coffee which the people of northern Uganda recently started growing following decades of colonial propaganda that the soil types in the region did not support it, tea is yet another crop that now joins the list of cash crops formerly believed not to perform in the region.   

Female food heroes
Croplife

Patricia Nanteza is a Communication Specialist for the National Banana Research Program in Uganda. “I think agriculture is only rivaled by education and health in tangible impact and making you ‘feel good’”.

Rwanda turns to poultry to fight malnutrition
New Times

The Rwanda Agriculture Board is set to start piloting a project that will donate chicken, for rearing, to every poor Rwandan household, which could potentially eliminate stunting and malnutrition.  The programme comes at a time when Rwandans are considered to consume low animal resource proteins, especially from eggs, meat and milk.

New technology in Rwanda that could reduce post-harvest losses
New Times

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources is calling on the private sector to invest in cereals storage and related technology as part of the efforts to tackle post-harvest losses.  This, if followed through public and private investment in crop storage technologies, the government said, could curb post-harvest losses from the current 16 per cent to 5 per cent by 2024.

UN fears Fall Armyworm outbreak threatens Zimbabwe’s food security
Voice of America

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation fears that an outbreak of fall armyworm in Zimbabwe will affect food security in a country where more than 5 million are already in need of food assistance.

Facts and stats on women in agriculture
Croplife

Did you know that only 25% of African agricultural researchers are women?  

Iron Works: HarvestPlus and partners improve lives with iron-biofortified crops
HarvestPlus

Iron deficiency is the most common micronutrient challenge in the world. Poor diets lacking in iron limit brain development and learning capacity, hampering the potential of individuals and societies, generation after generation.  That’s why HarvestPlus and its partners are developing and promoting biofortified crops rich in vitamins and minerals (like iron) needed for good health.

Transforming productive sectors in Africa: markets versus firms?
Market Links

Market systems that inhibit productivity growth and depress livelihoods are familiar enough across the developing world. Barriers to improvement that turn out to be fundamentally political are two-a-penny. More often than not, this is a matter of monopolists with political backing limiting market entry by potentially more efficient competitors.  Sometimes, however, the opposite is the case: there is too much market access, for too many kinds of business. As a result, too little is done to tackle problems of stagnant productivity and declining incomes for poor producers.

A fatal public health problem in Africa that flies under the radar
NPR

Africa as a continent continues to suffer from the world’s highest per-capita rate of foodborne illnesses. A new report this month from the World Bank’s Global Food Safety Partnership points to one reason why: Much of the funding for food safety efforts on the continent come from Western donors — and most of those efforts concentrate on safety standards for foods exported to other countries.  

The commoditisation of pastoral milk
Pastres

Pastoralists´ integration into market dynamics is mostly addressed through the lens of trade in meat products, involving male traders. Pastoral milk, mostly traded by women, is often ignored. Good production of healthy milk is definitely the best way to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of a pastoral system at whatever level. Milk is central in the livelihood of pastoral households.   

More Americans drinking specialty coffee
Coffee and Cocoa

The 2019 report found that more Americans are drinking speciality coffee daily and that 63 per cent of American adults drink coffee daily, which is on a par with 2018 consumption.  “Coffee is America’s most beloved beverage – and for good reason,”

Policy Briefs, Research Reports and Discussion Papers:

Striving to transform Tanzania’s cotton sector
ODI

Cotton growing and ginning is one of Tanzania’s top three agricultural export industries. It is a major source of livelihood for up to half a million smallholder farmers, mostly in the large region of enduring rural poverty lying to the south and east of Lake Victoria, known in Tanzania as the Lake Zone. The sector has been underperforming for 50 years, with productivity stagnating and international prices and therefore earnings falling in line with productivity gains in competitor countries.  Gatsby Africa’s Cotton Sector Development Programme is an important effort to turn this situation around by addressing the principal causes of low productivity in cotton growing and ginning (production of cotton lint) in the Lake Zone.  This briefing note reviews the Gatsby programme.

Research

Farming for change: developing a participatory curriculum on agroecology, nutrition, climate change and social equity in Malawi and Tanzania
RB Kerr, SL Young, C Young, MV Santoso, M Magalasi…- Agriculture and Human Values, 2019

How to engage farmers that have limited formal education is at the foundation of environmentally-sound and equitable agricultural development. Yet there are few examples of curricula that support the co-development of knowledge with farmers. While transdisciplinary and participatory techniques are considered key components of agroecology, how to do so is rarely specified and few materials are available, especially those relevant to smallholder farmers with limited formal education in Sub-Saharan Africa. The few training materials that exist provide appropriate methods, such as compost making, but do not explain relationships and synergies between nutrition, social inequalities, climate change and agroecology. Some food sovereignty and agroecology courses aim at popular political education for those with more formal education. Here we describe the process of development of an innovative curriculum, which integrates agroecology, nutrition, climate change, gender and other dimensions of social equity across 2 weeks of training explicitly for smallholders in southern Africa with limited formal education. The curriculum is highly participatory; we use concepts in popular education, transformative and experiential-based learning, and theatre. It is also integrative; we link agroecology with climate change, human and soil nutrition, gender, and related components of social equity. Developed in partnership with Malawian farmers, community development experts and academics from five countries, the curriculum was piloted with 520 smallholder farming households in Malawi and Tanzania, and evaluated using qualitative techniques. Clashes of language, cultural norms, and terminology were as great of a challenge as agreeing on and conveying technical information, to weave into a coherent whole. However, farmers who participated in the curriculum training demonstrated high interest, comprehension of material and interest in immediate application to their lives.

Sustainable agricultural intensification in an era of rural transformation in Africa
TS Jayne, S Snapp, F Place, N Sitko – Global Food Security, 2019

Drawing on Boserupian and induced innovation principles, this review explores how the farm technologies and practices associated with integrated soil management and sustainable intensification may vary spatially according to the heterogenous ways in which economic transformation and population dynamics are influencing agricultural factor prices. Long-term trends in many areas are encouraging intensification of capital inputs, including fertilizer use. However, low agronomic efficiency of nitrogen poses a major constraint on fertilizer profitability and use. Integrated soil and agronomic management practices can improve the agronomic efficiency of fertilizer use, but achieving greater adoption of such practices will require greater understanding of best practices for the wide range of environmental conditions and farmer resource constraints in the region. Because sustainable resource managment best practices are highly localized and knowledge-intensive, massively increased investment in localized adaptive farm-level research and extension systems will be required to catalyze sustainable intensification in Africa.

Using participatory rural appraisal to investigate food production, nutrition and safety in the Tanzanian dairy value chain
B Häsler, G Msalya, K Roesel, K Fornace, M Eltholth… – Global Food Security, 2019

Identifying and implementing interventions that create co-benefits in terms of food and nutrition security as well as food safety requires an interdisciplinary and intersectoral approach. This study was part of a larger project that applied an integrated framework for combined nutritional, food safety and value chain analysis to assess the dairy value chain in two regions of Tanzania, namely Morogoro and Tanga. Here, we report on the use of participatory rural appraisals (PRAs) with producers and consumers to investigate seasonality, constraints and opportunities in cow milk production and consumption in ten villages in Tanzania and describe attitudes and practices surrounding milk quality and safety. The PRAs allowed identifying strong seasonal milk production and consumption practices reflecting rainfall patterns and a dependence on the natural environment. A wide range of production constraints were described by producers including insufficient technical know-how, poor quality breeds, cattle diseases, lack of capital, feed, water and reliable markets. While milk availability had a strong influence on milk consumption, findings showed that there are a range of other factors such as the consistency of milk, purchasing power and the availability of other foods which also influence consumer choice. A dependence on sensory milk quality attributes in the absence of other systems of certification was described. Both producers and consumers showed little concern regarding potentially contaminated milk despite an awareness of the existence of milkborne disease risks. The results indicate great potential for upscaling dairy production and at the same time highlight that any such interventions should carefully consider mitigation measures for food safety risks.

Diversifying conservation agriculture and conventional tillage cropping systems to improve the wellbeing of smallholder farmers in Malawi
Dan TerAvest, Philip R. Wandschneider, Christian Thierfelder, John P. Reganold – Agricultural Systems, 2019

Food production and the wellbeing of smallholder farmers are constrained by their limited financial resources, poor market access, and inadequate institutional support in southern and eastern Africa. Conservation agriculture (CA)–minimal soil disturbance, year-round ground cover, and diverse crop rotations–is being promoted to sustainably boost crop production, increase household income, and diversify diets for better nutrition. In this study, three cropping systems–continuous no-till maize, CA rotation, and conventional tillage rotation–were established on smallholder farms in the Nkhotakota and Dowa districts, two distinct agroecological zones in Malawi. Diverse three-year crop rotations in CA and conventional tillage systems included the alternative food crops sweet potato and cassava and the grain legumes common bean, soybean, cowpea, and pigeonpea. The effects of cropping system on labor use and financial returns, which served as a rough indicator of feasibility and farmer wellbeing, were analyzed for three years from 2011 to 2014. Over the three years of the study, continuous no-till maize produced the greatest gross and net revenues, despite also having greater production costs than CA and conventional systems. Although substantially less profitable than continuous no-till maize, the diversified CA and conventional tillage rotations were profitable for smallholder farmers, partially due to lower production costs. Sensitivity analysis was used to test the robustness of each cropping system under varying labor, input, and output price scenarios. Altering farmgate prices had the greatest impact on profitability, regardless of the crop grown. The input and output prices for maize were stable over the course of the study so that continuous no-till maize was the most robust cropping system. In contrast, high input cost and output price variability for alternative crops increased risk compared to maize, which may reduce their appeal to smallholder farmers. Reducing the risk of conservation agriculture rotations could provide smallholder farmers with more diversified diets and greater ecosystem services, such as greater rainwater infiltration and storage to withstand dry spells. Based on the results of this study, policies that reduce input price variability and increase farmgate prices of alternative food crops would have the greatest impact on the adoption of diverse crop rotations in Malawi.

ifpri-kampala Newsletter – week of March 11th, 2019

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 how former rice farmer praise Vitamin A orange sweet potatoes and on how to increase coffee farmers’ profitability in African countries. We also have news articles on Tanzania’s cotton sector and link to a response to the Gates letter.

Under research, we provide links to:

Note that newsletters are archived on http://ussp.ifpri.info/.

Do you know others who may be interested in this newsletter? Please encourage them to subscribe on http://bjornvancampenhout.com/newsletter/subscribe/

Happy reading

News:

Former rice farmer praises Vitamin A orange sweet potatoes
HarvestPlus


Walter Odongo, a 31-year-old farmer from Dokolo district in Northern Uganda, has only praise for vitamin A orange sweet potatoes. He was previously a rice farmer, but was persuaded to switch to a healthier, less labor-intensive crop by an awareness-raising campaign.

Project boosts farmers’ productivity by 70 per cent
Monitor

Access to timely weather information, insurance cover and input loan has increased farmers output by 70 per cent under the Market-led, User-owned ICT4Ag-enabled Information Service, a study has shown.

Will the Atiak Sugar factory and Soroti fruit processing plant see the light of the day?
Monitor

Two factories, both being supported by Uganda Development Corporation, the government’s investment and development arm, share similar aspirations and frustration.  Given the notable progress thus far, the two processing plants —Soroti Fruit Factory based in eastern Uganda and Atiak Sugar Factory located in the northern part of the country, will eventually see the much-deserved light at the end of tunnel.  But until then, the two are still work in progress.

How to increase coffee farmers’ profitability in African countries
Global coffee platform

The study in Uganda focused on the current challenges faced by coffee farmers when it comes to operating commercially, which needs to be address more efficiently to benefit coffee farming families in the country. The Ugandan Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) which is chairing the Ugandan Coffee Platform has been using the study to engage commercial farmers to join coffee production.    

Can a new initiative save Rwanda’s ailing agriculture sector?
New Times

The Rwandan Ministry of Finance is moving to de-risk the local agriculture sector through agriculture insurance with the hope of improving its attractiveness to the local and foreign private sector, including financial institutions. Investors continue to shy away from the sector citing reasons such as inadequate data on the sector, dependence on unpredictable weather patterns, reliance of traditional practices, low output among other challenges.

Striving to transform Tanzania’s cotton sector
ODI

Cotton growing and ginning is one of Tanzania’s top three agricultural export industries. It is a major source of livelihood for up to half a million smallholder farmers, mostly in the large region of enduring rural poverty lying to the south and east of Lake Victoria, known in Tanzania as the Lake Zone. The sector has been underperforming for 50 years, with productivity stagnating and international prices and therefore earnings falling in line with productivity gains in competitor countries.

Tariff, non-tariff barriers hit Eastern Africa grain trade
News Ghana

Tariff and non-tariff barriers are adversely affecting grain trade across the Eastern African region.  The barriers arising from rules of origin are being enforced on commodities such as rice, sugar, wheat and confectioneries.

How farmers are making the most of digital technologies in East Africa
CTA


Two-thirds of the population in Africa are employed in agriculture, with the vast majority being smallholder farmers. Agriculture could provide one of the best pathways out of poverty, but many farmers lack the knowledge and means to improve their farming practices. However, digital technologies are beginning to change this. 

