Monday, 24 November 2014

Tobacco: driving growth in local economies

The rebound of tobacco production in Zimbabwe is striking. From a low in the mid-2000s of only around 48 million kgs, the last season produced 216 million kgs, almost hitting the levels of historical peak production 236 million kgs. Last season recorded exports of some US$450m, with Belgium and China being the major buyers. For the coming season over 75,000 farmers have registered to sell, mostly from the communal areas, but some around 27,000 from A1 resettlement farms. This is dramatically different to the pre-land reform era when tobacco production was dominated by a about 2000 large scale farms.

How does tobacco production, spread across so many farmers, affect local economies? Our studies under the Space, Markets and Employment in Agricultural Development (SMEAD) project took us to the Mvurwi area in Mazowe district. Here you cannot escape the impacts of tobacco. Those growing, mostly through contracting arrangements (nationally this was about three-quarters of all production) are linked to a number of companies who provide inputs, transport and other support. This has allowed farmers with limited capital to get going. The new farmers are employing labour, including many from the former farm compounds, and are sinking their profits into a variety of businesses, including transport and real estate. They are improving their farms and homes, and buying farm equipment. It is an intensely vibrant local economy, with spin off benefits for those running shops, beer halls, transport busineesses and offering services from hairdressing to tailoring. There are downsides too, as the growing of tobacco, and particularly its curing has negative health and environmental impacts. The destruction of local forests for curing wood has been dramatic.

Our film on tobacco in the ‘Making Markets’ series tried to capture some of this dynamic, with interviews from farmers involved at different scales, both on A1 and A2 farms. Watch it here:

There are clear challenges in the tobacco sector, but the last few years has shown that small-scale farmers, supported by contracting arrangements, can contribute high quality products, and reap the benefits of of a high value export crop. And most significantly the benefits are more widely shared than was the case before, suggesting opportunities for a much more inclusive growth pathway.

The post was written by Ian Scoones and appeared on Zimbabweland

Innovation choices in the face of uncertainty

Professor Andy Stirling writes chapter in the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser’s inaugural report

Sir Mark Walport today launches his first ever annual report as UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Innovation: Managing risk not avoiding it, which includes a chapter written by Professor Andy Stirling, Co-Director of the ESRC-funded STEPS Centre, based at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) of the University of Sussex.

In his contributory chapter, Making choices in the face of uncertainty: towards innovation democracy? Professor Stirling criticises the tendency in conventional debates on new technologies, to treat supporters as being simply ‘pro innovation’ and critics generally ‘anti-science’. Such language can be routinely heard being used, for instance, in controversies over GM foods, new chemicals or nuclear power.

According to Prof. Stirling: “The problem is that this misses the single most important point about innovation. Like other areas of policy – the key issues are about choosing between alternatives. To reduce this to simply being ‘for’ or ‘against’ the particular choice favoured by the most powerful interests is both irrational and anti-democratic”.

Referring to torture, weapons of mass destruction and financial fraud, Prof. Stirling points out that not all innovation is necessarily positive. Any particular innovation is typically ambiguous – open to being viewed in different ways. He therefore argues: “Whether any given innovation is preferable to the alternatives is not just a technical issue, but a fundamentally political question. To pretend that this is simply about ‘science based’ evidence – with no room for different social values – is also undermining of democracy”.

Prof. Stirling’s chapter explores the case for more mature debate and more reasoned decision-making. Across a range of areas, if we are to secure a future for all, there is a need to treat alternative priorities, resource allocations and innovation options in much more balanced and transparent ways, he believes.

For Prof. Stirling, the issues are not just about how fast to go, or even what the risks or benefits might be, in pursuing some supposedly single option, like GM foods. The real questions are about how privileged innovations can quickly get ‘locked in’ and alternatives ‘crowded out’. In the case of sustainable global food production, the chapter details a wide range of alternatives that even UK government support suggests often to be preferable to GM in their potential.

Also today, Prof. Stirling and Professor Paul Nightingale, also of SPRU, gave evidence at the fourth session of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee’s inquiry into genetically modified (GM) foods and the way in which these are regulated at European level under the precautionary principle. See resource pack GM food and the precautionary principle.

In both his chapter and his evidence to the committee, Prof. Stirling highlights the importance of more democratic institutions, practices and debates around innovation. Rather than reducing everything simply to ‘risk’, much more attention needs to be given to unquantifiable uncertainties – highlighting the value of more responsible, participatory and precautionary methods for assessing alternative choices.

He also argues for much greater attention to diversity – both in the portfolios of options that can be supported and in the plurality of perspectives to take into account. There exist a range of different practical methods for more effectively addressing these issues, but these also tend to be neglected in simplistic polarizing ‘pro’ / ‘anti’ debates.

The Government Chief Scientific Adviser’s report aims to help improve decision making in regulation and innovation policy. It is hoped the report will promote discussion and a regulatory culture surrounding risk in which robust scientific evidence is openly considered alongside political and other non-scientific issues in shaping policy.

Read the report and Andy Stirling’s chapter


More resources

The precautionary principle must be retained, unless we are willing to be reckless with our common future

rupert-readI recently submitted evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry on GM food and the Precautionary Principle. Unfortunately, as you’ll see intimated at the outset of my remarks there, I have relatively little faith in the inquiry.

It seems to me that the inquiry’s terms have pre-judged the outcome – very ironic, given the Committee’s alleged desire for an ‘evidence-based’ policy! Sadly, I think that they have decided that they want to force GM food on an unwilling British public, and are cynically using the chimera of a solely ‘evidence-based’ policy-process to justify a conclusion that they have pre-judged.

Why do I say use the strong term, “chimera”? My reasons are explained here, in this my main published piece thus far on this matter, co-authored with Nassim N. Taleb (author of The Black Swan) and others.
In very brief (and as set out in a suitably brief form here – scroll forward to page 9): it might be true that the evidence against GM food is weak. Even if that were true, that would in no way license the conclusion that GM food is safe. Absence of evidence of harm is not evidence of absence of harm. One needs to consider the vast unevidenced realm of what else might have happened in the past but didn’t and of what might happen in the future (which by definition hasn’t happened yet), and not just the thin sliver represented by the best available evidence.

