Wednesday, 10 October 2012

KNOTS blogger

KNOTS blogger

IFPRI: Seminar on 'Strategies & Priorities for African Agriculture', 3 October

Posted: 28 Sep 2012 07:40 AM PDT

IFPRI is running a seminar on strategies and priorities for African agriculture on 3 October 2012, which will be streamed online. The live stream will be here. IFPRI is also inviting questions on Twitter using the hashtag #AskIFPRI.

More details below:

Supply or demand: what ‘drives’ modern agricultural revolutions?

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 08:27 AM PDT


In 1999 Delgado et al. published the report Livestock to 2020: The Next Food Revolution. They argued that there would be a quantum jump in demand for livestock products in parts of the developing world, and a shift in the location of livestock production, tied to human population growth, rising incomes, continuing urbanisation and changing food preferences. The notion of the Livestock Revolution – with its promise of diet diversity, better nutrition and health, and also opportunities for small-scale producers – is one of the most powerful ideas to emerge in the areas of food, nutrition and agricultural development over the last decade.

Delgado and his co-authors suggested that the Livestock Revolution is fundamentally different from the earlier Green Revolution because it is 'demand driven' while the Green Revolution was 'supply driven' (p.1, 59). The language of 'demand-driven production systems' looms large in the story of the Livestock Revolution, and is depicted as part-and-parcel of what Delgado et al. suggest is an important shift, with livestock production moving from a 'local multipurpose activity to a global food activity' (p.60).

The great green land grab

Posted: 14 Sep 2012 07:39 AM PDT


"Land grabbing" is rarely out of the headlines. But the practice of land being appropriated by the environmental agenda - so-called "green grabs" - is gaining more and more attention. A new article on the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) blog looks at this phenomenon, and refers to recent work involving Future Agricultures members, published in a recent special issue of the Journal of Peasant Studies.


Image: No Entry_1952, from creative1the's photostream on Flickr (cc-by-nd)

"To Di World" - an Olympic effort to tackle hunger?

Posted: 10 Aug 2012 02:14 AM PDT


World leaders are preparing for the hunger and nutrition summit in the UK on 12 August, at the close of the Olympic Games.  Lawrence Haddad, director of the Institute of Development Studies, has written for The Guardian on the need to make lasting commitments. The efforts to tackle hunger and malnutrition need to become more transparent and accountable.

Rio+20: Women's rights in reverse gear

Posted: 08 Aug 2012 07:19 AM PDT

Action for women's rights at Rio+20

This guest post is by Agnes Otzelberger, Africa Climate Adaptation and Global Gender Advisor, CARE International.

The Rio+20 agreement, already finalised by negotiating parties before the official conference began, does not go far beyond 'recognising', 'affirming', and 'acknowledging' the importance of a long but fragmented shopping list of social, environmental and economic ingredients for sustainable development and the 'green economy'. In the absence of clear leadership and a reasonably resourced roadmap to achieve sustainable development, this is a bit like telling a crew of sailors to cross the ocean with no captain, no boat, no map and no clear destination.

Measuring aid to agriculture and food security

Posted: 08 Aug 2012 01:03 AM PDT

A new briefing paper from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) discusses flaws in the system for identifying aid to agriculture and calls for a purposeful (policy-relevant) measure that addresses global commitments on transparency, accountability and results-based aid. The paper is by Lidia Cabral (a member of the Future Agricultures Consortium) and John Howell.

Pastoralism: good news from a troubled region

Posted: 16 Jul 2012 04:02 AM PDT

Ian Scoones has blogged at The Huffington Post on pastoralism in the Horn of Africa - a sector marked by incredible creativity, diversity and rapid change.

"Where in the developing world do you see the growth of a $1 billion per annum export trade, the creation of export corridors, the flourishing of the private sector, the expansion of towns with the inflow of investment, and the emergence of a class of entrepreneurs commanding a profitable market, and generating employment and other business opportunities; and all of this driven without a reliance on external development aid?"

Read and comment at the Huffington Post

Blog of blogs: climate adaptation, hunger and nutrition for Malawi & Ethiopia

Posted: 21 Jun 2012 07:09 AM PDT

Around the Rio+20 conference, the Institute of Development Studies is compiling a 'collection of blogs' about hunger, nutrition and climate adaptation. It focuses on how these issues relate to Malawi and Ethiopia.

Green agriculture: not just for Africa

Posted: 20 Jun 2012 03:07 AM PDT

With approximately 1 billion people facing chronic hunger, a further 1 billion with 'hidden hunger' from micronutrient deficiencies and another 1 billion obese people, there is an urgent need to address inequalities in the global food system.  On top of these current pressures, the food system will need to feed a global population estimated to peak at between 9 and 10 billion people, who will themselves be demanding a richer and higher quality diet.

