Outlook on Agriculture

Published by IP Publishing
Print ISSN: 0030-7270
Publications
The authors make the case that population growth can lead to increases in agricultural output per head on a sustainable basis. This argument, originally developed by E. Boserup, is "illustrated by a study of Machakos District, Kenya during 1930-1960, which shows that, if policies are supportive, agricultural and non-farm incomes grow faster than even the rapid population growth rate experienced in Africa. Land use capability is not fixed, but can be transformed by investment, new technologies and good management. Lack of investment and consequent degradation are most likely at low population densities. While the study cannot foretell the future, Java illustrates a similar theme at even higher densities."
 
Birth rates are falling in much of the developing world. In the mid-1960s women in Asia, Africa and Latin America gave birth to an average of six children. Today, the average is about four—a drop of one-third. In some regions and countries the average is substantially lower, approaching levels in the developed world. This remarkable decline in birth rates is no cause for complacency about rapid population growth, however, as the Look at it this way article in this issue, by Catley-Carlson, rightly observes. Average family size is still well above the 2.1 ‘replacement level ’—the number of children per couple that over the long run leads to zero population growth because each couple has only enough children to replace itself in the population. Thus world population, already about 5.5 billion, continues to grow. Even as the average number of children born per woman falls, population will continue to grow rapidly for many years because the number of women of childbearing age is rising as a result of previous high birth rates—a phenomenon that demographers call ‘population momentum ’. That the world's population is growing larger in a hurry is not news. But it is something of a surprise to learn that birth rates have declined so rapidly in so many countries, including some that experts considered too poor and traditional for this to occur. In fact, birth rates have fallen much faster than experts expected. The Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and similar family planning surveys conducted in more than 40 developing countries since 1985 tell the story of this striking decline.
 
Global population growth is generally considered to be one of the major driving forces of global change. Population changes, however, follow their own dynamics and can be influenced only marginally in the short run. This paper outlines the basic structure of these dynamics, including the important momentum of population growth. It also presents alternative population projections that show that in the long run much depends on fertility trends in the near future, and that a successful curbing of population growth will result in very rapid and significant population aging.
 
A team of researchers from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) collaborated to produce this comprehensive and even-handed attempt at defining the nature, extent, scope, and implications of what they term the "Livestock Revolution” in developing countries. Looking forward to 2020, they argue convincingly that the structural shifts in world agriculture being brought about by shifts in developing-country demand for foods of animal origin will continue and that increasingly global markets have the ability to supply both cereal and animal products in desired quantities without undue price rises. They emphasize, however, that policy decisions taken for the livestock sector of developing countries will determine whether the Livestock Revolution helps or harms the world's poor and malnourished. The report emphasizes the importance of continued investment in both research on and development of animal and feed grain production and processing, and the need for policy action to help small, poor livestock producers become better integrated with commercial livestock marketing and processing. It details a host of requirements in the area of technology development for production and processing of livestock products, potential benefits from new technologies, and critical policy issues for environmental conservation and protection of public health.
 
The EU provides farmers with incentives to adopt Countryside Stewardship Schemes (CSS) using subsidies in the framework of the agri-environmental regulation of the EU (2078/92), now included in the more general regulation on rural development In this paper, a case study of 36 farmers in the village of Bierbeek, was carried out to investigate the determinants of the willingness to adopt a scheme involving taking care of arable field margins in particular. Bivariate and multivariate logit analysis confirmed not only the importance of personal, structural and financial factors, but also showed the importance of social capital. Farmers who are more open to both professional and nonprofessional contacts are more likely to adopt a CSS. Hence, government and extension agencies should undertake more efforts to involve farmers as much as possible in activities of professional, but also non-professional, nature to stimulate them to adopt sustainable farming practices.
 
Standard deviation of log TFP, 1966-2002 '
Equilibrium points and convergence clubs
This paper measures agricultural productivity growth by means of the sequential Malmquist Total Factor Productivity (TFP) index among a set of thirty-two countries including West European, Central and East European (CEE) and Middle East and North African (MENA) countries for the period 1961-2002. At a second stage it is also investigated whether this measure is converging among the countries, by employing cross-sectional tests for absolute and conditional β-convergence as well as for club convergence. Results suggest that despite the fact that the CEE and MENA countries exhibit a high rate of productivity growth after the 1990s, absolute convergence cannot be accepted. Still, evidence for conditional convergence is found and the formation of two separate clubs of countries that converge to different equilibrium points is identified.
 