Nevertheless, we have to try, and not just give up on the Select Committee process altogether. And so, along with the good people of STEPS and various others, we’ve had and are having a go (jointly-signed written evidence). Perhaps the Select Committee will prove me wrong. Perhaps the Committee and its inquiry are less cynical and pre-judged than I fear.


Guest blog by Rupert Read

About the authorRupert Read is Reader in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, and the Chair of Green House. His recent work includes the first and last essays in The Post-growth project, and his book Wittgenstein among the sciences.

Find out moreResource Pack: GM Food and the Precautionary Principle

Challenging misconceptions: Inclusive agricultural economies already exist in Africa

Eggs by Umma wa Wapanda Baisikeli Dar es Salaam (UWABA)
on Flickr (cc-by-nc-nd)
Often depicted as merely a begging bowl waiting for the munificence of superior westerners, Africa is seriously maligned. Indeed, across Africa citizens have always engaged in vibrant, innovative livelihoods activities, and these activities are ongoing. So when foreigners and Africans themselves imagine that inclusive agricultural growth can only come from foreign investment, they need to check the blind spots which render thriving African economic activity invisible.

For example, as presented by Marc Wegerif of Oxfam at the third day of the inaugural Conference on Land Policy in Africa, in Tanzania rural villages surrounding Dar es Salaam are already supplying the city’s massive food needs. Wegerif described how about 950,000 eggs were delivered daily by bicycle to the city, generating income for chicken farmers, those bringing the eggs to the city on bicycle, and the traders who sell the eggs in Dar es Salaam. People purchasing these eggs pay about half of what they would in a Dar supermarket, yet this route is more lucrative for chicken farmers than supplying to supermarkets. If the chicken farmers instead sold to supermarkets, the produce would not have the diversified multiplier effects that existing processes do, and yet, policy makers and foreign development practitioners often seek to encourage value chains to be geared towards supplying formal markets.

Wegerif went on to highlight how easily this economic activity could be enhanced if the Tanzanian government simply invested in building bicycle paths in and around the city. He told similar stories for milk (45,000 litres of milk delivered daily to Dar es Salaam by just one small producer project) and maize (33 tons of maize trucked to Dar es Salaam every week by one woman, who gathered maize by the barrow and ox car load from small producers). He discussed how these activities were preferable to pushing millions of small producers off the land to make way for large scale land based investments in agriculture. Wegerif emphasized that investment needed to take place in partnership with small producers, who are actually the drivers of African economic activity. If the problems of insecurity and poor infrastructure were solved, these activities would boom. The bottom line is that for African economic development, bigger and more concentrated are unlikely to be better, and in fact are likely to push smaller producers into further livelihoods hardship. He said African farmers are impressive, but are hampered by poor infrastructure and insecurity, including in some countries, harassment by soldiers.

Where to invest?

At the same time, said Madiodio Niasse of the International Land Coalition, African agriculture needs huge investments, but we have a choice whether to invest in existing producers and enhance their abilities, or to put aside existing farmers and take over their land with foreign companies adopting their preferred agricultural, land use, and trade model. Niasse pointed out that if we opened to foreign companies, we were going to lose control of our land and our countries, which would lead to increased inequality. The extent of foreign large scale land based investment in Africa at present meant that foreign land ownership was close to reaching the levels of foreign ownership under colonialism. Such asset loss would be detrimental to Africans. Niasse pointed out that it was easy to simply hand land over to foreigners and hope they would somehow allow Africa to prosper; going the route of securing African farmer’s land rights and building infrastructure was more complex and difficult, but in the end, security and investment would allow African landholders to prosper, while building African economies.

Have large scale land deals delivered prosperity?

Ward Anseeuw of the Land Matrix pointed out that the evidence was overwhelming that large land deals did not deliver on promises, particularly had failed to create jobs and provide livelihoods security for those who lost land through these deals. Indeed, he pointed out that nowhere in the world had large scale farming led to the levels of job creation that Africa needs. At the same time, since large scale agricultural projects cannot deliver on job creation, Anseeuw said rather than focusing on externally-driven, outsourced and hired labour solutions, African countries should focus on enhancing the viability of their many small scale producers. Even when projects created jobs, as Chrispen Matenga from the University of Zambia pointed out, African governments were held hostage against introducing minimum wages by the threat of retrenchments.

Instead of opting for solutions from outside, African countries need to undertake more territorial, inclusive spatial and political economy planning for African development, Anseeuw said. Inclusive agricultural growth in Africa could not be achieved simply by adopting international instruments; local people need to be involved in planning, implementation and monitoring to bring about inclusive growth. This starts with African governments having the guts to negotiate much more lucrative trade deals, rather than simply accepting the prices and terms of international markets.

By Rebecca Pointer, PLAAS

This post first appeared on the PLAAS blog.

Read other blog posts from the Conference on Land Policy in Africa.

19 November 2014: China and Brazil in African agriculture - news roundup

This news roundup has been collected on behalf of the China and Brazil in African Agriculture (CBAA) project.

For regular updates from the project, sign up to the CBAA newsletter.

New briefing explores Chinese agricultural investment in Uganda
A new policy brief has just been published on the China-Africa Research Initiative based at Johns Hopkins, SAIS, regarding ‘The Political Ecology of Chinese Agricultural Investment in Uganda: the case of Hanhe Farm’. This paper was prepared by Josh Maiyo about Hebei Hanhe farm.

