Working Papers

This series reports research activities or interim findings and aim to share ideas and elicit feedback. Future Agricultures publishes approximately six to ten Working Papers per year.

We also support a series of LDPI Working Papers through our involvement in the Land Deal Politics Initiative.

Some of our Working Papers are also available in a French translation: see Documents de travail for a full list.


Latest articles

Review of research and policies for climate change adaptation in the health sector in West Africa
May 28, 2014 / Working Papers

Future Agricultures Working Paper 88
Seydou Doumbia, Abdulai Jalloh, Aliou Diouf
April 2014

The African continent is the most vulnerable region in the world to the impacts of climate change. While there is undisputed evidence that the climate is changing, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the pace and extent of the impacts on the sub-regions of Africa. This review is aimed at identifying gaps in research and policymaking for climate change adaptation in the health sector in West Africa. The purpose is to provide information and insights that can be used to bring researchers and policymakers together to improve evidence-based policymaking that can enhance food security and protect populations vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change.

This report is based on a systematic review of literature on climate change and related health risks, policy and adaptation strategy over the past 15 to 20 years. The search included a broad-based review of published, peer reviewed and grey literature and interviews. Priority was given to relationships between climate change and health risks and vulnerability in West African countries, with a focus on Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria.

This review was undertaken under the auspices of the AfricaInteract project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

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FAC Working Paper 088 Pdf 679.53 KB 0 downloads

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Enhancing the Productive Capacity of Extremely Poor People in Rwanda
May 27, 2014 / Working Papers

Working Paper 87
Ricardo Sabates, Stephen Devereux and Pamela Abbott

Concern Worldwide launched a programme called ‘Enhancing the Productive Capacity of Extremely Poor People’ – known as the ‘Graduation Programme’ in this report – in two districts of southern Rwanda in May 2011. The Graduation Programme is designed to support extremely poor households1 through cash transfers to meet their basic needs, skills development to enable them to improve their livelihood options, and savings to increase resilience to shocks, thereby enabling sustainable exits from poverty.

This report presents the findings from a quantitative survey conducted 12 months after 1st cohort participants on Concern Worldwide Rwanda’s Graduation Programme received their first cash transfer, as well as qualitative research conducted a few months later. The monitoring and evaluation (M&E) component of the programme includes a quantitative baseline survey, a ‘first 12 months survey’ conducted 12 months after the first cash transfer is disbursed (while the cash transfers are still ongoing and before the asset transfer and associated livelihood support begins), and qualitative fieldwork.

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FAC Working Paper 087 V2 Pdf 2.86 MB 0 downloads

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Rice, cows and envy: agriculture and change among young rice producers in Guinea-Bissau
May 24, 2014 / Working Papers

Working Paper 86
Manuel Bivar and Marina Padrão Temudo

In Guinea-Bissau, a country on the West African coast between Senegal, the Republic of Guinea and the Atlantic, rice is the staple food. During the past three decades, agriculture in Guinea- Bissau has undergone a radical transformation. In Guinea-Bissau, there is a common discourse that young people have abandoned the fields and migrated to the city. A process of ‘depeasantization’ has been described, which implies a decline in the time spent working in agriculture, in the income earned from agriculture and in household coherence as a labour unit, leading to rural out-migration. However, the ethnography of the Balanta-Nhacra rural world presented in this paper suggests a process which is far more complex. When we analyse processes of ‘depeasantization’ in the African context, structural factors must also be taken into account.

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FAC Working Paper 086 V2 Pdf 1.33 MB 0 downloads

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The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Process in Burkina Faso…
May 23, 2014 / Working Papers

Full title: The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Process in Burkina Faso: From False Start to Restart Towards Rural Development?

Working Paper 85
Augustin Loada

This report is about the adoption of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) by Burkina Faso, and tries to assess if it was a simple means of refreshing the country’s agricultural policies or a starting point towards a new rural development policy.

The current research aims at analysing the implementation of the objectives set at Maputo in Burkina Faso, how the CAADP process was rolled out, and the results. The report starts by analysing the existence of political incentives that made possible a number of initiatives for rural development launched by relatively weak institutions. It then shows how Burkina Faso adhered to the CAADP process whose implementation was characterised by an impasse before it restarted through the formulation of a National Programme for the Rural Sector. The report also analyses the driving forces behind this process and identifies the value added springing from the CAADP implementation. Finally we draw lessons for the upcoming agricultural policies. The current case study relies on a document review and discussions with key informants: representatives of donors (Germany, Denmark), decision makers (Permanent Secretary for the Coordination of Sectoral Agriculture Policies), representatives of private sector and civil society.

