Newsletter

IFPRI-Kampala newsletter – week of April 30th, 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 Sesaco gets Shs1.6b to boost expansion and on EU to subject Ugandan agro-products to rigorous checks over fall armyworms. We also have an article on how Uganda loses EA fish market to China and on the fact that Ethical cocoa schemes seem no panacea for struggling farmers.

Under research, we provide links to:

Note that newsletters are archived on http://bjornvancampenhout.com/newsletter/

Sesaco gets Shs1.6b to boost expansion
Monitor

Sesaco Soya, a Ugandan processing firm has been named as the first beneficiary of the EU Yield Uganda Investment Fund to improve its production in preparation for expansion and business growth.  The Fund, set up with support from the EU and managed by Pearl Capital Partners, will, in its maiden investment in Uganda commit Shs1.6b to Sesaco to enhance technical and governance aspects of the business.

EU to subject Ugandan agro-products to rigorous checks over fall armyworms
Xinhua Net

The European Union (EU) will start this June subject Uganda’s agro-products to rigorous checks due to the fall armyworm, a senior government official has said.  Steven Byantwale, Commissioner for Crop Protection told a farmers’ meeting that the EU’s intention is to scrutinize Ugandan exports for the worms that are decimating crops.

EU injects Shs67b in revamping beef industry
Monitor

The European Union in partnership with government has injected Shs67.7b in the beef industry with the desire to improve quality in the meat value chain.  The money will help to create a market oriented and environmentally sustainable beef industry in Uganda.

Uganda loses EA fish market to China
Monitor

Kenya requires one million tonnes of fish annually but only produces 200,000 tonnes domestically, which leaves a deficit of 800,000 tonnes. Much of the deficit was imported from Uganda, Tanzania and India but China has since taken over. This has been occasioned by a near depletion of Uganda’s fish stocks as the country continues to grapple with bad fishing methods.

US envoy on a mission to market Uganda’s specialty coffee
Monitor

US ambassador to Uganda, Deborah R. Malac, recently led a reverse trade mission to the Specialty Coffee Expo in Seattle. This was part of the US government’s ongoing commitment to building trade and investment opportunities in Uganda.

Kenyan maize farmers threaten demos over Sh2.5 billion Ruto promised
The Star

Farmers have blamed the government for allowing maize imports that have caused price drops.  Traders and some farmers bought the maize for Sh1,800 per bag in Uganda and sold much of it to the NCPB for Sh3,200 per bag.  More than 300 lorries, some suspected to have imported maize, are still lining up to deliver maize at depots in the North Rift, which have been closed for lack of space.

Agricultural change in Africa: How cookbooks and recipes got a bum rap
Future Agricultures

For at least three decades, agricultural research and extension in Africa has been castigated for being top-down and non-participatory and burdened by an overly simplistic, linear, research-centric model of change. This critique is encapsulated in the suggestion that research and extension are so far removed from rural reality that they take a “cookbook approach”, promoting rigid recipes.

Ethical cocoa schemes no panacea for struggling farmers
Reuters

Global chocolate makers are buying more cocoa sourced through schemes aimed at stamping out poverty as they rush to make their supply chains more ethical ahead of self-imposed 2020 deadlines.The trouble for cocoa farmers is the premiums they receive for beans sold under the biggest and most popular of these ethical sustainability schemes are falling.

Plant-killing pests and diseases have an ally in climate change
Reuters

In the United States, it is a wood-borer beetle that arrived in packaging and which has indirectly caused an estimated 21,000 premature human deaths. In South Korea, it is a worm that forced the government to cut down 10 million pine trees.  And in Africa, it is a maize-munching pest from the Americas that has infested millions of hectares of crops, and threatens the food supply and income of more than 300 million people.  What do they have in common? All three crossed continents to cause havoc on plants.

Consumers’ role in deforestation addressed by EU study
Coffee and Cocoa International

The European Union which is is one of the largest drivers of tropical deforestation, has produced a long-awaited study* on what steps can be taken to reduce the loss of trees caused by demand for agricultural commodities consumed by its citizens.

Seed vaults protect the world from the apocalypse – but what if Doomsday is already here?
Independent

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was built to help us through the end of the world. But nobody expected that hints of doomsday would arrive quite so soon.  The seed bank stores the crops and plants from around the world on a frozen island in Norway, protecting biodiversity. At least it was frozen until recently – when the permafrost that was thought to be a reliable blanket around it started to melt.

Research

How African cities lead: Urban policy innovation and agriculture in Kampala and Nairobi
CD 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.

Local and regional drivers of the African coffee white stem borer (Monochamus leuconotus) in Uganda
T Liebig, R Babin, F Ribeyre, P Läderach, P van Asten… – Agricultural and Forest Entomology 2018

The African coffee white stem borer (CWSB) Monochamus leuconotus is a destructive pest of Arabica coffee in Africa. Documentation on outbreaks, spatiotemporal development and the relationship with different environmental conditions and coffee production system is limited. To underpin effective control measures, we studied aspects of local and regional pest drivers in Eastern Uganda. At the local scale, we (i) characterized the temporal development of CWSB and explored associations with environmental and shade‐related indicators. During two growing seasons and on 84 coffee plots, we recorded CWSB incidence/infestation and microclimate on an altitudinal gradient and different shading systems. The bimodal rainfall, altitude and shade affected CWSB development through their effect on minimum temperature. At the landscape level, we (ii) analyzed the spatial pattern of CWSB. Data on CWSB were collected on 180 plots. Pest incidence showed a spatial arrangement varying by districts. A possible relationship with human movement and the landscape context contributing to pest spread is suggested. CWSB control measures should be synchronized with the bimodal rainfall patterns and an emphasis should be given to identifying and limiting pathways of pest spread from highly infested to new areas.

Do Beliefs About Herbicide Quality Correspond with Actual Quality in Local Markets? Evidence from Uganda
Maha Ashour, Daniel Orth Gilligan, Jessica Blumer Hoel & Naureen Iqbal Karachiwalla

Adoption of modern agricultural inputs in Africa remains low, restraining agricultural productivity and poverty reduction. Low quality agricultural inputs may in part explain low adoption rates, but only if farmers are aware that some inputs are low quality. We report the results of laboratory tests of the quality of glyphosate herbicide in Uganda and investigate whether farmers’ beliefs about the prevalence of counterfeiting and adulteration are consistent with the prevalence of low quality in their local market. We find that the average bottle in our sample is missing 15 per cent of the active ingredient and 31 per cent of samples contain less than 75 per cent of the ingredient advertised. Farmers believe 41 per cent of herbicide is counterfeit or adulterated. Beliefs are significantly correlated with quality at the local market level, but beliefs remain inaccurate, adjusting for only a fraction of actual differences in quality. Price is also significantly correlated with quality in local markets, but prices also adjust for only a fraction of quality differences. Although, like fertiliser and hybrid maize seed, herbicide in Uganda is low quality, herbicide use is substantially higher.

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 April 9th

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 Researchers Make Breakthrough in Grasshopper Farming and on Bringing Blockchain to the Coffee Cup. We also have an article on how Fake processed food is becoming an epidemic in African urban life and on A very black market: how illegal charcoal fuels war and harms the environment.

Under research, we provide links to:

Note that newsletters are archived on http://bjornvancampenhout.com/newsletter/

News:

Researchers Make Breakthrough in Grasshopper Farming
Uganda Radio Network

People who sell grasshoppers as a business may soon start breeding and supplying the delicacy throughout the year, thanks to researchers from Makerere University and the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya. The researchers today launched a project will ensure that support is provided to business enterprises for rearing, and processing quality insect food products.

Bringing Blockchain to the Coffee Cup
Wall Street Journal

Denver’s Coda Coffee Co. this week is offering what it calls “the world’s first blockchain-traced coffee,” giving customers access to a cloud-based ledger that tracks every stop along their coffee’s supply chain. By scanning a QR code associated with the batch of coffee they bought, customers can see the date and location of every transaction—from collection at the farm to washing and drying, milling, export, roasting and retail.

Cotton by-products to turn around Uganda’s economy
The Exchange

Cotton by-products have been termed as the new hot property to turnaround the economy of struggling Uganda into a new direction. The product had been experiencing a change since last year, following its downfall from glory in the 1970s. The Government has not let the dream go to revive the former glory, and the farmers seem to cooperate with the new strategy.

Improve output, quality to benefit from Africa’s free trade area, farmers told
New Times

Grain sector stakeholders especially farmers, have been urged to improve productivity and enhance grain standards to take advantage of the huge market opportunities presented by the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) agreement. A total of 44 countries signed the CFTA deal in Kigali on March 21, while 30 signed the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, and 47 supported the creation of Africa’s one market by signing the Kigali Declaration.

Fake processed food is becoming an epidemic in African urban life
Quartz Africa

Recent research by the Confederation of Tanzania Industries estimates that over 50% of all goods, including food, drugs and construction materials, imported into Tanzania are fake. Anecdotal evidence suggests that rates could be between 10% and 50%, depending on the food category and the country.

A very black market: how illegal charcoal fuels war and harms the environment
The Economist

Charcoal is one of the biggest informal businesses in Africa. It is the fuel of choice for the continent’s fast-growing urban poor, who, in the absence of electricity or gas, use it to cook and heat water. According to the UN, Africa accounted for three-fifths of the world’s production in 2012-and this is the only region where the business is growing. It is, however, a slow-burning environmental disaster.

