Chinese engagement in African agriculture is not what it seems

In December 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping flew into South Africa for the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation with great fanfare. There were lots of announcements about prospective investments across Africa. Agriculture featured prominently. But what is the real story of China in Africa on the ground, beyond the hype? As Deborah Brautigam’s investigative research has…

Exporting China and Brazil’s agricultural know-how to Africa

Can China and Brazil use their home grown agricultural knowledge, which has driven phenomenal agricultural productivity at home, to transform agriculture in Africa? That was one of many questions discussed at the Contested Agronomy conference. When Lidia Cabral interviewed a Brazilian agronomist from Embrapa, Brazil’s agricultural research corporation in Mozambique, he talked to her about…

Carbon forestry in Africa: who wins?

2015 is a crucial moment for sustainability and climate change, with the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Paris following hard on the heels of the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals. What to do about carbon, forests, and forest management are crucial questions in reaching global agreements. But as recent research in Africa’s forest landscapes…

Africa’s land rush

There is a rush on for African farmland – a phenomenon unmatched since colonial times. Africa’s land rush, and the implications for rural livelihoods and agrarian change, is the subject of a new book that I have edited together with Ruth Hall (from PLAAS at UWC, South Africa) and Dzodzi Tsikata (ISSER, University of Ghana at Legon)….

COP21: how can Southern Africa cope with El Niño?

Today COP 21 opens in Paris. Over two weeks a new climate deal will hopefully be agreed. It is a critical juncture for humanity. As high level officials discuss options in these negotiations, many people around the world are already living with climate change and uncertainty. In Southern Africa, the effects of what is expected…

How can African agriculture adapt to an uncertain climate? 

 By Stephen Whitfield, Lecturer: Climate Change & Food Security, University of Leeds  Often operating at the margins of sustainability, for smallholder farming systems in Africa the challenge of adapting to uncertain climatic change is particularly acute. Across international research and development programmes, a variety of technologies, agronomic innovations, and cropping systems are advocated as the means to a green revolution; a future…

Woman stands beside a water pump in Zimbabwe.

Politics of Integrated Water Resources Management in southern Africa

For the past two decades, Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has been the dominant paradigm in water resources. It is the flagship project of global bodies such as the Global Water Partnership (GWP). It has also been actively promoted by a range of multilateral and bilateral donors which consider it to be the path to address water governance…

Buba river

Rethinking Africa’s sustainable development pathways

Sustainable development (SD), brought into the spotlight with this week’s UN summit, remains a landmark policy and global development agenda since the 1992 Convention on Environment and Development. Anchored on the Brutland Commission report ‘Our Common Future’, sustainable development articulates the urge to harmonise the temporal and spatial redistribution of development with a natural resource…

SDGs: time to rethink energy infrastructure?

As the new Sustainable Development Goals are launched this week, attention will be focused on some of the great global challenges that face our world. They also give us a chance to think about how to do things differently. One of the big questions is how processes of industralization and innovation can really create the…

WSSF 2015: What role can social science play in working towards a just world?

Nearly a thousand delegates from across 84 countries are gathering right now in Durban, South Africa, for the third World Social Science Forum. The first similar forum ‘One Planet – World Apart’, was held in 2009 in Bergen, Norway. The 2013 forum, ‘Social Transformations and the Digital Age’, took place in Montreal, Canada. The current…