China-Africa Agricultural Cooperation Forum held in Hainan
The 5th China-Africa Roundtable Summit in Hainan included a ‘China-Africa Agricultural Cooperation Forum’. This invited representatives from related Chinese ministries, African embassies, the FAO, the WFP, etc. Hainan-Africa cooperation potential was spoken about with senior local officials stressing the climatic similarities between the Chinese island and African environments. They also spoke about building a “21st Century Silk Road of the Sea” and an “agricultural cooperation corridor” between the two regions.
( – in Chinese / Sierra Express media)

Technology sales and trainings were also highlighted at the event by a representative of China’s Ministry of Agriculture.
( – in Chinese)

Inefficient Chinese agribusiness models in Africa?
The blogger Dim Sums argues that China is exporting the most inefficient parts of its own agricultural sector to Africa. The author looks first at investments and the transfer of fertilizer, pesticide and seed-breeding, which he argues have all been big concerns for their excessive use in China this year. Second he looks at the companies involved in producing food for Chinese markets, but argues they are often have no experience of actually producing food and are notoriously inefficient at storing and transporting grain.
(Dim Sums)
ABC interview key figures on South-South cooperation
The Agência Brasileira de Cooperação (ABC) has published a series of interviews with people related to its South-South cooperation programmes. Relevant to African cooperation projects, this has included an interview with the Director of EMBRAPA, Maurício Antônio Lopes, and the Beninese Ambassador to Brasil, Isidore Monsi.
(Interview with Maurício Antônio Lopes / Interview with Isidore Monsi)

Agribusiness Due-Diligence
The French development agency, AFD, along with partners have put together the ‘Guide to due diligence of agribusiness projects that affect land and property rights’. This seeks to guide French investments as “It presents an Analytical Framework and a Guide that each institution can now appropriate and use to change their internal project evaluation procedures.”

Zimbabwe VP accused over Brazilian chicken imports
Zimbabwe’s Vice President Joice Mujuru has been accused of importing Brazilian chickens to Zimbabwe despite the country’s import bans to protect local farmers. However, Joice Mujuru is also taking legal action against the Herald and Sunday Mail newspapers for defamation over claims that she was involved in a plot to assassinate Robert Mugabe.
(AllAfrica / Summary of accusations – BBC / Joice Mujuru’s statement)

Negotiating Investment Contracts for Farmland and Water
The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) has released a Guide to Negotiating Investment Contracts for Farmland and Water, developed by its team of lawyers, social scientists and environmentalists. “Based on a more than three-year investigation of 80 agricultural investment contracts, the user-friendly guide provides options for countries to develop rural economies, boost employment, build agricultural processing factories, protect against the impacts of climate change and ensure enough water for all.”

‘Transfers Keep Rural Counties Afloat in China’
Blog article looking at how rural county budgets in China are given regular transfers to remain afloat. Since taxes from farmers’ is often insufficient to cover the costs of the local bureaux, award systems have been set up to discourage local governments to resort to selling off the land for development projects. However, local governments still complain that if the subsidies they give to their farmers are counted with the costs the farmers bear to produce, then it is clear the grain is still being sold for cheaper than it is worth in urban areas.
(Dim Sums)

7 ways to work for better land rights

Beekeepers in Ethiopia, ©Tom Pietrasik / Oxfam
What have we learnt from past efforts to secure land rights in Africa? And how can land rights be secured under different tenure regimes?

These are the questions that were tackled on the second day of the inaugural Conference on Land Policy in Africa, hosted by the Land Policy Initiative of the African Union, African Development Bank and UNECA, taking place currently at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Recognise and strengthen customary rights, starting with statutory recognition

Most of Africa’s land is held under customary land rights, and many of these property regimes are robust and have local legitimacy. Conventional land administration systems often fail in Africa, as they are not appropriately configured to address customary tenure rights.

Across the continent, there has been a move away from formal titling as the only or best way to secure rights. One of the main arguments in favour of titling – the ‘credit effect’ – has been been widely discredited. Customary tenure is the norm in Africa, not an aberration, and should be recognized and supported, not treated as an inferior form of tenure.

Policy, law and land administration need to recognise and secure rights held under diverse tenure systems. Individual land titling is a very limited type of formalization, which often fails to capture the complex and overlapping nature of customary tenure rights.

To what degree can statutory recognition of customary and other informal and unregistered property rights assist? While this provides a defence for local people against intrusions on their land, it does not clarify who holds what, and access to appropriate land governance and dispute resolution institutions. In particular, the inaccessibility of formal legal institutions of the justice system means that strengthening institutions from the local level is a key point of intervention.

Community, rather than individual, titling must be further explored as an option

At the same time, with enormously growing competition for land, and multiple threats of loss of tenure, there is widespread demand for registration or certification of some kind, and policymakers and practitioners need to respond to this.

Experiments with group or community titling of outer boundaries are an important innovation that has been implemented in a number of different ways in different environments, in Africa but also elsewhere, such as in the case of the Mexican ejidos.

Research is urgently needed to determine whether, in the recent cases in Africa, such as Mozambique, securing the outer boundary has provided effective relief against external threats to community land and natural resources and averted conflicts with neighbouring villages. We know that it does not automatically do so. How can community titling work for transhuman societies such as pastoralists, who assert collective rather than individual claims to land and related resources? Research is also needed to assess what impacts registering an external boundary and establishing local land administration committees has had on internal configurations of rights. Are rightsholders more secure?

Women’s land rights remain weak under customary tenure, but formalization is not necessarily the answer

Land grabbing does not only take the form of big corporate land deals – women are subject to having their land grabbed by extended family and local elites. Women who are trying to defend their land are subject to asset stripping, land grabbing and accusations of witchcraft. In these ways, women face the combination of traditional laws of inheritance with new challenges associated with growing urbanization, land demand and land values, as well as large-scale land-based investments.

Certification and commodifying land is not necessarily the answer. Even where statutory recognition is offered, women may be excluded through informal processes from becoming involved in land governance institutions. Land administration committees were established at kebele level to take forward certification, but only 7% of those participating in these committees were women. Men dominate dispute resolution mechanisms, and for these reasons there remain disparities between land policy goals and implementation. And while some policymakers favour the growth of land markets, these do not benefit women, especially poorer grassroots women. We need to understand markets as being gendered institutions.

Custom or rights for women? This is a false dichotomy

African traditional systems are patriarchal, treating women as dependents, despite their central roles in land use. This prevents women from participating in land administration processes and institutions.
A salient message from several sessions, including the plenary and the session on women’s land rights, was that neither statutory nor customary laws adequately protect women. The tensions and contradictions between global frameworks, national laws, and traditions and customs must be resolved through challenging customs to conform with women’s human rights. The challenge is to transfer the issue of women’s property rights from the private domain of the household to the public domain of human rights. This means working with and transforming traditional institutions, as these are the fora to which women turn when seeking justice, rather than the formal legal system.

Supporting women’s collective action is key

There have been positive experiences of women mobilizing to challenge discriminatory practices and institutions. Women can be supported to increase community awareness of gender injustice, even through processes that do not have an explicit gender focus, such as community mapping exercises to identify existing land uses and claims.