Agricultural production almost needs to double in the 21st century, putting tremendous pressure on agricultural resources. Most food production increases must come from more agricultural intensification in the South. This advances the need for a new green revolution: higher productivity and at the same time less pressure on the environment. Agrobiotechnology can contribute to this double green revolution. Biotechnology innovations are often scale neutral and are therefore suitable for small farmers. Moreover, genetic modification offers especially advantages for crops domesticated since a very long time and which are therefore quite different from their wild relatives. However, agrobiotechnology also engenders risks and dangers, outlined in the paper. Multinational companies show little interest in small developing countries because the market is small and intellectual property rights protection is not effective. Not surprisingly, those are also the countries where food insecurity problems are most acute. In many developing countries the capacity to conduct own biotechnology research and development is lacking as well as the legal framework for biosafety testing, patent enforcement and release of transgenic crops. This is illustrated by a case study on transgenic plantain bananas, developed by the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. Therefore, the paper argues that legal and research capacity building are the main priorities. These can be achieved through public-private and North-South partnerships.
 
This paper examines the effects of decoupling policies on Greek cotton production. We estimate a system of cotton supply and input derived demand fuctions under the hypothesis that producers face unceratinty about prices. Using our estimation results we simulate the effects on cotton production under four alternative policy scenarios; the ‘Old’ CAP regime (i.e. the policy practiced until 2005), the Mid Term Review regime, a fully decoupled policy regime and a free trade-no policy scenario. Our results indicate that cotton production gradually decreases as more decoupled policies are adopted. Moreover, the fully decoupled payment is found to be non-production neutral since it indirectly affects producers’ decisions through the wealth effect.
 
Variables used in the GMM estimation. 
Description of variables used in the study. 
This paper studies the income distributional effects of three main instruments of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the EU: Coupled Direct Payments (CDP), the Rural Development Programme (RDP) and the Single Payment Scheme (SPS). The authors use a large set of cross-country farm-level panel data for the EU covering the period 1999–2007, and employ the GMM estimator, which allows important sources of endogeneity to be addressed. According to the results, farmers gain 66–72%, 77–82% and 93–109% from the CDP, SPS and RDP respectively. These findings suggest that the initiated shift in CAP expenditure from the support of farm production activities towards supporting rural development and the provision of public goods and externalities is also in line with supporting farmers’ income.
 
Trends in potato and groundnut production and seed replacement rate, all
Farmers' sources of information about varieties (% of cases)
This paper examines the performance of the Indian seed system in the context of high volume, low value seed, using the case studies of potato and groundnu t. In theory, public sector shou ld be able to address seed needs o f farmers growing these crops. However, the ability of the public sector is constrained by a number of institutional and technical factors, and farmers largely depend upon traditional sources of seed. The traditional sources meet more than two-thirds of the total seed demand , and the rest is met by the formal seed system, mainly public seed agencies. Most of the farmers b uy fresh seed for quality reasons, and only 12-15 percent farmers purchase seed to change variety. In potato, technological innovation provided options to enhance multiplication rate and improve quality of seed, and therefore attracted the private sector in the production and delivery of seed to farmers. Availability of source seed from public plant breeding programs further encouraged the private sector’s participation. However, it is very unlikely that the crops und er study will attract private investment in plant breeding because of inadequate incentives even under the new IPR regime. Therefore, public research system should continue to shoulder the responsibility of plant breeding, and develop partnership with the private sector to strengthen decentralized seed activities. Coordination among public seed corporations of different states may help augment seed supply in the deficit regions, and offer greater choice to farmers. Efforts to develop supply chain, especially for premium market, will eventually attract private sector in the product, as well as seed market.
 
Several factors will be important in determining the future of the intensive livestock industry. One is the way in which world population changes. Today, there are about 5.9 billion people in the world, 800 million of whom are hungry. In the future, the world population is expected to stabilize somewhere between 8 and 11 billion. Food production will have to increase by at least 40%, and maybe as much as 80%, to meet this increase. The demand for meat from feedlot cattle and intensively reared pigs and poultry is likely to rise. A second influence is the way investments are made in new technologies. Today's investments will yield tomorrow's technologies, and we should be able to identify some imminent changes by examining present venture capital investment portfolios. Another factor is the attitude that the large corporate meat and livestock companies have towards their industry. These large companies control and own a large part of the industry, and their attitudes and business structure help to determine the behaviour of the rest of the industry. Their behaviour is being affected by public attitudes towards big business and modern technologies. This paper focuses on some of the up-and-coming technologies within the context of that social and business structure. The technologies and potential changes described in this paper are new animal feed technologies, growth hormone transgenics, livestock breeding, nutraceuticals, livestock pharmaceuticals, segregated early weaning, legislation on biotechnology, the structure of the intensive livestock industry, and public attitudes towards biotechnology and the intensive livestock industry.
 
