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:

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Improving agricultural extension and information services in the developing world

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
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

Do you know others who may be interested in this newsletter? Please encourage them to subscribe on

Happy reading


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

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

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

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

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.


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

Do you know others who may be interested in this newsletter? Please encourage them to subscribe on

Happy reading


Giving backyard farming a new look

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

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

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

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

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

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’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

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

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.


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

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Happy reading


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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

Happy reading


Low knowledge on agriculture credit facilities affecting commercial farming

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

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

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

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.


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.

IFPRI Kampala USSP weekly newsletter – week of sept 10, 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 an agricultural success story, and on how to gender inclusivity in video-enabled agricultural extension. We also have news articles on cheesemakers are in Congo and on video-mediated extension in Ethiopia.

Under research, we provide links to:

Note that newsletters are archived on


An agricultural success story

As the prospect of Uganda reaching middle income status seems to be receding, it might be worthwhile for policy makers to examine the experiences of the dairy sector. Dairy has for long been seen as a static sector, dominated by pastoralists and subsistence farmers. Yet, the sector has in the past few years been catapulted to the forefront of the (agricultural) economy. Two interrelated developments have greatly contributed to this transformation of the dairy sector; the meteoric rise of export of dairy products, and the professionalisation of production.

Tobacco raises more tax money than any other farming activity

Tobacco growing fetched more money in terms of tax than any other activity in the agricultural sector, according to data obtained from Uganda Revenue Authority.  More than Shs18b was collected from tobacco growing out of a combined sector contribution of Shs125b in 2017.

Designing for gender inclusivity in video-enabled agricultural extension

Most extension services assume newly introduced information is freely shared among members within smallholder farm households and tend to ignore the fact that these households are composed of multiple decision-makers, each with their own preferences, capabilities and access to resources.

Regional coffee players target domestic market
New Times

Regional coffee growers, exporters and sector policy makers are turning their focus to domestic consumption, a move they say is intended to cushion them against fluctuations on the international market, which sometimes adversely affects their incomes.

The world’s least blessed cheesemakers are in Congo

Eastern Congo is best known for producing coltan, a mineral used in mobile phones, and refugees. But it also makes rather good cheese. The verdant hills of North Kivu, dotted with Friesian cows and known as “Africa’s Switzerland”, are ideal for caseiculture.

East Africa’s largest coffee shop chain is taking Kenyan tea and coffee to China
Quartz Africa

Java House, east Africa’s largest chain of coffee and dining shops, is taking Kenyan coffee and tea to China.  The company said it signed a distributorship agreement with Shanghai-based Green Chain. Under the deal, Java will sell 10 tons to 15 tons a month of its 375-gram bags of Kenya AA Arabica coffee and Gold Label Tea brands.

When saying ‘see, it works!’ isn’t enough: sharing results from an evaluation of video-mediated extension in Ethiopia

For many researchers at IFPRI, the ultimate aim of our work is to convey findings to an audience that has a stake in the research and is in a position to act on our recommendations. In July, our team had just such an opportunity in Ethiopia when we shared preliminary results from an evaluation of a video-mediated approach to providing agricultural extension services to farmers.

Refusing to be cowed, Somali opens country’s first dairy
East African

Starting a dairy in Mogadishu was not an obvious choice: Islamist bombs go off with startling regularity, electricity is patchy and expensive and most Somalis don’t even drink fresh cow’s milk.

Nespresso help revive Zimbabwean coffee production
Coffee and Cocoa

Nespresso’s investment in Zimbabwe follows similar efforts the company has made to revive coffee production in South Sudan and in former conflict zones of Colombia

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

Rain had come to nearby villages, but not yet to Droum in south-east Niger. The sand under its stately trees looked completely barren, but Souley Cheibou, a farmer in his 60s, was not worried. He crooked a finger, fished in the sand, and brought out a millet seed. In a week or two, this seed would germinate and sprout, and soon the whole field would be green.

Faced with crisis, Arabica producers strengthen ties – issue joint declaration
Coffee and Cocoa

Representatives from the coffee sector in Brazil and Colombia met on 27 August 2018 to discuss the world coffee price crisis and imbalance in the supply chain.  At the meeting at the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply participants discussed action they might take to confront the low-price scenario, which has seen the C price in New York fall below 100 cents, well below the cost of production. This jeopardises the survival of 25 million coffee families worldwide, they said.

