Understanding African Farming Systems: Science and Policy Implications
Understanding AfricanFarming SystemsScience and Policy ImplicationsDennis Garrity, John Dixon, JM Boffa
Approach: why a farming systems lens?• Low productivity and rural food insecurity and poverty persist after many years of interventions• Strong differentiation of farming systems and farm- households’ potentials and needs• Understanding farm-household decision making is essential for fostering innovation and accelerating adoption
Three scales of knowledge that can help decision-makers• 1st, the larger trends and drivers that are in motion at the continental level, providing a backdrop at the macro level.• 2nd, the level of the farming system and subsystems, where the drivers play out in unique ways in the local context. And• 3rd, the household level, and how it responds to internal and external forces, including policy interventions.
The drivers of farming systems change• population, hunger and poverty• natural resources and climate• markets and trade• technology and science• energy• information and human capital• institutions and policies
Farm household decision-making:Connecting resources, production, consumption and investment
Five main strategies to improve farm household livelihoods• intensification of existing production patterns• diversification of production and processing• expansion of farm or herd size• increased off-farm income• exit from agricultural production.
Conclusions & Policy Implications1. Rural populations have now reached critical levels • Highland perennial systems: Strong rural-urban labour market integration occurring in some subsystems. This can be accelerated through education, business development, and education • Highland mixed systems in Ethiopia have more limited but significant potential for such development. • Agropastoral systems have strong labour migration, which can be rationalized with emphasis on improving labour market information and education.
Conclusions & Policy Implications2. Tackling the decline in soil fertility Governments can pursue a number of paths to support land regeneration: • Maize-mixed systems: In high-population subsystems target fertilizer subsidies transitioning to tree biofertilisers. • Agropastoral: Continue regreening with massive upscaling of farmer- managed natural regeneration. • Highland perennial systems: Further strengthen integrated soil fertility management through dairy development with manure recycling. a
Conclusions & Policy Implications3. Agricultural trade and marketsThe key growth potential in lies at home, in the expanding domestic and regional markets within Africa, where demand in some areas already far exceeds supply. Enhancing these markets, improving infrastructure, removing barriers and reducing transactions costs. – Market development is important in all systems – Maize mixed systems and Cereal root and tuber systems. – Agropastoral and pastoral systems