Women’s land rights can be strengthened through grassroots mobilization combined with supportive state institutions and wider alliances. Mobilization of women across rural but also urban areas can help to build broader coalitions pursuing their rights. Securing women’s land rights requires capacity building to equip women leadership skills to mobilise more women.

One priority is to design and implement new community justice mechanisms and processes, such as community monitors and community paralegals to intervene in violations of all people’s land rights. Again, interventions to secure rights in general can achieve real benefits for women, if appropriately designed. Women can collectively access services unavailable to individuals – for instance, a revolving loan fund based on women’s own savings and contributions from funding agencies enabled women to access land and engage a surveyor

Political leadership and evidence from research are needed to transform policies and practices
Parliaments have an important role in land governance: they approve, ratify and enact laws, frameworks and policies in their countries and regionally. They represent the communities and can sensitize and mobilize people on land policy issues. They also can approve budgets, and hold governments accountable, for land policy implementation.

They do, though, face constraints and the complexity of land issues requires parliamentarians to forge relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders. Parliaments can enact laws to strengthen transparency in land transactions, and to curb corruption, by requiring that Parliaments must consider and ratify large-scale land acquisitions above a certain size threshold, and all countries must have laws regulating large-scale land-based investments.

At the same time, promoting best practices requires us to have clear examples of positive customary systems – this is the foundation for evidence-based policy making. But evidence by itself does not change policy. Land is a profoundly political issue, and political leadership and support to challenge and transform. This requires working with national political leaders – in collaboration with regional and global bodies – to become champions of ordinary people’s land rights, and especially those of women, young people, and marginalised groups such as pastoralists.

Technical tools to secure land rights require wider policy and institutional support

Land rights tools should be implemented at country level to ensure that policies are implemented – but we need to learn about how multiple tools can be synchronized. There needs to be increased participation in interacting with the tools for in depth understanding of their application and particularly how civil society can make use of them and interrogate them.

The social domain tenure model (STDM), for instance, can be useful as information and planning tool for informal settlements. As a type of barefoot surveying, STDM is a bottom-up approach with a key role for the local community and both requires but can also strengthen partnerships among relevant stakeholders. It is key to include traditional leaders and community leaders and to ensure a mix of technical and social skills among implementing teams, to reduce land-related conflicts and to guard against discrimination, such as against women’s, young people’s and minority rights, in the course of implementation.

The third day of the conference will build on these discussions by focusing on inclusive agricultural growth: investment, productivity and land rights in the context of large-scale investments. Documentation and discussions are underway on twitter at #africalandpolicy and further information is available at

by Ruth Hall, Future Agricultures Consortium Southern Africa Hub convenor and Associate Professor at the Institute of Poverty Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)

This post originally appeared on the PLAAS blog.

Does land titling work?

b2ap3_thumbnail_hall-lawry.jpgRural land tenure reforms are often justified as a route to improving agricultural productivity and investment. Is there evidence that they do, and to what degree is formalization a worthy intervention for policymakers aiming to improve productivity in agriculture?

A recent systematic review, funded by DFID, addressed these questions, reviewing available literature on titling and other certification initiatives. Its findings reveal important differences in the impact of reforms, depending on where they occur.

Only 20 studies over the past 30 years met the strict inclusion criteria. Very few studies disaggregated positive effects on women, a clear gap in the available research on tenure reforms.

The results showed strong regional variations in the outcomes of tenure interventions. In Latin America and Asia, the studies show strongly positive gains to productivity ranging from 50-100% after tenure recognition, usually in the form of titling. In contrast, in Africa there were zero or modest gains to productivity ranging from 0-10%, and also weak impacts on investment and income.
Across all regions, there was no evidence of discernible credit effects – a significant finding since this is often a key reason for interventions in property rights.

Why would the impacts in Africa be different from Asia and Latin America? The study put forward three hypotheses for further testing through research. First, pre-existing customary institutions could mean that tenure insecurity was not the primary productivity constraint in Africa. Second, the muted impacts could be a wealth effect, in that African farmers are less able to improve investment into production due to constraints in access to inputs. Third, the absence of complementary public investments in infrastructure and services in Africa could explain the contrast with Latin America, where agrarian reform is approached as a package. Titling alone is likely insufficient to unleash greater productivity.

by Steve Lawry (@stevenlawry) and Ruth Hall (@RuthHallPLAAS)

This post first appeared on the PLAAS blog.

China and the new climate deal

“The joint US-China announcement on tackling climate change has been described as "historic", a "turning point" and a "positive signal". It has also been written off as insubstantive or even "hype".
“The reality, perhaps unsurprisingly, lies somewhere in between. What it might represent, however, is a future that pairs economic growth with environmental concerns,” writes STEPS Centre member Sam Geall in a piece entitled What next for China after historic climate deal? published in The Conversation, where you can read the full article.

Earlier this week the President Barack Obama and Xi Jingping announced a deal to reduce their greenhouse gas output, with China agreeing to cap emissions for the first time and the US committing to deep reductions by 2025.

Although there is no formal agreement yet in place, the deal represents a boost to international efforts on reaching a global deal on reducing emissions beyond 2020 at the crunch climate change negotiations in Paris next year.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

GM Food and the precautionary principle

Golden Rice Plants IRRI
“Precaution does not necessarily mean a ban.
It simply urges that time and space be found to get things right.”

Professor Andy Stirling, writing in the Guardian


The UK Parliament Science and Technology Select Committee is carrying out an inquiry into genetically modified (GM) foods and the way in which these are regulated in Europe under the precautionary principle.

STEPS Centre Co-Director Professor Andy Stirling gives oral evidence on 19 November (09.15 GMT) following our written submission to the inquiry, which was signed by 19 academic experts in this area.

The Centre has long-argued that a simplistic ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ stance on GM crops leaves little room for a more informed and balanced debate not only about this technology, but a range of alternative innovations too. There are many advanced non-GM techniques and a multitude of non-technological solutions that tend to be eclipsed by the restrictive focus on GM.

The precautionary principle opens the door to many strategies for coping with these issues. It recognises that even the most confident science rarely compels a single solution. And many uncertainties and ambiguities further underscore the importance of more accountable discussion of contending values and priorities. Too often these open-ended complexities tend to get closed down, as if they were merely about 'risk'.

