The sugar rush in southern Africa

In a new post on his Zimbabweland blog, STEPS director Ian Scoones discusses a new special issue looking at sugar in South Africa. “It is a good moment to review the political economy of sugar in southern Africa. This is what a new open access special issue of the Journal of Southern African Studies does….

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…

Are China and Brazil transforming African agriculture?

A new Open Access Special Issue in World Development based on our work on the changing role of China and Brazil in Africa’s agriculture is now available (links to individual articles are below, and also via here).

India’s seed sector is flourishing. Could African farmers benefit?

Africa’s farmers need quality seeds but the seed sector in Africa has often struggled to meet this need. The continent’s share in the global seed trade is very low, seed markets often aren’t supported, and the supply of quality seeds and improved crop varieties is weak. Poor seed supply threatens agriculture’s ability to play its…

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)….

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…

Has the ‘impact agenda’ helped agronomy – or harmed it?

Every agronomist or agricultural research institute with an interest in international development, and who has applied for a research grant in the last 15 years, will have had to develop and justify a theory of change, and identify outcomes, anticipated impacts, measurable indicators and impact pathways. These tasks have become an obligatory part of agricultural…

When global climate change politics meets African agriculture

by Joanes Atela, Political Ecologies of Carbon in Africa project As nations debate climate change this week at the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19), addressing the urgent questions linking agriculture and climate change is not only politically, but morally the right thing to do. Agriculture tops the list of climate-affected sectors, with complex implications…

IDS Bulletin: China and Brazil in African Agriculture

New research published by the Institute of Development Studies, and jointly edited by STEPS co-director Ian Scoones, reveals the realities of how the BRICS and Africa are engaging in agricultural development cooperation. The questions of how Africa can feed itself, and how the agricultural sector can be a more effective engine for growth and development,…

BBC COVERAGE OF ZIMBABWE LAND REFORM RESEARCH

Zimbabwe’s land reform since 2000 has been intensely controversial. Overturning the settler colonial pattern of land use and creating a new agrarian structure has had far-reaching consequences. Yet the debate about what happened, where and to who has too often been shallow and ill-informed, and not based on solid empirical evidence from the field. STEPS…