Promoting urban agriculture for food security
New Times

Urban agriculture is becoming prominent in many African cities. In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, urban gardens in some communities are practiced as a part of urban agriculture. It forms at least 60 per cent of the informal sector and urban agriculture is the second largest urban employer. 

Why farmers aren’t focused on reducing emissions: a response to the Gates letter
Palladium

In their annual letter released this week, Bill and Melinda Gates identify agriculture as one of the five “grand challenges” of climate change. The Gates rightly state that the world must find ways to mitigate the impact agriculture is having, while acknowledging the priorities of farmers in low-income countries who are already facing the climate crisis’ effects.

German hops hero
Croplife

German beer is famous around the world. Most brewers in Germany still follow a 500-year old recipe that combines water, hops, malt and alt yeast.

Humanitarians struggle to address environment: ‘It’s nice but it’s not crucial’
World Agroforestry

With growing stress on natural resources, emergency workers have begun to examine their interventions. Environmental mismanagement can be fatal. Focusing on approaches that are built on the Sustainable Development Goals and with the assistance of organizations, like the UN and World Agroforestry, help is at hand.

New diet, new destiny? Saving the planet takes more than changing what we eat
Food Tank

When the EAT-Lancet Commission launched a new landmark report last month, it was widely interpreted as saying that forking down less red meat and more vegetables should ensure that we can provide nutritious food for 10 billion people while maintaining a healthy Earth.  However, while changing our diets can help turn around planetary degradation, the challenge is greater than that. As the EAT-Lancet commission points out, the way we produce our food must also be changed to ease the pressure on natural resources, not least water.

Research:

Demand and Supply of Infrequent Payments as a Commitment Device: Evidence from Kenya
Lorenzo Casaburi and Rocco Macchiavello – American Economic Review, 2019.

Despite extensive evidence that preferences are often time-inconsistent, there is only scarce evidence of willingness to pay for commit-ment. Infrequent payments for frequently provided goods and services are a common feature of many markets and they may naturally pro-vide commitment to save for lumpy expenses. Multiple experiments in the Kenyan dairy sector show that: (i) farmers are willing to incur sizable costs to receive infrequent payments as a commitment device,(ii) poor contract enforcement, however, limits competition among buyers in the supply of infrequent payments. We then present a model of demand and supply of infrequent payments and test its additional predictions.

Demographic Change, Agriculture, and Rural Poverty
J Thurlow, P Dorosh, B Davis – Sustainable Food and Agriculture, 2019

Population growth and urbanization are associated with economic development. Structural transformation entails workers leaving less productive agriculture and moving to more productive industries, often in urban centers. Population growth slows with development, leading to greater dependence on capital and technology rather than on labor. This was Asia’s successful pathway. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is also transforming, but far less than other regions are and with its own distinctive features. Though Africa is urbanizing, rapid population growth means that rural populations are still expanding. While African workers also are leaving agriculture, they do so at a slower pace than workers in Asia and are finding work in less productive services rather than in manufacturing. Such “urbanization without industrialization” raises concerns about Africa’s ability to create enough jobs for its urban workforce and underscores the need for continued focus on rural Africa. This chapter reviews the linkages between urbanization, agriculture and rural poverty in SSA, where most of the world’s poor will soon reside. It suggests that much of the economic growth and structural change that Africa enjoyed over the past two decades, attributable to a shift out of agriculture, was in fact an expansion of downstream components of the agriculture food system. Like agriculture, many downstream activities have strong linkages to poverty reduction. Governments concerned about jobs and poverty will need to raise productivity, not only in agriculture, but also throughout the entire food system. Since many downstream processing and trading activities are in towns and cities, promoting future poverty reduction will require greater alignment between agricultural and urban policies. Demographic change and rural-urban linkages will continue to be powerful drivers of global poverty reduction, but ensuring inclusive transformation will require broader development perspectives and policy coordination.

Why interventions in the seed systems of roots, tubers and bananas crops do not reach their full potential
CJM Almekinders, S Walsh, KS Jacobsen…- Food Security, 2019

Seed systems for roots, tuber, and banana (RTB) crops receive relatively little attention from development-oriented research and commercial seed sector actors, despite their importance for food security, nutrition and rural livelihoods. We review RTB seed systems—with particular reference to potato, sweetpotato, cassava, yam and banana —to reflect on current seed system development approaches and the unique nature of these systems. We refer to our own experiences, literature and 13 case studies of RTB seed system interventions to identify gaps in our knowledge on farmer practices in sourcing and multiplying seed, and processes affecting seed quality. Currently, most approaches to developing RTB seed systems favour decentralised multiplication models to make quality seed available to smallholder farmers. Nevertheless, arguments and experiences show that in many situations, the economic sustainability of these models cannot be guaranteed, among others because the effective demand of farmers for seed from vegetatively propagated crops is unclear. Despite the understudied nature of farmers’ agronomic and social practices in relation to seed production and sourcing in RTB crops, there is sufficient evidence to show that local RTB seed systems are adaptive and dynamic. Our analysis suggests the paramount importance of understanding farmers’ effective demand for seed and how this affects the sustainable supply of quality seed from specialized producer-entrepreneurs, regardless of the seed system paradigm. From the case studies we learnt that few interventions are designed with a rigorous understanding of these issues; in particular, what types of interventions work for which actors, where, and why, although this is a necessary condition for prioritizing investments to increase the use of improved seed by smallholder farmers.

Does large farm establishment create benefits for neighboring smallholders? Evidence from Ethiopia
D Ali, K Deininger, A Harris – Land Economics, 2019

Large-scale agricultural investment has expanded rapidly over the past decade, justified partly by the expectation that established smallholders will benefit from positive spillovers. We estimate spillovers between large and small farms in Ethiopia, using variation over time in proximity or intensity of exposure to large farms. We find that between 2004 and 2014, establishing commercial farms did not lead to job creation and provided only modest benefits in terms of technology, input market access, and resilience to crop shocks. This suggests that in Ethiopia a more strategic approach may be needed to maximize benefits from large farm formation for smallholders.

African Indigenous Vegetable Seed Systems in Western Kenya
L Pincus, M Croft, R Roothaert, T Dubois – Economic Botany, 2019

African indigenous vegetable (AIV) production systems are often constrained by the availability of high-quality seed. Concerted efforts to improve the informal seed sector could increase farmers’ access to seed, but these efforts are hampered by a lack of knowledge around the quality of farmer-produced seed and seed growers’ motivations for producing seed. This study collected seed samples and survey data from 127 farmers in western Kenya on their AIV seed production practices, uses of AIV seed, and motivations for growing seed. Germination tests showed that seed quality varied significantly between species. Seed access was still a constraint, even though the majority of seeds used by farmers are self-produced. Income from selling AIV seed differed significantly depending on gender, with men earning more than twice as much as women. This study demonstrates that the constraints farmers face in accessing high-quality AIV seed can vary significantly between species and over short distances. Female seed producers are not necessarily empowered to earn equal income as men, despite AIVs traditionally being considered a women’s crop. This study speaks to the importance of using localized information to develop programs for improving informal seed systems and continuing to employ gender-sensitive and transformative activities.

Diversifying conservation agriculture and conventional tillage cropping systems to improve the wellbeing of smallholder farmers in Malawi
D TerAvest, PR Wandschneider, C Thierfelder… – Agricultural Systems, 2019

Food production and the wellbeing of smallholder farmers are constrained by their limited financial resources, poor market access, and inadequate institutional support in southern and eastern Africa. Conservation agriculture (CA)–minimal soil disturbance, year-round ground cover, and diverse crop rotations–is being promoted to sustainably boost crop production, increase household income, and diversify diets for better nutrition. In this study, three cropping systems–continuous no-till maize, CA rotation, and conventional tillage rotation–were established on smallholder farms in the Nkhotakota and Dowa districts, two distinct agroecological zones in Malawi. Diverse three-year crop rotations in CA and conventional tillage systems included the alternative food crops sweet potato and cassava and the grain legumes common bean, soybean, cowpea, and pigeonpea. The effects of cropping system on labor use and financial returns, which served as a rough indicator of feasibility and farmer wellbeing, were analyzed for three years from 2011 to 2014. Over the three years of the study, continuous no-till maize produced the greatest gross and net revenues, despite also having greater production costs than CA and conventional systems. Although substantially less profitable than continuous no-till maize, the diversified CA and conventional tillage rotations were profitable for smallholder farmers, partially due to lower production costs. Sensitivity analysis was used to test the robustness of each cropping system under varying labor, input, and output price scenarios. Altering farmgate prices had the greatest impact on profitability, regardless of the crop grown. The input and output prices for maize were stable over the course of the study so that continuous no-till maize was the most robust cropping system. In contrast, high input cost and output price variability for alternative crops increased risk compared to maize, which may reduce their appeal to smallholder farmers. Reducing the risk of conservation agriculture rotations could provide smallholder farmers with more diversified diets and greater ecosystem services, such as greater rainwater infiltration and storage to withstand dry spells. Based on the results of this study, policies that reduce input price variability and increase farmgate prices of alternative food crops would have the greatest impact on the adoption of diverse crop rotations in Malawi.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this email and references to online sources is provided as a public service with the understanding that IFPRI-Kampala/USSP makes no warranties, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability of the information. Nor does IFPRI-Kampala/USSP warrant that the use of this information is free of any claims of copyright infringement. The views and opinions expressed in this this email and references to online sources do not necessarily reflect official policy or position of IFPRI, IFPRI-Kampala or USSP or should not be taken as an endorsement.

IFPRI Kampala newsletter – week of Jan 28th 2019

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 A learning exchange for improved extension to coffee farmers and on how Uganda’s agriculture and food system can create jobs. We also have news articles warning that farming insects may solve one problem but create others and link to the a WEF report on Improving traceability in food value chains through technology innovations.

Under research, we provide links to:

Note that newsletters are archived on http://ussp.ifpri.info/.

Do you know others who may be interested in this newsletter? Please encourage them to subscribe on http://bjornvancampenhout.com/newsletter/subscribe/

Happy reading

News:

FAO and agriculture ministry team up to support fishing communities around Lake Victoria
PLM Daily

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries together with Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations have unveiled a joint project to support fishing communities around Lake Victoria.  The two-year pilot project launched in Masaka aims at improving the livelihoods of fishing communities, especially women and youths in three districts of Masaka, Kalungu, and Kalangala.

A learning exchange for improved extension to coffee farmers
CCAFS

Both HRNS and Olam provide extension support services to smallholder coffee farmers for the improvement of livelihoods through increased coffee production. Both are working to ensure gender mainstreaming in their respective programs.

Coffee farmers in Uganda learn about practices for successfully increasing productivity and climate change resilience
CCAFS

As part of USAID’s Feed the Future project, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in collaboration with Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung have established 10 Climate Smart Investment Pathway demonstration plots in Luwero and Ntungamo districts in Uganda for research and learning on good agronomic practices for coffee.

Farming up: Uganda’s agriculture and food system can create jobs
World Bank

Agriculture can provide jobs to Uganda’s unemployed youth if well harnessed, according to the twelfth Uganda Economic Update published in late-2018 by the World Bank.  The report, “Developing Uganda’s Agri-Food System for Inclusive Economic Growth,” notes that the sector’s economic contribution extends well beyond the production sector into the wider food system, including related processing, manufacturing, and services. However, the employment potential of Uganda’s agriculture and agri-food system remains largely untapped, despite providing 70% of the country’s employment opportunities, contributing more than half of all exports, and about one-quarter of gross domestic product .

Top Senegalese chef backs ancient grain as next superfood
Reuters

Cultivated in Senegal, Ghana, Mali and other parts of the sub-Saharan region, fonio has been dubbed “the new quinoa” by superfood fans in the West.  Fonio fits the bill, as it is gluten-free, high in protein and amino acids, and very easy to cook.  Agriculture experts say the drought-resistant, fast-growing plant also has the potential to help ease hunger linked to the negative impacts of climate change.

China has culled 916,000 pigs as of Jan 14 due to African swine fever outbreaks – ag ministry
Reuters

China has culled 916,000 pigs as of Jan. 14 due to outbreaks of African swine fever since the first case was reported in early August last year, the country’s agriculture ministry said on Tuesday.  China has reported about 100 outbreaks of the highly contagious disease in 24 provinces and regions since it was first confirmed in the northeast of the country.

South Korean farmers see boost in banana crop
BBC

Climate change could soon turn the South Korean mainland into a producer of bananas, mangoes and passion fruit, it has been reported.  Bananas already grow on sub-tropical Jeju Island off the southern coast, but farmers elsewhere are reporting successes.

OLAM to refocus on coffee, cocoa and exit rubber and sugar
Coffee and Cocoa International

Announcing its 2019-2024 strategic plan the company said it intended to capitalise on key trends shaping the sector and refocus on commodities such as coffee and cocoa, and de-prioritise selected businesses – including rubber and sugar.

Seafood processing water can help supply the world with protein
Food Tank

Recent research has shown that seafood processing water is a valuable source of protein and can play a vital role in fulfilling the world’s growing demand for nutrient-dense food. Seafood processing water is the water fish and seafood are caught, held, and processed in. Many seafood manufacturers currently treat it as waste and dispose of it, which can be costly.