In these terms, precaution is not about blocking technologies, but steering innovation to more effectively favour of human health, environmental integrity and social well-being, and providing a counterweight to otherwise dominant incumbent interests.

Acknowledging the scope for systematic deliberation over values, priorities and alternatives in the context of uncertainty, precaution broadens out risk regulation to allow greater consideration for a wider plurality of issues, options, perspectives and scenarios. It allows the reshaping of established trajectories and a greater focus on qualities of diversity, flexibility and responsiveness.

In short, pecaution expresses the fundamental principle that — in innovation just as in science itself — reasoned scepticism fosters greater quality.

Innovation: managing risk, not avoiding it

Walport report: On 19 November the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Mark Walport launches his inaugural annual report, focussing on innovation and risk. Prof. Stirling has contributed a chapter to the report, related to the evidence submitted to this inquiry.

Science and Technology Committee inquiry

The precautionary principle: selected reading from Andy Stirling

GM potato / Photo: BASFA selection of publications from Andy Stirling on the precautionary principle. For a fuller listing, see his publications page.

Key resources: selected reading from other authors


The STEPS Centre’s work on GM and biotechnology around the world
A selection of our work on how science, policy and politics interact around biotechnology.

The Politics of GM Food: Risk, science and public trust
Crop experimentWhy do controversies such as BSE and GM food throw British governments and business off balance? This briefing on how to get out of the GM impasse and how to avoid these problems in future, remains as vital and current today as when it was written by Alister Scott, Frans Berkhout and Ian Scoones (Director of the STEPS Centre) in 1999.

The Politics of GM Food: Risk, science and public trust (PDF) ESRC Global Environmental Change Programme (1999). The Politics of GM Food: Risk, Science &Public Trust, Special Briefing No 5.

Medicine vendor, Central AfricaBiotechnology Research Archive
10+ years of research into GM crops, development and the food crisis, under four themes:
  1. Poverty reduction & food security: impacts of GM crops
  2. Regulating GM crops
  3. The role of the private sector and corporate control
  4. Public participation and the politics of policy

Books, blogs, media, articles

Media enquiries
Julia Day, STEPS Centre Head of Communications
Email: | +44 7974 209148

Making markets: local economic development following land reform

Today we are releasing a series of films on the relationships between land reform and economic activity in Zimbabwe, focusing on three commodities: tobacco, beef and horticulture. The films emerge from on-going work coordinated by the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies based at UWC in Cape Town under the ‘Space, Markets and Employment in Agricultural Development’ (SMEAD) project supported by the UK ESRC and DFID growth research programme. They were made by Pamela Ngwenya, supported by the field team. This week, I am posting the overview film which gives you a taste of the series. In subsequent weeks, I will post ones on the each of the three commodities we looked at.

Over the last couple of years the work has been carried out in Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe looking at the linkages between agricultural production, employment and other economic activity and the spatial patterns of these interactions. Through some detailed case study research, the project has been attempting to look at the different growth pathways linked to agriculture, and investigate how inclusive these are, asking who gains and who loses from agricultural commercialisation.

The study of course links to old debates about scale and agriculture, and the linkage and multiplier effects of different types of farming. Do big or small farms create more employment and economic growth, for whom and where? What spatial mix of farm sizes and markets make sense? Can local economic development flourish in an era of globalisation? These are not easy questions to answer, and that’s why the debate has continued and continued. It depends what commodity, which markets, what spatial arrangement of farms and markets, levels of infrastructure and much more.

But across our studies in southern Africa, some interesting patterns emerge. The cases from Malawi show very localised economic activities, with spillovers and connections occurring within a few kilometers. Few farmers are able to scale up, and although commericalised, the prospects for growth without wider shifts in the economy look bleak. In South Africa by contrast, the linkages were extensive, with very few steps to large companies operating in highly developed value chains, and linking to markets in distant urban conurbations. Here, for differnt reasons, the prospects for local economic development looked limited. The value was captured and exported, and employment was not being generated in the local area. Zimbabwe showed an intriguing middle ground. Here lots of local economic activity was evident, particularly linked to entrepreneurial farmers in the A1 resettlement areas. These farmers were selling into new value chains, created since land reform. These were more local, supplying markets in nearby towns and business centres for beef or horticulture, but also export markets for tobacco. Employment was being generated along the value chains, and benefits were far more widely shared.

The results of the study are still being processed, synthesised and written up and I will share more when the reports are out. But the early indications suggest an interesting story, especially for Zimbabwe. This suggests a focus on local economic development, capitalising on and amplifying the linkages already created by entrepreneurial farmers who have benefited from land reform. This will mean a major rethink of rural development policy and planning, but the benefits could be significant if the cases highlighted in these films are anything to go by.

The post was written by Ian Scoones and appeared on Zimbabweland

Tackling land questions: Searching for systematic solutions amid a web of politics

Across the world, access to land and related resources are probably our most hotly contested political issues: who does the land belong to, who has the right to access the land, who gets to make decisions about land use, and who is barred from the land are tied to people’s history, culture and ability to pursue decent livelihoods.

In an effort to reduce contestation, most countries have developed complex systems of laws to govern land, some with more success than others. But for many African countries these are still open questions — with different systems of land governance, chosen and imposed, clashing, as countries try to keep space for traditional, customary land practices, grapple with the land legacies of the colonial era, while trying to make land systems that are legible to and compatible with globalised capital.

Amid these tensions, the inaugural Conference on Land Policy in Africa started on Tuesday 11 November 2014 at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa. Contradictions abound: UN and World Bank aficionados praising the technical solutions many African countries are beginning to find, and the compatibility of these new systems with the FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, while the reality ‘large scale land investments’ hit home with many African communities facing devastating land loss as a result.

And yet, there are some innovative solutions to addressing land questions. For example in Uganda, women have started coming together to actively contest customary and legislated land rights, as a group demanding attention and access with some success, as discussed by Joyce Nangobi from Slum Women Initiative for Development (SWID). Or the Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM) being used in Uganda, Zambia and Kenya to determine land rights. The model involves training and working with local people to mark off existing land plots using GIS and aerial photography, alongside community mapping, while also facilitating participatory processes among different stakeholders to negotiate and determine land rights locally.