Big data for farmers
Indian Express

The scheme, that was introduced in 2015, intended that every farmer receive a health card for their soils that tells them the status of the nutrients in it, and, as a result, guides them about the fertilisers they should apply to maximise their yields. The entire government agriculture extension and research system galvanised itself, collected samples, analysed them for 12 soil chemical parameters, recommended fertiliser dosages and printed these on the SHCs, which were given to farmers. The scheme delivered on the basic promise.

August coffee price fell to 57-month low
Coffee and Cocoa

Coffee prices averaged 102.41 US cents/lb in August 2018, a 20.1 per cent drop compared to August 2017.  The last time the monthly composite indicator price was lower than 102.41 US cents/lb was in November 2013, when it recorded 100.99 US cents/lb.  This decline is linked primarily to market fundamentals, though other factors, such as exchange rate movements and futures markets, are also playing a role.

Research center races to prepare farmers for climate change effects
Food Tank

The Center for the Improvement of the Adaptation to Drought recently earned regional recognition for their efforts to help dry cereal farmers overcome challenges like drought and climate change. The Senegalese research center’s expanded programming includes developing drylands cereals-related technologies for farmers across West and Central Africa, seeking,“to make the technology understandable and accessible to all people,” through testing and knowledge sharing.

Prospect of big Brazilian and Vietnamese crops depresses coffee prices
Coffee and Cocoa

Coffee prices have failed to recover from their lowest levels in several years, primarily as a result of what is expected to be a huge harvest in Brazil and a very large one in Vietnam.  In mid-July, the price for Arabica coffee in New York fell to less than 110 US cents per pound, the lowest levels since December 2013. As of mid-August it was trading even lower, at around 106 cents.

Financing for smallholder farmers has high impact and low margins
Impact Alpha

Some loans perform better than others. Loans in Latin America perform better than those in Africa. Larger loans outperform shorter loans – costs are similar, while revenues grow with size. Shorter term loans do better than longer loans. Loans to existing borrowers outperform loans to new borrowers. Lending into formal coffee and cocoa markets is a better bet than lending in less develop value chains.

2018 Africa Food Prize awarded
Africa Food Prize

The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has been awarded the Africa Food Prize for 2018 at the African Green Revolution Forum in Kigali, Rwanda on September 7, 2018. IITA is the first institution to receive the distinguished award, being recognised for generating solutions on and off the farm that have improved the lives of millions in the face of climate change, a surge of crop pests and disease, and an urgent need for youth employment.

Reports, Discussion Papers and Policy Notes:

Africa Agriculture Trade Monitor 2018

The report examines Africa’s recent performance in different markets and identifies changes in the composition and direction of global, intra-Africa and intra-regional economic community trade in agricultural products. It finds that Africa’s agricultural trade has increased over time, with faster growth in imports contributing to a growing trade deficit. The continent’s agricultural exports tripled in value between 1998 and 2013, while the value of imports increased five-fold, due in part to strong growth in population and incomes and increased food demand.

Extension and advisory services in 10 developing countries: a cross-country analysis
Developing Local Extension Capacity

The report presents results of analysis of ten published diagnostic reports to draw out lessons for extension globally. The country reports include Honduras, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Malawi, Liberia, Guinea, Rwanda, Senegal, Mozambique and Mali.  The report is aimed at project implementers, policymakers and others interested in improving EAS in their countries and projects.

Digitizing Agricultural Payments: Uganda’s Coffee Value Chain

This paper tells the story of how the United Nations Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P) team in Uganda worked with exporter Kyagalanyi Coffee Limited (KCL) to digitize one of the country’s most important cash crops: coffee. In addition to addressing the complex dynamics of digitizing agricultural value chains, the paper illustrates how seven organizations from different sectors embarked on a three-year journey to digitize Uganda’s coffee value chain. The solutions they built and lessons they learned have fueled the digitization of several other agricultural value chains in Uganda—particularly, tea, dairy, and maize. Their work helped to build a foundation that enables greater financial inclusion of smallholder farmers by increasing financial participation of farmers, traders, off-takers, and exporters in the formal economy.