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FAC Working Paper 085 Pdf 330.46 KB 0 downloads

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Gender and farming in Ethiopia: an exploration of discourses and implications for policy & research
May 23, 2014 / Working Papers

Working Paper 84
Asrat Ayalew Gella and Getnet Tadele

There is growing realisation that gender matters in African agriculture. However, a comprehensive and properly contextualised analysis of the nature of gender and gender relations as well as the way it comes into play in agriculture is lacking in much of the scholarly and policy debate surrounding the issue. The positioning of men and women in relation to farming, the spaces they are and are not allowed to occupy, the embodied nature of agricultural activities, and their implications to the future of African agriculture and rural youth are among the issues which have attracted little attention thus far. In this paper, we explore the utility of these issues in understanding gender issues within the context of small scale family farming in Ethiopia. Based on two qualitative studies of three rural farming villages and the existing literature, we explore the cultural and highly symbolic construction of ‘the farmer’ as an essentially masculine subject in Ethiopia, and reflect on the reasons behind the continued persistence of this construction and its implications for policy and further research.

We argue that, due to its likely origin and long history of use in the region, the plough occupies a pivotal and privileged place in the history of farming in Ethiopia. Its practical and symbolic importance and its placement in the exclusive domain of men have resulted in the construction of a particularly male centric notion of what it means to be a farmer and who can be considered one. Although it has been argued that men have certain physical advantages that explain this male centric dominance, we suggest that notions of embodiment have better explanatory power since there appear to be important differences in the way men’s and women’s bodies are perceived in relation to farming implements and activities, on the basis of which narratives of what they can and cannot do are constructed. We discuss the implications of this highly gendered construction for the entry routes of young men and women into farming and their relative positioning afterwards. Finally, we reflect on the implications of our findings for current policy and suggest directions for further policy debate and research.

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FAC Working Paper 084 Pdf 426.86 KB 0 downloads

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Becoming a young farmer in Ethiopia: Processes and challenges
May 23, 2014 / Working Papers

Working Paper 83
Getnet Tadele and Asrat Ayalew Gella

The Ethiopian government’s Agricultural Development Led Industrialization strategy emphasises the instrumental role that rural youth could play in transforming the agricultural sector. However, there exists a significant body of literature documenting the unfavourable attitudes many young people hold towards a future in agriculture. Despite their negative attitudes, the fact remains that many rural youth are likely to adopt farming as their principal or only means of livelihood, either by choice or the lack of other options. Rural youth encounter a number of insurmountable problems when they set out to be farmers. Other than attitudinal issues, the many difficulties that young people in Ethiopia have to traverse in the process of becoming a farmer, even when they are willing to be one, have not been adequately explored. Drawing from two different qualitative studies of rural youth in three farming communities in the Amhara and SNNP regions, this paper explores the process(es) through which rural youth enter into and become farmers, and the challenges and opportunities they come across in this transition. Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with different groups of rural youth as well as older farmers and key informant interviews with different stakeholders were conducted in 2011 and 2012.

Overall, our findings show that education, access to land, asset base, gender and local context are important factors which significantly affect who becomes a farmer and who does not. Our findings particularly draw attention to the influence of education and gender. The impact of being educated, both in terms of its effect on the desirability of a future in farming as well as complicating later entry into farming, is one that needs to be recognised by policymakers. The role of gender in young men’s and women’s choice to become farmers, the routes they take to becoming farmers and the lives they lead as farmers is also a key area for further research and policy dialogue. Finally, facilitating meaningful access to land for rural youth along with the expansion of both on-farm and off-farm livelihood opportunities in the agri-food continuum is another area which needs to be addressed urgently.

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FAC Working Paper 083 Pdf 1.47 MB 0 downloads

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Cautious commercialisation. Findings from village studies in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and…
May 23, 2014 / Working Papers

Full title: Cautious commercialisation. Findings from village studies in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi & Tanzania

Working Paper 82
Steve Wiggins, Gem Argwings-Kodhek, Samuel Gebreselassie, Samuel Asuming-Brempong, Ephraim Chirwa, Mirriam Muhome Matita, Ntengua Mode & Khamaldin Mutabazi

Commercialisation can be central to agricultural development, with the promise of contributing to economic growth, with the reduction of poverty and hunger. Africa has seen many episodes of more commercial smallholder farming, from the export crop booms in West Africa of the late nineteenth century to more recent spurts in production of food for domestic markets. Unfortunately such episodes have not been more widespread, nor in some cases have they been sustained.