What these innovations show is that technocratic top-down solutions are not the answer; whatever land rights are ultimately determined need to arise out of local relations, and governments need to become much more adept in navigating the local, taking cognisance of the particularities of each environment. This is not without challenges: whatever land rights are ultimately determined there will be winners and losers, so even when systematic solutions are found, they will still be political, open to change and contestation.

Determining the future of land in Africa cannot be a final solution — contestations will be ongoing, but if governments become more listening, more participatory and more responsive to the needs of people to access land, perhaps the solutions can be more equitable. Such approaches are not without their challenges — complexity being chief among them, but it is likely that negotiated processes can hold up against the tide of pressure to simply sell off land to the highest bidder — if there is political will.

By Rebecca Pointer, PLAAS

This post originally appeared on the PLAAS blog.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Informing the UK’s approach to SDGs

A Parliamentary inquiry about the UK’s position and approach to the development targets to replace the millennium development goals has published evidence from the ESRC STEPS Centre.
The Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry is looking at how best the UK can move forward on setting and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The STEPS Centre has been engaged in policy debates associated with the SDGs since before the Rio+20 conference. Our submission to this inquiry emphasised the importance of a diversity of technical and social innovation approaches, inter-generational issues, particpatory approaches to amplify the voices of the poor and marginalised, attention to the direction (rather than purely the rate) of technical change, enhancing corporate environmental accountability and the need for cross-Ministerial coordination and support.

The final set of SDGs are due to be presented at a special session of the United Nations general assembly in September 2015 with implementation expected in 2016.

The proposed SDGs to be attained by 2030 aim to "end poverty in all its forms everywhere", and include broad topics such as hunger, health, gender energy, economic growth and climate change.
The Committee considers which UK governmental policies and programmes contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development, and audits their performance. It has examined the development of the SDGs through previous reports on Preparations on Rio+20 (in October 2011) and Outcomes of Rio+20 (in June 2013).

With the UK negotiating the final goals through the EU as part of the UN process, the Committee requested submissions to inform its scrutiny of the UK government's approach. Earlier this autumn Prime Minister David Cameron called for the current list for 17 goals to be reduced to 12, or ideally 10.

Written by Julia Day, Deputy Director and Head of Communications, STEPS Centre

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Land policy for the next decade: Taking stock and moving forward

The inaugural Conference on Land Policy in Africa got off to an energetic start on Tuesday 11 November 2014 at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, with a panel of eminent speakers issuing a clarion call for action to secure the land rights of rural residents across the continent. Dr Abebe Haile Mariam, Director of Rural Economy and Agriculture in the African Union Commission, chaired this first plenary session and opening ceremony.

Land and agriculture are central to our future
Her Excellency Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, officially opened the conference, declaring: ‘We are proud that Africa is the only continent that has defined its own agenda for land policy.’

‘This conference is timely and allows us to track progress in the implementation of the AU declaration on land,’ she said.

Her Excellency further observed that, in Africa, about 60% of the population derives its livelihood and incomes from farming, yet Africa’s agriculture is yet to match the needs of its growing population. The Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) is the collective approach to addressing this limitation, and to promote sustainable land management. As Her Excellency insisted, agriculture will remain key to our continent’s transformation, and will need to provide employment opportunities and livelihoods to our growing population.

His Excellency Ato Tefera Derbew, Ethiopia’s Minister of Agriculture, endorsed such sentiments. He welcomed participants and issued a challenge to all national governments: with Africa’s substantial land resource, he said, the situation of low productivity and food security is ‘not acceptable’. He called on AU member states to ‘diligently implement our continental guidelines’.

A strong foundation has been laid
A core message from the inaugural ceremony was that Africa has already laid a solid basis to secure land rights. Speakers reflected on the progress made over the past five since the African Union heads of state Declaration on Land Issues and Challenges in Africa. There is now widespread agreement that ensuring secure and equitable access to land and natural resources is essential, especially in face of increasing economic and population pressures.

European Union ambassador to the African Union, Gary Quince, emphasized the partnership and collaboration that has been forged between the EU and AU, with the EU now supporting land tenure programmes currently in ten countries. Quince pointed out that, since the AU Declaration was adopted five years ago, a lot has happened: Africa has enjoyed good economic growth, and the importance of agriculture has been recognized, while at the same time the continent’s population has increased by over 100 million. Many challenges remain: there has been an upsurge of conflict across Africa, displacing many thousands of people from their land and livelihoods, and large acquisitions are increasing.

Women’s land rights must be at the centre
If African states are to secure land rights for their citizens, then women must be at the centre of policymakers’ concerns. Speakers concurred that women are the main users of rural land for both production and reproduction.

‘We will work to ensure that marginalized groups and women’s voices are brought to the fore’, promised Kafui Afiwa Kuwonu of Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAf).

She referred to the rural women’s initiative in 2012 under the slogan ‘Our Land, Our Life’ and indicated that civil society groups had met in the past two days to plan how to support rural women to advance their cause. Their initiative would culminate at a gathering of rural women from across the continent in Kilimanjaro in 2016. She issued an appeal to participants to join this initiative to ensure that rural women are at the centre of all discussions about land and other natural resource rights.

Josephine Ngure of the African Development Bank supported these sentiments, arguing that patriarchal systems have discriminated against women, reinforced by land laws that have tended to cement the discriminatory inheritance rights. If law and policy are to redress gender imbalances, she reasoned, then both customary and statutory laws need to be transformed to strengthen women’s access and control of land. This must be done in recognition of human rights, but also in recognition that women are the primary users of agricultural land in Africa.

Civil society is on board to partner in implementation
Kuwonu of WILDAf also spelt out how civil society organisations intend to use the platform provided by this conference: to share experiences and to challenge policymakers, but also to inspire participants to forge ahead with implementation and to be part of the solution.
‘We commit to disseminate information on land policy and collaborate in efforts and to share best practices’, she promised.

It’s about politics
While land rights and land tenure are longstanding challenges, these issues are receiving more attention from governments, especially in the wake of the food price hikes from 2007/8 and other global factors that have contributed, together with domestic demand, to growing large-scale commercial pressures on land. While all speakers agreed on the need to secure existing customary and informal rights to land, there was an evident tension in where they placed their emphasis. Is the priority to secure existing property rights for those who already occupy, use and claim land – or to facilitate the commodification of land rights so that they can be more readily transacted? How can these competing priorities be squared in practice? These questions will no doubt animate debates among conference participants over the coming three days.