A critical assumption in the impact assessment of an agricultural R&D effort is whether the effort in question has a substitute - that is, whether the innovation would also happen under other settings. This paper takes the case of zero tillage wheat in India to explore diverging counterfactual scenarios whereby, in the 'without' case, the innovation would not have been introduced or would have been introduced only with a ten-year or five-year lag. The authors quantify how the assumed counterfactual scenario affects various impact assessment indicators. They show that, even when assuming a conservative five-year lag and based on induced supply-shift gains alone, the investment in zero tillage R&D by the international agricultural research system was highly beneficial. The ability of zero tillage to combine cost savings and yield gains, its wide applicability and significant R&D spill-ins contributed to the high returns. The case thus highlights the high potential gains from successful adaptive research, even if the main effect is only to accelerate technology deployment.
 
European Union (EU) consumer policy should provide essential health and safety requirements and safeguard economic interests to ensure a high level of protection and meet the expectations of citizens throughout the EU. Products placed on the market must be safe and consumers should receive the relevant information to make appropriate choices. Today the impact of genomics is certainly lower in the meat sector than in the plant origin product sector. Nevertheless, the slow genetic improvement of livestock, implemented empirically in the nineteenth century and more scientifically in the twentieth century, could probably be speeded up in the short term by genomic technologies. But nowadays consumer concerns cannot be overlooked as they were in the past.
 
Kenyan vegetable export production by crop and year. Source: Ministry of Agriculture. 
Level of smallholder EurepGAP certification and linkage to the export market across districts in Eastern and Central provinces, Kenya. Note: Smallholders who market their produce via several different channels are included in the group with the weakest link to an exporter. 
Export vegetable crop production by district in Central and Eastern provinces, Kenya. 
Vegetable export production is a major source of income and contributes to the alleviation of poverty in Kenya. However, emerging production standards pose a challenge to continued smallholder involvement. This paper assesses the number of smallholders in export vegetable production in Kenya, their link to the export market and their EurepGAP certification status. In the latter half of 2005, about 11,100 smallholders produced export vegetables in nine districts of Kenya involving about 350 certified smallholders. French beans were the major crop; more smallholders were linked to the export market by middlemen and flexible arrangements than by an export company. In addition to other factors, the export sector can serve as a role model for the domestic sector with respect to production standards.
 
Accession to the European Union (EU) had an impact on the Polish agricultural sector. Plant protection was influenced mainly by the implementation of EU law as well as the demand and prices of the Common Market. This paper describes the present status of plant protection and the registration of plant protection products in Poland, with particular regard to changes that took place during the first five years of Polish membership of the EU (1 May 2004-30 April 2009).
 
The impact of sewage sludge and effluent on soil and underground water after about 40 years of application was evaluated in this study, with a particular focus on selected soil chemical properties, some trace element (Zn, Cu) and heavy metal (Pb and Cd) accumulation, mobility in the soil profile and possible contamination of the underground water. The chemical properties of the soil studied included pH, exchangeable cations and acidity, cation exchange capacity (CEC), available P, organic matter and total N. Long-term disposal of sewage sludge and effluents on the soils significantly (P < 0.001) increased the exchangeable bases, exchangeable acidity, available P, soil organic matter, total N and CEC, but significantly lowered the pH of the soils. The fertility status of the sewage-treated soil was thus enhanced. The study also showed that both trace elements and heavy metals were significantly (P ≤ 0.05) higher in the sewage-amended soils than in the unamended soils. The accumulation of the trace and heavy metals in the former implies that the agricultural utilization of the sewage sludge and effluent should be done with care. The study showed no obvious adverse impact of the sewage sludge and effluent on underground water quality, but contamination by Pb is possible in the future.
 
The Research into Use (RIU) programme was initiated in July 2006 as part of the Department for International Development (DFID)'s Strategy for Research on Sustainable Agriculture 2006-2016. This new programme is founded on the substantial achievements and lessons learned from the previous DFID Renewable Natural Resources Research Strategy implemented from 1995-2006. The main objective of this paper is to capture the strategic and innovative thinking that enabled the smooth transition to the RIU approach. It is hoped that wider understanding of this process will benefit international and national natural resources research and development programmes as well as donors. Widespread use of the best approaches to get research into use is a desired legacy of the RIU programme with potential for a far-reaching impact on reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth.
 
The authors evolve a model for technology evolution and adaptation in agriculture through a participatory approach. The model follows the premise that the integration of local knowledge, the experience of farmers and quality assessment of evolved strategies help in developing technologies that promote the long-term sustainability of the system. The premise is tested through field interventions under way in 18 farmer research groups (FRG) formed for the purpose in the two agroclimatic zones of Kerala where rice forms the major crop. The experimentation is carried out in fields of selected promoter farmers from the FRGs, taking into account the existing agro-ecological peculiarities and land-use pattern. Appropriate technologies for the system are selected by the farmers from a basket of scientifically proven options and are integrated to enhance the quality of farmer-tried strategies, without researchers conducting any new experiments. The process has resulted in evolving the participatory learning, experimentation, action and dissemination (PLEAD) model, which allows interactive participation of farmers, thereby enabling them to become decision makers through the process of action-reflection-action (PRAXIS) of successful field trials conducted by them. The key elements of the model include agro-ecosystem scanning, farmer-led experimentation and farmer-to-farmer extension. The processes provide lateral and co-learning experiences that benefit all the participants.
 