Research:

Participation in the market chain and food security: The case of the Ugandan maize farmers
P Montalbano, R Pietrelli, L Salvatici – Food Policy, 2018

Empirical assessment of the links between market chain participation and food security is characterized by conflicting evidence. Our goal is to deal with this issue at different points of the commercialization chain by providing a sound identification strategy using the Uganda World Bank Living Standards Measurement Study-Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) panel data. By looking at the dynamics of farmers’ consumption over time and controlling for a variety of household and production characteristics as well as possible confounding factors, our results show that farmers’ food security is positively affected by participation in the market chain, irrespective of the choice of outlet. This provides two key messages for policymaking: farmers selling to the market are better off and intermediaries do not hamper food security.

The dynamics of smallholder farmers’ acquisition and distribution of sweetpotato vines in the Lake Victoria Zone Region, Tanzania
RI Adam, L Badstue, K Sindi – Food Security, 2018

This paper offers new insights into smallholder farmer’s practices regarding acquisition and distribution of sweetpotato planting material in the Mwanza and Mara regions of Tanzania by examining three specific issues: (i) farmers’ sources of planting material; (ii) factors that influence farmers’ sourcing of planting materials outside their own farms and (iii) the types of transactions and social relations involved in farmers’ acquisition and distribution of sweetpotato planting material. Data were collected using mixed methods, including a survey of 621 households across nine districts, semi-structured key informant interviews with 28 women sweetpotato farmers, and six focus group discussions. Findings show that farmers in the study area rely almost exclusively on informal seed systems, and that the majority (> 56%) produce their own planting material. Individual, household and community level factors influence farmers’ acquisition of planting materials outside their own farms. The sources and mode of transaction related to acquisition/distribution of planting material are strongly influenced by the type of social relationship between the parties involved. Strong social ties facilitate the majority of local planting material acquisitions/distributions, and favor provision of locally available planting material as a gift/without payment. Weak social ties are primarily associated with the transaction modality of purchase/sale, and frequently help facilitate acquisition of new or exotic planting material. The findings provide entry points both for entities that seek to enhance small-scale farmers’ access to improved, high quality sweetpotato germplasm, as well as broader efforts to strengthen research and development strategies for integrating formal and informal seed systems.

Big cities, small towns, and poor farmers: Evidence from Ethiopia
J Vandercasteelen, ST Beyene, B Minten, J Swinnen – World Development, 2018

Urbanization is happening fast in the developing world and especially so in sub-Saharan Africa where growth rates of cities are among the highest in the world. While cities and, in particular, secondary towns, where most of the urban population in sub-Saharan Africa resides, affect agricultural practices in their rural hinterlands, this relationship is not well understood. To fill this gap, we develop a conceptual model to analyze how farmers’ proximity to cities of different sizes affects agricultural prices and intensification of farming. We then test these predictions using large-scale survey data from producers of teff, a major staple crop in Ethiopia, relying on unique data on transport costs and road networks and implementing an array of econometric models. We find that agricultural price behavior and intensification is determined by proximity to a city and the type of city. While proximity to cities has a strong positive effect on agricultural output prices and on uptake of modern inputs and yields on farms, the effects on prices and intensification measures are lower for farmers in the rural hinterlands of secondary towns compared to primate cities.

Organic Agriculture, Food Security, and the Environment
EM Meemken, M Qaim – Annual Review of Resource Economics, 2018

Organic agriculture is often perceived as more sustainable than conventional farming. We review the literature on this topic from a global perspective. In terms of environmental and climate change effects, organic farming is less polluting than conventional farming when measured per unit of land but not when measured per unit of output. Organic farming, which currently accounts for only1%of global agricultural land, is lower yielding on average. Due to higher knowledge requirements, observed yield gaps might further increase if a larger number of farmers would switch to organic practices. Widespread upscaling of organic agriculture would cause additional loss of natural habitats and also entail output price increases, making food less affordable for poor consumers in developing countries. Organic farming is not the paradigm for sustainable agriculture and food security, but smart combinations of organic and conventional methods could contribute toward sustainable productivity increases in global agriculture.

Assessing farm performance by size in Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda
JC Julien, BE Bravo-Ureta, NE Rada – Food Policy, 2018

Many Sub-Sahara African countries have long endured sluggish agricultural productivity growth and a farm structure dominated by smallholders. This prevailing structure has led to public policies focusing on access to land and its distribution as ways to boost agricultural supply. Drawing on data from the Living Standards Measurement Study–Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) for three East African countries (Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda), our purpose is to: test whether smaller farms in these countries are more productive than larger ones; examine how managerial performance varies with farm size; and assess how public policy may improve farm performance. We adopt the Random Parameters Stochastic Production Frontier model to estimate and then decompose Total Factor Productivity (TFP) across different farm size classes. In doing so, we test for possible measurement errors of farmer self-reported land area using Global Positioning System (GPS) data, and explore the imperfect factor markets hypothesis. The results show that across the three countries TFP is higher for smaller farms than for larger ones. Overall, managerial performance is low suggesting that programs designed to enhance managerial capacity would promote farm productivity across all sizes. Other policies are size specific. Access to agricultural input markets improves the productivity of the small farms, while greater spending on transportation infrastructure and extension services enhances the productivity of the large.

Who benefits from which agricultural research-for-development technologies? Evidence from farm household poverty analysis in Central Africa
JH Ainembabazi, T Abdoulaye, S Feleke, A Alene… – World Development, 2018

It remains a challenge for agricultural research-for-development (AR4D) institutions to demonstrate to donors which technologies contribute significantly to poverty reduction due to a multitude of impact pathways. We attempt to overcome this challenge by utilizing the potential outcomes framework and quantile treatment effects analytical approaches applied on panel household data collected from Central Africa. Our findings show that adoption of AR4D technologies reduced the probability of being poor by 13 percentage points. A large share of this poverty reduction is causally attributable to adoption of improved crop varieties (32%) followed by adoption of post-harvest technologies (28%) and crop and natural resource management (26%), with the rest 14% attributable to unidentified and/or unmeasured intermediate outcomes or factors. The findings further indicate that relatively poor farm households benefit from adopting improved crop varieties more than the relatively better-off households. Correspondingly, the relatively better off households benefit from adopting post-harvest technologies enhancing crop commercialization much more than the relatively poor households. The findings reveal interesting policy implications for successful targeting of agricultural interventions aimed at reducing rural poverty.

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

IFPRI Kampala newsletter – week of march 12th, 2018

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

As usual, this weekly 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 to directly market its tea to achieve better prices and on the fact that Tanzania gets 80bn/- cassava boost. We also have an article on how Illegal gold mining boom threatens cocoa farmers (and your chocolate) and on South Africa’s land expropriation debate.

Under research, we provide links to:

We also want to draw your attention to a new special issue of the Journal of Development Studies on Economic Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa
Note that newsletters are archived on http://bjornvancampenhout.com/newsletter/

Happy reading!
News:
Uganda to directly market its tea to achieve better prices
Monitor

Uganda is seeking avenues through which it can directly market its tea to large consumers such as Russia, United Arab Emirates and Iran to earn a large premium, according to Uganda Export Promotion Board.

Kenya lifts Uganda poultry ban after 15 months
East African

The Kenyan government will lift the ban on poultry products from Uganda in totality after a 15-month embargo that saw chicken and eggs prohibited from accessing Kenya’s Ksh500 million ($5 million) market after outbreak of a viral disease.

Okello farms his way through retirement
Monitor

For years, Mr Okello’s father had taken the cattle rearing path. His family opted out of the business after their cows were stolen and he figured they needed to start afresh with new ideas. He invested Shs12m in agroforestry.  More than a decade after venturing into the tree farming business, Mr Okello has diversified into bee keeping and growing orange trees.

Tanzania gets 80bn/- cassava boost
Daily News

Tanzania’s efforts in increasing food security by having improved varieties of cassava have received a major boost of 35 million US dollars in new funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UK Aid.

Without city jobs, tech-savvy Kenyan youth head back to the farm
Reuters

Kenya has the highest rate of youth joblessness in East Africa, according to the World Bank, with nearly one in five young people who are eligible for work not finding jobs.  Poor job prospects and low pay in cities are pushing thousands of unemployed young people to return home and take up farming

The strategic grain reserve for your living room
WFP

The majority of spoilage happens before food makes it to consumers and long before it rots in the back of a fridge. Across Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the developing world, grain is still stored by individual families in traditional woven baskets or hardened mud silos. Insects, moisture, rodents and mold can easily destroy a crop when it is not kept in airtight storage or moved quickly to market. The consequences can be dire.

Panic, privilege and politics: South Africa’s land expropriation debate
Future Agricultures

South Africa’s land reform policy is a mess. A combination of incompetence, poor policy and scandal have meant that there has been little progress in years. The parliamentary High Level Panel report effectively dissects the problems. But in recent days, the land issue, always bubbling under the surface in South Africa’s unresolved post-apartheid settlement, has burst into the limelight.

Illegal gold mining boom threatens cocoa farmers (and your chocolate)
National Geographic

Ghana, one of the world’s biggest producers of cocoa beans, is facing a crisis around dangerous and dirty galamsey, or informal, mining—which experts warn could derail its agriculture sector.

Enhancing Africa’s incomes, trade, and health with Aflasafe®
Agrilinks

Aflasafe®, an innocuous blue ball, is an all-natural deterrent to the toxic strains of aspergillus flavus, the fungi that produces aflatoxin.  Aflasafe® uses a “thief to catch a thief” by using four benign strains of fungi to out-compete its toxic cousins.

African seed companies encouraged to invest in biotechnology
International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications

Seed companies in Africa have been challenged to explore ways of developing their own biotech products to meet the rising needs of food in the continent amid devastating effects of climate change and emerging pests. Addressing more than 450 delegates from 50 countries at the African Seed Trade Association Annual Congress held on February 26-March 1, 2018 in Cairo, Egypt, the Executive Manager of Biosafety South Africa, Dr. Hennie Groenewald, expressed his concern that Africa has not taken advantage of the benefits accrued from use of biotechnology.

