Skip to content

IFPRI Kampala Newsletter Sept 1st 2014

2014 September 2
by bvancampenhout


copyright PASIC

copyright PASIC

Hello, and welcome to the IFPRI Uganda Strategy Support Program’s weekly news digest.

This weekly collection of recent news articles related to agriculture in Uganda is compiled from online news sources. We also include links to recent publications on agricultural and policy-related research topics pertinent to Uganda.

In news this week, we report on West Nile farmers adopting better varieties. There’s also news on Farmers cry out as maize prices dropandYouth Unemployment Challenge in Uganda and the Role of Employment Policies in Jobs Creation among others.

Under agricultural and food policy related research, we provide links to papers on:

Thank you, and enjoy.


The case for drought-tolerant maize


Across much of sub-Saharan Africa, where maize is the most common staple crop, production is almost completely rain-fed, making farmers highly susceptible to extreme weather events, such as drought. Drought conditions damage about 40 percent of all maize crops, endangering the livelihoods and food security of millions of smallholder farmers.

Drought-tolerant maize has been bred, typically through traditional methods, to have a built-in tolerance to water shortages. While there is ongoing research to test the performance of genetically modified maize varieties, the varieties currently available to farmers are not genetically modified.

Youth Unemployment Challenge in Uganda and the Role of Employment Policies in Jobs Creation

Africa in Focus

Youth unemployment remains a serious policy challenge in many sub-Saharan African countries, including Uganda. In 2013, youth (aged 15 to 24) in sub-Saharan Africa were twice likely to be unemployed compared to any other age cohort. For Uganda, in 2012, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics revealed that the share of unemployed youth (national definition, 18-30 years) among the total unemployed persons in the country was 64 percent.

Given the rapid growth of the Ugandan population—three-quarters of the population are below the age of 30 years—coupled with the fact that the youth are getting better educated through higher access to primary and secondary education, a stronger focus on job creation for this cohort of people cannot be overemphasized.

Let's Use Organic and GMOs to Feed the World

The Blog

As anyone who follows food and agriculture issues knows, much of the public discourse particularly around genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is highly polarized. The debates are often as personal and bitter as the extremes that characterize today's partisan politics. The debate over GMOs has tended to side-track progress on the development of a common agenda to solving the global food security problem.

Fed on food aid: does emergency nutrition cripple local economies?

The Guardian

Providing emergency nutrition in a way that undermines the capacity of local economies to respond to food insecurity and malnutrition themselves seems a clear violation of the 'do-no-harm' principle. After recent controversies in Haiti, do humanitarian organisations have a duty to address food security and livelihoods?

Genetically modified flies 'could save crops'

BBC News

A type of genetically engineered fly which eventually kills itself off could be an effective method of pest control, according to new research. These male mutant flies have a lethal gene which interrupts female development. They were trialled in a greenhouse resulting in "population collapse". If released into the wild, they could prevent damage to crops in a way that is cheap, and environmentally friendly, according to the researchers. But others oppose the technology and say releasing genetically modified flies into the wild could have unintended consequences.

Agricultural Reality Stars

Food Tank

While farmers and researchers are coming up with more sustainable and innovative ways to farm across the globe, it’s not always easy for the information to be shared or accessed. Many organizations are taking a new approach to expand access by broadcasting through creative and non-traditional media outlets. Now, attention-grabbing information is reaching new audiences, and agricultural innovations are successfully reaching the world’s smallest and most remote farming communities.

Farmers cry out as maize prices drop

Daily Monitor

Farmers in Budaka, Kibuku and Pallisa Districts are left in a difficult situation after the market prices for maize dropped drastically following increased supply and release of stored grain to the market. The change in price is as much as 20 per cent. A 100-kilogramme bag of maize is going for between Shs 50,000 and Shs 55,000, down from Shs 60,000 last month.

Are We Really Tackling the Challenge of Improving Livelihoods for Poor Farmers?

