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IFPRI Kampala newsletter – week of October 13th

2014 October 16
by bvancampenhout

15182250945_fa44eb8d59_mHello, and welcome to the IFPRI Uganda Strategy Support Program’s weekly news digest.

This weekly collection of recent news articles related to agriculture 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 Seed policy faulted over cost. In addition, there is more news such as Addressing priority climate change adaptation measures in Uganda , Experts warn of dire consequences as Lake Victoria’s water levels drop further and among others, Uganda's progress towards poverty reduction during the last decade 2002/3-2012/3: is the gap between leading and lagging areas widening or narrowing?

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

Thank you and Enjoy


Livestock insurance could protect cattle-herders in Africa from drought

The guardian

In Kenya’s ASALs, drought is the most pervasive hazard, encountered by households on a widespread level. More than three million pastoralist households are regularly hit by increasingly severe droughts, costing the economy an estimated $12.1bn between 2008 and 2011. For livelihoods that rely mainly on livestock, the high livestock mortality rate caused by drought has devastating effects, rendering these pastoralists among the most vulnerable populations in Kenya. As the impacts of climate change unfold, the link between drought risk, vulnerability and poverty becomes significantly stronger.

Over the past several years, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in collaboration with Cornell University and technical partners, has pursued a research program aimed at designing, developing and implementing insurance products to protect livestock keepers from drought-related asset losses. Using satellite imagery to assess the amount of forage available, Index-Based Livestock Insurance provides insured pastoralists with a pay-out in times of drought based on predicted rather than actual livestock deaths.

Food Prices Only Going One Way: Down

The Wall Street Journal

Food prices are likely to continue to fall for months as the world is reaping bountiful harvests. Prices for soybeans, corn and wheat in particular could fall for the rest of the year, according to participants at the World Commodities Week conference in London.

The outlook is “pretty much bearish across the board,” said Benjamin Ross, a commodities portfolio manager at Cohen & Steers in New York. He sees soybean prices in particular taking a sharp downturn. U.S. soybean futures slumped to their lowest level in four years last week as the U.S. harvest is widely expected to hit a record high in terms of yields.

Seed policy faulted over cost

Daily Monitor

Members of the Sessional Committee on Agriculture have poked holes in the draft seed policy, saying the document does not tackle the cost of seeds yet it is among the contentious issues that must be conclusively addressed by the policy. During the seed policy development organised by the Ministry of Agriculture in Munyonyo recently, it emerged that the principle behind the development of the seed policy is to empower the private sector into becoming a more dominant commercial player as the government provides an enabling environment for the seed sector.

GM agricultural technologies for Africa: A state of affairs


A new report released by the African Development Bank and the International Food Policy Research Institute says that Africa needs to embrace agricultural innovations to be able to compete globally. The report collects current information on the status of biotechnology in Africa with an emphasis on GM crops, and assesses the opportunities offered by and constraints to adoption.

The report also discusses the need to transform African agriculture from low productivity to one that is a high-potential driver of economic development. The authors identified several initiatives that could help overcome obstacles, such as increasing public investments in agricultural biotechnology research and development, improving regulatory frameworks and regulatory capacity and developing an effective and broad-based communications strategy.

Addressing priority climate change adaptation measures in Uganda


Uganda is highly vulnerable to climate change and variability – its economy and the wellbeing of its people are tightly bound to the climate. With a rapidly growing population (annual 3.2%) that needs to be fed, the impacts of climate change will further exacerbate the problems of food insecurity, poverty and weak social institutions. Early adaptation to climate change can moderate impacts of climate and even secure benefits to families. Therefore, Uganda developed the National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) in 2007 to climate-proof development. Agricultural stakeholders in the country identified some key areas in their NAPAs to cushion the country from population growth and climate change effects.

Experts warn of dire consequences as Lake Victoria’s water levels drop further


Climate experts state in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report that a rise in global temperature is what is affecting rainfall patterns is over Lake Victoria— and the worst is yet to come. The report states that increased warming in the western Indian Ocean and precipitation over the ocean system will bring about climate extremes in East Africa and increase precipitation during the short rainy season.

Uganda's progress towards poverty reduction during the last decade 2002/3-2012/3: is the gap between leading and lagging areas widening or narrowing?


Northern and eastern Uganda still lag far behind the west and central in the number of people that have moved out of poverty in the last 10 years, a study has found. The study, which examined Uganda’s decade-long progress in the fight against poverty, shows that regional inequality is actually rising – with northern and eastern Uganda becoming worse off. West and central Uganda are progressing with more people in these regions getting out of poverty, according to the study report by the Makerere University-based Economic Policy Research Centre.


Narrowing the rice yield gap in East and Southern Africa: Using and adapting existing technologies

Nhamo Nhamo, Jonne Rodenburg, Negussie Zenna, Godswill Makombe, Ashura Luzi-Kihupi – Agricultural Systems, 2014

The importance of rice production in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has significantly increased over the past decades. Currently, rice plays a pivotal role in improving household food security and national economies in SSA. However, current rice productivity of smallholder farms is low due to a myriad of production constraints and suboptimal production methods, while future productivity is threatened by climate change, water shortage and soil degradation. Improved rice cultivars and agronomic management techniques, to enhance nutrient and water availability and use efficiencies and to control weeds, have the potential to increase yields. The aim of this study was to assess the relative contribution of such technologies to enhanced rice productivity. Relative yield gains emanating from nutrient, water and weed management were surveyed and calculated from literature. Partial budgeting was used to evaluate viability of fertilizer technology under GAP.