Food and Agriculture Organization launches guide to tackle Fall Armyworm head-on
FAO

Faced with the infestation of millions of hectares of maize, most in the hands of smallholder farmers, and the relentless spread of Fall Armyworm (FAW) across most of Africa, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has launched a comprehensive guide on the integrated management of FAW on maize.

Fall Armyworm : a threat to Africa’s food security
Food Tank

Fall Armyworm , or Spodoptera frugiperda, is an insect pest which can cause significant crop yield losses if not properly managed. It is indigenous to the American tropical and subtropical regions, but was recently introduced into Africa and has spread rapidly, posing a threat to food security. While it is unclear how it was introduced into Africa, it was likely through commercial air transport from the Americas. Once introduced into an area, the pest is nearly impossible to eradicate due to a number of reasons

Fake processed food is becoming an epidemic in African urban life
Quartz

Recent research estimates that over 50% of all goods, including food, drugs and construction materials, imported into Tanzania are fake. Anecdotal evidence suggests that rates could be between 10% and 50%, depending on the food category and the country.

Results-based incentive structures for agricultural development
AgResults

Results-based incentive structures can offer donors an opportunity to enter into higher-risk markets that, if successful, could lead to significant development impact and more efficient use of donor funds. However, given that these mechanisms are relatively new, development practitioners are eager to understand how they can be applied to their own projects and what are best practices for designing and implementing them.

Millions of Chinese farmers reap benefits of huge crop experiment
Nature

As part of a decade-long study, scientists analysed vast amounts of agricultural data to develop improved practices, which they then passed on to smallholders. Through a national campaign, about 20.9 million farmers adopted the recommendations, which increased productivity and reduced environmental impacts. As a result of the evidence-based intervention, the farmers involved were US$12.2 billion better off.

Chocolate chain: from farmer to consumer
Croplife

Have you wondered how the chocolate we know and love gets from the tree to our hands?  This infographic reproduced from the World Cocoa Foundation shows the process of growing the cocoa trees to the chocolate making and all the steps in between.

To fight malnutrition, we need to understand agri-food value chains
Institute for Development Studies

There is a role here for everyone to play from the private sector, to government. Understanding and working with key actors in the agri-food value chain is a vital way to get nutritious food to people, and to buck the current horrendous malnutrition trends.

Research Reports, Policy Briefs and Discussion Papers

Global report on food crises 2018
European Union

This report provides a comprehensive picture of the severity and magnitude of acute food insecurity and malnutrition in 2017 in 51 countries and territories, with in-depth analysis of the 26 crises with the largest populations in need of urgent action.

Agriculture, food security, and nutrition in Malawi: Leveraging the links
NL Aberman, J Meerman, T Benson – 2018

Although the Malawian food supply is shaped largely by trends in smallholder food crop production, Ma­lawi’s decades-long focus on improving smallholder productivity has only moderately improved food secu­rity and nutrition outcomes. Country statistics indicate an estimated 36.7 percent of rural Malawian house­holds failed to access sufficient calories between 2010 and 2011. During the same period, 47 percent of children under the age of five years were esti­mated to be stunted in their growth. These indicators imply that some Malawian diets are lacking in terms of quantity (total calories consumed), and most are lacking in terms of quality (sufficient calories derived from nutrient-dense foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, fruits, and vegetables). Good nutrition requires both enough total calories (quantity) and enough vitamins and minerals per calorie (quality). How can Malawi better leverage its smallholder agriculture sector to improve nutrition? This report provides a series of primary and secondary data anal­yses that examine different aspects of this question.

Research:

Implementing A Cold-chain System For Nutritional Assessment in Rural Uganda; Field Experiences From Ftf Nutrition Innovation Lab Cohort Study
Edgar Agaba, Robin Shrestha, Shibani Ghosh, Jeffrey K. Griffiths, Bernard Bashaasha – Journal of Nutrition, 2018

To elaborate on the procedures undertaken to establish blood draws and cold chain for nutrition assessments. A total of 5,044 birth cohort households were enrolled and assessed using household questionnaires, anthropometry, and blood sampling to assess nutritional issues and exposures to environmental contaminants. The challenge was to obtain, transport, process, store, and analyze tens of thousands of serum samples obtained in sites that were often difficult to reach. Before enrollment began, 24 healthcare facilities in the North and Southwest of Uganda were assessed for suitability as local nodes for processing and storage. Equipment needs included functional centrifuges, refrigeration, ice machines, and -20oC freezers. Other important physical infrastructure included the presence of backup power (generator or solar generated) in the event of electricity failure. Once samples were obtained, they were transported within 5 hours to the facility laboratories, where serum was separated and aliquoted into properly labelled storage tubes and then frozen. At community level, our team visited households or small group of household members close to their homes to reduce on travel time hence contributed to high retention rates. Our immediate testing for anemia and malaria results benefited enrollees and enhanced community acceptance. By using Village Health Teams (VHTs), we could accommodate household preferences for the timing of sample collection. Our engagement with phlebotomists transformed their role from a simple service into active team members. Our first lesson was that in our setting, the success of this nutrition biological sampling system required community engagement and acceptance. By combining an immediately actionable set of tests (for anemia and malaria), and visiting cohort households, we greatly enhanced the success of the system.

Rapid transformation of food systems in developing regions: Highlighting the role of agricultural research & innovations
Thomas Reardon, Ruben Echeverria, Julio Berdegué, Bart Minten, Saweda Liverpool-Tasie, David Tschirley, David Zilberman – Agricultural Systems, 2018

Developing regions’ food system has transformed rapidly in the past several decades. The food system is the dendritic cluster of R&D value chains, and the value chains linking input suppliers to farmers, and farmers upstream to wholesalers and processors midstream, to retailers then consumers downstream. We analyze the transformation in terms of these value chains’ structure and conduct, and the effects of changes in those on its performance in terms of impacts on consumers and farmers, as well as the efficiency of and waste in the overall chain. We highlight the role of, and implications for agricultural research, viewed broadly as farm technology as well as research pertaining to all aspects of input and output value chains.

Formal and Informal Seed Systems in Kenya: Supporting Indigenous Vegetable Seed Quality
Marcia M. Croft, Maria I. Marshall, Martins Odendo, Christine Ndinya, Naman N. Ondego, Pamela Obura & Steven G. Hallett – Journal of Development Studies, 2018.

Indigenous vegetables play an important role in Kenyan food security, but production is limited by poor seed quality. Traditionally, seeds have been traded through informal networks, but a new formal seed sector is emerging. This study assessed the relative potential for formal or informal seed systems to meet the need for high-quality indigenous vegetable seed. By evaluating determinants of farmers’ seed purchasing behaviour, we conclude that informal seed systems have greater potential to meet this need and should be strengthened. This study suggests that policy-makers should use context-specific data to guide decisions on seed policy.

The Effect of Food Price Changes on Child Labour: Evidence from Uganda
Raymond Boadi Frempong & David Stadelmann – Journal of Development Studies, 2018.

Most people in developing countries spend up to 60 per cent of their income on food, even though the majority of them are farmers. Hence, a change in food prices affects both their revenue as well as expenditure, and it may thereby affect their labour market decisions. Using the Uganda National Panel Survey and monthly regional food prices, this paper examines the effect of changes in food prices on child labour. The empirical evidence shows that an increase in food prices is linked to an increase in the probability and the intensity of child labour. We find the effect of food price increases to be smaller among landowning households, which is consistent with the view that landowning households can better compensate for price shocks. The empirical results suggest that periodic shocks in food prices may have longer lasting effects on economic development in developing countries through the channel of child labour.

Maize lethal necrosis disease: Evaluating agronomic and genetic control strategies for Ethiopia and Kenya
Paswel P. Marenya, Olaf Erenstein, Boddupalli Prasanna, Dan Makumbi, MacDonald Jumbo, Yoseph Beyene – Agricultural Systems, 2018.

Maize lethal necrosis disease (MLN) was first diagnosed in eastern Africa in the 2010’s and is a big threat to their maize-based agri-food systems with estimated losses amounting to US$261 million in Ethiopia and US$198 million in Kenya. This paper reviews the agronomic and policy options to contain MLN and comparatively analyzes the feasibility of using maize-bean rotations and MLN-tolerant germplasm as key alternative strategies for managing MLN. Results from crop simulation and economic surplus models are used to make assessments on what strategy offers the most realistic MLN control approach given the circumstances of smallholder production in Kenya and Ethiopia. The paper finds that although maize-legume rotations are sound agronomic recommendations and are crucial for long term maize production system viability, their widespread application over large geographic areas for MLN control is economically challenging given that maize is a preferred staple. We conclude that scaling MLN-tolerant germplasm proves highly viable with estimated multiplier benefits of US$245-756 million in Ethiopia and US$195-678 million in Kenya, and benefiting up to 2.1 million people in Ethiopia and 1.2 million in Kenya. Given that the threat of MLN is present and ongoing, the food and economic security of maize-based agrarian economies in eastern Africa will critically depend on the successful mainstreaming of MLN tolerance in their maize seed systems.

The impacts of postharvest storage innovations on food security and welfare in Ethiopia Wondimagegn Tesfaye, Nyasha Tirivayi – Food Policy, 2018.

Postharvest loss exacerbates the food insecurity and welfare loss of farming households in developing countries. This paper analyzes the impact of improved storage technologies on food and nutrition security and welfare using nationally representative data from Ethiopia. Endogenous switching regression models are employed to control for unobserved heterogeneity. The study finds that the use of improved storage technologies increases dietary diversity and reduces child malnutrition and self-reported food insecurity. We also find that non-user households would have experienced these benefits had they used improved storage technologies. Overall, the study suggests that improved storage technologies can enhance food and nutrition security, and could play a key role in alleviating the challenges of feeding a growing population.