Giant leaf for mankind? China germinates first seed on moon
The Guardian

A small green shoot is growing on the moon after a cotton seed germinated onboard a Chinese lunar lander, scientists said. “This is the first time humans have done biological growth experiments on the lunar surface,” said Xie Gengxin, who led the design of the experiment.

Farming insects may solve one problem but create others, scientists warn
Reuters

Insects have great potential as an alternative source of protein, but further research is urgently needed before mass production begins in order to avoid environment disaster, Swedish researchers warned Monday.  There is currently an “overwhelming lack of knowledge” on basic questions such as suitable species, their housing and feed requirements, managing their waste and that escaping insects do not wreak havoc on the ecosystem, they said.

Policy briefs, research reports and discussion papers:

Improving traceability in food value chains through technology innovations
World Economic Forum

This report by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with McKinsey & Company, analyses the innovative use of traceability, which builds on several transformative technologies, provides a foundation to address many of today’s food-systems issues in addition to contributing to the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals and has potential throughout developed and developing markets. Many of these technologies are already beginning to disrupt food systems and drive new business models.

Research:

Welfare effects of weather variability: Multi-country evidence from Africa south of the Sahara
B Haile, S Signorelli, C Azzarri, T Johnson – PloS one, 2018

Climate change and weather variability pose serious threats to food and nutrition security as well as ecosystems, especially when livelihoods depend heavily on natural resources. This study examines the effect of weather variability (shock) occurring up to three planting and growing season prior on per capita monthly household expenditure in rural Tanzania, Uganda, and Ghana. The analyses combine monthly temperature (1950–2013) and precipitation (1981–2013) data with data from several rounds of household surveys conducted between 1998 and 2013. Substantial spatial and temporal heterogeneity is documented in the incidence of shocks, with effects dependent on both the study and lag period considered. Analysis of short panel data shows the cumulative effect of above-average precipitation on expenditure to be negative in Uganda -while positive in Tanzania-, but the relationship does not persist when pooling survey data spanning over a decade. The evidence from pooled data suggests a positive association between above-average temperature (heat wave) and expenditure in (historically cooler) Uganda, with the opposite effect observed in (the relatively warmer) Tanzania. For Ghana, the association between heat wave and expenditure is positive. There is no evidence of heterogeneous effects along several dimensions, except by agro-ecological condition. Further research into the effects of shocks on more direct outcomes–such as agricultural practices, yields, and dietary intake–is therefore recommended to shed light on possible impact pathways and appropriate localized adaptation strategies.

Status and scope of kitchen gardening of green leafy vegetables in rural Tanzania: implications for nutrition interventions
C Rybak, HA Mbwana, M Bonatti, S Sieber, K Müller – Food Security, 2018

Kitchen gardens in Tanzania are currently facing a variety of threats. However, many households depend on basic farming activities to meet household food needs. The objective of this study was to describe the current status and scope of kitchen gardening for improving the food security situation in the Morogoro and Dodoma regions of Tanzania. A cluster sampling method was used to select 383 households. The main respondents were mothers or caregivers responsible for food preparation. Techniques for data collection were observations, focus group discussions and face to face interviews. A small proportion (2.6%) of residents in the semi-arid Dodoma region had a kitchen garden as compared to the sub-humid Morogoro region (9.9%). Sweet potato leaves, cassava leaves, pumpkin leaves, cowpea leaves and African egg plant were the principal vegetables grown in the two areas. The market provided vegetables to 87% of the surveyed households. Vegetables sold at the market were mostly in the dried form, fresh vegetables in the market being those cultivated near ponds, especially during dry seasons. About 90% and 55% of the kitchen garden produce was used for home consumption in Dodoma and Morogoro, respectively. Women contributed 80% and 75%of the total labor for managing kitchen gardens in Dodoma and Morogoro, respectively. Socio-cultural factors (food habit and demand and supply of food materials), environmental factors (climatic factors, water availability), types of soils and farmers’ local knowledge and understanding (traditional knowledge and practices, formal and non-formal education) were the key determinants of vegetables grown in the traditional kitchen garden. Kitchen gardening was practised by few of the surveyed households and the diversity of the planted vegetables was low. Factors that influenced the presence of a kitchen gardens at household level were: sex of the household head (p = 0.002), literacy status of the mother/caregiver (p = 0.001) and the education level (p = 0.001) of the respondent.

Climbing bean as a solution to increase productivity in land-constrained environments: Evidence from Rwanda
E Katungi, C Larochelle, J Mugabo, R Buruchara – Outlook on Agriculture, 2018

Climbing bean is a potential solution to increase the agricultural sector productivity and sustainability. Using nationally representative bean-producing household data collected in Rwanda, this study identifies factors that influence the decision to switch from cultivating bush to climbing bean and quantifies the impact of climbing bean adoption on yield. About 50% of bean-producing households grow climbing bean, a substantial increase over the past 15 years. Elevation, population pressure, and drought shocks are important drivers of climbing bean adoption. Adoption of climbing bean increases yield by 23% among adopters and has the potential to increase yield by 48% for non-adopters. Findings from this study provide important information for the development of agricultural policies and programs in Rwanda and elsewhere.

Using household survey data to identify large-scale food security patterns across Uganda
J Wichern, J van Heerwaarden, S de Bruin,… – PLOS ONE, 2018

To target food security interventions for smallholder households, decision makers need large-scale information, such as maps on poverty, food security and key livelihood activities. Such information is often based on expert knowledge or aggregated data, despite the fact that food security and poverty are driven largely by processes at the household level. At present, it is unclear if and how household level information can contribute to the spatial prediction of such welfare indicators or to what extent local variability is ignored by current mapping efforts. A combination of geo-referenced household level information with spatially continuous information is an underused approach to quantify local and large-scale variation, while it can provide a direct estimate of the variability of welfare indicators at the most relevant scale. We applied a stepwise regression kriging procedure to translate point information to spatially explicit patterns and create country-wide predictions with associated uncertainty estimates for indicators on food availability and related livelihood activities using household survey data from Uganda. With few exceptions, predictions of the indicators were weak, highlighting the difficulty in capturing variability at larger scale. Household explanatory variables identified little additional variation compared to environmental explanatory variables alone. Spatial predictability was strongest for indicators whose distribution was determined by environmental gradients. In contrast, indicators of crops that were more ubiquitously present across agroecological zones showed large local variation, which often overruled large-scale patterns.

Potato market access, marketing efficiency and on-farm value addition in Uganda
H Kyomugisha, C Sebatta, J Mugisha – Scientific African, 2018

Understanding barriers to market access for smallholder farmers and their marketing efficiency when they participate in agricultural value chains is key to unlocking the market potential and overcoming market failures. This study aimed at determining factors limiting farmers’ market access, the break-even point for undertaking postharvest value addition activities by the farmers, and the market efficiency of the Uganda potato market chains in which the smallholder farmers are participating. Our study was based on the hypothesis that market access and efficiency are higher where farmers have contract arrangements with buyers, and where they are directly linked with the buyers at the end of the value chain. The study was carried out in the popular potato growing districts of Kabale and Mbale in Uganda. The survey involved purposive selection of the study areas and random selection of potato farmers and traders. We used an Ordinary Least Square model to determine factors that influence potato smallholder farmers’ market access. We also used break-even analysis to determine the break-even point for potato farmers to take up postharvest value addition activities, and a value addition approach to determine market efficiency. Results indicate that having a contract with buyers, size of land owned, number of forked hoes owned and variety grown positively and significantly influenced farmer market access. We found that adding value to potato on farm earns farmers relatively more income. A farmer would earn 25% higher than when no value addition was done. Market chains where farmers sell to local rural traders were more efficient than selling to other alternatives. We recommend farmer involvement in value addition, collective and/or contractual marketing, and selling directly to the nearest actor in the value chain.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this email and references to online sources is provided as a public service with the understanding that IFPRI-Kampala/USSP makes no warranties, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability of the information. Nor does IFPRI-Kampala/USSP warrant that the use of this information is free of any claims of copyright infringement. The views and opinions expressed in this this email and references to online sources do not necessarily reflect official policy or position of IFPRI, IFPRI-Kampala or USSP or should not be taken as an endorsement.

IFPRI Kampala newsletter – week of Jan 21st 2019

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 Speeding up seed policies harmonisation and on Ugandan wins grant for environmental research. We also have news articles on Gulu youth punch holes in domestic coffee consumption project and link to the a New study warns of persistent health threats from micronutrient gaps through midcentury.

We also refer to the following policy brief and discussion paper:

Under research, we provide links to:

Note that newsletters are archived on http://ussp.ifpri.info/.

Do you know others who may be interested in this newsletter? Please encourage them to subscribe on http://bjornvancampenhout.com/newsletter/subscribe/

Happy reading

News:

Speed up seed policies harmonisation
SciDev

Delayed harmonisation of policies for encouraging the transfer of seeds across East and Southern Africa is hampering trade and increased agricultural growth, experts say. The goal to harmonise seed trade resulted from having different policies across countries, thus impeding transfer technology to promote agriculture in the region. Harmonised seed policies ensure that countries with similar agricultural production characteristics can trade their seeds for mutual benefits without challenges.

Ugandan wins grant for environmental research
Independent

A Ugandan innovator in the Agriculture sector has been named among eleven innovators nominated for the Artificial Intelligence for Earth Innovation Awards.  Ketty Adoch, a geographical information systems specialist in agriculture works towards monitoring change detection for land cover mapping around the areas surrounding the Murchison Falls National Park.   

How hibiscus and tamarind products offer Kiyaga more
Monitor

Musa Kiyaga of Kayunga District has discovered the hidden gold in adding value to plant which has medicinal value.  The 48-year-old, who dropped out of primary school due to a school fees’ challenges, is the proprietor of Ssezibwa Herbal Uganda Ltd, a company that makes Nino energy drink from herbs.  He makes the drink from hibiscus flowers, honey and tamarind fruit, among others.

Uganda not excited about sugar supplies in region – producers
Monitor

Uganda Sugar Manufacturers Association has said it is not excited about supplying sugar to Tanzania and Kenya because the two countries only turn to Uganda in times of crisis.
Both Tanzania and Kenya are facing a sugar crisis resulting from increasing demand amid low supplies.

Gulu youth punch holes in domestic coffee consumption project
Monitor

A group of youth in Gulu district have protested the method being used to implement a pilot project that is intended to promote the domestic consumption of coffee in the area.  It’s being implemented by Inspire Africa, a human capital development organisation that works with young entrepreneurs.

EAC fishing, aquaculture stakeholders to meet over ‘True Fish’ project
Daily News

Ministers and senior officials from Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda are scheduled to meet next month to discuss the grand five-year project-True Fish-that starts this year.  The project will be executed in the Lake Victoria Basin and has been introduced due to the fact that despite efforts by the riparian countries around the lake, measures to sustainably manage the capture of fisheries have failed and stocks of the Nile Perch and Tilapia have drastically declined.

Low seeds quality affecting returns in COMESA region
New Times

Access to improved seeds by more than 80 million small-holder farmers in the Comesa region remains low standing at 23 per cent. This has resulted in low productivity, especially for cereals such as maize, sorghum and pearl millet. Despite Comesa countries having most of the global arable land, the region still grapples with food production.  

ICO expects 2018/19 to be the second year of surplus

Coffee and Cocoa

After a small surplus in the global coffee market in 2017/2018, a surplus is also expected in 2018/2019, primarily as a result of a large crop in Brazil.  Global output is estimated at 167.47 million bags, exceeding world consumption, projected to be 165.18 million bags.

How chicken became the rich world’s most popular meat
Economist

The chicken industry is a dirty business, but it is also a profitable one. In the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries, pork and beef consumption has remained unchanged since 1990. Chicken consumption has grown by 70%  

The world now has universal health and sustainability targets
Food Tank

A shift towards healthy diets, reducing food waste and loss, and closing yield gaps with sustainable intensification will make it possible to feed a growing population of nearly 10 billion by 2050 without further food systems-related land expansion.  

Amid global soil crisis, governments struggle to reach farmers
Devex

In 2015, the International Year of Soils, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization warned that we only have 60 years of farming left if soil degradation continues. Since then, outsized population growth, human-caused climate change, and industrial farming are among the many factors that have added heavy strain on soils.  Fertile soil — a non-renewable resource — is now being lost at the alarming rate of approximately 24 billion tons a year.

Bigger data, smaller farms: the role of big data in sustainable intensification
Food Tank

Sustainable intensification is one area of agricultural research that could be transformed by Big Data. By leveraging these new digital tools for smallholder farmers, the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture is providing a new perspective on farming that can lead to a greater understanding of the complex systems that make up the global food system.  

World’s coffee under threat, say experts
BBC

The first full assessment of risks to the world’s coffee plants shows that 60% of 124 known species are on the edge of extinction.  More than 100 types of coffee tree grow naturally in forests, including two used for the coffee we drink.