Food (In)security and its drivers: insights from trends and opportunities in rural Mozambique

Athur Mabiso, Benedito Cunguara, Rui Benfica – Food Security, 2014

We used multiple rounds of nationally representative agricultural survey data to analyze the trends and drivers of food insecurity in rural Mozambique. Reduced-form Probit models were estimated to explain the observed trends as a function of underlying drivers and factors related to agricultural policy interventions. Despite rapid macroeconomic growth, food insecurity in the rural areas had increased from 42.9 % in 2002 to 47.8 % in 2008. Significant inequalities were also observed in the distribution of food insecurity with a substantial disadvantage to the bottom quintile households and rural households located in the Northern provinces. Limited progress on several drivers of agricultural production and food access as well as geographic disparities appears to explain a significant part of the food insecurity trends and distribution. Whether the indicator was use of improved farm inputs and technology, receipt of agricultural extension services, farm production, or cash income, progress did not occur. This implies that to achieve broad-based food security in rural Mozambique, interventions may need to focus on addressing these drivers to increase agricultural productivity while enhancing resilience to price and weather shocks. Interventions must also be spatially targeted and tailored to each segment of the population.

A Systematic Review of Qualitative Research on the Role of ICTs in Sustainable Livelihood

Z Zaremohzzabieh, BA Samah, SZ Omar, J Bolong, HM Shaffril - The Social Sciences, 2014

In the recent past, the role of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) is promoting socio-economic development and suitable livelihoods has become the subject of heated debate. Nevertheless, an insufficient number of studies have systematically reviewed the growing influence of ICTs. In the present study, a systematic revie is conducted to evaluate and examine qualitative studies that have explored the role of ICT’s in contributing to sustainable livelihoods. Researchers performed a systematic literature review of studies written in English and published between January, 2007 and April, 2014. Inclusion and exclusion principles were employed to identify studies of any qualitative design that examined the concept of sustainable livelihoods through the lens of accumulation of assets in orer to evaluate purposes for which ICTs are utilised and also to review the impact that ICTs have had on various aspects of life.

What Happens to Patterns Of Food Consumption When Food Prices Change? Evidence From a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Of Food Price Elasticities Globally

Laura Cornelsen, Rosemary Green, Rachel Turner, Alan D. Dangour, Bhavani Shankar, Mario Mazzocchi, Richard D. Smith – Health Economics, 2014

Recent years have seen considerable interest in examining the impact of food prices on food consumption and subsequent health consequences. Fiscal policies targeting the relative price of unhealthy foods are frequently put forward as ways to address the obesity epidemic. Conversely, various food subsidy interventions are used in attempts to reduce levels of under-nutrition. Information on price elasticities is essential for understanding how such changes in food prices affect food consumption. It is crucial to know not only own-price elasticities but also cross-price elasticities, as food substitution patterns may have significant implications for policy recommendations. While own-price elasticities are common in analyses of the impact of food price changes on health, cross-price effects, even though generally acknowledged, are much less frequently included in analyses, especially in the public health literature. This article systematically reviews the global evidence on cross-price elasticities and provides combined estimates for seven food groups in low-income, middle-income and high-income countries alongside previously estimated own-price elasticities. Changes in food prices had the largest own-price effects in low-income countries. Cross-price effects were more varied and depending on country income level were found to be reinforcing, undermining or alleviating own-price effects
Beyond Technocratic Debates: The Significance and Transience of Political Incentives in the Malawi Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP)

Blessings Chinsinga, Colin Poulton - Development Policy Review, 2014

The Malawi FISP resurrected debates about the role of subsidies in African agricultural policy. Recent literature has highlighted the social and political interests that influence the distribution of input-subsidy vouchers, often tending to reduce the efficiency with which such programmes contribute to poverty reduction. Taking the FISP as a case study, this article examines the political incentives that have driven programme implementation. Two streams of rents associated with the FISP were used to generate support for the first-term government of President Mutharika (2005-9), with very different implications for programme efficiency. One then stopped abruptly in 2009. The Malawi case demonstrates both the importance of political incentives in determining subsidy outcomes and how they can change dramatically over time.

Democratisation and the Political Incentives for Agricultural Policy in Africa

Colin Poulton - Development Policy Review, 2014

In theory, democratisation, which has proceeded unevenly across Africa during the past two decades, should encourage pro-poor agricultural policy, as the majority of voters in many countries remain rural and poor. This article draws on case studies of recent policy change in six African countries, plus a review of the literature on political competition and voting behaviour, to explore the evolving role of competitive electoral politics in agricultural policy making. It finds that democratic pressures for pro-poor agricultural policy remain weak, which may help explain the limited delivery thus far on commitments to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). However, exogenous factors most strikingly, sustained threats to regime survival can create positive incentives for agricultural investment. The implications for participants in agricultural policy processes are explored.

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