Newsletter week of Jan 15th 2018

Hello, and welcome come a new edition of the IFPR-Kampala’s USSP weekly news and research digest!

As usual, 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.

This week, we report on the fact that 280,000 coffee farmers in Busoga decry lack of market and on Flower exporters struggling to attain big business again. We also have an article on how African donkeys are stolen and skinned and on the discovery of the peanut’s genetic code.

Under research, we highlight:

Note that newsletters are archived on

Happy reading,


280,000 coffee farmers in Busoga decry lack of market

More than 280,000 coffee farmers in Busoga Sub-region are stranded, saying Agroways Limited, which took over Busoga Growers Cooperative Union (BGCU), lacks capacity to address their market needs.

Agriculture Minister says land dispute shouldn’t be seen as ethnic bias
Black Star News

The Minister of Agriculture, animal industry and fisheries has cautioned the country against viewing the Balaalo (pastoralists) land issue in the northern part of Uganda as related to ethnic bias.  While speaking to a meeting of security committee members and the Balaalo at Gulu district council hall on Friday last week, Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja told the Balaalo –as the pastoralists from Western Uganda who travel with their huge herd of cattle are known– and their leaders that they were being asked to leave the northern part of Uganda because of their conduct that was disrespectful and inconsistent with the way of life of the Acholi community.

The money from honey

Honey which is used as food and medicine has many health benefits. It is no wonder that some people have seen the money to be made from it.

Why Lwanga chose to grow clonal coffee

Before making the final decision to go into full time farming, Charles Lwanga had planted some 300 cloned Robusta coffee trees on his inherited land next to the traditional Robusta coffee trees that his father used to grow. “When I finally set out to be a fulltime coffee farmer, my first observation was that I harvested an average of 14 kilogrammes of dry coffee beans from each cloned Robusta coffee tree while I picked six kilogrammes from each traditional Robusta coffee tree. I therefore decided to cut down all the traditional coffee trees and replace them with the cloned Robusta coffee trees

Flower exporters struggling to attain big business again


Lowering the cost of starting a business in Uganda will see the floriculture industry return to its former glory where it was ranked among the top five export commodities, industrial players have said.  In Uganda the players are struggling to convince government to identify land, reduce the cost of electricity and lower the cost of finance to enable them increase production

Using soilless media to grow vegetables

Soilless growing media have been proven to be sterile and free from pathogens that are soil-borne and applicable for urban farmers who grow plants on rooftops and containers.

Sorghum, Sudan’s staple food of all times
South Africa Today

Sorghum, as a basic element in the nutrition of Sudanese, has a lofty record in the daily life, traditions and beliefs of the people of this country.

Kenyan coffee ranks among the world’s top beans
Business Daily Africa

Three Kenyan factories have been ranked among the world’s best specialty coffee producers for 2017, putting farmers on the path to better earnings.  Kabare AA, produced by the Kabare farmers’ cooperative society in Kirinyaga was ranked fourth on Coffee Review’s list of Top 30 with a score of 97 points out of 100.  AA is the highest grade of Kenya coffee based on bean size and freedom from physical imperfections.

Bumper Zimbabwe harvest prompts bigger bet on “command agriculture”


Zimbabwe is expected to harvest 2.1 million metric tonnes of maize this year after good rains followed successive El Niño-induced droughts. For the first time in many seasons the country will be able to feed itself and not require commercial imports or food aid. But is this the result of good fortune or good policy?

To sate China’s demand, African donkeys are stolen and skinned
New York Times

A gelatin made from donkey hides is prized as a traditional Chinese remedy. Now slaughterhouses have opened in Africa, and domestic animals are disappearing from villages.

Beating plastic bags’ use in afforestation
Sci Dev Net

This year, Kenya banned the use of plastic bags. But thanks to a 34-year old Kenyan, Teddy Kinyanjui, an innovative afforestation and reforestation method for developing seedlings without using plastic bags is in place. He is working in partnership with Kenya Forestry Research Institute, which certifies seeds.