Impact pathways of a participatory local governance initiative in Uganda: a qualitative exploration
Bjorn Van Campenhout, Emmanuel Bizimungu, Jennifer Smart & Nassul Kabunga, Development in Practice, 2018.

The baraza project, initiated in 2009, is a government-led initiative in Uganda that aims to increase the quality of public service delivery through the provision of information and involvement of beneficiaries in project monitoring by means of providing citizens with an advocacy forum. This article provides a qualitative assessment of the self-identified pathways through which barazas are thought to influence public service delivery, as expressed by participant stakeholders. It also explores motivating factors behind behavioural changes of stakeholders, hindrances to achieving positive outcomes, and opportunities for the implementation of future barazas.

Does linking farmers to markets work? Evidence from the world food programme’s purchase for progress satellite collection points initiative in Uganda
Kizito, Andrew Muganga and Kato, Edward – African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 2018

Using a non-experimental cross-sectional dataset of 471 households, we evaluate the impacts of satellite collection points (SCPs) under the Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP) on storage decisions and crop income from maize sales among smallholder farmers in Uganda. We find strong evidence that storage users had significantly more maize sales due to significantly larger inventories and received higher maize prices than the nonstorage users. This evidence is robust across the two econometric estimators, consisting of the ordinary least squares (OLS) and two-stage instrumental variable approaches. These results demonstrate that the SCPs are successful in linking farmers to markets and result in improved welfare of the users, suggesting that they should be scaled up and scaled out as a poverty-reducing development intervention and strategy in rural areas with storable agricultural products.

Group membership and certification effects on incomes of coffee farmers in Uganda
Brian Robert Ssebunya, Ulrich B Morawetz, Christian Schader, Matthias Stolze, Erwin Schmid – European Review of Agricultural Economics, 2018

Discrepancies in certification effects on smallholder incomes have been found in scientific literature. Unobserved farmer-group heterogeneity is a likely reason. For the long-standing Robusta coffee farmer-groups in Uganda, we find no significant effect of certification on net-farm income. But, we find 20 percentage point differences in net-farm income between certified and non-certified farmers explained by membership duration. In contrast, the recently founded certified Arabica coffee farmer-groups have positive net-farm income effects of 151 per cent, partly explained by a higher degree of vertical integration. With or without certification, long-standing group membership is found to have positive income effects.

Grain today, gain tomorrow: Evidence from a storage experiment with savings clubs in Kenya
Shilpa Aggarwal, Eilin Francis, Jonathan Robinson, Journal of Development Economics, 2018.

Many farmers in the developing world lack access to effective savings and storage devices. Such devices might be particularly valuable for farmers since income is received as a lump sum at harvest but expenditures are incurred throughout the year, and because grain prices are low at harvest but rise over the year. We experimentally provided two saving schemes to 132 ROSCAs in Kenya, one designed around communally storing maize and the other around saving cash for inputs. About 56% of respondents took up the products. Respondents in the maize storage intervention were 23 percentage points more likely to store maize (on a base of 69%), 37 percentage points more likely to sell maize (on a base of 36%) and (conditional on selling) sold later and at higher prices. We find no effects of the individual input savings intervention on input usage, likely because baseline input adoption was higher than expected.

Noncooperative decision making in the household: Evidence from Malawi
Selma Walther, Journal of Development Economics, 2018.

This paper proposes a novel test of productive efficiency in the household that also allows a test of noncooperative decision making. I extend the collective model (Chiappori 1988, 1997) to allow labor choices to affect future bargaining power by raising the value of outside options. Even if household consumption sharing is efficient, labor choices are no longer efficient. Using data on Malawi, where there is predetermined variation in land rights that determine outside options in marriage, I show that individuals spend more time on agricultural labor and less time on wage labor when household land is theirs. They also have lower overall income and consumption. The results are inconsistent with the fully efficient collective model but consistent with a noncooperative model with limited commitment, where individuals allocate their labor supply to maximize future bargaining power. Limited commitment can lead to inefficient allocations that reduce household welfare.