Food Tank

Agricultural research for development, including the consortium of research centres CGIAR, is regularly assessed to ensure money is being wisely spent on effective measures to promote better lives for rural communities. 2014 is the African Union Year of Agriculture and Food Security and the 10th Year of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme, CAADP, which is also being reviewed for its success in improving food and nutrition security. On 15th July, the UK's All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture & Food for Development debated the impact of CAADP and how to ensure a sustainable future for African agriculture.

Food of the future: what will feed 7 billion people

The Guardian

Do we need to change our concepts of what people eat in order to meet the world's nutrition demands? Insects, lab-made meat, algae and 3D-printed fortified food could be affordable and practical routes to reducing malnutrition. The challenge for the development sector is how these ideas can be put into practice. Collaborating with the private sector and start-ups, embracing new technology and understanding cultural attitudes offer some solutions.

Milking it: dairy farmers in east Africa are earning more by learning more

The Guardian

The use of volunteer farmer trainers has more than doubled volumes of milk sold. But how do you get them to stay? The concept of task shifting is often associated with community health workers. But the idea is equally applicable to other sectors – such as farming – and recent research into volunteer farmer trainers (VFTs) shows how lessons from community health worker schemes have informed the effectiveness of using farmers as agents of change.

The research into VFTs has been based on their use in the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project, a collaboration launched in 2008 between Heifer International, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Technoserve, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and African Breeders Services (ABS). The project's first phase aimed to double the incomes of 179,000 dairy farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Volunteer farmer trainers are an integral part of the EADD, designed to augment the over-stretched formal extension system.

Why Africa’s youth should not shun agriculture

Global Food Security

The time has come to debunk a common myth about agriculture. It is not a dead-end profession that requires eternal, back breaking labour on a farm. At least, it does not have to be. With the right investments to support entrepreneurs in agriculture beyond the production stage, in processing, retail, marketing and even business management, profitable careers await Africa’s young population.

Africa 'missing out on biotech green revolution'

BBC News

Sub-Saharan Africa's agricultural sector needs to harvest the fruits of biotechnology in order to establish sustainable development, says a report. A key challenge is to attract funding for biotechnology projects on staple crops, such as cassava, it added. These crops were often ignored by commercial funders because they had a limited market, the authors suggested. Africa missed out on the previous green revolution that boosted food output in many Asian and Latin American nations.

The report, On Trial: GM Crops in Africa, published by think tank Chatham House, said: "Increasing agricultural productivity and adapting farming to climate change are central to Africa's development prospects."

Poor data saps Africa’s agricultural potential

Financial Times

Last week, at a “Solve for X” gathering in Nairobi, I opened my presentation with a pop quiz. There were only two questions, and yet everyone got both wrong. The first question: What was Nigeria’s GDP in 2013 — $270bn, $460bn, or $510bn? The second question: How much corn did Kenya produce in 2013 — 3.3m, 2.8m or 3.6m tonnes? In both cases the crowd was evenly split amongst the choices. However, the scary reality is that every number I offered up as a potential answer is an official statistic from a well-respected, oft-cited organization or government body, and yet there is massive misalignment. The lack of accurate numbers perpetuates a huge problem that much of Africa faces; limited access to capital

CSIR pushes for commercialisation of its agricultural technologies

SPY Ghana

Ghana's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is pushing for greater commercialisation for its agricultural products and technologies, to impact on production levels of farmers and agro processors in the country and beyond. To fulfil this, the CSIR would be partnering the private sector to ensure that all the technologies developed by research scientists come to good use and is more accessible to many people.

Meeting water and energy challenges in agri-food sector with technology

The Guardian

Worldwide, the overall growth in demand for agricultural products will require a 140% increase in the supply of water over the next 20 years compared to the past 20 years. While the bulk of this demand will be from irrigation, food processing plants can also be water intensive. So, any technological innovations in the industry that save water are welcome.