As representatives from the world's nations gather in Rio, 'green agriculture' is promoted as being part of the solution. But the responsibility for change is not just in countries where there is poverty and hunger.

Historically, changes in agricultural practices to meet rising demand include a shift to industrial production and the 'Green Revolution' of the 1960s. However, the reliance on large-scale monoculture dependent on mechanisation, irrigation and inputs like fertilisers and pesticides has had a disastrous impact on the environment, from pollution through to its reliance on freshwater resources. What is more, the food system is directly and indirectly responsible for 30% of the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Clearly, there is a need for a fundamental shift in agricultural systems that can provide nutritional security to a growing population whilst maintaining environmental integrity.


This need has resulted in a recent spate of suggestions for achieving 'green agriculture'. The UK Government's Foresight report (2011) called for 'sustainable intensification', and the FAO is promoting 'Climate Smart Agriculture' that addresses the quadruple prerogative of (1) increasing productivity, (2) building resilience (adaptation), (3) lowering GHG emissions (mitigation) and (4) achieving development. Meanwhile, the Gates Foundation has concentrated on technological aspects and crop innovation in particular; and in the run-up to Rio+20, the CGIAR has called for a focus on the entire agricultural landscape, with an emphasis on research and development.


The proposed techniques for achieving this green revolution in agriculture range just as far and wide: from a concern with closing the yield gap in developing countries, to the recognition of the value of traditional crop varieties and agro-diversity, conservation agriculture and agro-ecological practices, there are a variety of important new methods on the agenda. Fully endorsing the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) has been seen a major step that can be taken at Rio +20.


However, these new technologies and methods are only as good as their ability to meet consumer demands for food. Many of them focus on changing agricultural production in the developing world, whilst leaving agriculture in the developed world in the dual state of highly intensive, subsidised farming to meet the majority's food requirements – with organic agriculture as a niche market for those that can afford to buy its produce. But if 'green agriculture' really is going to feed the world, it is impossible for agriculture in the developed world, and the western diet for which it provides, to continue unchanged.


It is widely recognised that, although it can be highly efficient and productive, sustainable agriculture will not achieve the same yields as is currently possible with intensive industrial production. This, however, is actually not such a bad thing as it first appears, considering that almost a billion people are over-nourished, and that approximately 30% of the food we produce is actually never eaten. We have the room to manoeuvre towards a sustainable and equitable food system that meets the needs of the whole world's population.


Such a move will require not just a change in supply, but an equally urgent shift in demand. Green agriculture needs to go hand-in-hand with consumer awareness about the social and environmental costs of food production. Populations in the developed world will need to realise that having access to the same foods all year round is not sustainable; that it will be necessary to cut down on their meat consumption; and that they may need to start spending a higher proportion of their income of food as its price starts to reflect its true cost of production.


As the world's attention focuses on Rio, the answer is, therefore – if the attention that 'green agriculture' is now getting on the global agenda is any indication – yes, it will be able to feed the world. However, it will not be enough just to focus on changing the agricultural systems themselves in areas of the world where production is currently insufficient. It will require a concomitant change in consumers' understanding and demand for the food that they want to see produced.

Green agriculture: interests, politics and narratives at Rio+20

Posted: 20 Jun 2012 02:52 AM PDT

At the Rio+20 Conference, which starts today, world leaders and actors from NGOs, research and the private sector are discussing, among other things, the green economy agenda and the prerequisite institutions for sustainable development. Top priority has been given to 'green agriculture' in a rush to solve the problem of food insecurity in regions such as Africa. But behind these two words lie a number of difficult questions for Rio and beyond.

Brazil, China and Africa: options for adaptive cooperation in agriculture

Posted: 31 May 2012 01:49 PM PDT

By Prof Qi Gubo, College of Humanities and Development Studies, China Agricultural University

Novel partnership structures in agriculture were discussed in the May 2012 workshop in on South-South cooperation for agricultural development in Africa, though much further exploration and analysis is needed. A good starting point for guiding multiple actors to work together is to compare the experiences from China-Africa and Brazil-Africa cooperation in agriculture.  Meanwhile, existing cooperation between countries should be assessed from the various perspectives of institutions, beneficiaries and participants.


A variety of learning approaches and cooperation methods should be up for discussion, including mutually beneficial partnerships which go beyond traditional top-down development aid.

What would it take to make Brazil-Africa cooperation work?

Posted: 31 May 2012 12:21 PM PDT

Brazil is on the rise as a new global player in international development assistance – but most Brazilians would prefer not to think of their homeland as a "donor country".  For non-Brazilians, though, it is attractive to project it as a donor, especially now that it is officially the sixth largest world economy ahead of the UK. One reason that Brazilians are uncomfortable with labeling Brazil as a donor is because it threatens to undermine the uniqueness of Brazilian cooperation, which is motivated and driven by an intertwined set of principles of horizontality.