Review: Taking stock of Africa’s second-generation agricultural input subsidy programs
Thomas S. Jayne, Nicole M. Mason, William J. Burke, Joshua Ariga – Food Policy, 2018.

Input subsidy programs (ISPs) remain one of the most contentiously debated development issues in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). After ISPs were phased out during the 1980s and 1990s, the landscape has changed profoundly since the early 2000s. By 2010, at least 10 African governments initiated a new wave of subsidy programs that were designed to overcome past performance challenges. This study provides the most comprehensive review of recent evidence to date regarding the performance of these second generation ISPs, synthesizing nearly 80 ISP-related studies from seven countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, and Ethiopia). We specifically evaluate ISP impacts on total fertilizer use, food production, commercial input distribution systems, food prices, wages, and poverty. We also consider measures that could enable ISPs to more cost-effectively achieve their objectives. We find that ISPs can quickly raise national food production, and that receiving subsidized inputs raises beneficiary households’ grain yields and production levels at least in the short-term. However, the overall production and welfare effects of subsidy programs tend to be smaller than expected. Two characteristics of program implementation consistently mitigate the intended effects of ISPs: (1) subsidy programs partially crowd out commercial fertilizer demand due to difficulties associated with targeting and sale of inputs by program implementers, and (2) lower than expected crop yield response to fertilizer on smallholder-managed fields. If these challenges could be addressed, ISPs could more effectively mitigate the concurrent challenges of rapid population growth and climate change in SSA.

Climate event consequences on food insecurity and child stunting among smallholder farmers in Uganda: a cross-sectional study
S Ly, PO Okello, R Mpiira, Z Ali – The Lancet Global Health, 2018

Climate fluctuations and crop loss are predicted for Uganda. The rural poor rely on subsistence farming, and the consequences of climate events including droughts, floods, and pests have a considerable impact on food security and health. Nationally, 29% of Ugandan children are stunted or below expected height. In this study, we investigated farmers’ experiences of climate events with household food insecurity and child stunting. BRAC Uganda did a cross-sectional study with random sampling across 210 villages in four districts in southwestern Uganda between October and December 2015. Questionnaires on socioeconomics, nutrition, and farming were administered to 7787 smallholder farmers. Anthropometry measurements were taken from the youngest child under 2 years in each household. Stunting, defined as a height-for-age Z-score below −2, was analysed using logistic regression. Food insecurity, self-reported as the number of months without enough food to meet needs, was analysed using multivariate linear regression. Most adults had received only primary-level education and mean monthly income was 332 274 Ugandan Shillings (US$92). In the past 12 months, 6815 (87·8%) farmers experienced a major loss of crops due to drought, 1595 (20·6%) due to flooding, and 7754 (39·1%) due to pests and disease. Food insecurity was reported in 7269 (93·3%) households, for a mean of 4·53 (SD 2·84) out of 12 months. Anthropometric data were collected from 2177 children with a mean age of 11·6 months. 899 were stunted (41·3%). Households with drought-related crop loss had higher odds of child stunting (OR 1·38, 95% CI 1·01–1·89) than households with no crop loss, after controlling for food insecurity, income, education, the child’s sex, and age. Food insecurity was significantly associated with crop loss due to drought (p<0·001) and pests (p<0·001), after controlling for covariates. Interestingly, household coping behaviours after pest-related crop loss changed the pest loss effects, which suggests farmers could influence food insecurity. As climate patterns shift in Uganda, smallholder farmers will continue to experience events like drought, flooding, and pests. In our study, most farmers’ food security was affected by drought and pests, and droughts were linked to child stunting. These findings have implications in building resiliency in crops and farmer techniques to mitigate climate shocks.

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

IFPRI Kampala newsletter – week of march 26th 2018.

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

Please note that you can subscribe to get it delivered in your inbox here: http://bjornvancampenhout.com/newsletter/subscribe/

As usual, this weekly 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 fish maw wars and on the fact that Coffee’s future may be in dilemma. We also have an article on how Kenyans import $31.2m maize from the region to meet demand and on Knowing “WhatsApp” with food security.

Under research, we highlight:

Note that newsletters are archived on http://bjornvancampenhout.com/newsletter/

Happy reading,

News:
Fish maw wars
Independent

A row has developed between the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and fish exporters on one side and fish traders on the other over the sale of fish maws.  “What we get from the sale of a fish maw is double or three times what we get from the fish itself,” an executive member of the Uganda Fishmaws Traders Association explained.

Women urged to engage in silk production to fight poverty
New Vision

Women have been urged to engage in silk production to fight poverty. According to the principal entomologist at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Christine Asaba, silk is a high value commodity for export. She said her department of entomology at the agriculture ministry is positioned to promote silk industry in the country.

Coffee’s future in dilemma
Independent

Uganda is currently implementing an ambitious plan  the coffee road map to increase coffee output from the current 4.5 million bags to 20 million bags by 2025.   But can the target be met at the time some farmers are reducing their land under coffee as a result of low coffee prices?  This, among other issues, was discussed during the 16th African Fine Coffee Conference and Exhibition.

Forests fall, animals die, desert looms: Uganda’s burning problem – in pictures
The Guardian

Charcoal is an integral part of everyday life in Uganda, where most people rely on some form of wood fuel to cook or boil water. For many, the sale of trees also provides a valuable income. Yet this levelling of the landscape, which causes loss of habitat for wildlife and leads to climate change, is unsustainable

East Africa smells the coffee and moves to expand market
East African

Increased yield from the newly planted coffee, containing the coffee wilt disease and mitigating the effects of climate change – which are some of the measures to increase output to an ambitious 20 million bags by 2025 – Uganda could inch closer to the share of powerhouses like Vietnam, Colombia and Honduras on the global export market.

Kenyans import $31.2m maize from the region to meet demand
East African

Kenyan traders have taken advantage of the low prices in Uganda’s Tororo, Gulu, Masindi and Lira regions to ship in the produce, buying a tonne for as low as $180 per tonne.
Sesame Market Blossoms in Face of Global Demand

Sesame market blossoms in face of global demand
Addis Fortune

After a study by the Ministry that found lack of finance, traceability and updated market information were hampering the sesame market, a regulation was drafted by the Ministry of Trade  to allow farmers to trade sesame outside the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) trading floor, which has been mandatory.  The effort was a bid to mimic the performance of coffee. Just months after another amendment allowed coffee to be traded outside of the ECX floor, it fetched 215 million dollars in the first quarter of the current fiscal year.

Land rights are the key to climate adaptation strategies for smallholder farmers
Devex

This underlines the important role of land rights in climate adaptation and resiliency. Without tenure security, the women, men, and communities who increasingly depend on adaptation strategies for their survival may face additional obstacles.

Knowing “WhatsApp” with food security
Agrilinks

Fred, who had received training on e-extension by the Kenyan government in 2012, created a plan to use ICT apps, not only to tell people about the work he was doing, but to improve farmer-to-farmer learning and increase the number of farmers he could reach. Fred first created a chat group of just the farmers he worked with. As it became more popular, he coordinated with his extension colleagues and they decided to form a county wide group called “Real Farmers”. The result has been game changing.

Dutch cow poo overload causes an environmental stink
The Guardian

Dairy farms in the Netherlands are producing so much dung they can’t get rid of it safely. Now the WWF is calling for a 40% cut in herd numbers to protect the environment.  But there’s a catch: the nation’s 1.8 million cows are producing so much manure that there isn’t enough space to get rid of it safely.

Plants feel the heat
Sainsbury Laboratory
Scientists at the UK’s Sainsbury Laboratory have discovered how plants vary their response to heat stress depending on the time of day, solving a 79-year-old mystery.

Research:

Does coffee production reduce poverty? Evidence from Uganda
Swaibu Mbowa, Tonny Odokonyero, Tony Muhumuza, Ezra Munyambonera, Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies, 2017.

The results reveal a significant effect of coffee production on poverty reduction, through incremental household consumption expenditure. Households engaged in coffee production are associated with a lower incidence of poverty. The interesting evidence suggests that coffee production is a pro-poor intervention. These findings are confirmed by qualitative assessment that reveals farmers’ welfare improved to greater extent to satisfactory levels from coffee income.

Micro-Level Welfare Impacts of Agricultural Productivity: Evidence from Rural Malawi
Francis Addeah Darko, Amparo Palacios-Lopez, Talip Kilic & Jacob Ricker-Gilbert – Journal of Development Studies, 2018

This article analyses the micro-level welfare impacts of agricultural productivity using a two-wave nationally representative, panel data from rural Malawi. Welfare is measured by various dimensions of poverty and food insecurity; and agricultural productivity is measured by maize yield and value of crop output per hectare. The poverty measures included per capita consumption expenditure, relative deprivation in terms of per capita consumption expenditure, poverty gap and severity of poverty; and the measures of food insecurity included caloric intake and relative deprivation in terms of caloric intake. Depending on the measure of welfare, the impact of agricultural productivity was estimated with a household fixed effects estimator, a two-part estimator or a correlated-random effect ordered probit estimator. The results indicate that growth in agricultural productivity has the expected welfare-improving effect. In terms of economic magnitude, however, both the direct effect and economy-wide spillover effect (in the non-farm sector) of a percentage increase in agricultural productivity on the poverty and food security measures are small. Efforts to effectively improve the welfare of rural agricultural households should therefore go beyond merely increasing agricultural (land) productivity.