Building the next generation of African agricultural economists
African Development Bank

Building the next generation of African agricultural economists was one of the key highlights of a Structural Transformation of the African Agriculture and Rural Spaces workshop at the headquarters of the African Development Bank in December. Organized by the Macroeconomics Policy, Forecasting, and Research Department of the ADB and Cornell University, the workshop brought together top tier and emerging young African researchers from Africa and around the world to discuss recent developments in policy-relevant agricultural research and to understand the policy implications for the transformation of Africa’s agriculture.

Team of international scientists unlocks peanut’s genetic code
International Science for the Acquisition of Ari-Biotech Applications

A team of international scientists, including researchers from University of Georgia and U.S. Department of Agriculture have successfully mapped peanut’s genetic code. The findings of the five-year study provide relevant data to help other scientists around the world decode some of the genetic potential of the peanut plant.

Is “organic” going through an existential crisis?
Joan Conrow

Though it’s too early to tell whether it’s imploding — or merely suffering growing pains — the $50 billion American organic industry is going through some serious soul-searching.

Lab-grown luxuries: cruelty-free silk, diamonds, and leather offer an ethical alternative
The Guardian

On an environmental level, silk is also usually produced by boiling silk worms alive inside their cocoons and has been found to be the second-worst material in terms of environmental impact, just behind leather.“They said, ‘we heard you can make skin, have you thought about making leather?’”

Research Reports, Policy Briefs and Discussion Papers

Unjust burden. How smallholder farmers in Africa are adapting to climate change to improve their food security


IRIN has completed a reporting project to outline the challenges that global warming is triggering, and to explore what local communities are doing to adapt and reduce their vulnerability.  The project covers four countries – Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and Zimbabwe – with the goal of sharing lessons learned so that small-scale farmers everywhere can be better supported as their challenges multiply. It provides a platform for policy discussion, and for the voices of those men and women on the front lines of climate change to be heard.


Mapping cassava food value chains in Tanzania’s smallholder farming sector: The implications of intra-household gender dynamics

B Masamha, V Thebe, VNE Uzokwe – Journal of Rural Studies, 2018

A gendered mapping of the structure and coordination (functioning) of traditional cassava value chains is important for marginalized groups such as women in rural development. In contrast to global high value chains, traditional food value chains and associated gender relations as well as power dynamics within households have received little attention. We conducted a cross sectional study in Kigoma, Mwanza, the coastal region, and Zanzibar Island in Tanzania. Data were collected through structured interviews conducted with 228 farmers, combined with key informant interviews, direct observations, repeated household visits, and literature review. The results of the study revealed that there are weak linkages within the cassava value chain, which is highly gendered. While production and processing nodes of the chain, which commenced from villages, were dominated by women and children, women were not well-integrated within high value nodes such as marketing in urban areas and cross-border trading, which were dominated by men. Transportation of cassava to highly lucrative markets was also dominated by men. Cassava processing was conducted at the household level as well as within small-scale cooperatives, with the major portion of this work being done by women. Supporting institutions were found to be involved in the supply of planting material, training, and the provision of processing equipment. In general, men played a prominent role in the control of resources, marketing, and income. In conclusion, the mapping of cassava value chains could help to identify avenues for understanding of poverty, enhancing food security, upgrading capacities, reducing gender inequality, and enhancing women’s participation in marketing and income control in the cassava value chains.

The effect of land access on youth employment and migration decisions: Evidence from rural Ethiopia

Kosec, Katrina; Ghebru, Hosaena; Holtemeyer, Brian; Mueller, Valerie; and Schmidt, Emily – American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2017.

How does the amount of land that youth expect to inherit affect their migration and employment decisions? We explore this question in the context of rural Ethiopia using a 2014 cross-sectional dataset indicating whether or not youth household members from a previous 2010 survey had migrated by 2014, and in which sector they worked in 2014. We estimate a household fixed effects model and exploit exogenous variation in the timing of land redistributions to overcome endogenous household decisions about how much land to bequeath to descendants. We find that larger expected land inheritances significantly lower the likelihood of long-distance permanent migration and of permanent migration to urban areas. Inheriting more land also leads to a significantly higher likelihood of employment in agriculture and a lower likelihood of employment in the non-agricultural sector. Conversely, the decision to attend school is unaffected. These results appear to be most heavily-driven by males and by the older half of our youth sample. We also find suggestive evidence that several mediating factors matter. Land inheritance is a much stronger predictor of rural-to-urban permanent migration and non-agricultural-sector employment in areas with less vibrant land markets, in relatively remote areas (those far from major urban centers), and in areas with lower soil quality. Overall, these results affirm the importance of push factors in dictating occupation and migration decisions in Ethiopia.

