Happy New Year!
Welcome to the first edition of the IFPR-Kampala’s USSP news and research digest in 2019!
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:
- Effect of Farmers’ Multidimensional Beliefs on Adoption of Biofortified Crops: Evidence from Sweetpotato Farmers in Tanzania
- The role of farmers’ trust, risk and time preferences for contract choices: Experimental evidence from the Ghanaian pineapple sector
- Do farmer groups impact on farm yield and efficiency of smallholder farmers? Evidence from rice farmers in northern Ghana
- Constraints in the fertilizer supply chain: evidence for fertilizer policy development from three African countries
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
As the world smokes less this developing country is turning to weed to save its economy
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
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
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
“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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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