Analysing and Understanding Seed R&D Policy Processes in Africa


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This presentation explores different framings of seed policy in Africa

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Analysing and Understanding Seed R&D Policy Processes in Africa

  1. 1. Analysing and Understanding Seed R&D Pathways and Policy Processes in Africa Dr John Thompson ( Future Agricultures Consortium ( Institute of Development Studies, UK Future Agricultures-Tegemeo Institute Regional Dialogue on Strengthening African Seed Systems 14-15 July 2014
  2. 2. Presentation • Future Agricultures Consortium – a focus on agricultural policy processes in Africa • Innovation pathways – opening up and broadening out • Changing views on policy & policy processes • Lessons from the FAC Policy Processes approach • Case study: Political Economy of Cereal Seed Systems • Reflections on Seed R&D Pathways and Policy Processes Analysis
  3. 3. Future Agricultures Consortium Established in 2005… to encourage dialogue and the sharing of good practice by policy makers and opinion formers in Africa on the role of agriculture in broad based growth Why FAC?... the lack of attention to the political economy of policy processes is leading to inappropriate policy formulation and implementation failures in African agriculture
  4. 4. 10 Themes, 1 Common Focus 1. Policy processes 2. Social protection 3. Commercialisations 4. Science, technology & innovation 5. Young people & agri-food 6. Pastoralism 7. Land 8. Climate change 9. Brazil and China in Africa 10. Gender & social difference Assuming that effectiveness of policy is a major determinant of agricultural performance in Africa… • Which policies get implemented in different contexts – and who decides? • What political interests are driving or constraining the implementation of a pro-poor policy? • Why might a particular policy prescription lead to different outcomes for different people in different contexts?
  5. 5. Pathways Definition • Pathway  a self-reinforcing trajectory of change (social, technological, environmental) • Some pathways are ‘dominant’  supported by powerful incumbent interests and investments, and reinforced by policy and practice • These are the ‘motorways’  they channel current mainstream R&D efforts in particular directions • Others are ‘alternative’ or ‘suppressed’  these define and respond to different goals, values and forms of knowledge • These are the ‘bush paths’ they may be important to poor and vulnerable people, but neglected by authority
  6. 6. Linear view of agriculture science and technology Past Future ‘Progress’ • Notions of ‘progress’ pervade debates about food and agricultural futures • Policy makers speak of ‘the way forward’ often without saying which way • Agricultural development is viewed as a ‘race to advance science and technology’ – without stating the particular direction
  7. 7. But innovation is a social choice… Seed innovation as branching evolutionary process open source sharing industrial hybrids cisgenics marker assisted participatory breeding apomixis e.g. innovation for seed R&D transgenicssynthetic biology
  8. 8. And social choice gets socially ‘closed down’ TINA – “There is no alternative …” ‘Path dependence’ or technological ‘lock in’ industrial hybrids transgenicssynthetic biology open source sharing cisgenics marker assisted participatory breeding apomixis
  9. 9. ‘Opening Up’ Pathways Questions about future pathways are often restricted to: • ‘yes or no?’ • ‘how much?’ • ‘how fast?’ • ‘who leads?’ More searching questions are neglected: • ‘which way?’ • ‘what alternatives?’ • ‘who says?’ • ‘who benefits?’ • ‘why?’