Following their study of how farmers look for and make sense of information to develop their farming projects, the authors argue that more attention should be paid to sense-making and contingency in the knowing process to increase the stakeholder's capacity to act in an uncertain and complex world. Their analysis shows that sense-making is contingent on the way farmers characterize the here and now as problematic and depends on the purposes and functions they assign to information resources. It also suggests that farmers assign purposes according to the development of their productive activity and of their own identities and capacities.
 
Prime mover hexagram  
As part of a three-year project focusing on improving the livelihoods of poor livestock keepers by improving the availability of fodder, new groundnut varieties were tested, incorporating participatory rural appraisal (PRA), rapid rural appraisal (RRA), focus group discussions (FGDs) and field days as learning platforms. These approaches had limitations in addressing the complexity of the groundnut farming system and therefore constraints to the uptake of improved varieties continued to elude solution. The potential of a multi-stakeholder approach to gain a broader view of how novelty and innovation occur in a farming system was then recognized. Interactions among a range of actors including, among others, traders, oilseed merchants and private seed companies, were facilitated within a process of action and reflective learning. As a result, new constraints to innovation in groundnut varieties were identified and ways of overcoming them were noted. Documentation and analysis of the type and quality of linkages between the actors in the system helped to catalogue the process, and the platform thus created provided the actors with an opportunity to learn from each other. The lessons and implications are discussed.
 
The study was conducted in Adamawa state, north-eastern Nigeria. One hundred and twenty-six farmers who used animal power for agricultural operations were interviewed. All the farmers used bulls for draught work. Ninety-six per cent of the farmers owned only one pair of bulls, while 4% had two pairs. Only ridging, weeding and transportation were undertaken using bulls. About 81% of the farmers used their draught animals for ridging, 18% for weeding, and 1% used them for transport. Ridging and weeding were carried out using the same implement, the mouldboard ridger. About 60% of these were factory-made, while the rest were made by local artisans. Carts were manufactured locally from wood. Working periods of draught animals ranged from four to six hours daily, and three to five months annually, with most farmers (71%) covering 0.6-1 ha/day. The area cultivated by individual farmers in each cropping season varied between two and six hectares. Draught animal owners derived income from renting them out to other farmers at a rate of N500 to N1000 per hectare. There were no complaints about the care and management of draught animals by farmers. The study suggests the need to look into the possibility of diversifying animal power utilization in the state.
 
This article presents a joint project carried out by four European research institutes. The project is focused on the adaptation of fruit- and vegetableproducing farms in Mediterranean Europe. It is based on empirical studies carried out in four agricultural districts located in France, Italy and Spain. The same scientific approach was adopted for each of the studies, featuring: (i) farm characteristics and diversity, (ii) modelling through linear programming and simulations. The work shows that, in addition to local pressures, new adaptations are implemented in all districts in response to three general objectives: profitability, risk and external demands, and at three levels: technical, farm and collective actions.
 
Location of the study sites in the northern part of the corridor Ranomafana-Andringitra (sources: BD 500, 1994 FTM) 
Since 1996, contractual forest management involving the local population has been proposed as a solution to deforestation and poverty in Madagascar. This article highlights the way in which two contrasting farming systems can be adapted to conservation constraints without threatening sustainability. The authors show that farmers' adaptation capacities are heterogeneous among local communities and that a knowledge of the factors influencing this variability can help in the design of guidance for farms to enable them to develop sustainably in line with current perceptions of agriculture's role in land management and forest conservation.
 
Numerous previous studies have modelled the impact of climate change on crop water requirements and hence future water resource needs for irrigated agriculture. Fewer have considered the impacts on the performance of irrigation systems and the required engineering and managerial adaptations. This study considers the impacts and adaptations for a typical pressurized pipe irrigation system. The dry years of the baseline period (1970-90) in the southern part of Italy are expected to become the average or even wet year by the 2050s, according to HadCM3 projections. Under these conditions, the large water distribution systems designed to satisfy the baseline dry years will fail unless appropriate engineering or managerial adaptations are made. The resilience of District 8 of the Sinistra Ofanto to the possible future increase in irrigation demand has been assessed. A stochastic weather generator was used to generate future weather under the IPCC A1 and B1 emissions scenarios, taking into consideration the outputs of the HadCM3 model. A daily water balance model was used to quantify the actual and future peak water demand of the district. The reliability of each hydrant under baseline and future demand was calculated using a stochastic hydraulic model and the failure zones identified. Under the current design, the system can tolerate a peak demand discharge up to 1,500 l.s−1, which is below the 2050s' average (1,720 l.s−1). Above that value, the performance of the system will fall drastically as the number of unreliable hydrants will increase. In the future, assuming the same cropping pattern, the threshold discharge (1,500 l.s−1) will be exceeded 80% of the time and, as an average, 20% of the system's hydrants will be failing during the peak demand periods. The adaptation options available to farmers and system managers in response to the increasing demand are discussed.
 