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 sept 3rd 2018

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

You may have noticed we have taken a short break, but now we are back with your usual collection of recent news articles related to agriculture compiled from online news sources. We also include links to recent publications on agricultural and policy-related research topics pertinent to Uganda and the wider region.

This week, we report on standards created to promote Shea nut exports
and on how digital technology can help transform Africa’s food system. Also, make sure to read the fascinating story on the wonder plant that could slash fertilizer use.

Under research, we provide links to:


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

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

Four standards created to promote Shea nut exports

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

Fourteen youths profit from fish exports

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

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

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

Increasing coffee production and market is a realisable commitment
New Vision

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

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

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

Growth in agricultural mechanization
Food Security Portal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The wonder plant that could slash fertilizer use
The Atlantic

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

Aroma of coffee could boost cognitive performance
Coffee and Cocoa

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

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

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

Policy Briefs, Research Reports and Discussion papers:

Building resilience of livelihoods in Karamoja, Uganda

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 June 25th

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

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

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

Under research, we provide links to:

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


Calls for modern farming in north

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

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

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

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

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

Agriculture contribution to GDP falling

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

EAC tea consumption to increase in the next decade
East African

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

Caffeine highh? Ethiopia shifts coffee fields uphill over climate change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Success with electronic vouchers for farmers in Mozambique
ICT works

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

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

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

Why African cocoa growers are having an OPEC moment

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

Agricultural advisory services at a global scale

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

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

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

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

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

Biofortification’s growing global reach

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

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

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

Closing the potential-performance divide in Ugandan agriculture
World Bank

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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 June 4th 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 Kampala livestock thieves operate and on Data and drones in Uganda: CTA’s new agribusiness project. We also have an article on how Uganda’s Coffee Bill will build a sustainable coffee industry and on how reducing a “Happiness” hormone can make rice plants less attractive to insects.

Under research, we provide links to:



How Kampala livestock thieves operate

A wave of livestock and poultry theft has swept Kampala Metropolitan area that comprises Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono and Mpigi districts.  200 cases have so far been registered since the last quarter of 2017.

Debunking coffee myths in Kampala City
Global Coffee Platform

Uganda is one of the largest Robusta producers in Africa who does not consume much of its coffee internally. Several studies have estimated domestic consumption between 3-5%. The importance of debunking the myths associated with coffee is key to shift the mentality of potential Ugandans who may not have enough access to unbiased facts.

Data and drones in Uganda: CTA’s new agribusiness project

An exciting new pilot project has been launched by CTA with Ugandan partners, the National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE) and IGARA Tea, for setting up and populating GIS and databases within their management information systems to improve membership transparency and accountability and product traceability.

Volcafe recognised for reducing child labour
Global Coffee Report

Kyagalanyi Coffee, part of the Volcafe group, has helped more than 500 children from poor families in the West Nile sub-region to go back to school.  Working closely with UTZ Certified, Community Empowerment for Rural Development, the Uganda National Teachers Union and Dutch NGO Hivos, Kyagalanyi has been actively involved in the prevention of child labour in Uganda for several years.

Support to Agricultural Revitalization and Transformation (START) Facility officially launched
Private Sector Foundation Uganda

The United Nations Capital Development Fund, in partnership with Private Sector Foundation Uganda and the Uganda Development Bank, and with support from the European Union, launched the Support to Agricultural Revitalization and Transformation Facility.  The Facility is intended to offer access to affordable medium-term finance for agricultural value adding projects in Northern Uganda through provision of Business Development Services and seed capital in the form of concessional loans, grants and partial guarantees.

Uganda’s Coffee Bill to build sustainable coffee industry
The Exchange

Uganda is set to roll out a new Coffee Bill that will create an ecosystem for a better and sustainable coffee industry in the country. The proposed bill is forecast to be the first stepping stone to transform the industry and ensure the nation remains competitive in the international market as well.