Hunger-free in 2063 – Africa's powerful potential

The Africa Report

With the world's largest share of arable land, 79% of it uncultivated, Africa has the resources to feed itself and the world. However, a quarter of all Africans experience the everyday reality of hunger. Although rates of poverty have declined from 57% in 1990 to 49% in 2010, high population growth means that the number of people in poverty has continued to rise. Today, 414 million Africans live in poverty. I firmly believe that this reduction in poverty rates indicates that a hunger-free continent is within our grasp, provided the right policy and institutional frameworks are put in place. Research conducted by the non-governmental organisation ONE shows that we can eradicate hunger in Africa by 2063 – just two generations from now – if we invest more and better.

West Nile farmers adopting better varieties

Daily Monitor

Many West Nile farmers are realising that low yields they get are because they are stuck to old varieties of sorghum. And if they adopt improved varieties, this could change, a seed expert has said. “In Uganda, government has not yet allowed genetically modified crops. We promote what farmers want and link them to farmers who are using the improved variety,” noted Francis Okot, who is part of the collaboration between Abi Zardi and Wageningen University to improve sorghum varieties.

UNBS, EA Grain Council to promote grain quality

Daily Monitor

The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with East African Grain Council (EAGC) to improve and promote the quality of East Africa’s grains. The move is aimed at ensuring the quality of grain and grain products so as to enhance competitiveness of exports in regional and international markets.


Smallholder Food Crop Commercialization in Uganda: Panel Survey Evidence from Uganda

Annet Adong, Tony Muhumuza, Swaibu Mbowa – EPRC, June 2014

A number of policy initiatives in Uganda’s agriculture sector have been tailored towards transforming the sector from subsistence to commercial production. Owing to this background, this study examines the drivers of food crop commercialization in Uganda. The unique feature of this study is threefold: one, we exploit the seasonal component of the surveys to examine the seasonality of participation; two, we provide results of two different measures to proxy commercialization, namely; the likelihood of participation, and intensity of participation, in the market for selected crops; and finally, we investigate these issues using a new panel dataset for Uganda. Findings reveal that different household and community level characteristics pose varying impacts on commercialization across seasons. Of particular interest is evidence that self-sufficiency needs override household decisions during the second season. This finding underscores the need to design interventions that target increased production in this season, characterised by short rains and less production activity

African Agricultural Development: Lessons and Challenges

Steve Wiggins - Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2014

This paper reviews what has been learned from experiences of African agriculture and hence what policy lessons may be. Views of African agriculture over the last 130 years have changed from optimism to pessimism and at least halfway back again as the performance of the sector has fluctuated. Fortunately it seems the deep pessimism about agricultural prospects expressed in the 1980s and 1990s has receded. The performance of African agriculture since 1990 suggests that neither those who doubt that any significant advances are taking place, nor those who see advances in some remarkable but perhaps isolated cases of rapid transformation of farming and agricultural supply chains, have sufficient evidence – either from national data or small-scale studies – to support their positions. Hence policy has to rely largely on general principles and historic lessons, rather than more clearly proven propositions.

Understanding the Impact of Mobile Phones on Livelihoods in Developing Countries

Richard A. Duncombe – Development Policy Review, 2014

Mobile phones are spreading rapidly in developing countries, but research conceptualisations have been lagging behind practice, particularly those that link mobile phones to livelihoods. This article seeks to fill this gap in two ways. First, by means of a literature review which analyses how they impact upon assets – through facilitating asset substitution, enhancement, combination, exchange and forms of disembodiment. On this basis key roles for mobile phones are defined within livelihood strategies. Secondly, the analysis demonstrates the shortcomings of the livelihoods framework for understanding technological innovation; its agriculture-oriented understanding of assets; its silence on the developmental role of information and on user appropriation of technology; and its narrow categorisation of impact. Ways of addressing these shortcomings are suggested, pointing towards areas of future research and application.

