The Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE) successfully hosted the APRA Annual Review and Planning Workshop in Naivasha from 2-6 December 2019. Members of the three APRA workstreams and APRA Consortium, stationed at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), also participated.

The theme of this year’s workshop was Impact, Communications, and Engagement (ICE).  It aimed at reviewing tactics and strategies for communicating policy-relevant insights and evidence ‘nuggets’ emerging from the APRA studies to key stakeholders and clarifying pathways to impact.

During the workshop, the Accompanied Learning for Relevance and Effectiveness (ALRE) initiative was officially launched, which aims to improve engagement efforts, trace influence, and identify lessons for improving future programming within APRA.

Highlights from the workshop include: review of progress on APRA research activities during the year related to Work Stream 1 (panel studies), Work Stream 2 (longitudinal studies) and Work Stream 3 (policy studies). Presentation of policy-relevant insights evidence from the Work Stream studies related to the APRA Outcome Indicators and cross-cutting themes; clarification of engagement priorities and plans from the Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis (PIPA) and Theory of Change (ToC) workshops to bring about outcome-level change, and discussions on hosting APRA phase 2.

It was noted that there are high levels of commercialisation of oil palm in South-Western Ghana due to specialisation and highly stratified oil palm economy by gender, generation, and class.

Comparing food-based versus tobacco-led agricultural commercialisation in Zimbabwe, Vine Mutyasira observed that tobacco-led commercialisation resulted in higher returns leading to whole-farm productivity-enhancing investments in technologies, livestock, and assets.

In the case of long-term change in cocoa commercialisation in Ghana, Joseph Yaro mentioned that the private and state sector investment can boost access to technical innovation for intensification of production thus improved incomes for cocoa farmers.

From the longitudinal analysis of sunflower commercialisation in Singida, Tanzania, Christopher Magomba highlighted that the sustainability of sunflower commercialisation and productivity has led to low uptake of inputs such as fertiliser and seeds, low purchasing power; limited access to extension services leading to low yields and competition from alternative annual crops (maize, green gram).

Rice commercialisation has ensured household and the community food security and considerable change in the livelihood options for smallholder rice farmers in the Fogera plains of Ethiopia. This change contributed to rise in rice processors from 1 in 1997 to 123 in 2018, increased employment opportunities especially for casual labourers and interdependence of rice production and labour markets and 93% of the processors became rice sole proprietors recording average value of 360 thousand birr/processor. Whereas in Tanzania, intensification was mentioned as a solution to small and medium-scale farmers in rice commercialisation.

Speaking on the political economy of growth corridors and agricultural commercialisation, Ngala Chome, a PhD candidate, said, “There are diverse pathways to commercialisation along the growth corridors and they range from the establishment of estates/plantation to the creation of block farms and cooperative groups, to contract farming arrangements, which emerge through infrastructure development.” He added that ethnic politics play a critical role, as claims over resources are contested between indigenous groups and the state.

Presenting on behalf of Jodie and Seife, John Thompson mentioned that good incentives (e.g. financial guarantees) can increase the role of small to mid-sized enterprise (SME) agribusinesses in commercialisation pathways rather than policy uptake.

In order to empower the youth, the emphasis was placed on providing more programs or schooling to millions of young people in order to reduce rural-urban migration, the former highlighted in this Ghana-based youth engagement blog.

Looking ahead to Phase 2, DFID’s Howard Standen advised the team to be persistent and use personal relationships or existing champions, such as the African Union Commission, Advisory person, Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission. Ethiopia, Dr. Janet Edeme and the ‘to push for regional and national debates contribution in agricultural commercialisation.

Regarding agricultural transformation and wealth creation, APRA can explore strategies for incorporating the ALRE initiative in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

Click here for information on the 2018 APRA Annual Review Workshop, held in Accra, Ghana.

By Mercy Nduati, CABE Communications Officer

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