GroFin deepens agribusiness reach in East Africa
GroFin blog

The Government of Rwanda is now focusing its reform efforts on a vital needs sector: agribusiness. What makes this sector so crucial is that over 75% of Rwanda’s workforce is concentrated in agriculture. Against this backdrop, GroFin is deepening its efforts to reach out to agribusinesses such as Yak Fair Trade Ltd, based in the Rwamagana district of Rwanda’s Eastern Province. New funds will enable GroFin to screen 200 agribusinesses and offering tailor-made technical assistance to promising SMEs across Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda,

EAC to roll out new export regime in June
East African

Regional exporters of coffee, tea, fish, hides and skins are set to enjoy faster transit times from next month, when the commodities start being cleared under the Single Customs Territory.  The new regime seeks to minimize delays and costs for goods moving across borders to export markets by having them cleared at the point of origin.

Reports find potentially dangerous levels of Diacetyl and other chemicals at coffee roasters in the USA
Coffee and Cocoa International

A number of coffee roasters investigated by the US Centers for Disease Control have been found to have high levels of the chemical diacetyl and other potentially harmful compounds.  The findings suggest that at several facilities workers were exposed to levels of chemicals that were 4-5 times higher than recommended levels.

Lack of “Happiness” hormone makes rice plants less attractive to insects
Newcastle University

Experts at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom have discovered that inhibiting the production of serotonin – the happiness hormone – in rice plants increases their resistance to two of the world’s most destructive and costly insect pests in rice production: brown plant-hopper and striped stem borer.

On the International Day for Biological Diversity, consider the beauty of the potato
Food Tank

This is a time for potatoes to shine. But it is also a time for everyone to think about the agricultural biodiversity that still exists around us. Wherever you live in the world, and whichever crops have the deepest roots in your soil, it is time to learn: to learn about the shared global heritage of our food crops, to learn from the people who grow them, and ultimately to learn together how we can keep agriculture alive for the generations to come.

Coffee drinkers are being conned by suppliers fraudulently using inferior beans in ‘Arabica’ products
The Telegraph

Coffee drinkers are being conned by suppliers fraudulently using inferior beans in ‘Arabica’ products.  A recent UK study has found that a tenth of high quality products labelled “100% Arabica” contained significant levels of inferior and cheaper “Robusta” beans. Arabica coffee trades at twice the price of Robusta because of its superior taste.

What will happen if coffee is not sustainable?
Coffee and Cocoa International

The International Coffee Organization held a coffee sustainability workshop on 21 May 2018 at the First Milano Coffee Festival, a new event in Italy focusing on coffee in all its forms.

What is our role in protecting farmer data privacy and security?
ICT works

In value chains with high levels of competition, agribusiness field agents and other buyers often collect a wide range of information on farmers.  For example, new research showcases how agribusinesses already have databases on farmers that include many personal details.


How African cities lead: Urban policy innovation and agriculture in Kampala and Nairobi
Christopher D. Gore – World Development, 2018

City governments in sub-Saharan Africa have historically been beholden to national governments. Lack of national urban policies and tensions between national and city governments are common. Yet, for decades, research has identified small-scale innovations at the urban scale. Rarely, however, are policy innovations in African cities so influential as to lead national governments to scale up city based actions. This is particularly true in sectors that have been the dominant purview of central governments. This paper examines how citizens, civil society organizations, city governments and national bureaucrats in two cities of East Africa – Kampala and Nairobi – have interacted to produce policy innovation in agriculture. Agriculture has always been a sector of high national importance in Africa, but increasingly cities are becoming focal points for agricultural policy change. The two cities compared in the paper are unusual in having a collection of interests who have been advocating for improved support and recognition of urban food production. Indeed, these cities are rare for having continually promoted the formalization of urban agriculture in local and national policy. While advocacy for urban agriculture is common globally, what is not clear is under what conditions local advocacy produces policy uptake and change. What are the conditions when city-based advocacy deepens the institutionalization of policy support locally and nationally? Drawing from theory and research on policy change and African urban politics and governance, and qualitative data collection in each country, this paper argues that while external, international assistance has helped initiate policy dialogue, domestic civil society organizations and their engagement with local and national bureaucrats are key to policy support at the local and national scales.