Youth Migration and Labour Constraints in African Agrarian Households
Valerie Mueller, Cheryl Doss & Agnes Quisumbing – Journal of Development Studies, 2018

Using panel data from Ethiopia and Malawi, we investigate how youth migration affects household labour, hired labour demand, and income, and whether these effects vary by migrant sex and destination. Labour shortages arise from the migration of a head’s child. However, the migration of the head’s sons produces a greater burden, particularly on female heads/spouses (in Ethiopia) and brothers (in Malawi). Gains from migration in the form of increased total net income justify the increased labour efforts in Ethiopia. Weaker evidence suggests households in Malawi substitute hired for migrant family labour at the expense of total household net income.

Labour, profitability and gender impacts of adopting row planting in Ethiopia
Joachim Vandercasteelen Mekdim Dereje Bart Minten Alemayehu Seyoum Taffesse – European Review of Agricultural Economics, 2018.

Improved technologies are increasingly promoted to farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to address low agricultural productivity. There is, however, a lack of evidence on how adoption affects farmers’ labour use, gender roles and profitability. This paper analyses the farm level impacts of the recently introduced row planting technology in teff production in Ethiopia. Using a randomised controlled trial, we show that row planting significantly increases the total labour requirement and allocation but not teff yields, resulting in a substantial drop in labour productivity. There is no significant profitability effect at the farm level, seemingly explaining the limited success in upscaling the programme.

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 Feb 19th

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

As usual, this weekly 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.

Important notice: The law is changing and we need your help. In order to keep receiving the newsletter, we need you to confirm your membership at the following web address:

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This week, we report on the fact that coffee farmers are trained to boost exports and on the fact that government suspends harvesting, trade of Shea nut trees. We also have an article on how increasing agricultural technology adoption through information and on Understanding GMOs.

In the section discussion papers, policy briefs and research reports, we refer to the following publications:

Under research, we highlight:

Note that newsletters are archived on http://bjornvancampenhout.com/newsletter/

Happy reading,

News:

Coffee farmers trained to boost exports
Observer

At least 45 coffee farmers from across the country have received training on how to market and export their products.  The Agribusiness Development Center with support from the Rabobank Foundation and DFCU bank targeted mainly farmers who are also leaders of cooperatives on how to handle coffee fit for export, how to negotiate a contacts, and skills on how to get information for better prices.

Government suspends harvesting, trade of Shea nut trees
Monitor

The Ministry of Water and Environment has with immediate effect suspended any cutting, transportation and sale of Shea nut and Afzella Africana tree logs and their products saying they are endangered.

Maize everywhere, but no store anywhere
Independent

There is good news on Uganda’s food security front. The agriculture ministry estimates that Uganda has harvested about 5.5 million metric tonnes from the last planting season; which is a 38% increase from the usual harvest of about 4 million metric tonnes.  But the bumper harvest of maize – and beans – has exposed another problem smallholder farmers face; a lack of storage facilities.

Red cherries and coffee farmers who do it right, in Rwanda
Agrilinks

One farmer brings a bag full of well picked cherry, the next one has only 75 percent well-picked and 25 percent black, underripe stems and other debris. Sadly, in many cases they are paid the same. The farmer “doing the right thing” is essentially cheated, because her cherry is immediately mixed with that of the farmers bringing a low quality mix. The price the cooperative (or private washing station) receives in the end is therefore “diluted” by the degraded quality of the raw material.

NCPB buys 2.7m bags of maize, the highest ever in one season
Business Daily Africa

The Kenyan government is buying the grain to replenish the strategic food reserve which is required to have a minimum of three million bags at any given time.

Kenya bets on ancient form of preservation to cut food losses
Daily Nation

Kenya is placing a big bet on hermetic storage bags, one of the oldest forms of food preservation in the world, to reduce post-harvest losses which claim up to 30 per cent of annual maize production.  Hermetic bags are designed to insulate cereals from heat, air and moisture.

Rwandan scientists debate potential pros and cons of allowing farmers to grow GMO crops
Genetic Literacy Project

Rwanda is one of the latest countries that made actions towards legalizing GM crops. According to an official at the Rwanda Environment Management Authority, they have drafted a law regulating GM crops.

EAC agricultural food systems increase youth opportunities
Daily News

Agriculture is widely perceived by youth as an unappealing, traditional, labour intensive farm activity not as a potentially high-profit business activity. However, according to African Economic Outlook, agriculture sector currently involves a spectrum of new opportunities on and off the farm connected to marketing, processing, packaging and food service, in addition to on-farm production.

Zimbabwe gets £21.5m grant as millions in southern Africa face hunger
Fin24

A prolonged dry spell and an invasive crop-eating worm are set to sharply curtail harvests across the southern African region, which could result in severe hunger for millions of people.

Seeding success: Increasing agricultural technology adoption through information
International Growth Centre

Modern agricultural technologies have enormous potential to drive poverty reduction and economic growth, but adoption remains low in many countries. New models of information sharing could help resolve this.

Understanding GMOs: genetic engineering and the future of coffee
Daily Coffee news

Presently, coffee is grown in a region within 25 degrees latitude north to 30 degrees latitude south of the equator, colloquially referred to as the coffee belt. Within this belt, approximately 25 million people are involved in the production of coffee, all of whom are vulnerable to the consequences of climate change.

Experts fear the world could run out of chocolate in 30 years because of climate change
The West Australian

Chocolate could run out in the next thirty years because the crop will be harder to grow in a warming climate, experts have warned.  The cocoa tree is under threat from diseases and a changing climate that will suck moisture from the soil and make it impossible to produce a good crop in many regions around the world by 2050.

A-peeling? Japanese farmers invent edible banana skin
The Guardian

First there were avocados with no stones; now we have bananas with edible skin.  A Japanese farm uses what it calls the “freeze thaw awakening method” to grow bananas that have a softer, digestible peel.

Reports, Policy Briefs and Discussion Papers:

TechnoServe initiative for inclusive agricultural business models
TechnoServe

This case study documents TechnoServe’s experience in identifying ways of enhancing commercial and social value through local sourcing in Africa for SABMiller and AB InBev.

Successful models to empower women in outgrower schemes
Ag Dev Co

This study showcases best practices to promote women’s economic empowerment in outgrower schemes. It derives practical lessons from outgrower schemes, and links these to ten underlying principles of success.

FDI and supply chains in horticulture: diversifying exports and reducing poverty in Africa, Latin America, and other developing economies
Moran, TH, CGD Working Paper, 2018.

How have some developing countries managed to break into the ranks of horticultural exporters, while others have not? What are the obstacles to entering international supply chains for horticultural exports? How can emerging market economies maximize positive impacts on rural employment, on gender employment, and on externalities for local communities?

Research:

Nutrition-sensitive agriculture: What have we learned so far?
MT Ruel, AR Quisumbing, M Balagamwala – Global Food Security, 2018

A growing number of governments, donor agencies, and development organizations are committed to supporting nutrition-sensitive agriculture (NSA) to achieve their development goals. While consensus exists on pathways through which agriculture may influence nutrition-related outcomes, empirical evidence on agriculture’s contribution to nutrition and how it can be enhanced is still weak. This paper reviews recent empirical evidence (since 2014), including findings from impact evaluations of a variety of NSA programs using experimental designs as well as observational studies that document linkages between agriculture, women’s empowerment, and nutrition linkages. The paper summarizes existing knowledge regarding impacts, but also pathways, mechanisms, and contextual factors that affect where and how agriculture may improve nutrition outcomes. The paper concludes with reflections on implications for agricultural programs, policies, and investments, and highlights future research priorities.

Do development projects crowd-out private sector activities? Evidence from contract farming participation in Northern Ghana
Isabel Brigitte Lambrecht, Catherine Ragasa, Food Policy, 2018.

Contract farming (CF) is attractive as a possible private sector-led strategy for improving market coordination and smallholder farmers’ welfare. At the same time, governmental and non-governmental development projects aimed at improving farmers’ welfare continue to be organized. It is not uncommon for CF activities and development projects to take place in the same communities. Yet so far there is no evidence on how development projects affect CF activities. We examine factors affecting entry in and exit from different maize CF schemes in Northern Ghana, and focus specifically on the role of development projects. We find that the presence of agricultural development projects in the community is associated with lower scheme entry, but this not the case for non-agricultural projects. CF exit is more strongly associated with maize projects, but not significantly with non-maize or non-agricultural projects. Thus, our findings do not support concerns of a general moral hazard problem arising from the presence of any development project, but indicate possible negative associations of more closely related agricultural or maize projects with maize CF participation.

The heterogeneous effect of shocks on agricultural innovations adoption: Microeconometric evidence from rural Ethiopia
Gebrelibanos Gebremariam, Wondimagegn Tesfaye, Food Policy, 2018.

Theoretically, the relationship between shocks and agricultural innovation adoption could be ambiguous. While shocks could lower the competence and capacity of households to adopt new agricultural innovations, households can also take-up agricultural innovations as a coping mechanism against the different shocks they face. Using a nationally representative household data from Ethiopia of the Living Standards Measurement Study-Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) of the World Bank, this paper analyzes the effect of idiosyncratic and covariate shocks on adoption of different agricultural innovations, assuming interdependence among the innovations. We find shocks to have heterogeneous effects on the adoption of agricultural innovations. Specifically, production and health shocks have negative effects on the adoption of high-cost innovations such as improved seeds, chemical fertilizer, and irrigation. However, production shocks are positively associated with low-cost innovations such as organic fertilizer. To enhance farmers’ adoption of agricultural innovations, especially high-cost innovations, there is a greater need towards the design of policies and interventions that would reduce household’s exposure to production and health shocks.