Studies were undertaken to identify and test low-cost storage technology for fresh sweet potatoes and subsequently to apply this technology in the northern region of Uganda. In this region the emergence of cassava mosaic disease has made the technology relevant to the rural food system due to the need to extend the availability of sweet potatoes. The studies used a combination of on-station and on-farm trials to test the technical feasibility and social compatibility of low-cost storage technologies. The performance of the storage methods and the process by which technical options were chosen, developed and tested are discussed. It was found that, although the on-station trials provided broad guidelines for technology development, specific requirements needed to be devised in conjunction with farmers. The use of parallel on-station and on-farm trials, although partially contradictory, saved much time and hastened the technology-validation process.
 
An international effort in animal genomics has promised a better way to select animals based on predictive markers for many production and quality traits. Coupled with advances in reproductive technology, the approach could revolutionize the way farm animals are selected and bred. Approaches towards the application of the technology are however not universal across the different animal species, due in large part to the structures of the industries. The beef industry in particular is problematic, due to the lack of vertical integration and the diverse nature of the breeding sector. For genomics technologies to impact fully on the beef industry, a higher level of sophistication of the genetic tests will be needed. Tests based on the genes themselves, rather than DNA markers associated with genes, will be required. Further, an understanding of how multiple genes interact to affect important traits in cattle will be required if maximum benefit is to be realized from genomics technologies. Thus the application of marker-assisted selection will be best achieved in the context of traditional quantitative genetic analysis, already practised in a large section of the cattle-breeding industry.
 
The decision-making process of farmers in the Spanish Mediterranean regions was analysed using the function of Multi-Attribute Utility Theory (MAUT). The economic, agronomic and social repercussions resulting from adopting a series of technological and structural improvements were evaluated on farms with citricultural and outdoor horticultural production. The introduction of such measures is necessary to improve competitiveness and favour the sustainability of these farms. The outstanding consequences of these innovations were a more efficient use of irrigation water and an increase in the area of vegetable cultivation when mechanized, which counteracted the overwhelming trend in the area towards citriculture.
 
This study seeks to explore the adoption of rice research-based innovations in rural Tanzania. Apart from the age and level of education of the head of household, which had an influence on the adoption of herbicide in both study areas, the influence of other variables on the adoption of fertilizer and transplanting varied between the study areas. Moreover, the study shows that adoption of the selected innovations is context-dependent. In Tanzania, rice farming is characterized by the predominance of traditional rice varieties. Farmers grow these varieties for household consumption or income, or both, under crop management practices that are well attuned to the available resources. The observed discontinuation and adaptation of innovations make sense, given the production circumstances in which the farmers operate. The findings of the study raise issues with research implications for improved rice production in the study areas.
 
This paper argues that much of the discussion about constraints to the adoption of agricultural innovations is muddled because the distinction between variables that are endogenous to the fit between an innovation and a specified group of potential users, and those that are exogenous (that is, prerequisite conditions), is seldom made explicit during the innovation-development process. This distinction, which can emerge through a design-specification exercise, locates a much greater degree of responsibility for the eventual adoption outcome - whether positive or negative - within the innovation-development process itself. To continue to cite exogenous factors such as inappropriate land-tenure arrangements or lack of output markets as constraints to the adoption of innovations is to miss a fundamental step within the innovation-development process.
 
Precision agriculture is seen as a likely future option for agriculture in China. Western developed countries have made remarkable progress in precision agriculture, but in China it is a completely new phenomenon. China is the world's largest agricultural country with the greatest population, and the progress of its agriculture and agricultural technology have significant implications for developments in the rest of the world. This article provides an overview of the current status and likely future development of precision agriculture in eastern China. The topics reviewed include propagation of the concept of precision agriculture; precision agriculture technologies adopted in China; the development of precision agriculture in eastern China; the effects on agricultural policy; and developments in precision agriculture in the country as a whole.
 
Zero tillage planting of wheat after rice has been the main success in the quest for resource-conserving technologies that can save water, reduce production costs and improve production in the Indo-Gangetic Plains, the cereal bowl of South Asia. Binomial logit models are used to assess the structural factors associated with its adoption in the rice-wheat systems of India's Haryana state and Pakistan's Punjab province. Zero tillage adoption is closely associated with a more favourable resource base and rice-wheat specialization in both study areas. This calls for a closer consideration of equity implications in future research and development.
 