New study warns of persistent health threats from micronutrient gaps through midcentury
Harvest Plus

Billions of people around the world are likely to remain vulnerable to the serious health effects of micronutrient deficiency for decades to come, even under the most optimistic scenarios for global economic and income growth, a new research report shows.  

Policy Briefs, Discussion Papers and Research Reports

Stimulating agribusiness entrepreneurship to solve youth unemployment in Kenya
IDS policy brief

This brief analyses the potential of agribusiness to address youth unemployment in Kenya and calls for increased collaboration between agribusiness owners, government, and educationalists through entrepreneurship development.

Did conditional cash transfers in the Productive Safety Net Program empower women in Tigray, north-east Ethiopia?
Megos Desalegne Gelagay and Els Lecoutere – IOB Discussion Paper

Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT), policy instruments for social protection, also have potential to economically empower women. The assessment of the impact of the CCT component in the Productive Safety Net Program in Tigray, Ethiopia, on women’s economic empowerment generates important insights for policy and future CCT programs in similar contexts. Not only does it demonstrate a differential impact on diverse aspects of women’s economic empowerment, it also shows a heterogeneity in the effects in man- and woman-headed households. Women’s access and decision-making power over credit is positively impacted in both types of households, yet, the effect seems larger among woman-headed households, suggesting CCT affect married women differently in this regard. Negative effects are observed as well and call for particular policy attention. Among woman-headed households, CCT reduced women’s decision-making power over agricultural production and asset transfers. If this means women received help in agricultural production and safeguarding their assets as part of the program, this might actually be positive, provided women themselves also appreciate sharing decision-making power. Among man-headed households, there is a negative effect on women’s time available for leisure, which corroborates other findings of increased work burdens due to conditionalities; but here, this only affects married women.

Research

Economic Implication of Grazing and Water Resource Scarcity on Households’ Welfare and Food Security in Tigrai, Ethiopia
M Hadush – Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, 2018

In this paper, I have explored the link between grazing and water resource scarcity and per capita food consumption expenditure as a proxy for welfare and food security using distance and shadow price as a resource scarcity indicator in Northern Ethiopia based on a unique data set for 518 sample farmers. To address my objectives, I employed an IV 2SLS model for estimating welfare and probit for analyzing food security, drawing on a separable farm household model. My results confirmed the theoretical prediction that grazing and water affect households’ welfare and food security adversely, as predicted by the downward spiral hypothesis.

Smallholder responses to climate anomalies in rural Uganda
M Call, C Gray, P Jagger – World Development, 2019

Recent research suggests that sub-Saharan Africa will be among the regions most affected by the negative social and biophysical ramifications of climate change. Smallholders are expected to respond to rising temperatures and precipitation anomalies through on-farm management strategies and diversification into off-farm activities. However, few studies have empirically examined the relationship between climate anomalies and rural livelihoods. Our research explores the impact of climate anomalies on farmers’ on and off-farm livelihood strategies, considering both annual and decadal climate exposures, the relationship between on and off-farm livelihoods, and the implications of these livelihood strategies for agricultural productivity. To examine these issues, we link gridded climate data to survey data collected in 120 communities from 850 Ugandan households and 2000 agricultural plots in 2003 and 2013. We find that smallholder livelihoods are responsive to climate exposure over both short and long time scales. Droughts decrease agricultural productivity in the short term and reduce individual livelihood diversification in the long term. Smallholders cope with higher temperatures in the short term, but in the long run, farmers struggle to adapt to above-average temperatures, which lower agricultural productivity and reduce opportunities for diversification. On and off-farm livelihood strategies also appear to operate in parallel, rather than by substituting for one another. These observations suggest that new strategies will be necessary if rural smallholders are to successfully adapt to climate change.

Household Welfare Effects of Stress-Tolerant Varieties in Northern Uganda
CM Mwungu, C Mwongera, KM Shikuku, M Acosta… – … Climate-Smart Agriculture …, 2019

This study assessed the adoption of stress-tolerant varieties and their effect on household welfare, measured by net crop income per capita in Nwoya District, Uganda. The stress-tolerant varieties were considered to be climate-smart because they stabilise and increase crop income in the presence of climatic shocks. However, the uptake of the stress-tolerant varieties was still low in northern Uganda, due to bad past experience in terms of the performance of other improved varieties. Using data from a random sample of 585 households, a logistic model was estimated to assess the drivers for adoption of stress-tolerant varieties. In addition, a propensity score matching model was employed to assess causal effects. The second model was estimated because it controls for unobserved heterogeneity caused by self-selection bias. Results showed that adoption of stress-tolerant varieties was positively influenced by household size, access to information from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the perception of future climate change, the number of years an individual had lived in the village, and the number and type of assets owned as an indicator of household well-being. Average treatment effect from results showed that stress-tolerant varieties can increase crop income within a range of United States Dollars (USD) 500–864 per hectare per year, representing an 18–32% increase in crop income. The findings offer justification for scaling up stress tolerant varieties among smallholder farmers in northern Uganda to improve their welfare.

The Role of Multi-Stakeholder Platforms for Creating an Enabling Climate Change Policy Environment in East Africa
M Acosta, EL Ampaire, P Muchunguzi, JF Okiror… – … Climate-Smart Agriculture …, 2019

Research-based evidence on the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices is vital to their effective uptake, continued use and wider diffusion. In addition, an enabling policy environment at the national and regional levels is necessary for this evidence to be used effectively. This chapter analyzes a 4-year period of continuous policy engagement in East Africa in an attempt to understand the role of multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs) in facilitating an enabling policy environment for climate change adaptation and mitigation. The study shows how MSPs enhanced a sense of ownership, developed knowledge, created linkages between different governance levels and a wide variety of actors (including policymakers and scientists), and, most significantly, improved policy formulation.

Crop prices and the demand for titled land: Evidence from Uganda
VME Perego – Journal of Development Economics, 2018

I investigate how agricultural prices affect demand for titled land, using panel data on Ugandan farmers, and a price index that weighs international crop prices by the structure of land use at the sub-county level. Higher prices increase farmers’ share of titled land. I also present evidence of a positive impact of prices on agricultural incomes. The effect of prices on land tenure is stronger when farmers have access to roads and markets, when they have undertaken investment on the land, and when households fear land grabbing.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this email and references to online sources is provided as a public service with the understanding that IFPRI-Kampala/USSP makes no warranties, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability of the information. Nor does IFPRI-Kampala/USSP warrant that the use of this information is free of any claims of copyright infringement. The views and opinions expressed in this this email and references to online sources do not necessarily reflect official policy or position of IFPRI, IFPRI-Kampala or USSP or should not be taken as an endorsement.

IFPRI-Kampala newsletter – week of Jan 7, 2019

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the first edition of the IFPR-Kampala’s USSP news and research digest in 2019!

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 state of the art research on improving agricultural extension and information services in the developing world and on restoring native forest cover to increase local Resilience. We also have news articles on why growing groundnuts is (still) a worthwhile project and link to World Food Program: fighting hunger with blockchain.

Under research, we provide links to:

Note that newsletters are archived on http://ussp.ifpri.info/.

Do you know others who may be interested in this newsletter? Please encourage them to subscribe on http://bjornvancampenhout.com/newsletter/subscribe/

Happy reading

Improving agricultural extension and information services in the developing world
Voxdev

Information services can substantially increase the productivity and profitability of smallholder farmers as long as certain criteria are met. Traditional extension does not always provide the most useful information to farmers. At the same time, training and information services can be critical in contexts where novel technologies are being promoted. Information that is more accessible and customised to individual farmer circumstances can be important for behaviour change. Information can also be made more accessible through tools that simplify recommendations and messaging. Understanding and using social networks can improve the spread of information. Understanding and using social networks can improve the spread of information. Price information alone might not be enough.

Expectations from the genetic Bill
Monitor

Parliament recently passed the Genetic Engineering Regulatory Bill 2018 after a long struggle. Since 2008 when Uganda got the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy, there has been a need to get a law to guide the implementation of that policy.

Greening Uganda: restoring native forest cover to increase local resilience
Food Tank

To combat the growing threat of climate change, the Ugandan Government promised to restore 2.5 million hectares of forest by 2030 as part of the African Restoration Initiative, an international reforestation program. But the strategies to reach this target have not been well implemented, with native trees being lost at a higher rate than they are being planted. So far, no institution in Uganda has restored 100,000 hectares with native trees, let alone the 2.5 million that have been promised.  

CSOs happy with amendments in GMO bill
New Vision

The recently passed Genetic Engineering Regulatory Bill, formerly the National Biotechnology and Bio-safety Bill by Parliament, has been welcomed by the CSOs activists.  In a public statement, six Civil Society Organisations said critical clauses inserted or clarified in the Bill provided key safeguards to farming and food systems in the country.

Giving backyard farming a jeans look
Monitor

The denim absorbs water and allows good air circulation unlike other clothing materials like polyester and khaki. Interestingly, it is the women jeans that work best, ‘because they have that bum space’. The crop expert adds that farming in jeans eliminates the weeding process, allows fast plant growth and avoids external factors like bacteria.

Why growing groundnuts is a worthwhile project
Monitor

Also known as peanuts, groundnuts are consumed as sauce or a confectionary roasted snack.  Due to their popularity, they rank second to beans in legumes grown in Uganda and, as a legume, they improve soil fertility by fixing nitrogen.  

Damned if you fish, damned if you don’t: no good choices on Lake Victoria
IRIN

Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake, has been affected by years of mismanagement, environmental changes, and a burgeoning population. Desperate families use illegal nets and poison to catch fish, piracy is on the rise, and alcoholism is rife. As fish stocks dwindle, more and more families struggle to make ends meet.

Africa’s inspired inventors: Uganda, the vertical farm
Guardian

After returning to Kampala as a cash-strapped university student, he began looking for space-saving ways to grow his own food. His solution was the “farm in a box”, a sustainably sourced timber box measuring 90cm wide by 90cm high that can hold up to 200 plants.  

Ejang cashes in on tamarind
Monitor

“Growing up with my grandparents in Kigumba, Kiryandongo District, we had lots of tamarind trees and each time people came complaining of different illnesses, my grandparents would either recommend them to eat tamarind or make juice out of it,” she explains. Thinking of tamarinds’ sweet-sour taste, Ejang knew not many people would enjoy the fruit so to attract more buyers, she decided to make juice out of them.  

Uganda beats other EA states in exports to Kenya in 2018
Monitor

Uganda exported more goods to Kenya than any other country in the East African region in the period running between January and September 2018.  The growth was driven by increased reliance on Uganda for maize supplies in the period under review.  

Low seeds quality affecting returns in Comesa region
Monitor

Access to improved seeds by more than 80 million small-holder farmers in the Comesa region remains low standing at 23 per cent.  This has resulted in low productivity, especially for cereals such as maize, sorghum and pearl millet.

Comesa trade limited by lack of sanitary standards
East African

Uganda largely exports fruits and vegetables to East Africa and Africa, with Kenya and Rwanda among the major destinations.  Ephrance Tumuboine, the head of phytosanitary and quarantine in the department of crop protection, said traders from Asia have been to Uganda hoping to import avocados, but without the necessary standards in place, this market is yet to open up.

How silicon makes Israel’s desert bloom
Economist

Newer companies are exploiting technological advances in areas such as plant biology and artificial intelligence. Startups founded in Israel last year include Sufresca, which is developing edible coatings that extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables; Beewise, which uses artificial intelligence to automate beehive maintenance; and Armenta, which is working on new therapies to treat sick dairy cows. Other firms are targeting trendy sectors like pharmaceutical crops and alternative proteins.

As the world smokes less this developing country is turning to weed to save its economy
Quartz Africa

Malawi is set to become the latest African country to legalize marijuana farming in a bid to boost its economy. It comes as its major foreign exchange earner tobacco, starts to see the impact of a decades-long global anti-smoking lobby led by organizations including the World Health Organisation.

Scientists improve on photosynthesis by genetically engineering plants
LA Times

Researchers are reprogramming plants to make photosynthesis more efficient. And it seems to be paying off.  Tobacco plants that were genetically engineered to optimize photosynthesis outgrew their conventional relatives by up to 40%, 

Medium-scale farms are on the rise in Africa. Why this is good news
The Conversation

Driven by population growth and growing land scarcity, most African farm households are witnessing the gradual sub-division of their land. Over time farms are getting smaller and smaller. Because they’re so small, few can generate enough income to keep farmers above the poverty line and most of them increasingly rely on off-farm incomes. But, from about ten years ago, we have started to see evidence of a major rise in the number of medium-scale, African-owned farms…. we believe that medium-scale farms are an important driver of rural transformation in much of Africa…

Sustainable intensification may be the future of agriculture
Food Tank

“Twenty-nine percent of the world’s farms have adopted forms of sustainable intensification. There’s a kind of world wide experiment going on here with millions of farmers and thousands, if not millions, of agricultural researchers, civil society organizations, policy supports: all sorts of different people are adding to this. There’s a flow going on here toward more synergistic agriculture.”

Two compounds in coffee may team up to fight Parkinson’s
Coffee and Cocoa

Rutgers scientists have found a compound in coffee that may combine with caffeine to fight Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, two progressive and currently incurable diseases associated with brain degeneration. 

