The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA)


The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Research Programme Consortium Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) is a five-year, Research Programme Consortium (RPC), which is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).  The Programme which runs from 2016-2022 is based at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK (www.ids.ac.uk ). It builds on more than a decade of research and policy engagement work by the Future Agricultures Consortium (www.future-agricultures.org ).

APRA aims to produce new information and insights into different pathways to agricultural commercialisation to assess their impacts and outcomes on rural poverty, women’s and girl’s empowerment and food and nutrition security in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Consortium has four interlinked objectives:

  1. Generating high-quality evidence on pathways to agricultural commercialisation in Africa, using a rigorous mix of quantitative and qualitative methods.
  2. Undertaking policy research on agricultural commercialisation to fill key evidence gaps and define policy options.
  3. Ensuring sharing and uptake of research by a diverse range of stakeholders.
  4. Strengthening the capacity of the research team, and associated partner institutions, to deliver high-quality research and advice.

Beginning mid-2016, APRA works in six focal countries across East, West and Southern Africa (Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe). These countries represent both DFID priority countries and New Alliance countries.

APRA’s Coordination Team is led by John Thompson, senior Research Fellow in the Rural Futures Cluster at IDS (Chief Executive Officer) and Ephraim Chirwa, Professor of Economics at the University of Malawi (Research Director), along with Regional Coordinators based in Ghana (Joseph Yaro), Kenya (Hannington Odame) and South Africa (Cyriaque Hakizimana and Ruth Hall), an Impact, Communications and Engagement Coordinator (Beatrice Ouma) and a Programme Manager (Oliver Burch). Together, they have extensive experience in leading complex, multi-country, cross-disciplinary, research programmes in Africa.

At the core of the APRA Consortium is a commitment to academic excellence, policy impact, stakeholder engagement and value for money, rooted in long-term partnerships and a solid regional base. In order to achieve its objectives, the programme will work in sites that examine diverse pathways of commercialisation (influenced by the relationship to markets and scales of operation) and linked to different types of commercialisation (e.g. estates, medium-scale commercial farming, contract farming and smallholder commercialisation).

Consortium researchers will carry out in-depth studies in contrasting sites with varying levels of commercialisation intensity and longevity (i.e., established/ mature vs. recent/emerging sites of commercialisation) and different market connections and infrastructure. To analyse and understand these contrasts, the APRA researchers will employ a combination of quantitative (including quasi-experimental) and qualitative (including participatory and ethnographic) research methods and policy analysis tools to examine different types or forms of commercialisation, including comparing low-value staples, high-value horticulture, and industrial and export crops, and their differential outcome.