Ethylene is a simple organic molecule existing as a gas in nature and as a waste product of domestic and industrial processes. It can either be beneficial or harmful, depending on where and in what quantity it is produced. Because ethylene accelerates plant senescence, large losses of horticultural produce are incurred yearly. To overcome the detrimental effects of ethylene, various techniques have been developed. Usually, the simplest and cheapest techniques are the most effective. It may not be long before the beneficial effects of ethylene are extended to horticultural produce by molecular manipulation of its biosynthesis and action.
 
This paper examines whether and how biotech labelling has had an impact on Chinese consumers' vegetable oil purchasing decisions. The authors used sales data from Nanjing and household survey data from Jiangsu province. They found that the market share of biotech oils immediately decreased as a result, though the decrease was small in absolute terms (but statistically significant). In addition, the changes in the biotech oil market share were affected by the structural effect of the rich, while there was no apparent gross consumption effect of the poor, which could have been underestimated due to a series of factors concerning the two datasets applied.
 
In this paper, the example of cocoa production in Ghana is used to explore how the narratives portraying African farmers have changed over the last 70 years. These evolving narratives are explored through the notion of a 'good farmer'. The argument is that, as the image of African farmers has been progressively rehabilitated (from ignorant and tradition-bound to skilled and research-minded), the image of formal research and extension has suffered. This reversal was associated with the progressive disempowering of formal agricultural research. With the recent renewed interest in agricultural development, narratives about African farmers are again evolving: 'good farmers' are now increasingly being defined as those who approach their farming as a proper business.
 
Despite large investments in research to modernize African agriculture, enabling it to fulfil its potential, traditional agriculture still predominates. To many, the lack of adoption of knowledge generated through agricultural research is due either to the inexplicable functioning of the farmer's decision-making process or to a set of issues so complex that it is not clear how they could ever be overcome. This paper reviews a project in Sub-Saharan Africa in which bean pest management became a tool through which communities were empowered to address a wide range of development issues. This paper suggests that what needs to be altered substantially is the way scientists view and interact with the poor.
 
Several thrips species are known to cause serious damage to agricultural crops in Africa. However, only five species of the family Thripidae are considered as economic pests, namely, Frankliniella schultzei (Trybom), Megalurothrips sjostedti (Trybom), Scirtothrips aurantii Faure, Sericothrips adolfifriderici Karny and Thrips tabaci (Lindeman). Nymphs and adult thrips suck the sap from leaf buds, leaves, flower buds, flowers and fruits, which become deformed or remain underdeveloped, often showing scars. Some species act as major vectors of viral plant diseases. Current pest-control practices include using resistant plant varieties, biological agents, cultural operations and chemical pesticides. However, more information is needed to formulate an effective, low-cost and eco-friendly pest-management strategy that can be adopted sustainably in the existing agricultural framework.
 
It is widely reported that women provide the bulk of food production labour in Africa. Since efficient targeting of improved technologies demands an understanding of who is likely to use them, and new farm technologies have often been inappropriate for women's needs, this paper presents the relative contributions of men and women to food production labour in six major cassava-producing countries of Africa. The paper is based on farm-level information collected within the framework of the Collaborative Study of Cassava in Africa (COSCA). While the number of fields in which women provided more labour for each farm task increased consistently from the initial farm operations, such as land clearing and seedbed preparation, through sowing (planting) and weeding to the final farm operations such as harvesting and transportation, for which women provided more labour for the largest number of fields, the reverse was the case for men. The relative number of households where females provided more field labour than males was higher among female-headed households than among male-headed ones. Such households were characterized by a lower working age male/female ratio, and/or were engaged in tree crop production, which often absorbed male labour. Villages where females provided more field labour than males were more common in remote areas where access to markets was poor and population density sparse, or in countries where men had fled the villages because of political repression. Such villages were also more common among non-Muslim communities than among predominantly Muslim societies. On the whole, however, men contributed more labour in significantly more fields than women in most places. These observations suggest that it could be misleading to generalize that women are providing the bulk of food production labour across Africa. They provide clear evidence of gender division of labour on the farm, and help to explain gender bias in agricultural extension efforts in Africa. Recommendations that pre-harvest extension activities should be mainly directed at women have hardly been heeded. It is recommended that these activities should be targeted at both men and women, but more towards women where men have fled the villages for political reasons or for commercial ones such as poor market access opportunities.
 
The production of perishable crops, nearly all for export, is expanding in many African countries. Virtually all the high value horticultural crops are exported by air. At present there are many deficiencies in the temperature control during handling. There are many examples of crops warming during flights, but also of having been inadequately cooled before departure. It is important to know what occurs during handling, and examples of temperature histories are given. There are developments in prospect to improve temperature control, but these will increase costs per unit transported and will only be justified in specific cases.
 
