September 2015 Issue (VOL 44 NO 3)
Abstract: Food security is one of the main goals of rural poor people. To enhance food security in this context, participatory action research can help to ensure sustained success while considering entire food value chains (FVC). This paper assesses the feasibility and potential success of upgrading strategies (UPS) as well as their assessment criteria as developed by German and Tanzanian agricultural scientists. The results form part of a larger participatory research project conducted in two climatically representative regions of Tanzania: semi-arid Dodoma and subhumid Morogoro. This paper presents the findings with respect to food processing, waste management and bioenergy, along with income generation and market participation. Assessments on other components of the FVC, including natural resource management, crop production and consumption, are reported by Graef et al (2015). The assessments for food processing revealed preferences for preservation techniques, oil extraction processes and food storage devices for the semi-arid region. In contrast, in the subhumid region, the experts favoured food storage devices and preservation techniques. Assessments of waste management and bioenergy UPS for both regions indicated the importance of animal feed from crop residues, crop residues as mulch and compost from food waste, although with somewhat different priorities. Assessments on income generation and markets in both regions revealed preferences for savings and credit cooperatives and communication techniques, but also indicated that warehouse receipt systems and guarantee systems had a high impact. Assessments differed between the two different climatic regions, and to some extent also between the nationality of experts and their gender. The authors therefore attach importance to integrating different South–North and female–male awareness in assessments among scientists. Moreover, local and/or regional stakeholders and experts should be involved in developing site-adapted UPS for enhancing FVCs.
Abstract: Worldwide, table (fresh) and processing potatoes represent major marketing channels. In South Africa, uncertainties influence marketing and production decisions. Producers need to decide on the channel most suited to their needs based on its characteristics. A decision support system (DSS) developed in this study provides producers with relevant price-related information. It evaluates gross production values (GPVs), risk quantifications and utility weighted premiums for both channels. The processing market had the highest GPV in a cumulative distribution function. For South Africa, the processing market had the highest probability of better price based on price and yield risk. Stochastic efficiency with respect to a function (SERF) was used to calculate a utility break-even price, incorporating different risk aversion levels. A utility break-even price of R1,618/ton creates indifference between the two channels for a neutral risk-averse producer. The DSS provides a valuable tool for producers and processors and may be replicated for other commodities and global markets with similar challenges.
Abstract: This paper explores social accounting matrices (SAMs) using three country case studies (Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia). For each, the agri-food sector, trade negotiations with the European Union and associated challenges are first presented. The key sectors are then identified and analysed using the SimSip SAM tool (Parra and Wodon, 2009). Using sensitivity analysis, the implications of free trade for key sectors were analysed. By evaluating backward and forward linkages in the economy of each country, the most important sectors likely to take a lead role and become essential drivers of growth were identified. Due to strong backward relations and high labour intensity, some agricultural sectors have the potential to generate significant income, thus supporting economic growth.
Abstract: A common theoretical approach for understanding smallholder farmers’ choice of sales arrangements is transaction cost economics (TCE), which usually focuses on a single transaction. However, farmers produce different crops and participate in several value chains simultaneously. Based on two case studies in central Mozambique, the authors propose an analytical framework that pays attention to both the production and the transaction strategies of farmers. This Windmill Approach acknowledges that farmers decide on participating in various value chains on the basis of multiple objectives and aspirations. Farmers prioritize the allocation of available resources towards the sustainability of the whole farm. Policy to support smallholder farmers’ market access should not focus on single transactions, but on the combination of farming system and value chain costs and benefits.
Abstract: In the CAP reform 2014–2020, the ‘green’ component of direct payments remunerates environmental services and includes three greening requirements: crop diversification, maintenance of permanent grassland and establishment of an ecological focus area (EFA). This paper evaluates the effect of ‘greening’ and payment redistribution on farm incomes and land use, considering two different hypotheses of the EFA weighting factor (Ewf) for nitrogen-fixing crops. The evaluation is developed at farm level by a positive mathematical programming (PMP) model and applied to more than 2,000 farms in northern Italy. The results show that crop diversification will mainly affect the cereal area, with significant reductions in maize and wheat, while the EFA requirement, especially with the lower Ewf, will boost the spread of protein crops. Nevertheless, ‘greening’ does not significantly affect farm income, while greater economic effects are mainly due to the redistribution of direct payments.
Abstract: The aim of this study was to assess the profitability of extensive goat production through on- farm research. Eleven goat farms were used; purchased inputs and sales were recorded for two years and total gross margin was calculated, excluding family labour. Labour intensity and labour efficiency were compared. Univariate analyses and correlations were used to explain the producers’ profitability. All sources of income per farm were assessed, compared and contrasted with official poverty indexes. The area of land used for cultivation and grazing and producers’ knowledge of agriculture most limited productivity. The weakest producers were limited by these factors and earned a fifth of the regular per hour wage in the region. Management aspects determined profitability. Family labour-intensive producers were the most profitable. Business-oriented producers were more productive but less profitable. In the dry year, milk production per doe declined by 30%, external inputs doubled, and unwanted sales of animals increased; thus the gross margin per doe decreased by 10%. Goat husbandry is not a profitable activity since most of its profits only compensate the labour employed. In the Mexican highlands, non-farm income is necessary to avoid poverty; the main sources were government aid (29% on average) and remittances (25% on average).
Abstract: The start and duration of a drought are often not easy to define. The advance and onset are usually slow and the social and economic impacts can then extend over a long period. In this study, the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) was used to describe and compare droughts in different periods and regions under different climatic conditions. The importance of the index lies in its simplicity and in its ability to identify the beginning and end of a drought event. Thus it may be a useful tool for drought contingency planning. This paper examines the SPI by evaluating its application using historical precipitation data from nine weather stations in China. Different time series data covering the period 1980 to 2011 and for differing timescales of 3, 9 and 24 months were used. The results underline the potential of the SPI to inform drought alerts and forecasting efforts as part of a drought contingency planning strategy.
Abstract: The characteristics of gross grain output between 1949 and 2012 and the effects of different crops and production regions on fluctuations between 1978 and 2012 in China were analysed using empirical mode decomposition and variance decomposition methods. Grain output has shown a tendency to increase since 1970. Rice, wheat and corn were the primary crops contributing to gross grain output fluctuation, with rice playing the most significant role. The middle–lower reaches of the Yangtze River contributed most to output fluctuation, followed by the north-east and Huang-Huai-Hai regions. The findings provide important evidence concerning trends in grain production in China.