Review: Meta-analysis of the association between production diversity, diets, and nutrition in smallholder farm households
Kibrom T. Sibhatu, Matin Qaim – Food Policy, 2018

Undernutrition and low dietary diversity remain big problems in many developing countries. A large proportion of the people affected are smallholder farmers. Hence, it is often assumed that further diversifying small-farm production would be a good strategy to improve nutrition, but the evidence is mixed. We systematically review studies that have analyzed associations between production diversity, dietary diversity, and nutrition in smallholder households and provide a meta-analysis of estimated effects. We identified 45 original studies reporting results from 26 countries and using various indicators of diets and nutrition. While in the majority of these studies positive results are highlighted, less than 20% of the studies report consistently positive and significant associations between production diversity and dietary diversity and/or nutrition. Around 60% report positive associations only for certain subsamples or indicators, the rest found no significant associations at all. The average marginal effect of production diversity on dietary diversity is positive but small. The mean effect of 0.062 implies that farms would have to produce 16 additional crop or livestock species to increase dietary diversity by one food group. The mean effect is somewhat larger in Sub-Saharan Africa than in other regions, but even in Africa farms would have to produce around 9 additional species to increase dietary diversity by one food group. While results may look differently under very specific conditions, there is little evidence to support the assumption that increasing farm production diversity is a highly effective strategy to improve smallholder diets and nutrition in most or all situations.

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

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

Do Incentives Matter for the Diffusion of Financial Knowledge? Experimental Evidence from Uganda

J Sseruyange, E Bulte – Journal of African Economies, 2018

Many development interventions involve training of beneficiaries, based on the assumption that knowledge and skills will spread ‘automatically’ among a wider target population. However, diffusion of knowledge or innovations can be slow and incomplete. We use a randomised field experiment in Uganda to assess the impact of providing incentives for knowledge diffusion, and pay trained individuals a fee if they share knowledge obtained during a financial literacy training. Our main results are that incentives increase knowledge sharing, and that it may be cost-effective to provide such incentives. We also document an absence of assortative matching in the social learning process.

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 May 21st 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 Secret fruit of the Nile goes to America and on NAADS sued over UShs4 billion tea seedlings debt. We also have an article on how Brazil coffee volumes fall and Africa is expected to fill gap and on the use of drones for data in Tanzania.

Under research, we provide links to:

Note that newsletters are archived on


Secret fruit of the Nile goes to America
New Vision

An enterprise founded by Ugandan farmers, women empowerment enthusiasts and skincare connoisseurs from the US and UK is starting to cause a stir within the skincare industry in the United States. Nilotic, named after the peoples and region where the Nilotic Shea Fruit Butter originates, is everything that you wouldn’t expect in a cosmetic or skincare brand.

NAADS sued over UShs4 billion tea seedlings debt

Fifty-eight farmers have sued National Agricultural Advisory Services over failure to pay Shs4.1b in tea seedlings supplies to Kabale District.

Refugees transform Kyangwali into massive “farmland”
Uganda Radio Network

All the refugee households have established small gardens in which they have planted and maintained maize and other crops like beans, sweet potatoes, vegetables and bananas. The area is now covered in lush green gardens of the various crops, creating an agricultural scene not seen in most parts of Uganda.

Cotton profits low, farmers willing to increase cultivation

Ugandan ginneries (39 in total, with an installed ginning capacity of close to one million bales per annum, an equivalent of 185,000 MT) currently operate at an average of only 10 % of the established capacity some are inoperable and others silent implying incapability to meet the country’s cotton needs,”

Brazil coffee volumes fall, Africa expected to fill gap

In Africa, Uganda, the leading coffee exporter expects to export five million (60-kilogramme) bags. “Uganda’s exports declined by 18.7 per cent to 0.33 million bags in March 2018, but its shipments for the first six months of 2017/18 are up by 3.7 per cent compared to the same period one year ago, reaching 2.34 million bags,” the report shows.

Kenya’s Maasai herders swap to goats as drought fells cattle


Kenya has seen heavy rains this year in many parts of the country. But in other years more regular and severe droughts are depleting water and pasture and decimating pastoralists herds.
To limit livestock losses, pastoralists are opting to sell drought-threatened cattle to buy goats, sheep and camels, which they say can better withstand erratic weather.