Getting to ‘Yes’: Governing Genetically Modified Crops iIn Uganda

Matthew A. Schnurr, Christopher Gore - Journal of International Development, 2014

This paper critically examines the evolution of the regulatory regime to review and manage the potential social, environmental and health risks associated with the introduction of genetically modified organisms in Uganda. It reveals how and why institutions responsible for governing genetically modified crops have evolved over time and the implications of this progression. The paper investigates the inter-relationships that connect the various elements of genetically modified organism regulation, arguing that current policy and legislative efforts are the results of the early establishment of institutions and processes tailored towards the eventual endorsement of these technologies.

Technical Efficiency of Farming Households in Uganda: Evidence from the national Panel Survey Data, 2005-2010

Rebecca M. Kalibwani, John Mutenyo, Edward Kato - Research Journal of Agriculture and Environmental Management, 2014

We investigate performance of the agricultural sector in Uganda and whether it has varied by the 4 major regions in Uganda using agricultural technical efficiency as a proxy for performance on a nationally representative panel data set. We apply the classical parametric stochastic production frontier estimator in estimating the technical efficiency scores for each of the 4 regions using a panel framework. We find rather surprising results contrary to our hypothetical expectations. The households in the northern and eastern regions are found to have relatively higher levels of technical efficiency over the study period compared to the rest of the regions. The presence of increased government intervention in the peace process, and concerted effort by both government and international agencies to develop and promote agriculture programs in the region during this period, were possibly responsible for the observed levels and trends in technical efficiency in the two regions.

Food Prices, Road Infrastructure, and Market Integration in Central and Eastern Africa

Paul Brenton, Alberto Portugal-Perez, Julie Régolo – World Bank Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice Group, 2014

Market integration is key to ensuring sufficient and stable food supplies. This paper assesses the impediments to market integration in Central and Eastern Africa for three food staples: maize, rice, and sorghum. The paper uses a large database on monthly consumer prices for 150 towns in 13 African countries and detailed data on the length and quality of roads linking the towns. The analysis finds a substantial effect of distance and share of paved road on the level of market integration, as measured by relative prices. Furthermore, the paper evaluates the additional domestic and cross-border impediments to market integration in the region and represents them on a regional map.

Poverty and land redistribution

Malcolm Keswell, Michael R. Carter – Journal of Development Economics, 2014

Despite a theoretical literature that promises that land transfers will have large impacts on the well-being of poor households, well-identified empirical evidence on the efficacy of land redistribution is scarce. In an effort to fill this gap, this paper examines South Africa's Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD) program. We exploit features of LRAD program implementation to extract exogenous variation in whether, and for how long, applicant households enjoyed land transfers. Binary treatment estimates, which compare treated with untreated households, show that beneficiary households on average experienced a 25% increase in per-capita consumption. Our preferred continuous treatment estimates, which analyze only the subset of treated households, identify the impact time path of land transfers on consumption. These estimates show that living standards initially drop and then, after 3–4 years, rise to 150% of their pre-transfer level. These results are statistically significant and robust to a statistically more conservative identification strategy.

Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: Pilot evidence from Rwanda 

Daniel Ayalew Ali, Klaus Deininger, Markus Goldstein – Journal of Development Economics, 2014

We evaluate the short-term impact of a pilot land regularization program in Rwanda using a geographic discontinuity design with spatial fixed effects. Three key findings emerge from the analysis. First, the program seems to have improved land access for legally married women (about 76% of married couples) and prompted better recording of inheritance rights without gender bias. Second, we find that the program was associated with a very large impact on investment and maintenance of soil conservation measures. This effect was particularly pronounced for female headed households, suggesting that this group had suffered from high levels of tenure insecurity which the program managed to reduce. Third, land market activity declined, allowing us to reject the hypothesis that the program caused a wave of distress sales or widespread landlessness by vulnerable people. Implications for program design and policy are discussed.

No comments yet

Comments are closed.