  10. 10. ‘Opening Up’ Pathways: the ‘3-Ds’ • Directionality – of pathways towards specific pro-poor and pro-sustainability objectives • Distribution – more equitable distribution of benefits, costs and risks associated with innovation • Diversity – in seed systems, in order to build robust and resilient systems, mitigate ‘lock-in’ and cater for seemingly irreconcilable perspectives on value and sustainability
  11. 11. narrow inputs e.g.: Sophisticated cost-benefit analysis focuses on ranking monetary ‘externalities’ or: Selective participatory process delivers prescriptive recommendations 1: NARROW - CLOSED POSSIBLE PATHWAYS SOCIAL APPRAISAL ‘closed down’ outputs Opening Up, Closing Down POLICY AND GOVERNANCE COMMITMENTS
  12. 12. narrow inputs e.g.: Risk assessment results expressed to policy making using sensitivity analysis 2: NARROW - OPEN POSSIBLE PATHWAYS POLICY AND GOVERNANCE COMMITMENTS SOCIAL APPRAISAL ‘opened up’ outputs Opening Up, Closing Down
  13. 13. ‘closed down’ outputsbroad inputs 3: BROAD - CLOSED POSSIBLE PATHWAYS SOCIAL APPRAISAL e.g.: broadly constituted participatory appraisal, multiple contending expert and stakeholder witnesses, aimed at consensus statement POLICY AND GOVERNANCE COMMITMENTS Opening Up, Closing Down
  14. 14. ‘opened up’ outputsbroad inputs e.g.: Inclusive participatory appraisal, expert and stakeholder engagement, focus on uncertainties, full transparency on dissenting views 4: BROAD - OPEN POSSIBLE PATHWAYS SOCIAL APPRAISAL POLICY AND GOVERNANCE COMMITMENTS Opening Up, Closing Down
  15. 15. Policy and Pathways Policy and pathways to sustainable seed R&D systems are intimately intertwined in two ways: 1. Seed policy challenges are open to a variety of competing ‘framings’ or ‘narratives’ about problems and potential solutions  each suggesting a particular pathway to a particular future 2. Seed policy processes are often key factors implicated in these framings and in which pathways are opened up or closed down
  16. 16. Policy: Clearly central to development, but difficult to pin down... ‘Policy is rather like the elephant - you know it when you see it, but you cannot easily define it’ (G. Cunningham, 1963: 229; cited in M. Hill, 1997: 6)
  17. 17. Policy: A Textbook Definition • Policy comes from the Middle English word ‘policie’, meaning ‘art of government’, ‘civil organisation’ • Standard definition of policy is: ‘a plan or course of action, as of a government, political party, or business, intended to influence and determine decisions, actions, and other matters’ – West’s Dictionary of American Law
  18. 18. Conventional View of Policy • Series of well-defined steps:  Determining the policy issue or problem  Exploring possible options for resolving the problem  Weighing up the costs and benefits of each option  Making a rational choice about ‘best option’  Implementing the policy  Evaluating the outcome • Bureaucratic approach  separation of ‘value’ and ‘fact’ • The political nature of the policy is hidden by the use of technical language  ‘Evidence-based policy-making’
  19. 19. An Alternative View of Policy • “...policies appear to be mere instruments for promoting efficiency and effectiveness. This masking of the political under the cloak of neutrality is a feature of modern power.” Shore, C. and Wright, S. (1997): Anthropology of Policy: Critical Perspectives on Governance and Power. London: Routledge; p. 8 • Policies = Political phenomena/processes
  20. 20. Value of a Policy Process Approach • What is a political economist? ‘Someone who comes and explains why your programme hasn’t worked’ – Alex Duncan • But a policy process approach can also identify what can work in particular contexts  i.e. what is both technically viable and politically feasible
  21. 21. Politics/ Interests Actors/ Networks/ Practices Discourses/ Narratives A Simplified Framework Keeley, J. and Scoones, I. (2003) Understanding Environmental Policy Processes: Cases from Africa. London: Earthscan. Understanding policy processes comes as a result of looking at the intersection of these 3 overlapping elements.