Using drones for data in Tanzania

We Robotics

The goal of our the project is to build best practices, share lessons learned and localize appropriate solutions for the application of robotics in sustainable agriculture, nature conservation and sustainable fisheries.

Rwanda exports ten tonnes of roasted coffee beans to United States
The Exchange

Rwanda exported 10 tonnes of roasted coffee beans that has seen them rake in a massive revenue in the process and hope to export close to 40 tonnes by the end of the year, that speculatively would bring in $320,000 in foreign receipt for the country.

EAC tea exports increase

Regional tea exports at the Mombasa Auction have increased, according to the East African Tea Export Auctions report released last week.  All the five East Africa member states: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Mozambique registered an increase in exports at the Tea Auction

Ethiopian economy grows, diets still poor
News Deeply

A new Ethiopia has emerged in recent years. A potent combination of increased agricultural productivity, urbanization, and economic growth has improved the standard of living for many Ethiopians. As a result, diets are changing as well, but not entirely in positive ways. Ethiopians are eating more calories on average and more diverse foods, but are still far short of recommended levels of dietary diversity, even as they may soon face overnutrition problems like overweight and obesity.

Indigenous trees and crops hold keys to nutrition in Africa
Chicago Council

At the World Agroforestry Centre, we take indigenous species seriously. We believe that a greater focus on them can provide many of the micronutrients needed to address Africa’s pervasive in utero and childhood malnutrition that leads to the tragically shorter women that Subramanian found – and some of the calories as well.

Farming families and forest victims of failing cocoa market
Coffee and Cocoa International

Solidaridad says the recently published 2018 Cocoa Barometer report reveals that efforts to address poverty, deforestation, and child labour in the cocoa sector ‘have fallen short.’  Solidaridad said the report “reveals that for cocoa growing communities, particularly in West Africa, these issues have been made worse by a rapid fall in prices.  Forests in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have been transformed into cocoa plantations to increase production, it said.

Should we blame livestock for climate change?

Livestock are essential to rural economies and livelihoods across the world. But are these animals contributing to planetary destruction through greenhouse gas emissions? Estimates suggest that 14.5% of all anthropogenic GHG emissions are from livestock, and nearly all of this is from grazing ruminants. But what to do about it? This is a big debate, and one that much good science is focused on.

Nestle pays Starbucks $7.1bn to sell its coffee


Nestle has announced that it will pay Starbucks $7.1bn (£5.2bn) to sell the company’s coffee into homes. The Nescafe and Nespresso owner will own the rights to market Starbucks’ coffee, which it says generates $2bn in annual sales.

Millets and sorghum: forgotten foods for the future

Food Tank

Millets and sorghum are grains that are nutrient-rich, drought-tolerant crops and can support communities around the world.  However, in the past 50 years, these grains have largely been abandoned in favor of developing more popular crops like maize, wheat, rice, and soybeans.

Innovations in food systems: the key to human and planetary health

The world has made tremendous progress in improving food security and nutrition. The proportion of people experiencing hunger fell from 14.7% to 10.6% between 2000 and 2015. And we’ve made progress on undernutrition, with the prevalence of child stunting dropped from 40% to 23% between 1990 and 2015. Food systems – the technical, economic, social and environmental processes and actors through which we feed the world’s population – have played a huge role in this progress.

The rise of antiglobalization: 2018 Global Food Policy Report
Food Security Portal

The 2018 IFPRI flagship annual report focuses on globalization and growing anti-globalisation trends to examine how changes in the flow of goods, investments, information, and people are impacting global food systems and food security.

Gender and ICTs: Mainstreaming gender in the use of information and communication technologies for agriculture and rural development

This recent publication details how to mainstream gender in the use of information and communication technologies for agriculture and rural development.  ICTs offer valuable opportunities for agricultural and rural development, increasing sustainable output, farm and agribusiness efficiency and revenues for a wide range of players.


