Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Debates around African agriculture and rural development

16 October 2014. IIED, ODI and IDS have just published the first 7 papers in a series of 12 on debates around African agriculture and rural development – please see the blog. The papers are below with links.

IIED, ODI and IDS are really keen to get feedback from Africans and those working in Africa.

• Africa's Evolving Food Systems - Drivers of change and the scope for influencing them
T.S. Jayne, Ferdinand Meyer and Lulama Ndibongo Traub investigate ‘megatrends’ such as rising food and energy prices, climate change, urbanisation, and demographic transitions that are shaping African economic, political and social landscapes. They discuss how policy choices will influence each of four plausible scenarios for African food systems, and argue that the state can play a major role to engage the public in determining what a ‘good society’ looks like.

• Smallholder agriculture in Africa. An overview and implications for policy
Douglas Gollin asks what type of investment is best for the viability of smallholder systems. He concludes that the implications for development policy are not straightforward, as the priorities vary across and within countries due to the highly heterogeneous nature of the smallholder sector.

• Rural economic diversification in sub-Saharan Africa
Felicity J. Proctor discusses emerging policy implications for economic diversification in rural sub-Saharan Africa. She explores the potential of bringing rural and urban development policies together, ideally within a territorial or regional development framework, to strengthen the market and service linkages between rural and urban areas.

• Agricultural policy choice: interests, ideas and the scope for reform
David Booth investigates the scope for reforming African agricultural policy choices. While recognising the difficulties that many countries face in developing the agricultural policies they need to transform their economies, he encourages policymakers to abandon ‘pessimistic’ political-economy diagnostics. Instead he provides evidence that social and economic reforms can be achieved ‘against the odds’ when local actors are empowered to pursue a politically smart, entrepreneurial approach.

• Rural futures. How much should markets rule?
Henry Bernstein and Carlos Oya distinguish different approaches to markets that affect rural sub-Saharan Africa. They propose a political economy approach as an effective way to grasp the complex social dynamics of ‘real markets’, the subsequent class differentiation of ‘small farmers’ and how this affects rural ‘livelihood diversification’.

• The rehabilitation of agricultural subsidies?
Andrew Dorward and Ephraim Chirwa review the changing paradigms, politics and theories associated with input subsidy programmes. Their paper discusses how such programmes can improve and realise their potential to deliver major benefits to smallholder farmers and wider economies.

• ​Improving Policymaking for Agricultural and Rural Development in Africa
Towela Nyirenda-Jere and John Kazembe look at the role of knowledge management and information and communications technologies (ICTs). They conclude that the capacity to collect and analyse locally-relevant data for policymaking is still low and the linkages between ICTs, knowledge management and policymaking are not yet well established.

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