An analysis was made of the contributions to increasing the productivity of crop-livestock systems by over 100 DFID-RNRRS research projects and relevant work carried out by ILRI and its partners in Sub-Saharan Africa. Important lessons and critical challenges were highlighted to inform future donor investment. It was concluded that integrating crop-livestock R&D in Sub-Saharan Africa remained an imperative if crop and livestock research were to have a lasting impact on reducing poverty, improving the livelihoods of small-scale crop-livestock farmers and encouraging national economic growth.
 
Local knowledge is an important asset for smallholder farmers who operate differently in diverse crop and livestock production systems in the tropics. Various methods are needed for its acquisition, analysis, storage and communication. While local knowledge of livestock feeds and other resources is abundant, amalgamation of the positive aspects of this knowledge system with that emanating from contemporary scientific approaches is critical yet limited. The merger is desirable so as to achieve improved productivity and sustainability of mixed livestock production systems in Sub-Saharan Africa.
 
Specialized indigenous cattle in Sub-Saharan Africa, their unique characteristics, utilization and origin.
Cattle production systems with a beef component in Sub-Saharan Africa. 
Operations of a breeder group and a commercial group within a regional closed nucleus breeding scheme. Key: NH = nucleus herds; NM = natural mating; EV = economic values for breeding objective traits; EBV = estimated breeding values; ET = embryo transfer; BLUP = best linear unbiased prediction for genetic evaluation.  
This paper reviews breeding technologies vital for breeding programme development in Sub-Saharan Africa while considering indigenous cattle genetic resources for beef production. The importance of beef cattle is highlighted, given the globally and regionally growing demand for meat and the fact that Sub-Saharan Africa is home to a large population of indigenous cattle - for which, however, few examples of successful breeding programmes exist. Examples are analysed, including the N'Dama pure breeding programme in western Africa, the Boran improvement programme in eastern Africa, Nguni cattle breeding in southern Africa and the Ankole cattle of Uganda. The characteristics of livestock production systems, livestock breeds and socio-political aspects of Sub-Saharan Africa have largely inhibited successful breeding technology transfer from developed countries. Technological adjustments and the increasing consideration of target group involvement in livestock breeding programmes may offer better possibilities for raising production by breeding in low-input and medium-input livestock production systems. Livestock keepers can be differentiated into breeder groups and commercial groups. Breeder groups are important targets for genetic improvement programmes via community-based genetic improvement organizations. Breeding programmes are suggested for Sub-Saharan Africa within the concept of regional genetic improvement programmes controlled by breed societies, government and national agricultural research systems.
 
While Africa has traditionally been constrained in world markets by low productivity, animal diseases and high standards for animal health and food safety, the growing demand for meat and the emergence of alternative policy mechanisms for facilitating exports could increase Africa's importance as a global supplier of livestock products. This paper outlines Africa's current role in global meat markets and highlights constraints and opportunities. A key constraint that militates against large-scale exports from Africa is its lack of competitiveness vis-à-vis competitors such as Brazil and India. Africa will need to invest in market development, productivity measures, feed resources and infrastructure to reduce production costs and facilitate effective marketing efforts.
 
The green revolution has yet to be realized in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) even 40 years after its success in tropical Asia, suggesting that there was a missing element in the basic principles underlying the Asian green revolution when they were transferred to SSA. The authors argue that this missing element is 'ecotechnology'. Ecotechnology improves the crop growing environment in farmers' fields and enables them to accommodate basic green revolution technologies such as modern varieties, chemical fertilizers and irrigation facilities. The authors focus on sawah ecotechnology, a sustainable rice production technology. The term 'sawah' refers to a levelled, bunded and puddled rice field under controlled submergence, and 'sawah ecotechnology' indicates the technology for designing, developing and managing the sawah system. The sawah system development potential is at least 20 million ha in the West Africa (WA) subregion only. Realizing this potential, WA can sustainably produce food for more than 300 million people, as well as enabling the conservation and restoration of hundreds of millions of hectares of upland forests, contributing to carbon sequestration and global warming mitigation in the future.
 
Falling world grain stocks, rising grain prices and the poor economic situation of Africa have, since 1995, made food security a major issue. Structural adjustment programmes, the crushing burden of debt, the collapse of commodity prices and mismanagement of national economies have rendered African people even poorer in terms of per capita income and quality of life than they were in the first decade after the attainment of independence. Yet Africa is rich in many ways—for example, in virgin land for agriculture and in mineral resources, including energy. It is rich above all in its people and their determined spirit to face all disasters, natural and man-made. In line with this spirit, Africa is moving ahead on a new consensus that food security through enhanced agricultural production is the continent's most fundamental development issue. Although the economic plans of successive African governments have stressed the goal of food self-sufficiency, the food sector has received little investment or political priority. Africa continues to rely on food aid and food imports, which consume a large part of its meagre export earnings. The increasingly limited capacity to purchase food abroad and the bitter experience of depending on emergency aid are honing a clear determination that Africa must marshal the resources to grow its own food and so release the creative energies of its people to contribute fully to their own development and well-being. Top priority should be given to food security during this process, as no country can consider itself free until it has the wherewithal to provide for the basic needs of its people.
 