How to secure rights in a context of rising demand for land?
At the centre of the politics is the rising demand for arable land. Kuwonu of WILDAf declared: ‘The issue of land in Africa is at the heart of our concerns… Land is coveted by all, including farmers and fishers, but it is also subject to new demand from outsiders.’

Josephine Ngure of the AfDB argued that ‘land grabs’ which have been described as the ‘new imperialism’ are giving rise to problems of governance. Global changes are bringing new impacts on Africa’s land, with growing demand for food, energy and water supplies, and growth in foreign direct investment in land. A key challenge is for Africa to have policies that can manage the risk of loss of land rights by the poor. In this context, how can we provide security while attracting investment, and how can we do this while ensuring our people have access to land?

As Susan Minae of FAO astutely observed, while there is a need for technical expertise and governance solutions: ‘Securing land rights is not just about governance, it’s about politics!’

To confront such competing imperatives, in the real world of politics, Africa needs strong leadership. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira of UN-Habitat declared, to nods of agreement from the audience: ‘Leadership is needed where the common good is in conflict with the private good – and land is such an area that calls for leadership.’

Without leadership, she observed, things can go wrong. The engagements at this conference, then, between policy makers, practitioners, civil society and academics, are crucial for strengthening such leadership.

Land is about industrialization as well as agriculture
Several speakers emphasized the importance of land tenure and land use management in facilitating wider economic and social change. Stephen Karingi of the UNECA pointed to the role of land in supporting national development priorities. He observed that this event builds on the Malabo Declaration, which called on African states to leverage natural resources to drive national economic growth and industrialization. In this context, land is a strategic resource and Africa needs a new sense of determination to take strategic control over its resources and maximize its value from this capital. Land has been used as the foundation of economic development elsewhere in the world, and promoted food production. In light of this, he argued, where large-scale land-based investments happen, these must be in support of national development priorities and in line with land policy guidelines.

Land is an urban issue too
Africa is the least urbanized continent, but is urbanizing faster than anywhere else, at double the global rate, making sustainable urbanization an urgent priority for policy and planning. As Kacyira of UN-Habitat insisted, we need to use this resource that has been a source of conflict and make it a driver of security and prosperity.

A new phase of operationalizing policy principles
We’re into a new phase – indigenizing these, operationalizing them in the national context in each member state, and learning from practice. The principles are well established, but how are these to be interpreted and to operationalized in the very diverse national contexts? Now is the time to focus on practice, and learning from practice. How do we bring evidence into policy?

How to secure land rights, to improve agriculture, and how to ensure that land rights of smallholders are protected against speculation and large acquisitions?

This moment is auspicious, coming in the AU Year of Agriculture and Food Security.
Complementing the AU Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy are the FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. Several speakers agreed that, together with the new AU Guiding Principles, these constitute a formidable basis for inclusive and sustainable investment in land while securing land rights.

A flagship sharing and learning event for Africa
Speakers reiterated their appreciation for the Land Policy Initiative, jointly convened by the AU, AfDB and UNECA, and the valuable work it does. In convening this event, they observed, the LPI is helping to promote evidence-based policy making. This ‘flagship’ sharing and learning event for Africa will enable knowledge to be shared which can support evidence-based policy and implementation.

Inclusive growth in agriculture?
In the inaugural ceremony, relatively little was said about what form inclusive growth in agriculture means, and how it can be achieved. Yet most speakers alluded to the tensions between the rights agenda and the need to increase investment, re-investment and productivity. Kacyira of UN-Habitat commented: ‘Even though land symbolizes life, it only supports life when it is translated into viable incomes that can help people to meet their needs.’

Securing land rights is not, by itself, enough, as the existing rural population needs investment in their own production. How this can be achieved, and what lessons have already been learnt, will be addressed in detail in the conference sessions over the coming three days.

by Ruth Hall, Future Agricultures Consortium Southern Africa Hub convenor and Associate Professor at the Institute of Poverty Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)

Note: The Guiding Principles on Large Scale Land Based Investment, endorsed by Heads of State in April 2014, are to be officially launched on the second day of the conference, on the morning of Wednesday 12 November 2014.

This post first appeared on the PLAAS blog.

12 November 2014: China and Brazil in African agriculture - news roundup

This news roundup has been collected on behalf of the China and Brazil in African Agriculture (CBAA) project.

For regular updates from the project, sign up to the CBAA newsletter.

Video: Europe-China-Africa Business & Agriculture
This video summarises some of the discussions at a conference at the European Centre for Development Policy Management in Brussels last year. It includes a short discussion with CBAA project member Prof. Li Xiaoyun, among other participants.

China-Africa agricultural machinery symposium held in Wuhan
At the ‘China-Africa Trade of Agricultural Machinery Cooperation Symposium’, delegates from Chinese machinery companies, research institutes and policy-making bodies met with agricultural representatives from African embassies and members of AU bodies such as the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). They invited investments in Chinese agricultural machinery companies setting up in Africa, and discussed how to develop trade links.

How China supports its agricultural investors abroad
Chinese overseas investments are picking up pace. 300 companies have taken on overseas investments in 46 countries in recent years. This blog post highlights the Chinese government’s role in supporting overseas investments, including a potential “special fund for overseas agricultural investment, subsidized loans, training for personnel, and setting up information exchange platforms.” The article includes a case study of Jilin Province’s promotion of agricultural companies abroad.
(Dim Sums)

Brazil resumes swine exports to South Africa
Swine exports from Brazil to South Africa have resumed after a 9 year ban. The block was originally imposed by Brazil after a spate of foot and mouth disease in Brazil, and its lifting has been heralded as an important step by the Brazilian foreign ministry.
(Ultimo Instante)

Brazil’s cerrado: a ‘ticking carbon bomb’?
This article looks at the impacts of rising global meat demands on Brazil’s cerrado region. “Industrial farming is fast swallowing this unique landscape. And its rapid transformation is creating a ticking carbon bomb that scientists warn could significantly affect the global carbon cycle if the current rate of destruction continues.”
(Daily Climate)

China and Ethiopia boost cooperation on bamboo and rattan
The international summit on Bamboo and Rattan was held in Addis Ababa last week, hosted by the Beijing-based International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR). The Ethiopian State Minister of Agriculture, Sileshi Getahun, said that Ethiopia has great potential for growing bamboo and rattan, and hopes to adapt the relevant Chinese knowledge and technology into the Ethiopian sector.

