The Policy Analysis Group (PAG)

PAG is an informal community of practice and voluntary group with members working on agricultural policy projects and initiatives, including NGOs, non-state actors, private sector, academia and think tanks. The group has over 20 members, of which ASPIRES is among. The group provides a platform for sharing information on policy research and activities to enhance coordination, collaboration and synergies. PAG also aims at ensuring consistency in policy messaging. Established in 2013, the Policy Analysis Group (PAG) responds to the need for a coordination platform for policy reforms.

PAG’s objectives are:

    • To create consistency in policy messaging,
    • To ensure alignment of policy projects towards a common goal,
    • To build local capacity in policy analysis for sustainability. 

PAG provides a platform for sharing information on policy research and activities. PAG members collaborate to ensure consistency in policy messaging based on PAG members’ comparative advantages in the implementation of agricultural policy activities in Tanzania.

As an outcome example, ASPIRES collaborated with AGRA, Africa Lead, PS3, and the Government of Tanzania (Ministry of Agriculture & President’s Office - Regional Administration and Local Government) to roll out the Capacity Building and Socialization workshops on the Agricultural Sector Development Program (ASDP II) which built the capacity of 960 LGA leadership individuals from across 184 LGAs, including 122 District Commissioners (DCs), 20 Regional Commissioners (RCs) and 24 Regional Administrative Secretaries (RASs).

The PAG also holds its flagship annual high level policy dialogue known as the Annual Agricultural Policy Conference (AAPC; see AAPC 2017). The Conference brings together key stakeholders working on agricultural policy projects and initiatives to share key empirical findings from ongoing research in the agricultural sector, and deliberate on the challenges, opportunities, emerging issues and potential areas for further collaboration.

PAG’s 20 members include:



Outcome Stories

A Policy Reform Boosts Business and Promotes Diversification: The E-Voucher Program in Zambia

''Evidence brought together by the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute, a think-tank supported in part by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy has persuaded the government of Zambia to revise the mode of delivering its Farmer Input Support Program (FISP) to an electronic voucher payment system (e-FSIP). The e-FISP has improved targeting and efficiency of this program, which includes flexibility to purchase agricultural inputs beyond maize seed and fertilizer, so farmers can purchase what they need most. It has also made the input sector more attractive to private investors, and helped agricultural diversification. FULL STORY


From Paper to Digital: E-Payment Benefits Tanzanian Local Governments and Taxpayers

''Tanzania’s Local Government Authorities (LGAs) had been using a paper and pen system to process taxes for years but it was very difficult to monitor the local tax collection. The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy’s Agricultural Sector Policy and Institutional Reform Strengthening (ASPIRES) recommended the government of Tanzania to implement an e-payment system. It has proven transparent, reliable, and more efficient for both the Local Government Authorities and the taxpayers. FULL STORY


How to Tell Fake from Real? Consequences of Rapid Herbicide Market Growth in Mali and West Africa

''Over the past decade, herbicide use has increased rapidly, in Mali and throughout West Africa, with many counterfeit products available. Recent research by the Feed the Future’s Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy’s (FSP) Mali Food Security Policy Research Program shows that out of 100 bottles of glyphosate herbicide purchased for laboratory testing, 40% turned out to be counterfeit or unregistered. No wonder farmers consistently report widely differing outcomes, even when they buy the same herbicide from the same supplier. Researchers from the FSP Mali team and the West Africa buy-in project are now working with the regional pesticide regulatory body, the Comité Sahélien des Pesticides (CSP), to identify the magnitude of the quality problem in the region, and seek potential policy solutions. FULL STORY


“Freedom of Crop Choice” Brings Prosperity to Myanmar’s Farmers

Until recently, the government of Myanmar, previously called Burma, forced all farmers with designated paddy land to grow only rice on these plots. The goal was to ensure national self-sufficiency in rice production. The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy in Myanmar has advocated for relaxing these restrictions, to allow farmers the freedom to farm whichever crops they prefer. The government was responsive to these messages, and lifted restrictions on the choice of field crops that could be grown on paddy land. Already, after only a couple of years of this policy reform, the freedom of crop choice has allowed farmers to earn more income by growing high demand crops such as mung beans. FULL STORY

Coffee Means Cash in Rwanda

''Coffee plays a central role for 355,000 rural households in Rwanda, and the cherry price can mean the difference between an unbreakable cycle of rural poverty and a country with thriving communities across all of its districts, not just the urban areas. The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy’s Africa Great Lakes Coffee Support Program (AGLC) provided the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) with findings that established the cost of production of coffee to farmers. These results served as a basis for a substantial adjustment in the national coffee floor price. FULL STORY


From Data Collection to Policy Implementation in Nigeria

To better understand how to maximize the potential of a cash crop such as rice, and to prioritize policy actions, data have been collected by the government agencies in Nigeria, but sound analysis of this data at the State level to guide policies has been lacking. In response to this capacity building need at local government level, Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy (FSP), Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project, has designed and offered a series of training workshops for state government staff. These resulted in the publication and dissemination of State Policy Notes to inform the government and executive policy makers. FULL STORY


Empowering an Agricultural Policy Research System: The Case of the Network of Local Centers of Expertise in Senegal

''Senegal has several excellent agricultural research institutions to inform and support policy. But these institutions have worked in isolation for decades, with little coordination and collaborations. The Feed the Future Senegal Agriculture Policy Project (PAPA) has transformed the way research to inform policy is done by creating the Local Analysis Network that regroups Senegal’s centers of expertise. This is the first analysis network in the sub region and, as defined in the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS), it is a new tool and concept central to support evidence-based policy making. FULL STORY


Red Cherries and Rwandan Farmers Who Do it Right

With coffee price increases, some farmers might be tempted to pick under-ripe cherries to boost their earnings. This behavior hurts farmers who bring only the perfect pick. Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy’s Africa Great Lakes Coffee Support Program (AGLC) offered support to the National Agricultural Export and Development Board (NAEB) in the form of data and research to help change policies and prevent this kind of “cheating,” at the expense of farmers who do it right. FULL STORY


State Policy Notes

Nigeria Ministry of Agriculture staff must provide robust scientific evidence to guide the Ministry’s policy making process. The Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project offers training and information workshops in economics research to strengthen and expand this staff’s skills and knowledge.