The impact of agricultural extension services in the context of a heavily subsidized input system: The case of Malawi

Ragasa, Catherine; and Mazunda, John – World Development, 2018.

This paper examines the interplay between Malawi’s input subsidy and access to extension services, and the impact of both on farm productivity and food security using Malawi’s Integrated Household Panel Survey. A correlated random effects (CRE) device is used, and consistency and robustness of results are checked using various other estimation models. The receipt of fertilizer and seed subsidies is shown to have an inconsistent impact on farm productivity and food security; at the same time, access to agricultural advice is consistently insignificant in explaining these. Further analysis, however, shows a statistically significant and strong association with farm productivity and food security when access to extension services is unpacked to include indicators of usefulness and farmers’ satisfaction. Households that reported receipt of “very useful” agricultural advice had greater productivity and greater food security compared to those that reported receipt of advice that they considered not useful and those that did not receive any advice at all. This result implies the need to ensure the provision of relevant and useful agricultural advice to increase the likelihood of achieving agricultural development outcomes.

Patterns of labor productivity and income diversification – Empirical evidence from Uganda and Nigeria

Abdoulaye I. Djido, Bekele A. Shiferaw – World Development, 2018.

The labor productivity gap and differentials within and between farm and non-farm sectors is the key to understanding household income diversification patterns. This study shows that the labor productivity gap between farm and non-farm sectors attenuates after controlling for labor intensity. Within agriculture, there are no productivity gaps between staple and high value crops. This provides some evidence of underemployment in agriculture and employment gaps between the farm and non-farm sectors. In addition, diversification into and within farm and non-farm sectors is positively correlated with labor productivity in the specific sector. Diversification into non-farm activities may, however, reduce farm labor productivity and requires policies that reduce such tradeoffs in the transformation process. In addition, the pathways linking income diversification and labor productivity are complex and non-linear. In Uganda, income diversification is higher among resource-poor households (with limited family labor, land, and livestock) in rural areas away from main roads or urban centers. In Nigeria, diversification is higher for male-headed households with productive assets (family labor and land) and in areas closer to markets and urban centers.

Empirical assessment of subjective and objective soil fertility metrics in east Africa: Implications for researchers and policy makers

Julia Berazneva, Linden McBride, Megan Sheahan, David Güereña – World Development, 2018.

Bringing together emerging lessons from biophysical and social sciences as well as newly available data, we take stock of what can be learned about the relationship among subjective (reported) and objective (measured) soil fertility and farmer input use in east Africa. We identify the correlates of Kenyan and Tanzanian maize farmers’ reported perceptions of soil fertility and assess the extent to which these subjective assessments reflect measured soil chemistry. Our results offer evidence that farmers base their perceptions of soil quality and soil type on crop yields. We also find that, in Kenya, farmers’ reported soil type is a reasonable predictor of several objective soil fertility indicators while farmer-reported soil quality is not. In addition, in exploring the extent to which publicly available soil data are adequate to capture local soil chemistry realities, we find that the time-consuming exercise of collecting detailed objective measures of soil content is justified when biophysical analysis is warranted, because farmers’ perceptions are not sufficiently strong proxies of these measures to be a reliable substitute and because currently available high-resolution geo-spatial data do not sufficiently capture local variation. In the estimation of agricultural production or profit functions, where the focus is on averages and in areas with low variability in soil properties, the addition of soil information does not considerably change the estimation results. However, having objective (measured) plot-level soil information improves the overall fit of the model and the estimation of marginal physical products of inputs. Our findings are of interest to researchers who design, field, or use data from agricultural surveys, as well as policy makers who design and implement agricultural interventions and policies.


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