Maize lethal necrosis disease: Evaluating agronomic and genetic control strategies for Ethiopia and Kenya
PP Marenya, O Erenstein, B Prasanna, D Makumbi et al- Agricultural Systems, 2018

Maize lethal necrosis disease (MLN) was first diagnosed in eastern Africa in the 2010’s and is a big threat to their maize-based agri-food systems with estimated losses amounting to US$261 million in Ethiopia and US$198 million in Kenya. This paper reviews the agronomic and policy options to contain MLN and comparatively analyzes the feasibility of using maize-bean rotations and MLN-tolerant germplasm as key alternative strategies for managing MLN. Results from crop simulation and economic surplus models are used to make assessments on what strategy offers the most realistic MLN control approach given the circumstances of smallholder production in Kenya and Ethiopia. The paper finds that although maize-legume rotations are sound agronomic recommendations and are crucial for long term maize production system viability, their widespread application over large geographic areas for MLN control is economically challenging given that maize is a preferred staple. We conclude that scaling MLN-tolerant germplasm proves highly viable with estimated multiplier benefits of US$245-756 million in Ethiopia and US$195-678 million in Kenya, and benefiting up to 2.1 million people in Ethiopia and 1.2 million in Kenya. Given that the threat of MLN is present and ongoing, the food and economic security of maize-based agrarian economies in eastern Africa will critically depend on the successful mainstreaming of MLN tolerance in their maize seed systems.

Gendered Incidence and Impacts of Tenure Insecurity on Agricultural Performance in Malawi’s Customary Tenure System
Klaus Deininger, Fang Xia & Stein Holden – Journal of Development Studies, 2018.

Malawi’s recent passage of Land Acts provide an opportunity to clarify different aspects of the country’s land tenure in an integrated way. To assess whether doing so might be economically justified, we explore incidence and impact of tenure insecurity among smallholders. Insecurity is not only widespread, with 22 per cent of land users being concerned about losing their land, but is also associated with a productivity loss of 9 per cent for female operators, equivalent to US$ 11 million per year at the national level, enough to pay for a nation-wide tenure regularisation programme in two to three years.

Cash Crops and Food Security: Evidence from Ethiopian Smallholder Coffee Producers
Tadesse Kuma, Mekdim Dereje, Kalle Hirvonen & Bart Minten – Journal of Development Studies, 2018.

One of the central questions in food policy debates has been the role of cash cropping for achieving food security in low-income countries. We revisit this question in the context of smallholder coffee production in Ethiopia. Using data collected by the authors on about 1600 coffee farmers in the country, we find that coffee income is associated with improved food security, even after controlling for total income and other factors. Further analysis suggests that one possible pathway is linked to being better able to smooth consumption across agricultural seasons.

Does Intensive Tillage Enhance Productivity and Reduce Risk Exposure? Panel Data Evidence from Smallholders’ Agriculture in Ethiopia
ZA Abro, M Jaleta, H Teklewold – Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2018

We analyse the impact of intensity of tillage on wheat productivity and risk exposure using panel household-plot level data from Ethiopia. In order to control for selection bias, we estimate a flexible moment-based production function using an endogenous switching regression treatment effects model. We find that tillage has a complementary impact on productivity and risk exposure. As the intensity of tillage increases, productivity increases and farmers’ exposure to risk declines. Our results suggest that smallholder farmers use tillage as an ex-ante risk management strategy. The main policy implication of this study is that the opportunity cost of switching to reduced tillage in wheat production seem rather high unless farmers are supported by appropriate incentive schemes.

IFPRI Kampala USSP Newsletter- week of Jan 29th

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

As usual, this weekly 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.

This week, we report on the fact that Uganda gets traps for armyworm and on Coffee consumption still low. We also have an article on how climate-resilient ‘super beans’ boost food rations for refugees in Uganda and on digital agriculture.

In the section discussion papers, policy briefs and research reports, we refer to the following publications:

Under research, we highlight:

Note that newsletters are archived on http://bjornvancampenhout.com/newsletter/

Happy reading,


News:

Uganda gets traps for armyworm

New Vision

The Government’s plan of commercialising agriculture could be hampered by the increasing incident of pests and diseases. Under the plan, the Government identified 12 key priority food items for both food security and income-generation through export. Maize, which is both a food security crop and an economic crop, is being threatened by various pests and diseases.

Coffee consumption still low
Daily Monitor

Mr Emmanuel Iyamulemye Niyibigira, the managing director of Uganda Coffee Development Authority has completed one year in office. In a recent interview he talked about how he intends to steer the presidential directive of Uganda achieving the 20 million bags of coffee exports.

Bushfires leave several acres destroyed in Pader
Daily Monitor

It’s estimated that the fires have in two sub-counties destroyed at least 800 acres of both food and cash crops that include maize, sim-sim, groundnuts, sorghum and peas.  The fires are suspected to have been set up by hunters, who intensify their chase for the wild edible rats commonly known as Anyeri during this season.

Fishermen, leaders want government to restock Lake Mulehe
Daily Monitor

Leaders and fishermen on Lake Mulehe in Nyundo Sub-county in Kisoro District have appealed to government through the ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to consider restocking Lake Mulehe with tilapia and cat fish species.  The lake was last restocked with tilapia in the 1980s and cat fish around 2000.

Government to develop irrigation policy
Daily Monitor

Government is in the process of developing a National Irrigation Policy in a move to guide its irrigation development and expansion.  The development comes at a time when President Museveni is looking at modernising Uganda’s agricultural sector.

Climate-resilient ‘super beans’ boost food rations for refugees in Uganda
The Guardian

South Sudanese refugees in Uganda are being given drought-resistant “super beans” to reduce their reliance on food aid and encourage self-sufficiency.  The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation is distributing the fast-growing, high-yield Nabe 15 super bean, which refugees can plant immediately to replenish their stocks.

Buvuma palm oil project: 5,000 reject compensation for land
Daily Monitor

About 5,000 residents in the Island district of Buvuma have rejected a government proposal to compensate them for their land to pave way for oil palm growing, claiming their property was undervalued.

Intercropping mango trees benefits farmers in the Albertine Rift
CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security

For the last five years, the farmers have been intercropping improved mango fruit trees with food crops such as maize, sorghum, cassava, sweet potatoes, nitrogen fixing legumes (beans and groundnuts) and indigenous vegetables. Mangoes are among the five popular fresh fruits in Uganda, and the trees are planted across contours and also on terrace ridges to conserve soil by reducing erosion.

Forget tea, drink more coffee: can a national culture be changed?
The Guardian

Rwanda, which produces some of the world’s finest coffee yet hardly consumes a drop. The country’s government hopes to change this with a campaign urging Rwandans to drink what they sow.

East Africa grain farmers set to gain from lease, credit deals
East African

The Eastern African Grain Council has partnered with RentCo East Africa, an asset leasing firm, and Centerprise Africa, an advisory company, to offer grain equipment and credit based on their unique business needs.

AfDB tips Africa on agriculture to drive industrialisation
Business Daily

“Agriculture must be at the forefront of Africa’s industrialisation. Integrated power and adequate transport infrastructure would facilitate economic integration, support agricultural value chain development and economies of scale,”.

Is digital agriculture the key to revolutionize future farming in Africa?
CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in East Africa brought together stakeholders from the private sector, government organizations and universities in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to explore digital agriculture and its potential to transform farming on the continent.

‘Wild’ genes open up opportunities for healthier, climate-smart rice
IRRI

The genome sequencing of seven wild rice varieties has finally been completed. This breakthrough is expected to provide opportunities for breeders worldwide in developing better rice varieties that will respond to the changing needs of the farmers and the consumers.

Seeding success: Increasing agricultural technology adoption through information
International Growth Centre

This brief focuses on mechanisms to encourage the adoption of better farming technologies – broadly defined to include improved agricultural practices, inputs, crop varieties, and other products like crop insurance or innovative lending products – to increase agricultural productivity and improve livelihoods.

Forget Ebola, Sars and Zika: ticks are the next global health threat
The Guardian

In the past 17 years we have battled Sars, the Ebola virus, Mers, and more recently the mysterious mosquito-borne Zika virus. These diseases seeming to appear from nowhere and rapidly ravage our populations. One commonality is that they almost always originate in animals before jumping across to people, and few parasites are as good at jumping between animals and people as the tick.

Discussion papers, Policy Briefs and Research Reports

A latent class analysis of improved agro-technology use behavior in Uganda: Implications for optimal targeting

Bizimungu, Emmanuel; and Kabunga, Nassul Ssentamu, IFPRI Discussion Paper

This study uses a large dataset that covers a wide geographical and agricultural scope to describe the use patterns of improved agro-technology in Uganda. Using latent class analysis with data on more than 12,500 households across the four regions of Uganda, we classify farmers based on the package of improved agro-technologies they use. We find that the majority of farmers (61 percent) do not use any improved agricultural practices (the “nonusers”), whereas only 5 percent of farmers belong to the class of “intensified diversifiers,” those using most of the commonly available agro-technologies across crop and livestock enterprises. Using multinomial regression analysis, we show that education of the household head, access to extension messages, and affiliation with social groups are the key factors that drive switching from the nonuser (reference) class to the other three (preferred) classes that use improved agrotechnologies to varying degrees. Results reveal the existence of heterogeneous farmer categories, certainly with different agrotechnology needs, that may have implications for optimal targeting.