Identifying the most deprived in rural Ethiopia and Uganda: A simple measure of socio-economic deprivation

J Sender, C Cramer, C Oya – Journal of Eastern African Studies, 2018

The Extreme Deprivation Index uses easily verifiable answers to ten questions about the ownership of the most basic non-food wage goods – things that poor people in a variety of rural contexts want to have because they make a real difference to the quality of their lives. Using this Index, we define rural Ethiopians and Ugandans who lack access to a few basic consumer goods as ‘most deprived’: they are at risk of failing to achieve adequate education and nutrition; becoming pregnant as a teenager; remaining dependent on manual agricultural wage labour and failing to find to a decent job. As in other African countries, they have derived relatively little benefit from donor and government policies claiming to reduce poverty. They may continue to be ignored if the impact of policy on the bottom 10% can be obscured by fashionably complex indices of poverty. We emphasise the practical and political relevance of the simple un-weighted Deprivation Index: if interventions currently promoted by political leaders and aid officials can easily be shown to offer few or no benefits to the poorest rural people, then pressures to introduce new policies may intensify, or at least become less easy to ignore.

The impact of food price shocks in Uganda: first-order effects versus general-equilibrium consequences

Bjorn Van Campenhout, Karl Pauw, Nicholas Minot – European Review of Agricultural Economics, 2018

For developing countries, whose governments are faced with volatile world food prices, the appropriate policy response hinges on who are the likely winners and losers. Therefore, it is necessary to predict the impact of higher commodity prices on different subgroups of society. We compare the results of a method that is popular with policy makers because of its parsimony and ease of interpretation with the results of a more complex and data-intensive general-equilibrium model. Using historical prices between 2008 and 2011 for Uganda, we find that both methods predict high prices benefit poor rural farmers, but more so if a more elaborate model is used.

Opportunities for sustainable intensification of coffee agro-ecosystems along an altitudinal gradient on Mt. Elgon, Uganda

Eric Rahn, Theresa Liebig, Jaboury Ghazoul, Piet van Asten, Peter Läderach, Philippe Vaast, Alejandra Sarmiento, Claude Garcia, Laurence Jassogne – Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 2018

The viability of coffee farming in East Africa is endangered by multiple factors including climate change, population pressure, low yields, and coffee price volatility. Sustainable intensification (SI) through intercropping and/or agroforestry has been suggested to improve farmers’ livelihoods, facilitate adaptation of coffee production to climate change and contribute to biodiversity conservation.

Do private coffee standards ‘walk the talk’ in improving socio-economic and environmental sustainability?

Koen Vanderhaegen, Kevin Teopista Akoyi, Wouter Dekoninck, Rudy Jocqué, Bart Muys, Bruno Verbist, Miet Maertens – Global Environmental Change, 2018

Private sustainability standards cover an increasingly large production area and involve an increasing number of farmers worldwide. They raise expectations among consumers about the economic, ethical and environmental implications of food production and trade; and attract donor funding to certification schemes. The sustainability impact of standards remains unclear as research focuses on either economic or environmental implications. We analyze both the socio-economic and environmental impacts of coffee standards in Uganda and show that these are not in line with expectations created towards consumers. We find that standards improve either productivity and farm incomes or biodiversity and carbon storage but fail to eliminate trade-offs between socioeconomic and environmental outcomes, even when combined in multiple certification. Our analysis is based on a unique combination of economic survey data and ecological field inventory data from a sample of certified and non-certified coffee farms. Our findings are relevant for farmers, food companies, policy-makers, donors and consumers. They imply that combining different standards in multiple certification is counterproductive; that the design of standards could improve to mitigate observed trade-offs between economic and environmental outcomes; and that this requires increased productivity within ecological boundaries, rather than a price premium and added control mechanisms through multiple certification.

Land Use and Tenure Insecurity in the Drylands of Southern Ethiopia
John G. Mcpeak & Peter D. Little

This paper examines changing patterns of land rights and use in Borana and Guji zones, southern Ethiopia. It seeks to understand how heterogeneous groups of pastoralists and agropastoralists gain access to land under varied institutional configurations. We find different means of exclusion are pursued, including private enclosures that rely on customary institutions, government administration, and/or hybrid combinations to enforce claims. We also find that some herders may be making claims to farm plots with the goal of securing access to land rather than planting crops. By assessing how different situations and socio-economic factors affect land claims, the paper deepens understanding of motivations for plot acquisition by pastoralists and challenges the common dichotomy between customary and formal administrative rules and institutions.

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.