Institutions and policies
“Institutions and policies” focuses on the institutional and political settings of biomass production, processing and trade.
Institutions are the systems of rule in which policies are made and innovations are generated. Effective institutions are needed to improve agricultural productivity and profitability, reduce poverty, hunger and malnutrition. A conducive policy and regulatory environment is essential for farmers, processors and traders to adopt the technical and institutional innovations that will foster the transformation from a food-supplying to an interrelated bio-economy system where food and non-food biomass is suitably produced, processed, used and traded.
This thematic area features contributions related to
- Analysis of current policies and institutions that influence the food and non-food biomass sector in Africa
- Assessment of enabling environment for farmers and other stakeholders to adopt innovations that enhance transformation from a food-supplying to a biomass-supplying sector
- Assessment of institutional arrangements and knowledge for the sustainable development of the emerging bio-economies in Africa
Theme coordinator: Nana Afranaa Kwapong
Adu-Gyamfi Poku, Regina Birner, Saurabh Gupta. 2018. Is Africa ready to develop a competitive bioeconomy? The case of the cassava value web in Ghana. Journal of Cleaner Production (200): 134-147 pp.
The increasing global demand for diverse biomass-based products such as food, feed and fuel can
transform African agriculture from a food-supplying to a biomass-supplying and processing sector in the
growing international bioeconomy. This study addresses the requisite policy and institutional environment
needed to foster the development of a competitive and sustainable bioeconomy in Africa. The
paper uses the case of cassava in Ghana for an empirical case study. The novel concept of biomass-based
value webs, that is, interlinked agricultural value chains, is combined with Porter’s Diamond model to
analyse the extent to which Ghana is positioned to develop a competitive cassava value web. Empirical
data collection involved mapping the physical biomass flows, applying the ‘Net-Map’ tool to identify all
the actors in the emerging value web and their linkages, as well as in-depth interviews with the identified
actors. The study finds that despite the huge opportunities for cassava biomass in Ghana, there are
coordination problems between farmers, processors and industrial end-users. This has hindered the
potential for increased cassava production, processing and utilisation. There is also generally a lack of
private sector initiatives in the development of new cassava based products. Accordingly, industrial endusers
tend to depend on imported alternatives. Unsuccessful government initiatives and the absence of
legislation such as a composite flour policy or a biofuel blend policy have also been major contributing
factors to the unrealised industrial potential of cassava in Ghana. The findings therefore suggest that
competitive cassava utilisation in the emerging bioeconomy hinges on stronger institutional linkages
between value web actors and government support mainly in the form of local content policies that
encourage the use of cassava based products.
Adu-Gyamfi Poku, Regina Birner, Saurabh Gupta. 2018. Making Contract Farming Arrangements Work in Africas Bioeconomy: Evidence from Cassava Outgrower Schemes in Ghana. Sustainability (10 (5)): 1-21 pp.
This paper uniquely focuses on rapidly-developing domestic value chains in Africa’s
emerging bioeconomy. It uses a comparative case study approach of a public and private cassava
outgrower scheme in Ghana to investigate which contract farming arrangements are sustainable for
both farmers and agribusiness firms. A complementary combination of qualitative and quantitative
methods is employed to assess the sustainability of these institutional arrangements. The results
indicate that ad hoc or opportunistic investments that only address smallholders’ marketing
challenges are not sufficient to ensure mutually beneficial and sustainable schemes. The results
suggest that firms’ capacity and commitment to design contracts with embedded support services for
outgrowers is essential to smallholder participation and the long-term viability of these arrangements.
Public-private partnerships in outgrower schemes can present a viable option that harnesses the
strengths of both sectors and overcomes their institutional weaknesses.
Adu-Gyamfi Poku, Regina Birner, Saurabh Gupta . 2018. Why do maize farmers in Ghana have a limited choice of improved seed varieties? An assessment of the governance challenges in seed supply. Food Security (10): 27-46 pp.