Chinese development lessons for African countries
Key lessons from China’s development experience for African countries, including in agriculture, are highlighted in a new publication from the Centre for Chinese Studies.
(Centre for Chinese Studies (PDF))

By Henry Tugendhat

Monday, 10 November 2014

Reviving indigenous crops: the return of millet in Gutu

A new report is just out making the case for the revival of indigenous crops – notably finger millet – as a way of tackling food security. The author, Chidara Muchineripi, is a management consultant in Harare, but also the son of a chief in Gutu. Since 2005, he has encouraged the revival in millet growing across Gutu as a response to drought and economic crisis.

This has all been done without external support and finance, and demonstrates what's possible when the motivation is right. According to the report the growing of a core crop of millet has resulted in the accumulation of some 20,000 tonnes of stored grain, across 40,000 households. This provides a source of resilience against future shocks, improving the sustainability of livelihoods in the district.
It all sounds too good to be true. Unfortunately I missed the launch of the report in London, and I have not been able to visit the areas in Gutu (clearly the effort is focused outside the new resettlement areas, as the farmers in our sample in Gutu are sticking solidly to maize), but the data is impressive, and the testimony passionate.

But there are questions about the indigenous grain strategy being advocated. I speak from experience, as in the 1980s, together with an NGO ENDA Zimbabwe, I was involved in a project that promoted small grains – finger and pearl millet, and sorghum – in Zvishavane district. The project supplied seeds, and supported the processing of the grains with the provision of 'dehullers'. While it did make some in-roads, by and large the project failed. The dehullers are now archaeological relics and most farmers in the area plant maize.

Why was this? There are a number of complex intersecting reasons. First, growing millet is hard work. Finger millet is a difficult crop and pearl millet is subject to massive bird damage, from flocks of Quelea who descend in large numbers on any field. This is a big turn-off, as bird scaring is labour consuming and troublesome. Older farmers used to tell us that the problem is worse because millet fileds are now few. Being a first mover growing millet is brave. Second, millets take a lot of processing. The hard outer layer has to be removed to get the flour – hence the dehullers. Without these, it's tough pounding, and much more difficult to prepare than women. In discussions around the ENDA project, women always used to object. They didn't want the hassle of going to the fields early and staying late – they had other caring work to do too – to scare the birds, and pounding for hours to get a few kilogrammes of millet flour was not worth the effort in their view. Finger millet in particular was not liked by women, as it encouraged beer drinking. While men would get quite motivated about millets in the discussions, it was women who often dominated the planting decisions, and it was striking that there was always much less millet planted than was discussed. In intrahousehold decision-making, women's agency can be quite powerful. Third, is taste. Finger millet is good for beer, but many find the 'sadza' porridge of pearl or finger millet less a delicacy as is suggested in the new Harare 'African' restaurants. With the colour and consistency of concrete, pearl millet sadza is not my favourite food either! Several generations of people accustomed to easting white maize means that sadza from millet is difficult to sell (although it's quite nice with soured milk I must admit!).

So there are reasons why adoption of millet is constrained. But the advantages of secure storage, as documented in Gutu, are potentially substantial. Millet stores well – for years. Unlike maize that needs to be consumed within a year, you can keep a granary full of millet over a full drought cycle. In the past, rainfall was patterned by cycles of a few years, with droughts coming more or less predictably. Having millet stores for the times when rain was less was essential for food security, and the store could be replenished when the rains returned. It was a perfect system for local level resilience. But with the move to maize, and the advent of food aid and relief programmes, these cycles have been disrupted. Climate change too has had an impact, as droughts are much more unpredictable these days, even if average rainfall has not shifted much.

In the areas I have worked in Masvingo and Midlands provinces, a key moment in this transition in the food crop mix and local food security system, was the devastating drought of 1991-92. This had a catastrophic impact on many fronts, and many were reliant on food aid through imports. Perhaps the most dramatic impact for the long-term was the disappearance of local varieties and land races, particularly of small grains. People had to plant their last seed stores, and when they didn't grow, that meant the local extinction of a huge array of genetic variety, and with it the knowledge of what grows well where. A number of research and NGO projects – most notably the Community Technology Development Trust, whose head Andrew Mushita is a veteran of the ENDA experience – have tried to document and revive this genetic biodiversity, but with it lost from the farming and livelihood system, it is difficult to reincorporate.

Around that time, as part of a wider project on risk and farming systems, we did some modelling of risk responses under different conditions. Like all models it was only an interpretation of reality, but the approach used tried to simulate the type of stochastic variability seen in an increasingly volatile climate. The results were surprising. Despite the greater vulnerability to low rainfall episodes, a maize dominated strategy came out better than one focused on small grains in the model. This was because of the costs of production, and the value of maize. As long as this value (in the form of grain or cash) could be carried over to the following year, opting for risky maize made sense especially for the poor.

Farmers didn't need a model to show them this – and especially women, for the reasons described – but it highlighted how complex decision-making under conditions of high variability is. As the model showed, mixed strategies made the most sense, with a smaller amount of millet as part of a mix. As the maize economy came under stress in the 2000s with the failure of markets, and government support through the Grain Marketing Board, new incentives to secure food locally emerged. In this period, for the first time in decades, the political and economic support for maize had disappeared. And without state support and the absence of a cash market because of hyperinflation, the maize reliance strategy became much riskier, and a local production system became preferable.

I suspect it's a combination of these factors have pushed farmers in Gutu to take up millet again at the peak of the economic crisis. These were very different conditions to those in the late 1980s, when the earlier millet focused strategies foundered. Context matters a lot, and it is a combination of factors – markets, taste preferences, labour requirements and the wider political economy of crop support – that combine to make one technology more or less favourable. Maybe the experiences from Gutu suggest that the age of millets are returning, and we will have to get used to a different type of sadza.

The post was written by Ian Scoones and appeared on Zimbabweland