The World Food Program: fighting hunger with blockchain
Food Tank

The UN World Food Program’s (WFP) Building Blocks pilot is using blockchain at refugee camps throughout Jordan. Refugees can now enter grocery stores and buy food by simply looking at a small machine by the cash register: an iris scanner that reads refugees’ biometric data, then accurately accesses and spends WFP food vouchers from their linked accounts. 

Policy Brief, Discussion papers and Research Reports:

Heterogeneity, Measurement Error and Misallocation: Evidence from African Agriculture
Douglas Gollin, Christopher R. Udry – NBER working paper

Standard measures of productivity display enormous dispersion across farms in Africa. Crop yields and input intensities appear to vary greatly, seemingly in conflict with a model of efficient allocation across farms. In this paper, we present a theoretical framework for distinguishing between measurement error, unobserved heterogeneity, and potential misallocation. Using rich panel data from farms in Tanzania and Uganda, we estimate our model using a flexible specification in which we allow for several kinds of measurement error and heterogeneity. We find that measurement error and heterogeneity together account for a large fraction – as much as ninety percent — of the dispersion in measured productivity. In contrast to some previous estimates, we suggest that the potential for efficiency gains through reallocation of land across farms and farmers may be relatively modest.

Stimulating agribusiness entrepreneurship to solve youth unemployment in Kenya
IDS

With approximately 75 per cent of the population living in rural areas, agriculture plays a vital role in Kenya’s economy and has scope to provide jobs for unemployed youth. This IDS Policy Briefing analyses the potential of agribusiness to address youth unemployment in Kenya and calls for increased collaboration between agribusiness owners, government, and educationalists through entrepreneurship development. 

What is the role of men in connecting women to cash crop markets? Evidence from Uganda
K Ambler, KM Jones, M O’Sullivan – 2018

Programs that seek to increase women’s participation in marketing activities related to the principal household economic activity must involve men if they are to be successful. In this paper we analyze take-up of a project that sought to increase women’s involvement in sugarcane marketing and sales by encouraging the registration of a sugarcane block contract in the wife’s name. We find that men who are more educated and live in households with higher wealth and expenditures are more likely to agree to the registration. Households with more cane blocks and in which the wife is already more involved in cane activities are also more likely to participate. Overall, take-up is high at 70%, and remains high even in those groups that are less likely to take-up. Additionally, we find that blocks transferred to women are not of lower quality or value than those kept by men, though they are smaller and closer to the home. These results suggest that simple encouragement can be an effective tool to nudge men to include their wives in household commercial activities.

Mapping nutrient adequacy for targeted policy interventions, with application to Uganda (2013/14)
W Marivoet, JM Ulimwengu – 2018

By opposing three sets of nutrient adequacy maps, this paper broadly identifies and locates the major bottlenecks behind Uganda’s micronutrient deficiency problems. Conform to the system approach currently advocated by researchers and development partners, these maps display the combined nutritional contribution of various food items while following a sequential logic from production to consumption. Using the latest round of Uganda’s National Panel Survey (2013/14), after reconversion from nutrients to food items, a spatially diverse set of policy responses are formulated. Despite significant heterogeneity across the country, our findings suggest that particular attention should be directed to increasing the national production and consumption of various beans, pulses and horticultural products such as carrots, dodo and mango, while focusing most efforts on the North East sub-region. Similarly, special attention must be devoted to sesame, given its current production level and its nutritional potential to address calcium, iron and zinc deficiencies.

Research:

Effect of Farmers’ Multidimensional Beliefs on Adoption of Biofortified Crops: Evidence from Sweetpotato Farmers in Tanzania
Kelvin Mashisia Shikuku, Julius Juma Okello, Kirimi Sindi, Jan W. Low & Margaret Mcewan – Journal of Development Studies, 2018.

We examined the effect of multidimensional farmers’ beliefs on the likelihood of cultivating planting materials of biofortified orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) varieties. Using a panel dataset and combining difference-in-differences regression with propensity score matching, results showed positive effects of beliefs related to health benefits, yielding ability, sweetness, disease-resistance, storability, early maturity, colour, and that children enjoy eating OFSP roots, on cultivation of OFSP varieties. The proportion of OFSP roots out of total sweetpotato production for a household increased among farmers’ who held these beliefs. Efforts to promote biofortified crops can, therefore, benefit from taking farmers’ multidimensional beliefs into consideration.

The role of farmers’ trust, risk and time preferences for contract choices: Experimental evidence from the Ghanaian pineapple sector
Sabine Fischer, Meike Wollni – Food Policy, 2018

We study the role of trust, risk and time preferences for farmers’ contract choices in a discrete choice experiment among Ghanaian pineapple farmers. We find that experimental measures of trust, risk and time preferences can predict preferences for contract attributes. Especially trust has economically important negative effects on the willingness to pay for high transparency in quality controls. Differences in preferences for timing of payment and timing of agreement making are partly explained by trust preferences and partly by time preferences. The importance of risk-sharing in form of lower quality grades accepted by the buyer increases with farmers’ risk-aversion, while risk preferences do not seem to be related to the timing of agreement making. Our results indicate that preferences affect farmers’ participation constraints and argue that a diversification of contract offers might increase the willingness of farmers to participate in contract farming. This has implications for companies who aim at developing stable long-term relationships with farmers.

Do farmer groups impact on farm yield and efficiency of smallholder farmers? Evidence from rice farmers in northern Ghana
Awal Abdul-Rahaman, Awudu Abdulai – Food Policy, 2018

Multiple production and marketing challenges facing smallholder farmers in developing countries have resulted in renewed interests of governments, donor agencies and private agribusiness companies in forming farmer groups to help address these challenges. Using recent survey data of 412 smallholder rice farmers from northern Ghana, we examine the role of farmer groups in improving yield and technical efficiency. Due to self-selection into farmer groups, we use a sample selection stochastic production frontier model to account for potential selection bias arising from observed and unobserved attributes. The empirical results reveal that participation in farmer groups is associated with increased yield and technical efficiency, relative to farmers who produce and market rice individually. Moreover, the yield and efficiency gaps between group members and nonmembers increase significantly when selection bias is taken into account in the analysis.

Constraints in the fertilizer supply chain: evidence for fertilizer policy development from three African countries
T Benson, T Mogues – Food Security, 2018

Increased use of inorganic fertilizer in smallholder farming systems can significantly raise crop productivity, enabling farming households to improve their food security both directly, through greater food supply, and indirectly, though higher agricultural incomes, and to set themselves economically on a pathway out of poverty. Low fertilizer use by African smallholder farming households is evidence of the difficulties they face in accessing the commercial input at a price that will allow them to obtain sufficient and reliable returns from their investment. This paper presents the results of a broad study of fertilizer supply to smallholder farmers in Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda to assess whether costs faced at various points along the import and marketing chain, or the absence of key public goods and services, reduce the access that smallholder farmers have to fertilizer. The study involved a mixed methods approach that included for each country a review of the literature on fertilizer supply, demand, and use; interviews with key participants in fertilizer import and marketing; and two surveys – one with farmers and one with input suppliers. We found that the governments of the three countries have used distinct approaches in developing or regulating the fertilizer sub-sector. Based on use levels, Tanzania has been the most successful in ensuring access to fertilizer for its farmers. Mozambique lags the most. Several areas were identified where government inaction or misdirected efforts are having an adverse effect on efforts to increase agricultural productivity through the increased use of inorganic fertilizer. The most important constraints to increased fertilizer uptake stem from missing public goods that are not specific to inorganic fertilizer but are implicated in broad efforts to increase rural economic growth, particularly in continuing to expand and deepen crop output markets to ensure reliable returns to the use of fertilizer and in improving rural transportation networks. In addition, the three governments can do more to foster competitive agricultural input markets. All propose more state regulation on trade in inorganic fertilizer than is warranted. Moreover, particularly in Tanzania, by not consistently acting in line with policies for agricultural commercialization in place, government increases the commercial risks faced by both input suppliers and farmers and undermines the development of vibrant agricultural markets, both for inputs and outputs, including food.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this email and references to online sources is provided as a public service with the understanding that IFPRI-Kampala/USSP makes no warranties, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability of the information. Nor does IFPRI-Kampala/USSP warrant that the use of this information is free of any claims of copyright infringement. The views and opinions expressed in this this email and references to online sources do not necessarily reflect official policy or position of IFPRI, IFPRI-Kampala or USSP or should not be taken as an endorsement.

IFPRI Kampala newsletter – week of Dec 10th 2018

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 Uganda’s women, youth look to secure land tenure and on East Africans plead with govts to raise agriculture budget. We also have news articles on how climate change is making soils saltier, forcing many farmers to find new livelihoods and link to the 2018 Global Nutrition Report.

Under research, we provide links to:

Note that newsletters are archived on http://ussp.ifpri.info/.

Do you know others who may be interested in this newsletter? Please encourage them to subscribe on http://bjornvancampenhout.com/newsletter/subscribe/

Happy reading

News:

Refugees impatient for seedlings as UK MPs open new season of agroforestry and other tree-based solutions in NW Uganda
ICRAF

For ten months, World Agroforestry (ICRAF) has worked in the refugee areas of Northwest Uganda and the long dry stretches have been tough. “We planted at the right time. But we immediately faced a month and a half with no rain,” according to Lawrence Aziruku, a Field Technician with ICRAF based in the region. “Some trees did not survive. It was bad luck.”  

Armed with coffee, Uganda’s women, youth look to secure land tenure
Reuters

Since March, officials have been recruiting and training staff, and talking to communities, said Sam Viney, communications officer for Farm Africa, a charity involved with the project.  The goal is to put coffee-farming in the hands of 3,600 young people. It will do that by encouraging land-owning farmers to let younger family members use some of their land for growing the bean.

East Africans plead with govts to raise agriculture budgets
The Citizen

Presenting the petition to regional leaders on November 8, 2018, the chairman of the agriculture committee of the EAC Legislative Assembly, Mr Kasamba Mathias, urged governments to honour the declaration they had made in 2014 on ensuring agricultural growth and food security across the continent.

Parliament approves GMO Bill
Parliament of Uganda

Parliament has finally passed a Bill intended to provide a regulatory framework that facilitates the safe development and application of biotechnology in Uganda.  The Bill, formerly called the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, 2012 has now been renamed the Genetic Engineering Regulatory Bill 2018 following a recommendation by the President, who declined to assent to the proposed law raising 12 issues that required improvement. Parliament initially passed the Bill in 2017.

Tanzania: Shock as government bans GMO trials
The Citizen

An air of resignation characterised reactions yesterday to the government’s surprise ban on all genetically modified organism (GMO) trials in the country  

High expectations from cluster project
Monitor

The Agriculture Cluster Development Project is a six-year-project funded by the government of Uganda, the International Development Agency and the World Bank, and its aim is to raise on-farm productivity, and marketable volumes of selected agricultural commodities in specified districts.  

Academic wins prize for work on turning coffee waste into power
Coffee and Cocoa

A University of Surrey academic has been awarded the 2018 Newton Prize for research into potential uses of coffee waste.  Dr Claudio Avignone-Rossa, Reader in Systems Microbiology at the University, received the accolade in recognition of his work transforming coffee waste into electricity.

Huge Brazilian crop and prospect of a surplus weigh heavily on prices
Coffee and Cocoa

After a small surplus in the global coffee market in 2017/2018, a much larger surplus is expected in 2018/2019, primarily as a result of a large crop in Brazil.  Sufficient rain ensured favourable conditions for flowering, and production of Robusta coffee is expected to recover further.

2018 Global Nutrition Report
Global Nutrition Report

The 2018 Global Nutrition Report shares insights into the current state of global nutrition, highlighting the unacceptably high burden of malnutrition in the world. It identifies areas where progress has been made in recent years but argues that it is too slow and too inconsistent. It puts forward five critical steps that are needed to speed up progress to end malnutrition in all its forms and argues that, if we act now, it is not too late to achieve this goal. In fact, we have an unprecedented opportunity to do so.  

Making value chains climate-smart
Spore

Climate-smart agricultural (CSA) practices are increasingly adopted as a means to both adapt to a changing climate, and to mitigate agriculture’s negative environmental impacts. Increasing emphasis is placed on a systems approach to CSA, where climate-smart interventions seek to address the entire value chain.  

Climate change is making soils saltier, forcing many farmers to find new livelihoods
The Conversation

As sea levels rise, low-lying coastal areas are increasingly being inundated with saltwater, gradually contaminating the soil. These salts can be dissipated by rainfall, but climate change is also increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, including droughts and heat waves. This leads to more intensive use of groundwater for drinking and irrigation, which further depletes the water table and allows even more salt to leach into soil.  
From scooter to slaughter: Angola’s go-to app for delivering live goats to your door
The Economist

In the West many people fret that the gig economy encourages insecure work. But in sub-Saharan Africa, where the informal economy is equivalent to more than a third of GDP, about twice that in rich countries, it may do the opposite. By opening bigger markets for vendors, technology may help them grow richer, one goat at a time. No kidding.