A recent high-level conference held in Brasília on 17 and 18 May 2012 reflected on the prospects and challenges of Brazil-Africa cooperation in the field of agriculture. The discussions were wide-ranging, but they revolved around the relevance of Brazil-Africa cooperation, the uniqueness of the principles of Brazilian cooperation and the apparent challenges associated with cooperation between Brazil and Africa.

The rich exchanges over the two day period prompted some critical reflections on my part. While there is huge potential in the novelty of Brazil-Africa cooperation in the field of agriculture, it would be at least advisable to treat the dynamics that currently underpin it as a work in progress.

Brazilian provision of cooperation in agriculture: politics and paths

Posted: 24 May 2012 06:25 AM PDT

by Iara Costa Leite, Articulação SUL

Agriculture has become the main flagship of Brazilian engagement in South-South Development Cooperation (SSDC). According to official data, the sector leads the country's provision of technical cooperation, gathering more than 20% of initiatives. In the context of global efforts aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goals, particularly the first one, the Brazilian "path" has been internationally recognized as an example to be followed, especially by Sub-Saharan Africa, in order to tackle primary development challenges such as food security and the fight against hunger.

Such argument, however, has to be qualified taking into consideration national as well as international broader political dynamics.

Should traditional donors be interfering in South-South cooperation?

Posted: 24 May 2012 06:18 AM PDT

by Daniel Bradley, DFID

So why was DFID supporting a workshop on the role of South-South cooperation?  Isn't South-South supposed to be about southern voices, without 'traditional donors' getting in the way?

Well, as FAC workshop discussant Langton Mukwereza suggested, there's a role for everyone - it's not simply a case of out with the old and in with the new. And the workshop helped us take another small step towards the idea of a broader and more balanced network of development actors, linked through various forms of partnership.

After the honeymoon: what would a happy marriage between Brazil and Africa look like?

Posted: 23 May 2012 03:30 AM PDT


Experts and practitioners from Africa, Brazil, China, Argentina and Europe met in the capital of Brazil last week to discuss South-South cooperation for agricultural development in Africa. The diversity of stakeholders represented and the policy-research nexus that framed the debate made it a pioneering gathering on the topic.

Brazil emerged from the discussions with a powerful image of an international development actor: its domestic policy success stories are compelling, its bureaucracy is articulate and accessible and its civil society is emphatic. There is a good deal of optimism on the role of Brazilian cooperation in Africa and Brazil's flamboyant manners seem to have great appeal across the Atlantic.

The rise and establishment of Brazil as a development actor in Africa are indeed good news. It brings salutary competition into the aid system, enlarging the recipients' room for manoeuvre. Perhaps more importantly, the country has much to offer in tropical agriculture science and technology, as well as first-hand experience on agriculture growth, smallholder farmer development and poverty reduction. Notwithstanding the potential benefits, last week's seminar was also a healthy warning about some of the myths and challenges underlying the glitter of the Brazil-Africa honeymoon.

A new alliance for food security, or a two-track Africa?

Posted: 21 May 2012 04:20 AM PDT


The latest international initiative to combat food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition was launched by G8 leaders with the usual fanfare in Chicago last week. President Obama, Hillary Clinton, three African heads of state and a long list of business leaders, along with Andrew Mitchell, the UK's own Secretary of State. Leaders pledged to banish food insecurity for 50 million people through mobilising the private sector through a 'New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition'. But will the initiative really deal with the underlying political economic conditions that keep people poor? Or will it create a two-track Africa instead, dividing those able to benefit from private investment and neoliberal policy from those who lose out? The sort of technical-economic fix offered by the G8 clearly fails to address the wider political and institutional questions and the needs and priorities of many of the region's people, an issue long emphasised by the work of the Future Agricultures Consortium.

Measuring women’s empowerment: A retrograde step?

Posted: 27 Apr 2012 03:28 AM PDT

The Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index has just been launched with great fanfare. It intends to serve as a tool for measuring and monitoring women's roles and their engagement in agriculture with the aim of closing identified "gender empowerment gaps".  But does the WEA Index fall into the same trap of previous attempts, essentializing women's roles and failing to get to grips with the social relations at the heart of gender dynamics in agriculture?

Actions and gaps: The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change final report

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 03:54 AM PDT

The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change launched their final report, Achieving food security in the face of climate change, at a key event at the Planet Under Pressure conference in London on 28th March.

The Future of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP): A Political Economy Inquiry

Posted: 11 Apr 2012 03:12 AM PDT

View more presentations from futureagricultures

Engaging young people in agriculture

Posted: 06 Apr 2012 05:50 AM PDT

by Courtney Paisley, YPARD

When we are talking about engaging youth in agriculture, where do we want them to be engaged?  What type of role are we thinking about for them?