Understanding the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s agricultural paradox: Based on the eAtlas data platform

Marivoet, Wim; Ulimwengu, John M.; and El Vilaly, Mohamed Abd Salam, IFPRI Report

The huge agricultural potential of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is well Documented. The country is endowed with well over two million square kilometers (km2) of land, 800 thousand of which is arable, yet only 10 percent is currently under cultivation. DRC also has favorable climatic and ecological conditions, allowing several harvests of numerous crops per year. Nevertheless, few studies have looked at the country’s spatial heterogeneity in terms of economic activity, public goods, or the livelihood strategies of smallholder farmers. As a result, policymakers have little evidence to guide their decisions in planning and implementing interventions to improve the nation’s food and nutrition security status. To fill in this knowledge deficit, the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS), which is facilitated by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), provides knowledge products and analytical tools in support of African countries. Among the tools developed, country eAtlas—which is freely available online (http://eatlas.resakss.org/)—is a highly interactive, geographic information systems–based mapping tool designed to provide policymakers and analysts with access to high-quality, highly disaggregated data on agricultural, socioeconomic, and biophysical indicators.

Research

Microcredit and Food Security: Evidence from Rural Households in Uganda

NMM Faith, G Antonides, F Cecchi – Journal of African Economies, 2018

This study investigates the effect of participation into a microcredit program on household food security parameters of female borrowers in a rural setting in Uganda. We explore the modes of food acquisition, dietary diversity, caloric and protein intake, and qualitative food insecurity measures for different categories of respondents. We conduct a cross-sectional analysis comparing old clients to newly registered first time borrowers. Next, we compare first time borrowers and non-borrowers using a panel design. While the cross-sectional analysis allows the comparison of women that similarly self-selected into borrowing, the panel analysis complements by providing insights into changes of food security parameters. In both cases, we use Kernel matching, or difference-in-difference with Kernel matching, to control for potential bias in observables, and perform a sensitivity analysis with respect to unobservables using Rosenbaum bounds as well as an individual fixed effects panel analysis. Results show a decline in food security following the uptake of microcredit. In particular, the analysis reveals robustly lower dietary diversity among long-time borrowers than new borrowers, and larger reductions in dietary diversity scores among new borrowers, after 1 year, compared to controls. The reduction in dietary diversity was traced to a reduction in animal-source food, fruit and sugar intake. We find indicative evidence that this is partly explained by a shift from own production to reliance on food purchase by households. Other household members relegating the burden of food provision to women after borrowing may also help explain the observed result.

Patterns of labor productivity and income diversification–Empirical evidence from Uganda and Nigeria

AI Djido, BA Shiferaw – World Development, 2018

The labor productivity gap and differentials within and between farm and non-farm sectors is the key to understanding household income diversification patterns. This study shows that the labor productivity gap between farm and non-farm sectors attenuates after controlling for labor intensity. Within agriculture, there are no productivity gaps between staple and high value crops. This provides some evidence of underemployment in agriculture and employment gaps between the farm and non-farm sectors. In addition, diversification into and within farm and non-farm sectors is positively correlated with labor productivity in the specific sector. Diversification into non-farm activities may, however, reduce farm labor productivity and requires policies that reduce such tradeoffs in the transformation process. In addition, the pathways linking income diversification and labor productivity are complex and non-linear. In Uganda, income diversification is higher among resource-poor households (with limited family labor, land, and livestock) in rural areas away from main roads or urban centers. In Nigeria, diversification is higher for male-headed households with productive assets (family labor and land) and in areas closer to markets and urban centers.

The effect of climbing bean adoption on the welfare of smallholder common bean growers in Rwanda

EM Katungi, C Larochelle, JR Mugabo, R Buruchara – Food Security, 2018

This paper assessed the effect of climbing bean adoption on the welfare of the bean growers in Rwanda, using four indicators: per capita consumption expenditure, poverty head count, quantity of bean consumed per person and food security. The analysis was based on cross sectional data from a nationally representative survey of bean growers, conducted in 2011. Instrumental variables and control function approaches were used to address the endogeneity of climbing bean adoption decisions in household welfare outcomes. Results demonstrated that investments in climbing bean research and dissemination efforts contributed significantly to improve household welfare. One additional kilogram of climbing bean seed planted raises per capita consumption expenditure by 0.9% and that of bean consumption by 2.8%, and increases the probability that a household is food secure by 0.6% while decreasing the likelihood of being poor by 0.6%. These findings highlight the important role climbing bean adoption can play in reducing food insecurity and poverty in land constrained areas.

Agricultural Commercialisation and Food Security in Rural Economies: Malawian Experience
Natalia Radchenko & Paul Corral – Journal of Development Studies

This paper contributes to the debate on the nutrition-related outcomes of cash crop adoption by using a model with essential heterogeneity and a semi-parametric estimation technique. The model explicitly frames non-separability between production and consumption decisions of farming households providing an original test of separability. The empirical application is run using Malawian data. The results imply rational anticipations and decision process of agrarian households relative to the crop portfolio choice, disparate strength of market barriers faced by the farmers, non-separability between production and consumption decisions and a weak transmission from agricultural incomes to higher food expenditures and better diet.

Gender, Weather Shocks and Welfare: Evidence from Malawi
Solomon Asfaw & Giuseppe Maggio – Journal of Development Studies, 2018.

This paper explores the gender-differentiated effects of weather shocks on households’ welfare in Malawi using panel data aligned with climatic records. Results show that temperature shocks severely affect household welfare, reducing consumption, food consumption and daily caloric intake. The negative welfare effects are more severe for households where land is solely managed by women, a finding that sheds light on the gender-unequal impact of temperature shocks. Our evidence also suggests that women’s vulnerability to temperature shocks is linked to women’s land tenure security, as temperature shocks significantly impact women’s welfare only in patrilineal districts, where statistics show that investment in agricultural technologies is lower.

Social Network Effects on Mobile Money Adoption in Uganda
Conrad Murendo, Meike Wollni, Alan De Brauw & Nicholas Mugabi – Journal of Development Studies, 2018.

This study analyses social network effects on the adoption of mobile money among rural households in Uganda. We estimate conditional logistic regressions controlling for correlated effects and other information sources. Results show that mobile money adoption is positively influenced by the size of the social network with which information is exchanged. We further find that this effect is particularly pronounced for non-poor households. Thus, while social networks represent an important target for policy-makers aiming to promote mobile money technology, the poorest households are likely to be excluded and require more tailored policy programmes and assistance.

Do as they did: Peer effects explain adoption of conservation agriculture in Malawi

Bell, Andrew; Zavaleta Cheek, Jennifer; Mataya, Frazer; and Ward, Patrick S. – Water, 2018

Adoption of the trinity of practices known commonly today as conservation agriculture (CA)—maintaining soil cover, reducing tillage, and enhancing soil nitrogen through legumes—is a critical process to the management of erosion in rural landscapes, and maintenance of aquatic habitats and hydropower potential. However, the large literature on the benefits and risks of CA fails to find any universal determinants of adoption, with competing uses for crop residues, availability of labor, and access to physical inputs common constraints appearing in different contexts. We conduct a study in the specific context of Malawi, using ethnographic interviewing to draw out possible decision criteria and machine learning to identify their explanatory power. This study is structured to inform the question: “How do farmers decide to adopt the specific activities of CA in Malawi?” We find that more than any other factor, adoption by neighbors (i.e., peer effects) matters, with possible implications for the overall cost of encouraging CA (e.g., through subsidies) as it is taken up across a landscape. Further, we note that little else within our household survey (save for more detailed articulation of neighbor and neighborhood characteristics) offers greater explanatory power than those factors identified by farmers themselves. Finally, we note that decisions made in the presence of an incentive are structurally different than those made without incentives, validating previous concerns in the literature regarding the basis most CA adoption studies, within CA promotion interventions.

IFPRI-Kampala USSP newsletter – week of jan 15th 2018

 

News:

280,000 coffee farmers in Busoga decry lack of market
Monitor

More than 280,000 coffee farmers in Busoga Sub-region are stranded, saying Agroways Limited, which took over Busoga Growers Cooperative Union (BGCU), lacks capacity to address their market needs.

Agriculture Minister says land dispute shouldn’t be seen as ethnic bias
Black Star News

The Minister of Agriculture, animal industry and fisheries has cautioned the country against viewing the Balaalo (pastoralists) land issue in the northern part of Uganda as related to ethnic bias.  While speaking to a meeting of security committee members and the Balaalo at Gulu district council hall on Friday last week, Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja told the Balaalo –as the pastoralists from Western Uganda who travel with their huge herd of cattle are known– and their leaders that they were being asked to leave the northern part of Uganda because of their conduct that was disrespectful and inconsistent with the way of life of the Acholi community.

The money from honey
Monitor

Honey which is used as food and medicine has many health benefits. It is no wonder that some people have seen the money to be made from it.

Why Lwanga chose to grow clonal coffee
Monitor

Before making the final decision to go into full time farming, Charles Lwanga had planted some 300 cloned Robusta coffee trees on his inherited land next to the traditional Robusta coffee trees that his father used to grow. “When I finally set out to be a fulltime coffee farmer, my first observation was that I harvested an average of 14 kilogrammes of dry coffee beans from each cloned Robusta coffee tree while I picked six kilogrammes from each traditional Robusta coffee tree. I therefore decided to cut down all the traditional coffee trees and replace them with the cloned Robusta coffee trees

Flower exporters struggling to attain big business again

Monitor

Lowering the cost of starting a business in Uganda will see the floriculture industry return to its former glory where it was ranked among the top five export commodities, industrial players have said.  In Uganda the players are struggling to convince government to identify land, reduce the cost of electricity and lower the cost of finance to enable them increase production

Using soilless media to grow vegetables
Monitor

Soilless growing media have been proven to be sterile and free from pathogens that are soil-borne and applicable for urban farmers who grow plants on rooftops and containers.

