March 2013 Volume 42 Number 1
5 Guest Editorial: Zoonoses – designing a research programme to bridge multisectoral barriers
Abstract: Complex systems involve a number of interconnected entities, which collectively exhibit emergence and behaviour that cannot be explained by merely studying the individual entities. Agri-industrial systems, such as sugarcane production, are generally complex due to the presence of many autonomous stakeholders operating under diverse conditions, and may therefore contain varying perspectives and interests. The identification of problems and opportunities in such systems requires an approach that will, as far as possible, consider the entire system and how individual entities interact. Network analyses have the capacity to describe a complex system, depicting these interactions. In addition, graph theory approaches can help to identify key points in the system where there are opportunities for improvement. This paper presents a methodology to assist researchers to make sense of complex matters in an agri-industrial context. In the South African sugar industry, it can be argued that systemic inefficiencies in the supply chain reduce optimum performance. Research conducted in two large milling areas is used to develop and demonstrate the use of network approaches to analyse supply chains and identify opportunities for improvement. The research developed two types of map: system domain networks and theme networks, which are found to be appropriate for drawing a first set of conclusions concerning a relatively unfamiliar complex system. Although the paper focuses on sugarcane, there is significant scope to apply these techniques across a broader spectrum of agri-industrial sectors.
Abstract: Insecure rural regions, where local government and international agriculture development personnel are targeted by insurgents, are a growing threat to world security. This study evaluates agricultural outreach programmes in the Khost, Paktika and Paktya provinces of Afghanistan, a region characterized by limited functionality of government and traditional agricultural institutions, along with ongoing insurgency. International personnel either hired Afghan agricultural agents directly or, where applicable, supported local government personnel. Afghan agricultural agents used training and outreach techniques that circumvented location-specific barriers to security and accessibility, assessed agricultural community needs and lobbied international personnel in response to farmer requests. During interviews, international personnel emphasized training and institution building, while Afghan agents focused on material and infrastructure needs. Poor security limited communication between stakeholders and decision makers, and differences in perceived development objectives among Afghan agents and international personnel challenged programmatic success. The study concludes that these challenges should be taken into account when planning similar programmes wherever systematic violence threatens traditional agricultural development.
Abstract: This paper identifies and analyses the role of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in affecting the spatial location of agricultural activities in an area of northern Italy. The study is based on survey data (300 observations) regarding the stated intentions of farm households under two CAP scenarios, and uses statistical analysis to identify the potential determinants of different farm reactions, using explicit spatial information (altitude, Less Favoured Area status, agrarian regions). The study demonstrates the relevance of explicitly addressing the differentiated spatial effect of the CAP on different dimensions of agricultural activities. However, the work also highlights the limitations of such a location-based analysis compared with both non-spatial variables and more ‘functional’ spatial variables.
Abstract: This paper presents an analysis of the impact of different direct payment policy scenarios on agricultural markets for 10 new EU member states (NMS). The study is based on the AGMEMOD EU-27 dynamic econometric partial equilibrium models. The baseline scenario assumes the preservation of current policy, which would lead to further growth in production for most agricultural markets, resulting from accelerated technological development and the opportunities provided by the EU common market. The only exceptions are the dairy and beef sectors, in which NMS would face a reduction in competitiveness. According to model simulations, reducing the level of payments or abolishing them entirely would not result in any dramatic medium-term changes to agricultural markets in NMS by 2020, which could serve as an argument for supporting future CAP reform.
Abstract: Organic farming has grown rapidly in the European Union (EU) due to a rising demand for high-quality food, increased environmental concerns and market developments that led to the implementation of an organic policy and the creation of a positive institutional framework. Nevertheless, the production of organic fruit, including cherries, is still limited within the EU, despite high demand. Farmers generally adopt organic farming systems only if the support provided by the existing policy regime outweighs the increased risk and uncertainty. This study explores the effectiveness of current policy measures for the production of organic cherries in Greece using a real options methodology. The results reveal that the economic incentives provided by the existing policy regime contribute to profitability and compensate for the risk and uncertainty that organic cherry farmers face, although further institutional support is still needed.
Abstract: Agriculture is the cornerstone of Rwanda’s economy. The authors review how the sector has changed and specifically what soil management practices are now being implemented to enhance coffee production. Coffee covers around 2.3% of total cultivated arable land, and is grown mainly by smallholder farmers on plots of less than one hectare. Rwanda produces high-quality speciality or fully washed coffee, which is intercropped with annual crops due to land scarcity to enable farmers to achieve a better combination of food and cash crops. Most of the agricultural soils have a pH of less than 5.2 and are highly deficient in phosphorus. Reduced land fragmentation, increased organic and inorganic fertilizer applications and mulching are all needed to boost yields. These practices will also help to improve the soils’ chemical and physical properties and control erosion on the steep cultivated slopes.
Abstract: Livestock farming is one of the most important subsectors of the agricultural economy of developing nations. In Africa, mobile livestock keeping (MLK), or pastoralism, is crucial for rural livelihoods and food security, especially in the arid zones of the continent. With rapid urbanization and population growth, the demand for livestock products far outstrips supply. Climate change will exacerbate the situation because it will affect livestock production systems, and vice versa. This paper reviews the complex interaction between MLK and climate change, and proposes strategies to help sustain MLK as a key feature of rural livelihoods in Africa.
Abstract: The concept and process of the empowerment of women encompass a wide range of actions and issues, among them enhancing awareness and increasing access to economic, social and political resources. The organization of women into groups is a key element of the process of empowerment, as groups provide a basis for solidarity, strength and collective action. In this context, a study was conducted in the Madurai district of Tamil Nadu to assess the impact of self-help groups (SHGs) led by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the empowerment of rural women. The effectiveness of such groups was measured using Bennett’s Hierarchy. Following multi-stage random sampling, data were collected from 180 SHG members of the most prominent NGO, the Association of Sarva Seva Farms (ASSEFA). The authors’ analysis shows that the SHG members were more empowered psychologically, socially, economically and politically than other women.
Abstract: This paper assesses the effectiveness of India’s Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) through a study of the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra state and the Dahod district of Gujarat state. Fifty ATMA farmers and fifty non-ATMA farmers were randomly selected from each district. In Ahmednagar, the beneficiary farmers recorded a high increase in yield, returns and income from their wheat crop, and thus there was a high effectiveness index compared with that of the non-beneficiary farmers. In Dahod, where ATMA had been operational for a shorter time, there was a very low increase in yield, returns and income for the maize crop of beneficiary farmers, and thus the effectiveness index of ATMA was low. The authors assess the programme in the light of such findings and offer recommendations for future extension strategies.