Research into action: speaking up: gender (in) equality in agricultural development
University of Illinois

Various studies on African smallholder farmers have shown that women are less likely to adopt improved crop varieties and management systems due to the lack of access to both productive and information resources. As a result, their agricultural productivity levels range between four and 25 percent lower compared to men. Social norms and culture (institutions) have also been shown to promote gender-based discrimination, slow access to resources, information, and opportunities for gender equity  

GMO 2.0: Genetically modified crops and the push for Africa’s green revolution
Canadian food studies

Africa in particular has emerged as the “final frontier” in the global debate over GM agriculture, and a key component of the broader push towards Africa’s Green Revolution (Karembu, Nguthi, & Abdel -Hamid, 2009). The debate over the potential for GM crops to transform African agriculture is an important test for proponents who claim that agricultural biotechnology can play a crucial role in alleviating poverty and hunger. This paper aims to survey the current state of GMO 2.0 in Africa and identify the key trends, critiques and questions that are shaping this contentious debate.

Research:

Grain markets, disaster management, and public stocks: Lessons from Ethiopia
S Rashid, P Dorosh, D Alemu – Global Food Security

Ethiopia has made remarkable progress in addressing food insecurity over the past two decades. Unlike many developing countries, the country has managed to improve productivity, enhance market efficiency, and introduce effective safety net programs without large scale price stabilization programs. Public food stocks play only a minor role in the current food system, but the institutions that manage food stocks and emergency relief have grown increasingly effective in addressing crises. Nonetheless, since it remains susceptible to drought, the country will continue to need well-functioning institutions to maintain or surpass the improvements in food security it has achieved over the recent years. Policy evolution, along with recent changes, is evaluated, and implications and lessons for other developing countries are discussed.

Maize–Legume Intercropping and Push–Pull for Management of Fall Armyworm, Stemborers, and Striga in Uganda
G Hailu, S Niassy, KR Zeyaur, N Ochatum… – Agronomy Journal

Maize (Zea mays L.) production in Africa is constrained by several biotic and abiotic factors. The recent occurrence of fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda (JE Smith) a new invasive pest in Africa, has escalated the problem. Push–pull technology (PPT), proven to be effective for stemborers (Chilo partellus Swinhoe and Busseola fusca Fuller) and the parasitic weed striga (Striga hermontica Delile) management in Africa has been shown to provide good control of FAW. This study investigated if intercropping maize with edible legumes can also reduce the abundance of FAW. Six treatments including (i) climate-smart PPT, (ii) conventional PPT, (iii) maize intercropped with bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), (iv) maize intercropped with soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.], (v) maize intercropped with groundnut [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.] and, (vi) mono-cropped maize were evaluated on farm in six districts of Uganda in the 2017 short rains season. Data collected included FAW, stemborer, and striga infestation symptoms, and severity of infestation. Climate-smart PPT performed best in reducing stemborer, FAW, and striga infestation followed by conventional PPT over all the phenological stages of maize. Intercropping of maize with leguminous crops also provided significant reduction of stemborer and FAW compared to mono-cropped maize, especially in the early growth phases of the maize up to tasseling. However, intercropping of maize with edible legumes was not very effective for striga management as compared to PPT. Hence in addition to PPT, intercropping of maize with edible legumes could also be an alternative FAW management option when integrated with other sustainable management measures.

What factors explain women’s empowerment? Decision-making among small-scale farmers in Uganda
M Sell, N Minot – Women’s Studies International Forum

Evidence from studies on women’s empowerment suggests that when women have a larger role in decision-making, household well-being improves. Understanding patterns influencing women’s empowerment in rural areas is therefore important. We use gender-disaggregated survey data from rural Uganda to explore individual and household characteristics associated with women’s empowerment. We find links between empowerment and age, education, proximity to a paved road as well as the marketed share of crop production. Age and education are associated with higher empowerment, but equality in education between the spouses is more important than the average level of education. Remoteness is associated with lower women’s empowerment, as is greater commercial orientation in crop production. This may be due to the fact that men are more involved in cash-crop activities, giving them an advantage through higher income. One policy implication is that education needs to target both girls and boys, especially in remote areas, putting special focus on girl’s involvement in value added activities.

Fairness and Efficiency in Smallholder Farming: The Relation with Intrahousehold Decision-Making
Els Lecoutere & Laurence Jassogne – Journal of Development Studies

Agricultural households face collective action dilemmas when making decisions about investments in their common household farm and the allocation of resources and benefits derived from it. We relate intrahousehold decisions, as measured in a lab-in-the-field experiment conducted with spouses in agricultural households in western Uganda, with actual investments and intrahousehold resource allocation. Intrahousehold decision-making that supports cooperation and equitable sharing is associated with greater investment in the intensification of cash and food crop production, and more equitable access and control over income. Freeriding behaviour by husbands is associated with the intensification of cash crop production, but not with equitable sharing.

Nutrition-sensitive agricultural interventions, agricultural diversity, food access and child dietary diversity: Evidence from rural Zambia
Adam M. Rosenberg, John A. Maluccio, Jody Harris, Marjolein Mwanamwenge, Phuong H. Nguyen, Gelson Tembo, Rahul Rawat – Food Policy

We study a nutrition-sensitive agricultural program in low-income rural Zambia between 2011 and 2015. Using a pre-post design with a control group, we measure program effects along established pathways connecting agriculture to nutrition: diversity of agricultural production, crop sales, household food access and child and maternal diets. The program increased diversity in crops grown and the number of months in which various food groups were harvested. In particular, the program substantially increased the percentage of households producing three nutritious crops it promoted (groundnuts, rape and tomatoes). As a consequence there were modest increases in household access to diverse food groups. Despite modest increases in the proportion of children consuming pulses, legumes and nuts, ultimately there were no significant improvements in the overall dietary diversity of young children or their mothers. A nutrition-sensitive agricultural program can increase diversity in agricultural production and to a lesser extent access to nutritious foods, but this may not always be sufficient to improve child diets or nutrition.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this email and references to online sources is provided as a public service with the understanding that IFPRI-Kampala/USSP makes no warranties, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability of the information. Nor does IFPRI-Kampala/USSP warrant that the use of this information is free of any claims of copyright infringement. The views and opinions expressed in this this email and references to online sources do not necessarily reflect official policy or position of IFPRI, IFPRI-Kampala or USSP or should not be taken as an endorsement.

IFPRI Kampala weekly newsletter – week of Oct 12th 2018

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 Giving backyard farming a new look and on Wealth in bitter berries, for your health and pockets. We also have news articles on Pastoralism under pressure in northern Kenya and on the fact that Swapping pesticides with beetles could put money in farmers’ pockets.

Under research, we provide links to:

Note that newsletters are archived on http://ussp.ifpri.info/.

Do you know others who may be interested in this newsletter? Please encourage them to subscribe on http://bjornvancampenhout.com/newsletter/subscribe/

Happy reading

News:

Giving backyard farming a new look
Monitor

Strange and astonishing as it may look, a farmer can put soil in used jeans, irrigate and then yield vegetables and herbs in the comfort of his home.  The denim absorbs water and allows good air circulation unlike other clothing materials like polyester and khaki.  Interestingly, it is the women jeans that work best, ‘because they have that bum space’.

Launch of National Action Plan and Strategy for aflatoxin control in Uganda
MAAIF

On the 31st of October, 2018, a National Awareness Campaign for the Control of Mycotoxins with special emphasis on Aflatoxins was launched by H.E Edward Kiwanuka Sekandi the Vice President of Uganda.

Ugandan women escape poverty through rice production
Spore

Agnes Apea’s social enterprise Hope Development Initiative was born in 2012. Since then, more than 11,000 farmers across five districts in northern Uganda have been supported to grow, process and sell rice under the ‘Mama Rice’ brand. “Rice has a market and is nutritious and easy to prepare, making it an ideal crop for women,” says Apea.

Wealth in bitter berries, for your health and pockets
Monitor

Bitter berries, commonly known as Katunkuma was regularly eaten as the main sauce in a practice that still exists today in some homes.  However, some people eat it as a side dish because of its health benefits, among them being an immune booster for children and the elderly, who are prone to diseases.

South Sudan governor fired after teak wood exposé
East African

The governor for Yei River State in South Sudan, Frank Matata, has been suspended for alleged illegal trading in timber.  Mr Matata was recently exposed in a documentary “The Axe Forgets: The Tree Remembers”, in which Mr Matata was secretly recorded demanding $30,000 as a bribe for himself and some Ugandan security officers in West Nile for the timber, in two containers, to enter and exit Uganda.

This Ethiopian homegrown coffee brand is opening 100 cafés in China
Quartz Africa

Widely acknowledged as the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia is one of the world’s largest coffee bean producers and Africa’s top grower of the plant. Coffee is also brewed and drank in the Horn of Africa nation in elaborate ceremonies, often using crafting techniques passed down from generations over centuries. In 2016 the idea for Garden of Coffee was developed – a brand that uses artisanal methods to source, process, roast, and package Ethiopia’s legendary beans.

Kenya aligns its training material on sustainable coffee farming
Global Coffee Platform

30 experts from different organizations held several workshops in the Embu and Nakuru counties to create a common understanding of the material currently used to train coffee farmers. This alignment will ensure better practices for coffee crops in Kenya, as well as increasing their productivity.

Pastoralism under pressure in northern Kenya
PASTRES

Pastoralists  in Isiolo county in northern Kenya feel under siege, with their way of life under threat. Isiolo has been the home of the Waso Boran pastoralists for many decades, but attacks from neighbouring Somali herders, encroachments by agriculturalists from Meru, expansion of conservancies and planned road, pipeline and resort city mega-projects are affecting all pastoral livelihoods, creating many new risks and uncertainties.

China’s public worries pointlessly about GM food
The Economist

Amid an escalating trade war with America, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has tried to reassure a nervous public by insisting that his country can go it alone in its pursuit of tech supremacy. The Chinese people must “cast aside illusions and rely on ourselves”, he said in April soon after the first shots were fired. But in one technological realm, China appears less eager to surpass America: the development of genetically modified food crops.

Bridging the information gap in cocoa production
Food Tank

Dr. Christian Andres focuses on sustainable production systems in the tropics. His research interests have led him to investigate yam-based production systems in West Africa, cotton-based production systems in India, and cocoa-based systems in Latin America. Currently a senior research scientist and coordinator at the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and a Post-Doctoral fellow at ETH Zurich, Christian is focusing his efforts on sustainable cocoa production systems.

Economic empowerment: closing the agri-finance gap for women
Spore

Financial inclusion interventions are not gender-neutral and uptake gaps would be reduced if products and services suited women’s needs and priorities

Rainforest Alliance issues statement on coffee prices
Coffee and cocoa

The Rainforest Alliance (RA) says the coffee industry needs ‘systemic change’ if low prices and their impact on farmers and their dependents are to be addressed.  International coffee prices recently hit their lowest level for 12 years. According to representatives of coffee producers in Colombia and Brazil they are now below production costs,” said RA. “Low prices are having a devastating impact on 25 million coffee families worldwide”.

What more should supermarkets do to respect workers’ rights in their supply chain?
Oxfam

Oxfam’s Ripe for Change report highlights hunger and suffering amongst the people who grow and process our food. Across a basket of 12 common food products, we present evidence of in-work poverty and a deep disempowerment, especially among women workers. As well as this, we show the decline in the share of the consumer price going to workers and small-scale farmers over time, compared with the supermarkets. Conventional approaches to identify and manage non-compliance with companies’ codes and a reliance on sometimes superficial ethical labels, need a complete rethink.

Swapping pesticides with beetles could put money in farmers’ pockets
Agrilinks

Every time you see a ladybug—also known as the ladybird beetle—you should tuck it in your wallet as a lucky charm to bring prosperity, according to the folklore of many countries. There’s a grain of truth in the old stories. Research shows that each ladybird in a cotton field in the North China Plain provides an economic benefit to farmers of at least 0.05 yuan, or one U.S. cent. This may not sound like much, but consider: Doubling the current ladybird density in two-thirds of Chinese cotton fields could bring farmers around $300 million per year.

Five major crops in the crosshairs of climate change
NPR

Climate change is coming like a freight train, or a rising tide. And our food, so dependent on rain and suitable temperatures, sits right in its path.  The plants that nourish us won’t disappear entirely. But they may have to move to higher and cooler latitudes, or farther up a mountainside. Some places may find it harder to grow anything at all, because there’s not enough water.

Research:

Food Price Transmission and Economic Development
Christian Elleby & Frank Jensen – Journal of Development Studies

In this paper we challenge the conventional wisdom that the world’s poorest countries are also the most vulnerable to spikes in international food prices. We derive an inverted U-shaped relationship between food price transmission and the development level of a country from a theoretical model. This prediction is subsequently tested in two sets of regressions where economic development is approximated by per capita income and where we control for a number of other potential determinants of food price transmission. The first set of regressions is based on estimated transmission elasticities and the second on actual domestic food price changes during spikes in international food prices. In both sets of regressions we find strong evidence of the existence of an inverted U-shaped relation between food price transmission and income. Thus, food prices in middle income (rather than in low income) countries respond the strongest to changes in international food prices, implying that the poor in these countries are the most exposed to spikes in food prices. We also show that the factors explaining the variation in the estimated transmission elasticities can explain the variation in domestic food price changes during spikes in international food prices equally well.