The liberalisation of commercial seed systems has largely been seen as an essential means of improving agricultural productivity
in Sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, access to improved seed varieties has remained a major constraint in many countries in spite of
liberalisation and other reform efforts. This paper analyses the governance challenges involved in seed systems from a theoretical
and an empirical perspective. The paper applies theoretical concepts of New Institutional Economics to identify potential
governance challenges involved at the different stages of the seed supply system. The commercial maize seed sector in Ghana
is used for an empirical case study. Ghana has passed a seed law that aims to increase the availability of improved seed varieties to
farmers by providing more opportunities to the private sector. However, there is still a chronic lack of varietal diversity, indicating
that governance challenges in the seed system remain despite the reform efforts. For data collection, a participatory mapping
technique known as Process Net-Map was applied, together with expert interviews involving a diverse set of stakeholders. The
empirical evidence reveals that, in line with the theoretical considerations, governance challenges indeed affect all stages of the
seed supply system. These challenges include limited involvement of smallholders in setting breeding priorities, restricted private
sector participation in source seed production, limited ability of an under-resourced public regulatory body to ensure high seed
quality through mandatory seed certification and overdependence on a weak public extension system to promote improved
varieties. The paper discusses the policy implications of the findings.
Beuchelt, T.D., Mohr, A. and R. Schneider. 2017. The human Right to Food and sustainable soil management: linking voluntary agricultural sustainability standards with food security. Ginzky, H., Heuser, I., Tianbao Qin, Ruppel, O. and P. Wegerdt (eds.). International Yearbook on Soil Law and Policy. Spinger: 237-262 pp.
Land degradation and deforestation worldwide threaten future food and non-food biomass provision. Land degradation may hinder the global shift towards green or bio-economies which requires increasing supplies of biomass. There is a strong linkage between soil management, biomass production and food security. Rising concerns about sustainability aspects have led to the development of voluntary certification standards to ensure that biomass is sustainably produced. So far, these voluntary standards have a strong ecological focus and include only selected social aspects. Food security and the linkage between the Human Right to adequate Food and soil management are hardly addressed though they are a key element of the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and important for (export) production and processing in low- and middle income countries. The Sustainable Development Goal 2 - to end all forms of hunger by 2030 - clearly includes sustainable soil management and agriculture. The unification of these two targets in one goal underlines the dependency of the realization of the Human Right to adequate Food on sustainable land management and land use patterns. The objective of this chapter is to first discuss how the Human Right to adequate Food, which is applicable in over 100 countries, is linked to sustainable management of soils and what does this imply. Then we show how the Human Right to adequate Food can be ensured in local biomass production and in certification systems in food insecure regions. We first present a suitable conceptual framework to integrate the Right to food in biomass production, processing and trade. Then we suggest food security criteria to ensure that the Human Right to adequate Food is not violated by certified biomass operators. The suggested criteria are applicable to all biomass types and uses and serve as a best-practice set to complement existing voluntary sustainability standards for biomass.
Gerba Leta, Girma Kelboro, Till Stellmacher and Anna Katharina-Hornidge. 2017. The Agricultural Extension System in Ethiopia: Operational Setup, Challenges and Opportunities. Working Paper (158). ZEF, Bonn.
Since the 1960s, Ethiopia has been inducing changes in its approaches to agricultural extension through
reforms. In 2010, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources adopted a Participatory Extension
System. Farmers’ group formation accompanies the reform process. This paper analyzes and discusses
how the newly adopted system is structured and operates, the characteristics of extension services, and
the evaluation system employed in agricultural extension, and assesses the challenges and opportunities
associated with the system. Data are drawn from field research carried out in 2015/16 in two districts of
Southwestern Ethiopia. A mixed methods approach was employed, combining qualitative and
quantitative data-collection tools: household survey, expert and key informant interviews, Focus Group
Discussion (FGD), participant observation, and desk literature review. ATLAS.ti and SPSS were used for
data analysis. The findings show that, despite the reforms and a steadily increasing number of
development agents, the advisory service has not yet satisfied farmers’ demands. The formation of
farmers’ groups to increase extension coverage and promote collective action has limited effects and
lacks uniformity across study sites. High input and low output prices are the other limitations on
technology adoption and scaling-up. Despite the emerging opportunities, the agricultural extension
system is constrained by multiple challenges and often perceived as an extended arm of the state, and
less as a useful service provider. From the analyses, we identified a need to create a national strategy for
an agricultural extension system that gives space for pluralistic advisory services while still nurturing the
efficiency, effectiveness and inclusiveness of the public agricultural extension service. In addition, proper
decentralization needs to be promoted to improve participation and encourage all categories of farmers
to develop a sense of ownership and become beneficiaries of the agricultural extension system.