The Livestock Early Warning System (LEWS) project, now transformed into the Livestock Information Network and Knowledge System (LINKS), of the Global Livestock Collaborative Research Support Program led by Texas A&M University has developed robust forage monitoring and livestock market information systems covering the eastern African region. The two systems systematically and continuously collect and deliver timely information on forage supplies, and forecast livestock market prices and volume trends to stakeholders. The analysis and the suite of products generated are intended to enable pastoral communities to respond to crises and thus protect livelihoods, communities' assets and their ability to subsist in harsh environments, by triggering appropriate and timely responses. This article describes the development methodology, implementation structure and application of these early warning products.
 
This paper describes the method and findings of a survey designed to explore the economic benefits of the adoption of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton for smallholder farmers in the Republic of South Africa. The study found reason for cautious optimism in that the Bt variety generally resulted in a per hectare increase in yields and value of output with a reduction in pesticide costs, which outweighed the increase in seed costs to give a substantial increase in gross margins. Thus, these preliminary results suggest that Bt cotton is good for smallholder cotton farmers and the environment.
 
Throughout the African continent poultry keeping has been practised by village communities for many generations. These birds currently make up more than 80% of the continent's poultry flock. Rural family poultry (RFP) are a valuable asset to local populations as they contribute significantly to food security, poverty alleviation and the promotion of gender equality, especially in disadvantaged groups and less favoured areas of rural Africa. The paper stresses the need to design, implement, monitor and evaluate RFP development programmes by taking sociocultural issues into account.
 
Poverty and food insecurity are widespread in developing countries. Sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for approximately one-quarter of the world's poor, has acute food insecurity in its central, eastern and southern regions. Poverty has multiple dimensions and is characterized by the inability of individuals, households or entire communities to access sufficient assets to sustain a socially acceptable standard of living. By improving their asset status, households can become more resilient to external shocks through increased options for livelihoods. This paper examines the scaling-up of traditional family poultry systems as a possible livelihood strategy to reduce poverty and food insecurity in peri-urban communities in South Africa. Participative action research methodologies revealed small-scale broiler enterprises as the preferred poultry system. Through business incubation, trainee entrepreneurs from the community demonstrated abilities to manage scaled-up broiler systems profitably over four successive cycles of production and marketing. Participation in the broiler enterprise enabled entrepreneurs to accumulate a range of assets that contributed to improving their income and food security status. Improvements in household food security were achieved directly through the increased availability of poultry meat and indirectly through increased cash incomes to acquire other foodstuffs. At the community level, localized benefits included the increased availability of fresh poultry meat and income effects derived from more competitive retail pricing. The paper concludes that further research is required to determine the viability of different scales of production that could be managed within the framework of local culture and access to resources.
 
Limited success in efforts to achieve food security in Sub-Saharan Africa, despite massive inflows of food and financial aid, extensive price- and market-related reforms and revamping of agricultural sectors, has heightened attention on the need for (neglected) basic infrastructures to invigorate the agri-food sector and general economic growth. The importance of a standard system of weights and measures as a fundamental prerequisite for nearly all aspects of an economic system, and food security in particular, is highlighted to inform policy makers and other stakeholders involved in food (in)security in Africa to re-prioritize national budgets and capacity-enhancement and development programmes. Improving the existing crude weights and measures programmes will require important roles not only for national governments, but also for consumers, retailers and wholesalers. Strategies and policy considerations towards improving capacity in agrometrology and achieving food-security goals are assessed.
 
Finger millet is a staple, high-quality food, important to the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers in East Africa. It has been neglected by major donors to agricultural research. This paper reports recent investment by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in several projects on blast disease that has not only led to successful promotion of sound blast management strategies to farmers, but has also fostered partnerships in an evolving finger millet innovation system in East Africa. A key entry point has been created to address other constraints to finger millet production and utilization, such as ineffective weed management, poor grain quality, inefficient seed systems and production-supply chain problems, notably through 'spill-in' and adaptation of relevant technologies developed elsewhere. Further donor investment in the finger millet sector is likely to make a significant contribution to fighting malnutrition and poverty in East Africa.
 
Top-cited authors
Simeon Ehui
  • World Bank
Christopher Delgado
  • Johns Hopkins University
Ken Giller
  • Wageningen University & Research
P.L. Woomer
  • International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
Eric M.A. Smaling
  • Wageningen University & Research