The Role of Land Use Consolidation in Improving Crop Yields among Farm Households in Rwanda
Pia Nilsson – Journal of Development Studies

Relative to other developing regions, the role of land consolidation in increasing crop yields is poorly understood in sub-Saharan Africa. This paper examines the role of land use consolidation on agricultural productivity among smallholder farmers in Rwanda. Household-level data are used to estimate a fixed-effects model with matched control groups to mitigate selection bias. The study finds a positive association between land use consolidation and crop yields, but only among farm households with landholdings greater than one hectare, which is well above the average farm size in Rwanda. Findings also point to the importance of non-organic fertilisers and irrigation as there appear to be significant benefits associated with further increases in their use among the consolidated farms.

An analysis of the nutrition status of neighboring Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in Kanungu District, southwestern Uganda: Close proximity, distant health realities
J Sauer, L Berrang-Ford, K Patterson, B Donnelly… – Social Science & Medicine, 2018

Malnutrition disparities exist among Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups in Uganda. Distinct malnutrition factors appear at individual, household, and community levels. Ethnic distinction within communities may act as an upstream determinant of health.

Gender equality, food security and the sustainable development goals
B Agarwal – Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 2018

This paper examines the potential and limitations of SDG 5 (Gender Equality) in helping to achieve household food security. The potential lies in the attention it pays to women’s access to land and natural resources, which can significantly enhance women’s ability to produce and procure food. Its limitations lie in a lack of attention to the production constraints that women farmers face; its failure to recognise forests and fisheries as key sources of food; and its lack of clarity on which natural resources women need access to and why. Moreover, other goals which bear on food security as important providers of nutrition, such as SDG 15 as it relates to forests and SDG 14 as it relates to fish resources, make no mention of gender equality, nor does SDG 13 (Climate action) recognise the vulnerabilities of women farmers. A bold interpretation of SDG 5 and establishing synergies with other SDGs could provide ways forward. This includes not only SDGs which recognise the importance of gender equality, such as SDGs 1, 2, and 13 on poverty, hunger, and climate change respectively, but also SDGs 14 and 15 whose silence on gender could prove detrimental not just to attaining food security, but also to furthering their stated objectives of resource conservation.

Pursuing productivity gains and risk reduction in a multi-hazard landscape: A case study from eastern Uganda
KA Sullivan-Wiley, AGS Gianotti – Land Use Policy, 2018

Agricultural land and natural resource management has an important role to play in reducing the vulnerability of rural populations to hazard risk and to promote increases in agricultural yields. Though strategies for hazard risk mitigation and productivity gains are sometimes viewed in opposition to each other, many of the practices promoted to achieve one goal provide co-benefits toward the other. Our understanding remains imperfect with respect to the mechanisms underlying the use of such practices, and how these motivations are weighted in the context of multiple environmental hazards, multiple practice alternatives, and multiple sources of information. This study addresses these knowledge gaps by investigating the voluntary adoption of agricultural land management practices among farmers in the Bugisu sub-region in eastern Uganda. A set of multinomial logistic (MNL) regression analyses reveal that socio-economic and risk perception factors contribute significantly to the use of the more labor-intensive practices, while others are best explained by variations in household income and income streams. The village context is an important factor in explaining variation in use rates, and the contributions of village characteristics beyond the household are discussed, as is the role that risk reduction and agricultural development organizations play in facilitating adoption. The results of this study are well placed to inform the intervention targets of development and disaster risk reduction organizations seeking to increase uptake of agricultural land management practices.

Potato bacterial wilt in Rwanda: occurrence, risk factors, farmers’ knowledge and attitudes
F Uwamahoro, A Berlin, C Bucagu, H Bylund, J Yuen – Food Security, 2018

Potato is an important food commodity and efforts to increase its productivity should focus on addressing production limiting factors. Potato bacterial wilt (PBW) caused by Ralstonia solanacearum is one of the major constraints to potato production in Rwanda and no single method effectively controls the disease. Development of a sustainable management approach requires understanding of PBW distribution, risk factors, farmers’ knowledge and management attitudes. Therefore, we surveyed PBW disease and interviewed farmers in eight districts of Rwanda during March–April 2015. We detected PBW in all the surveyed districts and it was ranked as the major potato disease constraint. Among districts, disease incidence and severity varied from 5 to 24% and 3 to 13%, respectively, and was significantly higher in minor compared to major potato growing districts. Low PBW incidence and severity were associated with high altitude and low planting density, intercropping, crop rotation and avoidance of sharing farm tools. In all districts, farmers had little knowledge about PBW detection and spread, and the farmers’ awareness of PBW management was often inconsistent with their practices. This incomplete knowledge about PBW was likely caused by inadequate extension services since most information about PBW was acquired from fellow farmers, parents or other relatives. Thus raising awareness of PBW and integrated disease management, including practices that are associated with low PBW, could limit the impact of this disease and help to secure food and income for potato growing farmers in Rwanda.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this email and references to online sources is provided as a public service with the understanding that IFPRI-Kampala/USSP makes no warranties, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability of the information. Nor does IFPRI-Kampala/USSP warrant that the use of this information is free of any claims of copyright infringement. The views and opinions expressed in this this email and references to online sources do not necessarily reflect official policy or position of IFPRI, IFPRI-Kampala or USSP or should not be taken as an endorsement.

USSP Newsletter – week of October 15th, 2018

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 low-cost improvements through agricultural extension lift food security in Uganda Low-cost improvements through agricultural extension lift food security in Uganda and on How AgTech is changing East African economies. We also have news articles on what AI can do for smallholder farmers and on research that shows coffee gives your sperm a boost!

Under research reports, policy briefs and discussion papers, we link to the following documents:

Under research, we provide links to:

Note that newsletters are archived on http://ussp.ifpri.info/.

Do you know others who may be interested in this newsletter? Please encourage them to subscribe on http://bjornvancampenhout.com/newsletter/subscribe/

Happy reading

News:

Low-cost improvements through agricultural extension lift food security in Uganda
Agrilinks

A lot of focus in agricultural development is put on promoting technologies like improved seeds and chemical fertilizer. They can transform food security, but for the poorest small-scale and subsistence farmers—who are often women—the high cost of these inputs keeps them well out of reach.

Creating knowledge and supporting action: citizen-generated evidence from food diaries in Uganda
IIED

Citizens in Western Uganda are using food diaries to generate data on food consumption – helping them understand their own diets and advocate for a better food system.

Understanding Uganda’s Commodity Exchange
Monitor

Minister Amelia Kyambadde says Uganda needs a national commodity exchange to regulate prices, quality but also to trade online. Such an exchange is a trading floor/platform for commodities from the warehouses especially agricultural commodities, grains in particular according to the ministry. Other commodities are expected to come on board later.

Firms decry increase in trade barriers across East Africa
East African

Uganda’s cooking oils and fats can’t enter the Tanzanian market because of alleged failure to meet the EAC Rules of Origin.  Despite Tanzania actively blocking goods from the EAC, it is willing to allow in manufactured products from Asia.

The great African regreening: millions of ‘magical’ new trees bring renewal
The Guardian

From the peanut basin of Senegal to the Seno plains of Mali, to Yatenga, formerly the most degraded region of Burkina Faso, and as far south as Malawi: Gaos are thriving in Africa. And over the past three decades, the landscape of southern Niger has been transformed by more than 200m new trees, many of them Gaos.

How AgTech is changing East African economies
ODI

The evidence shows that ‘AgTech’ – the digital technologies transforming the agriculture industry – is already having wider impacts across East Africa. Instead of governments and multinationals funding farmers to produce food to established standards, private equity is now financing new innovative agricultural products and services targeting young people, who are pioneering AgTech development.

The chips are down: Europe’s great potato crisis

The Economist

Europe faces a potato crisis. Around 53m tonnes of spuds are harvested in the EU each year. Germany, the biggest producer, usually digs up 10m-12m tonnes. But thanks to a dry summer, the tubers have come a cropper.

World hunger is on the rise, and better data on agriculture could fix that
Quartz

Only two of sub-Saharan Africa’s 46 countries have reliable data on agriculture. This means they can’t make informed decisions on the types of crops that are better suited for a season, for instance, or predict famine.

Changing the lives of rural women and girls for the better
ODI

Women who farm are often disadvantaged. Much remains to be done to establish their rights to land, livestock and water, and to improve their access to inputs (feedstuffs, fertilizers, etc.), finance and technical knowledge.

Agricultural Intelligence: what AI can do for smallholder farmers
Food Tank

For the team behind the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture, farming is the next frontier for using artificial intelligence (AI) to efficiently solve complex problems. The team—which includes biologists, agronomists, nutritionists, and policy analysts working with data scientists—is using Big Data tools to create AI systems that can predict the potential outcomes of future scenarios for farmers.

Coffee gives your sperm a boost, scientists tell would-be fathers
The Times

Men could help their chances of becoming fathers by drinking just two cups of coffee a day, a study suggests. Researchers looking at 500 couples trying for a baby found the right level of caffeine intake in men in the week before a couple had sex appeared to double the chance of pregnancy.

How Bill Gates thinks about climate change, innovation, and the SDGs
Devex

In a conference call during the Global Climate Action Summit held in San Francisco last month, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said that the power of innovation should extend to climate change. Gates believes that innovation will be key to confronting climate change, helping those affected by it, and meeting the growing demand for energy.

IFAD and FAO commit to pastoral development
Pastres

There is a growing interest in pastoral systems at the global level. However, in the past, pastoral development has, at times, been confused with livestock development. Now there seems to be new efforts to embrace the challenges of improving the living standards of people in pastoral systems; this also implies dealing with variable resource flows and uncertain conditions.

Policy Briefs, Research Reports and Discussion Papers

Understanding land dynamics and livelihoods in refugee hosting districts of northern Uganda
UNDP

This brief provides insights into land as the main productive asset for building self-reliance of refugees and host communities in Northern Uganda. It provides evidence on the access to and utilization of land considering the growing number of refugees, also considering how the interplay of the local social, political and economic context influences decisions on land. It also highlights the impact of decisions land on household livelihoods and the environment and proposes options for optimizing Uganda’s progressive refugee policy.

Evaluating the shifting priorities of Uganda’s agricultural extension services: A micro perspective

USSP Policy Brief

The Ugandan government is increasingly emphasizing input distribution over extension advisory services in its agricultural budget allocations, broadly defined. Both expenditure items are arguably important; hence, this note makes an empirical case for a more balanced approach to allocating public resources within the agricultural sector. Econometric results from official household-level survey data suggest that combining inputs and extension services is associated with higher yields. For maize and groundnut, in particular, the benefits of offering modern inputs and extension together exceed those of providing either exclusively. We conclude that the government’s current approach, which focuses mainly on the logistics of input distribution, may be misguided.

Research:

Thinking Outside the Plot: Insights on Small-Scale Mechanisation from Case Studies in East Africa
David Kahan, Roger Bymolt & Fred Zaal – journal of Development Studies, 2018

The changing agricultural sector and the challenges faced by smallholders call for the need for farm mechanisation suited to smallholder farming. Conventional four-wheeled tractors (4WTs) are not feasible for many smallholders owing to their high capital costs, unsuitability for fragmented holdings as well as topography and slope. More appropriate technologies are needed such as two-wheeled tractors (2WTs) and their requisite accessories. Our findings show that opportunities exist for the introduction of 2WTs in maize based systems through service provider models combining a number of operations that can be offered throughout the year and targeted to niche areas where 4WT access is unlikely. The paper also suggests that attention needs to be given concurrently to development of the 2WT supply chain to ensure that its profitability is sustainable.

Synergies between Different Types of Agricultural Technologies in the Kenyan Small Farm Sector
Priscilla Wainaina, Songporne Tongruksawattana & Matin Qaim – journal of Development Studies, 2018

Sustainable intensification of agriculture will have to build on various innovations, but synergies between different types of technologies are not yet sufficiently understood. We use representative data from small farms in Kenya and propensity score matching to compare effects of input-intensive technologies and natural resource management practices on household income. When adopted in combination, positive income effects tend to be larger than when individual technologies are adopted alone. The largest gains occur when improved seeds are adopted together with organic manure and zero tillage. These results point at important synergies between plant breeding technologies and natural resource management practices.

Junior Farmer Field Schools, Agricultural Knowledge and Spillover Effects: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Northern Uganda
Jacopo Bonan & Laura Pagani – journal of Development Studies, 2018

We analyse the impact of a junior farmer field school project in Northern Uganda on students’ agricultural knowledge and practices. We also test for the presence of intergenerational learning spillover within households. We use differences-in-differences estimators with ex-ante matching and find evidence that the programme had positive effects on students’ agricultural knowledge and adoption of good practices. The project also produced spillover effects in terms of improvements of household agricultural knowledge and food security. Overall, our results point to the importance of adapting the basic principles of farmer field schools to children.

Agricultural transformation and food and nutrition security in Ghana: Does farm production diversity (still) matter for household dietary diversity?
Olivier Ecker – Food Policy, 2018.