  22. 22. Policy Narratives • Policy narratives ‘frame’ a problem; explain how it comes about; and show what needs to be done to put it right • These narratives – storylines – frequently simplify complex issues –Many are ‘crisis narratives’, demanding urgent policy action –Others are ‘success stories’, suggesting a clear way forward Discourses/ Narratives
  23. 23. Actors, Networks, Practices • Actors and networks define and perpetuate certain policy narratives • These are coalitions and alliances of people with shared beliefs, visions and patterns of behaviour • They often link state institutions with private sector, donors and civil society interests, spanning local-global levels • Diverse stakeholders engage in practices that can reinforce – or sometimes challenge – the prevailing narratives Actors/ Networks/ Practices
  24. 24. Politics and Interests • Competition exists between groups in society, based on their differing interests (e.g. over allocation of resources; economic vs. social priorities) • The political context is moulded by the interests of particular authorities who seek to remain in power • It is a country’s political system that generates the incentives (strong or weak) for the state to take action to invest in agricultural R&D policy • The political system also influences the type of agricultural R&D promoted (i.e. the pathways pursued) Politics/ Interests
  25. 25. Technical Expertise and Patronage Politics 1. Good technocratic policies with no ‘appeal’ to patronage politics simply don't make it 2. Policies driven by patronage politics, but which make no plausible contribution to stated public policy goals, may lead to anti-poor outcomes 3. Partial alignment: patronage politics distort well-intentioned technocratic policies, undermining impact 4. ‘Success stories’: some alignment between technocratic policies and the exigencies of patronage politics leads to effective implementation Technocratic Support No Yes Political Backing No X 1. Inertia Yes 2. Anti-poor policy 3. Distorted policy 4. Success stories
  26. 26. Policy Spaces • ‘Policy spaces’ define the policy-maker's scope of action  ‘room to manoeuvre’ • Strong pressures to adopt a particular policy position can limit this space  ‘closing down’ • Reduction of such pressure may provide opportunities to develop consensus among stakeholders  involves negotiating trade-offs • But consensus needs to be negotiated genuinely; otherwise, the policy process may fall apart during implementation  ‘implementation failure’ Politics/ Interests
  27. 27. Political Economy of Cereal Seed Systems in Africa • Focus: Particular configurations of powerful public and private actor- networks are shaping the way cereal seed systems operate in Africa, which is influencing the way the ‘new Green Revolution’ agenda is playing out in different countries • Framing: ‘market-led technology adoption’ Thompson, J. and Scoones, I. (2012) ‘The Political Economy of Cereal Seed Systems in Africa’s Green Revolution’, FAC Policy Brief 44,.
  28. 28. L. Sperling et al 2008. JDS
  29. 29. Planting breeding, PBR, priority setting Seed aid and relief Regulation and certification Governance of seed/ innovation systems Economics of seed production and distribution Political economy of policy processes Politics of national and global agri-food systems Seed systems Seeds and livelihoods: social-cultural dimensions
  30. 30. Research Questions • How do seed policies get created, and by whom? • How do narratives about what makes a ‘good seed policy’ change over time? • How are seed problems and solutions ‘framed’ – and how does this affect policy processes? • Whose voices are taken into account in the seed policy process – and whose are excluded? • What spaces exist for new ideas, actors and networks? How can these be opened up?
  31. 31. Country Studies 1. Ethiopia (Dawit Alemu)– liberalisation under state control: the politics of the emergent private sector seed industry 2. Ghana (Kojo Amanor) – Green Revolution narratives and local-level realities: how a technocratic approach overwhelms alternative perspectives on breeds and seeds 3. Kenya (Hannington Odame and Elijah Muange) – agro- dealers and the market solution: politics, interests and who wins and loses from the new Green Revolution? 4. Malawi (Blessings Chinsinga) – the politics of maize and input subsidy programmes: how diverse interests converge around a particular technical-economic trajectory 5. Zimbabwe (Charity Mutonodzo and Douglas Magunda) – rebuilding the seed system post ‘collapse’: why top-down government/aid programmes may make things worse
  32. 32. Opening Up Seed R&D Pathways • There are many possible seed R&D pathways  each looks preferable to different actors and interests • We can avoid generalised policy responses to complex seed system challenges by nurturing diverse seed innovation pathways • To do this, it is essential to: - question the dominant narratives that lead to technological ‘lock in’ - highlight the ‘3-Ds’ – Direction, Distribution and Diversity  to spark debate on priorities
  33. 33. Engaging with Seed Policy Processes • Seed R&D policy must be understood as a political process, as much as an analytical or technical one • They are a complex interplay of narratives + actor-networks + political interests • Seed policy change requires understanding these interactions in order to identify: – ‘policy spaces’ to increase room to manoeuvre, negotiate trade-offs and create synergies – incentives for getting political commitment to deliver public goods Technocratic Support No Yes Political Backing No X 1. Inertia Yes 2. Anti-poor policy 3. Distorted policy 4. Success stories
  34. 34. Thank You John Thompson Future Agricultures Consortium