Sorghum, Sudan’s staple food of all times
South Africa Today

Sorghum, as a basic element in the nutrition of Sudanese, has a lofty record in the daily life, traditions and beliefs of the people of this country.

Kenyan coffee ranks among the world’s top beans
Business Daily Africa

Three Kenyan factories have been ranked among the world’s best specialty coffee producers for 2017, putting farmers on the path to better earnings.  Kabare AA, produced by the Kabare farmers’ cooperative society in Kirinyaga was ranked fourth on Coffee Review’s list of Top 30 with a score of 97 points out of 100.  AA is the highest grade of Kenya coffee based on bean size and freedom from physical imperfections.

Bumper Zimbabwe harvest prompts bigger bet on “command agriculture”

IRIN News

Zimbabwe is expected to harvest 2.1 million metric tonnes of maize this year after good rains followed successive El Niño-induced droughts. For the first time in many seasons the country will be able to feed itself and not require commercial imports or food aid. But is this the result of good fortune or good policy?

To sate China’s demand, African donkeys are stolen and skinned
New York Times

A gelatin made from donkey hides is prized as a traditional Chinese remedy. Now slaughterhouses have opened in Africa, and domestic animals are disappearing from villages.

Beating plastic bags’ use in afforestation
Sci Dev Net

This year, Kenya banned the use of plastic bags. But thanks to a 34-year old Kenyan, Teddy Kinyanjui, an innovative afforestation and reforestation method for developing seedlings without using plastic bags is in place. He is working in partnership with Kenya Forestry Research Institute, which certifies seeds.

Building the next generation of African agricultural economists
African Development Bank

Building the next generation of African agricultural economists was one of the key highlights of a Structural Transformation of the African Agriculture and Rural Spaces workshop at the headquarters of the African Development Bank in December. Organized by the Macroeconomics Policy, Forecasting, and Research Department of the ADB and Cornell University, the workshop brought together top tier and emerging young African researchers from Africa and around the world to discuss recent developments in policy-relevant agricultural research and to understand the policy implications for the transformation of Africa’s agriculture.
Team of international scientists unlocks peanut’s genetic code
International Science for the Acquisition of Ari-Biotech Applications

A team of international scientists, including researchers from University of Georgia and U.S. Department of Agriculture have successfully mapped peanut’s genetic code. The findings of the five-year study provide relevant data to help other scientists around the world decode some of the genetic potential of the peanut plant.

Is “organic” going through an existential crisis?
Joan Conrow

Though it’s too early to tell whether it’s imploding — or merely suffering growing pains — the $50 billion American organic industry is going through some serious soul-searching.

Lab-grown luxuries: cruelty-free silk, diamonds, and leather offer an ethical alternative
The Guardian

On an environmental level, silk is also usually produced by boiling silk worms alive inside their cocoons and has been found to be the second-worst material in terms of environmental impact, just behind leather.“They said, ‘we heard you can make skin, have you thought about making leather?’”

Research Reports, Policy Briefs and Discussion Papers

Unjust burden. How smallholder farmers in Africa are adapting to climate change to improve their food security

IRIN

IRIN has completed a reporting project to outline the challenges that global warming is triggering, and to explore what local communities are doing to adapt and reduce their vulnerability.  The project covers four countries – Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and Zimbabwe – with the goal of sharing lessons learned so that small-scale farmers everywhere can be better supported as their challenges multiply. It provides a platform for policy discussion, and for the voices of those men and women on the front lines of climate change to be heard.

Research:

Mapping cassava food value chains in Tanzania’s smallholder farming sector: The implications of intra-household gender dynamics

B Masamha, V Thebe, VNE Uzokwe – Journal of Rural Studies, 2018

A gendered mapping of the structure and coordination (functioning) of traditional cassava value chains is important for marginalized groups such as women in rural development. In contrast to global high value chains, traditional food value chains and associated gender relations as well as power dynamics within households have received little attention. We conducted a cross sectional study in Kigoma, Mwanza, the coastal region, and Zanzibar Island in Tanzania. Data were collected through structured interviews conducted with 228 farmers, combined with key informant interviews, direct observations, repeated household visits, and literature review. The results of the study revealed that there are weak linkages within the cassava value chain, which is highly gendered. While production and processing nodes of the chain, which commenced from villages, were dominated by women and children, women were not well-integrated within high value nodes such as marketing in urban areas and cross-border trading, which were dominated by men. Transportation of cassava to highly lucrative markets was also dominated by men. Cassava processing was conducted at the household level as well as within small-scale cooperatives, with the major portion of this work being done by women. Supporting institutions were found to be involved in the supply of planting material, training, and the provision of processing equipment. In general, men played a prominent role in the control of resources, marketing, and income. In conclusion, the mapping of cassava value chains could help to identify avenues for understanding of poverty, enhancing food security, upgrading capacities, reducing gender inequality, and enhancing women’s participation in marketing and income control in the cassava value chains.

The effect of land access on youth employment and migration decisions: Evidence from rural Ethiopia

Kosec, Katrina; Ghebru, Hosaena; Holtemeyer, Brian; Mueller, Valerie; and Schmidt, Emily – American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2017.

How does the amount of land that youth expect to inherit affect their migration and employment decisions? We explore this question in the context of rural Ethiopia using a 2014 cross-sectional dataset indicating whether or not youth household members from a previous 2010 survey had migrated by 2014, and in which sector they worked in 2014. We estimate a household fixed effects model and exploit exogenous variation in the timing of land redistributions to overcome endogenous household decisions about how much land to bequeath to descendants. We find that larger expected land inheritances significantly lower the likelihood of long-distance permanent migration and of permanent migration to urban areas. Inheriting more land also leads to a significantly higher likelihood of employment in agriculture and a lower likelihood of employment in the non-agricultural sector. Conversely, the decision to attend school is unaffected. These results appear to be most heavily-driven by males and by the older half of our youth sample. We also find suggestive evidence that several mediating factors matter. Land inheritance is a much stronger predictor of rural-to-urban permanent migration and non-agricultural-sector employment in areas with less vibrant land markets, in relatively remote areas (those far from major urban centers), and in areas with lower soil quality. Overall, these results affirm the importance of push factors in dictating occupation and migration decisions in Ethiopia.

The impact of agricultural extension services in the context of a heavily subsidized input system: The case of Malawi

Ragasa, Catherine; and Mazunda, John – World Development, 2018.

This paper examines the interplay between Malawi’s input subsidy and access to extension services, and the impact of both on farm productivity and food security using Malawi’s Integrated Household Panel Survey. A correlated random effects (CRE) device is used, and consistency and robustness of results are checked using various other estimation models. The receipt of fertilizer and seed subsidies is shown to have an inconsistent impact on farm productivity and food security; at the same time, access to agricultural advice is consistently insignificant in explaining these. Further analysis, however, shows a statistically significant and strong association with farm productivity and food security when access to extension services is unpacked to include indicators of usefulness and farmers’ satisfaction. Households that reported receipt of “very useful” agricultural advice had greater productivity and greater food security compared to those that reported receipt of advice that they considered not useful and those that did not receive any advice at all. This result implies the need to ensure the provision of relevant and useful agricultural advice to increase the likelihood of achieving agricultural development outcomes.

Patterns of labor productivity and income diversification – Empirical evidence from Uganda and Nigeria

Abdoulaye I. Djido, Bekele A. Shiferaw – World Development, 2018.

The labor productivity gap and differentials within and between farm and non-farm sectors is the key to understanding household income diversification patterns. This study shows that the labor productivity gap between farm and non-farm sectors attenuates after controlling for labor intensity. Within agriculture, there are no productivity gaps between staple and high value crops. This provides some evidence of underemployment in agriculture and employment gaps between the farm and non-farm sectors. In addition, diversification into and within farm and non-farm sectors is positively correlated with labor productivity in the specific sector. Diversification into non-farm activities may, however, reduce farm labor productivity and requires policies that reduce such tradeoffs in the transformation process. In addition, the pathways linking income diversification and labor productivity are complex and non-linear. In Uganda, income diversification is higher among resource-poor households (with limited family labor, land, and livestock) in rural areas away from main roads or urban centers. In Nigeria, diversification is higher for male-headed households with productive assets (family labor and land) and in areas closer to markets and urban centers.

Empirical assessment of subjective and objective soil fertility metrics in east Africa: Implications for researchers and policy makers

Julia Berazneva, Linden McBride, Megan Sheahan, David Güereña – World Development, 2018.

Bringing together emerging lessons from biophysical and social sciences as well as newly available data, we take stock of what can be learned about the relationship among subjective (reported) and objective (measured) soil fertility and farmer input use in east Africa. We identify the correlates of Kenyan and Tanzanian maize farmers’ reported perceptions of soil fertility and assess the extent to which these subjective assessments reflect measured soil chemistry. Our results offer evidence that farmers base their perceptions of soil quality and soil type on crop yields. We also find that, in Kenya, farmers’ reported soil type is a reasonable predictor of several objective soil fertility indicators while farmer-reported soil quality is not. In addition, in exploring the extent to which publicly available soil data are adequate to capture local soil chemistry realities, we find that the time-consuming exercise of collecting detailed objective measures of soil content is justified when biophysical analysis is warranted, because farmers’ perceptions are not sufficiently strong proxies of these measures to be a reliable substitute and because currently available high-resolution geo-spatial data do not sufficiently capture local variation. In the estimation of agricultural production or profit functions, where the focus is on averages and in areas with low variability in soil properties, the addition of soil information does not considerably change the estimation results. However, having objective (measured) plot-level soil information improves the overall fit of the model and the estimation of marginal physical products of inputs. Our findings are of interest to researchers who design, field, or use data from agricultural surveys, as well as policy makers who design and implement agricultural interventions and policies.