Africa south of the Sahara experienced an acceleration of economic growth in recent years that was accompanied by structural changes in national economies. Some African countries, such as Ghana, managed to utilize rapid growth for poverty reduction and improving food and nutrition security. Transformation of agriculture appears to have played an important role in this context. However, the linkages between agricultural transformation and food and nutrition security at the household level are not well understood. This article examines the linkage between farm production diversity and household dietary diversity in rural Ghana and how that linkage changed between 2005–06 and 2012–13. The empirical analysis employs a regression model that controls for region- and time-fixed effects. The estimation results suggest that farm production diversification, as well as household income growth, continues to be strongly associated with increased household dietary diversity. The analysis further explores the mechanism that underlies this production-consumption linkage by systematically modifying the basic model specification.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this email and references to online sources is provided as a public service with the understanding that IFPRI-Kampala/USSP makes no warranties, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability of the information. Nor does IFPRI-Kampala/USSP warrant that the use of this information is free of any claims of copyright infringement. The views and opinions expressed in this this email and references to online sources do not necessarily reflect official policy or position of IFPRI, IFPRI-Kampala or USSP or should not be taken as an endorsement.

IFPRI-Kampala USSP weekly newsletter – week of Oct 1st, 2018

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 how low knowledge on agriculture credit facilities affects commerical farming, and on Rooftop farming in Kampala. We also have news articles on the potential consequences for fairtrade of a no-deal Brexit and on how to be a more sustainable coffee drinker.

Under research reports, policy briefs and discussion papers, we link to the following documents:

Under research, we provide links to:

Note that newsletters are archived on http://ussp.ifpri.info/

Happy reading

News:

Low knowledge on agriculture credit facilities affecting commercial farming
Monitor

Farmers have failed to commercialise agriculture due to lack of knowledge on how to access credit facilities. Commercial agriculture continues to be a dream for many Ugandans because they lack knowledge on how to access agricultural funding sources such as the Agricultural Credit Facility, under the Bank of Uganda.

Uganda’s tea auction market might take longer to take off
Monitor

Mr George Sekitoleko, the executive secretary Uganda Tea Association, says it is not feasible for Uganda to get a tea auction market because of the small volumes and poor quality produced.
“It is not feasible now because first, you have to have the volumes, high quality which we do not have,” he said. Uganda produces 61,629 metric tonnes of tea annually with 90 per cent of this exported through the Mombasa Tea Auction.

Saving gorillas ‘one sip at a time’
Conservation International

There are only 1,000 mountain gorillas in existence. About half of them call the lush setting of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in southwestern Uganda home, relatively protected from poachers and encroaching development. For the past two decades, the gorillas — and the communities that live in the shadow of the park, relying on it for food and livelihoods — have had an unlikely ally: coffee.

Rooftop farming: why vertical gardening is blooming in Kampala
The Guardian

When Martin Agaba realised his urban farm had run out of space, he decided the solution was not to expand outwards but upwards. The urban farm is just one of many springing up in and around Kampala, a city of more than 1.5 million people, as residents find creative solutions to the challenges of urbanisation.

Uganda’s traditional leader praises ag biotechnology
Cornell Alliance for Science

The prime minister of Buganda Kingdom, one of Uganda’s influential traditional institutions, praised biotechnology and agricultural innovations after visiting a government research facility in Namulonge yesterday.

Rwanda’s agricultural exports grow by 44% to over Rwf447b
New Times

Rwanda’s agricultural exports generated over $515.9 million (over Rwf447 billion) in a period of one year from July 2017 to June 2018, representing an increase of 44.73 per cent compared to $356.5 million (over Rwf316.8 billion) generated in the same period in 2016-2017. According to statistics by the National Agriculture Exports Development Board (NAEB), non- traditional exports saw a 60 per cent increase; these include fruit, vegetables, roots and tubers, legumes and cereals, meat, eggs and dairy products as well as live animals.

Fairtrade warns a no-deal Brexit could be disastrous for farmers
Coffee and Cocoa

The report sets out how a number of different commodities from the iconic Fairtrade banana to cocoa and flowers could be impacted should the UK crash out of the EU with no deal, to trade solely on WTO terms. It also looks at the effect of exiting without guaranteeing developing countries the market access they currently have through the EU.

Coffee farmers appeal to roasters and consumers for help
Coffee and Cocoa

Member countries in the World Coffee Producers Forum have appealed to roasters and plan to appeal direct to consumers to help them address the issue of low prices which, they say, needs attention immediately. Representatives of producer associations from Colombia, Brazil, India, Africa and Central America all said the current situation in the market, with the ‘C’ Price in New York below 100 cents, was unsustainable and was causing untold damage to coffee farmers and their families.

Disease resistance in coffee ‘an ongoing battle’
Coffee and Cocoa

A recent study from World Coffee Research and CIRAD recently showed that good fertilization can be as effective as spraying fungicide in protecting a genetically susceptible coffee to rust. Furthermore, it is acknowledged that one of the main reasons for the 2012 rust crisis in Central America was farmers’ reduced maintenance of their trees, itself due to low prices of coffee.

UN report identifies where global harvests will rise and fall by 2050
CNBC

The United Nations (UN) has released a report “The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets 2018” identifying future winners and losers in agriculture as the planet warms from the effects of climate change. The report attempts to study the relationship between agricultural trade, climate change and food security.

Three ways to be a more sustainable coffee drinker
Conservation International

In just 24 hours, the world consumes approximately 2.25 billion cups of coffee — and demand is growing. At the same time, the area suitable for coffee growing is expected to be cut in half. Three things you can do to protect your favorite brew and to support sustainable coffee and the farmers who grow it.

Policy briefs, research reports and discussion papers:

The state of food security and nutrition in the world
FAO

The number of hungry people is growing globally. Climate variability, which has an impact on rainfall patterns and agricultural seasons, and extreme climate conditions such as drought and floods were reported to be the main drivers of the increase in hunger, together with conflict and economic slowdowns.

Joint forces – The impact of intrahousehold cooperation on welfare in East African agricultural households
Els Lecoutere, Bjorn Van Campenhout – UA-IOB Discussion paper 2018.11

In developing countries, a lack of intrahousehold cooperation among members of smallholder agricultural households may result in the inefficient allocation of productive resources. This article estimates the impact of intrahousehold cooperation on household welfare and household public goods provision, using the random encouragement for an intervention intended to stimulate cooperation as an instrument, among smallholder coffee farming households in Uganda and Tanzania. We demonstrate that improved cooperation has substantial positive effects on household income per capita and on the likelihood of household food security. The likelihood of investing in agricultural production, an important public good in these households, is greatly increased by improved cooperation as well. The downside is that, even with an intensive coaching package, the gains in cooperation are not spectacular. We conclude that stimulating intrahousehold cooperation is a promising path to stimulate efficiency, welfare and the provision of household public goods in agricultural households; but we warn against presenting the promotion of cooperation versus strengthening women’s bargaining power as a strict policy choice as it may well be that women gain bargaining power in cooperation.

Research:

Women’s empowerment in East Africa: Development of a cross-country comparable measure
SS Miedema, R Haardörfer, AW Girard, KM Yount – World Development, 2018

Women’s empowerment is an indicator of social change and a priority of the Sustainable Development Goals. Debate continues on what domains constitute women’s empowerment and how to measure empowerment across countries. Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) are the most widely available source of data on women’s empowerment. However, measurement invariance often is assumed, but not tested. We used DHS data from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda to test factor structure and measurement invariance of women’s empowerment among married women ages 15–49. Factor analysis confirmed a three-latent-domain model of women’s empowerment in each country capturing women’s human/social assets, gender attitudes related to wife abuse, and women’s participation in household decisions. Multi-country confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) identified an invariant three-factor model of women’s empowerment and a subset of country-specific items. Our results offer a standardized, invariant measure of women’s empowerment that can be applied to monitor women’s empowerment cross-nationally in East Africa, and possibly beyond.

The Role of Homegardens for Food and Nutrition Security in Uganda
Whitney, C.W., Luedeling, E., Hensel, O. et al – Human Ecology, 2018

The contribution of homegardens to the food and nutrition security of rural farmers has rarely been explored empirically. Our study assesses the influence of homegarden agrobiodiversity, production system parameters, and socioeconomic factors on household dietary diversity and anthropometric conditions in southwest Uganda. Plant inventories of 102 homegardens were followed by two 24-h recalls (n = 589) and anthropometric measurements (n = 325) of household members, as well as household food insecurity questionnaires (n = 95). Regression models explained between 16 and 50% of variance in dietary diversity and between 21 and 75% in anthropometric measurements. Results indicate that supporting diverse homegarden systems can in part reduce food insecurity in Uganda. We conclude with recommendations for further strengthening the role of homegardens in improving dietary and anthropometric outcomes.

Spatially-explicit effects of seed and fertilizer intensification for maize in Tanzania
AM Komarek, J Koo, U Wood-Sichra, L You – Land Use Policy, 2018

Slower than desired growth in crop yields coupled with rising food demand present ongoing challenges for food security in Africa. Some countries, such as Tanzania, have signed the Malabo and Abuja Declarations, which aim to boost food security through increasing crop productivity. The more intensive use of seed and fertilizer presents one approach to raising crop productivity. Our simulation study examined the productivity and economic effects of planting different seed cultivars and increasing fertilizer application rates at multiple spatial scales for maize in Tanzania. We combined crop simulation modelling with household data on costs and prices to examine field-scale and market-scale profitability. To scale out our analysis from the field scale to the regional and national scale (market scale) we applied an economic surplus model. Simulation results suggest that modest changes in seed cultivars and fertilizer application rates can double productivity without having a negative effect on its stability. The profitability of applying extra fertilizer, calculated as its value-cost ratio, increased if improved seed cultivars replaced local seed cultivars. Rankings of district-scale profits differed from rankings of district scale yields, highlighting the importance of considering economic factors in assessments of input intensification. At the national scale, simulation results suggest the total benefit could be US$ 697 million over 5 years if there was a 39 percent adoption rate of planting improved seed and applying extra mineral fertilizer. Providing economic assessments of input intensification helps build evidence for progressing the Malabo and Abuja Declarations.

Farmer incentives and value chain governance: Critical elements to sustainable growth in Rwanda’s coffee sector
DC Clay, AS Bro, RA Church, DL Ortega, AR Bizoza – Journal of Rural Studies, 2018

Limited producer participation and voice in the governance structures of the coffee value chain in Rwanda, a common occurrence in many agricultural export sectors in the developing world, have resulted in low farm gate prices, restricted competition and few incentives for producers to invest human and capital resources in improved coffee production. A twenty year downward spiral of low productivity and stagnant production has ensued. Survey data from 1024 coffee producing households together with key informant interviews and focus group discussions are used to examine how patterns of investment in coffee affect farmers’ productivity and profitability. Findings show that artificially low farm gate cherry prices have driven down coffee production levels and at the same time have enabled a rapid expansion coffee processing capacity. A typology of producers based on capacity to invest and incentives to invest in coffee is constructed to help explain why smallholders are the most productive and largeholder farmers are the least productive when cherry prices are low. Smallholders are ‘pushed’ to produce out of necessity (poverty avoidance) while largeholders are ‘pulled’ to produce uniquely by the lure of higher profit margins, which they achieve only when higher producer prices prevail. Policy recommendations are advanced for greater inclusion of producers in the price negotiation process and for adopting a floor price formula that includes the real cost of production as established by this research.

Are agricultural markets more developed around cities? Testing for urban heterogeneity in separability in Tanzania
JE Allen IV – Food Policy, 2018

A key question for policymakers concerned about feeding Sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) rapidly growing cities is whether or not nearby farms benefit from improved agricultural markets. Evidence from case studies and agricultural location theory suggest so, but urban heterogeneity has not yet been found in a common economic test of functioning agricultural markets—the separability result. The test is based on a key insight of the agricultural household model, which finds that a farm’s profit should be maximized independently from household utility given perfect factor markets (i.e., separability), but not so if the household faces at least two market failures (i.e., non-separability). In this paper, I test for geographic heterogeneity in separability between rural, peri-urban, and urban districts using 2014-15 data from the World Bank’s Living Standards Measurement Study and Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) from Tanzania. I find strong evidence that the correlation between pre-harvest labor demand and household size implying non-separability in rural areas is significantly weaker in three of Tanzania’s five largest cities: Dar es Salaam, Arusha, and Mbeya. Given certain assumptions, this can be interpreted as evidence of increased agricultural market functionality around these cities relative to rural areas. Overall, these results contribute to the debate on how to achieve urban food security in SSA and give some validity to agricultural location theory and the separability test as tools to help policymakers characterize the nature of agricultural factor markets.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this email and references to online sources is provided as a public service with the understanding that IFPRI-Kampala/USSP makes no warranties, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability of the information. Nor does IFPRI-Kampala/USSP warrant that the use of this information is free of any claims of copyright infringement. The views and opinions expressed in this this email and references to online sources do not necessarily reflect official policy or position of IFPRI, IFPRI-Kampala or USSP or should not be taken as an endorsement.