This paper looks at experience of commercialisation in selected parts of Africa in the late 2000s, to shed light on key questions asked about the process, including:

  • How do farmers commercialise, which small farmers commercialise and to what extent, and what are the drivers of change?
  • What are the benefits of commercialisation, both directly to farmers, as well as indirectly to those who may benefit from linkages in the rural economy that create additional jobs?
  • Are there drawbacks? For example, in reduced food security as cash crops replace food production, increased inequality, further disadvantage to female farmers, higher risks to vulnerable smallholders or harm to the environment?
  • What policies and programmes lead to commercialisation with desirable outcomes? What should be the role of governments, donors who assist them, private enterprise and civil society in promoting favourable commercialisation?
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FAC Working Paper 082 Pdf 2.06 MB 0 downloads

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Changing elderly & changing youth: Knowledge exchange & labour allocation in southern Guinea-Bissau
May 23, 2014 / Working Papers

Full title: Changing elderly and changing youth: Knowledge exchange and labour allocation in a village of southern Guinea-Bissau

Working Paper 81
Joana Sousa, Ansomane Dabo and Ana Luisa Luz

The Nalu people in Cablola, a small village in southern Guinea-Bissau, practice a mixed farming system that includes upland farms, mangrove rice fields and orchards. People produce a wide array of crops for the purchase of rice, which is the main staple food. Currently in Guinea-Bissau the cashew nut is the main cash crop, which is extensively sold and/or bartered for rice for household consumption. Even though local people experience rice scarcity.

In villages nearby to Cablola, many Balanta people are devoted to mangrove rice farming and are experts on this farming system, which requires considerable knowledge, skill and labour. Mangrove rice farming produces higher yields than upland rice farming, and although there was some production recovery recently, mangrove rice production has been largely abandoned in the region. In 2010, the youngsters in Cablola founded an association, known as Youngsters Unite. The recovery of mangrove rice farming, and particularly the role of the association in this work, has been challenging old and present-day leaderships, (re)negotiating relationships and trust, and promoting knowledge exchange between both elders and youngsters and between the Balanta and the Nalu people. The association, within its social context, has boosted the ‘courage’, as farmers say, needed to build a dyke with mud and hand plough.

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FAC Working Paper 081b Pdf 1.97 MB 0 downloads

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Graduation from the Food Security Programme in Ethiopia: FAC Ethiopia Final Report
May 23, 2014 / Working Papers

Working Paper 80
Stephen Devereux, Rachel Sabates-Wheeler, Mulugeta Tefera Taye, Ricardo Sabates and Feyera Sima

The Government of Ethiopia launched the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) in 2005. The overarching objective of the FSP was to break Ethiopia’s chronic dependence on annual emergency appeals for humanitarian assistance, by providing structured support to food insecure households over an extended period. The initial expectation was that the numbers of PSNP participants would fall over time as households achieved food security and no longer needed programme support. In reality, the numbers increased due to several shocks that increased food insecurity in rural Ethiopia, such as food price spikes and rain failures. This highlights the challenge of ‘graduating’ households out of chronic food insecurity in a fragile agro-ecological context characterised by dependence on rain-fed agriculture but with highly variable rainfall.

This study aims to add to the understanding of how graduation is happening in Ethiopia through the Food Security Programme. The specific objectives of this study are:

  • To explore how graduation is conceptualised and operationalised in Ethiopia’s Food Security Programme, from the perspective of both programme administrators and programme participants.
  • To analyse the range of factors that ‘enable’ and ‘constrain’ graduation at different levels, from programme design and implementation to participants’ or beneficiaries’ characteristics, to contextual factors such as market access and climate variability.
  • To draw lessons for good practice and recommendations for improved graduation outcomes, from suggestions made by programme administrators and participants.
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FAC Working Paper 080 Pdf 1.62 MB 0 downloads

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Young people, agriculture, and employment in rural Africa
April 23, 2014 / Working Papers

WIDER Working Paper 2014/080
James Sumberg,  Nana Akua Anyidoho,  Michael Chasukwa, Blessings Chinsinga, Jennifer Leavy, Getnet Tadele, Stephen Whitfield, and Joseph Yaro
April 2014

This paper examines the current interest in addressing the problem of young people’s unemployment in Africa through agriculture. Using notions of transitions and mobilities we set out a transformative work and opportunity space framework that privileges difference and diversity among work opportunities, rural areas and young people. We argue that policy and programmes that seek to engage young people with agriculture must be more realistic, rooted in more context-specific economic and social analysis, and appreciative of the variety of ways that rural men and women use agriculture to serve their needs and interests.