As a result of these workshops, the participants are producing technical notes on their specialized field of study. These are published as the Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project State Policy Notes series.

State Policy Note 1 - Yakubu Gorah, Elias A.G. Manza, Joseph Ationg and Danjuma B. Tyuka. May 2017. Promoting Soybean Productivity in Kaduna State: Linking Data and Policy

State Policy Note 2 - Bello Shehu and Abubakar Lolo. May 2017. Promoting Rice Productivity in Kebbi State: Linking Data and Policy

State Policy Note 3 - Jude Ekpu and John Chiwuzulum Odozi. May 2017. Promoting Maize Productivity in Edo State: Linking Data and Policy

State Policy Note 4 - Chukwuma Okereke, Okpani Ndukwe, Emmanuel Oroke and Onwe Peace. May 2017. Promoting Rice Productivity in Ebonyi State: Linking Data and Policy

State Policy Note 5 - Martina Ubi, C. E. Ofuka and Iknogha Odey. May 2017. Promoting Productivity in Rice Production in Cross River State: Linking Data and Policy

State Policy Note 6 - Samuel Adeogun, Ngozi Adeleye, Siraj Fashola, Evans Osabuohien. May 2017. Promoting Cassava Production in Ogun State: Linking Data and Policy

State Policy Note 7 - Stella Ovie Egedi And Johnson Nikoro. June 2017. Promoting Cassava Productivity in Delta State: Linking Data and Policy

State Policy Note 8 - Simon A. Ityo and Abayol Luper. June 2017. Promoting Cassava Productivity in Benue State: Linking Data and Policy

State Policy Note 9 - Mohammed Musa and Alhassan Umar. July 2017. Promoting Rice Productivity in Niger State: Linking Data and Policy

True or Not, So What?

#1 - Medium-scale farmers (5–20 ha) are the fastest growing segment of farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa.

#2 - Own production remains the dominant source of food consumption for nearly all African farmers.

#3 - The number of people employed in agriculture continues to rise across Africa.

#4 - Input subsidy programs hurt the potential for climate-smart agriculture.

#5 - Diet change towards purchased meats, oils, and processed food is occurring rapidly among the poor in both rural and urban areas of Africa.

#6 - Urban market demand for food exceeds rural market demand in all regions of Africa.

Zambia - FSP Research Papers

Zambia - Peer Reviewed Publications

Zambia - FSP Policy Research Briefs

West Africa Region - Peer Reviewed Publications

West Africa Region - FSP Research Papers

West Africa Region - FSP Policy Research Briefs

Tanzania - Policy Reform Briefs

Tanzania - FSP Research Papers

Tanzania - Peer Reviewed Publications

Tanzania - FSP Policy Research Briefs

Senegal - Peer Reviewed Publications

Senegal - FSP Research Papers

Senegal - FSP Policy Research Briefs

Myanmar - Research Highlights

Myanmar - Research Highlights

Nigeria - Highlights

Nigeria - Peer Reviewed Publications

Nigeria - FSP Research Papers

Nigeria - FSP Policy Research Briefs

Mali - Peer Reviewed Publications

Mali - FSP Research Papers

Mali - FSP Policy Research Briefs

Malawi - Peer Reviewed Publications

Malawi - FSP Research Papers

Malawi - FSP Policy Research Briefs

Myanmar - FSP Research Papers

Myanmar - Peer Reviewed Publications

Myanmar - FSP Policy Research Briefs

AGLC - Peer Reviewed Publications

AGLC - FSP Policy Research

AGLC - FSP Policy Research Briefs

Events - Training


National Fertiler Policy Writing Shop
October 16–20, 2017, Salima, Malawi


Farm Organization  Development Strategy (FODS) - Stakeholder Consultations
October 11–12, 2017, BICC, Lilongwe


Training on M&E
October 3–6, 2017, Linde Motel, Mponela, Malawi


Partial Equilibrium Training, September 25–29, 2017, Lilongwe, Malawi
The course includes hands-on application in partial equilibrium modelling and tools to faculty staff members and representatives of the ministry in order to increase exposure to this type of modelling and policy analysis.

Since 2015 Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy (FSP) has supported a training and capacity building initiative within the Regional Network of Agricultural Policy Research Institutes’ (ReNAPRI). Researchers from the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri and the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) at the University of Pretoria have led short, 5-day courses in partial equilibrium modelling for policy analysis in Morogoro, Tanzania in 2015, and in Maputo, Mozambique in 2016. The same team will led the upcoming Lilongwe training session.


Myanmar Aquaculture-Agriculture Survey: Results and Dissemination Workshop, June 30, 2017, Yangon, Myanmar

This workshop presented the results from a detailed study of aquaculture, agriculture and the rural economy in 40 villages in four townships in Yangon and Ayeyawaddy Regions. These results come to help with decision and the policy making process.

Media Training: “Journalism Ethics in Agriculture: Avoiding Fake News.” June 19–22, 2017, Sunbird Livingstonia Beach, Salima

In an effort to improve the quality of journalism and reporting of agricultural issues in Malawi, the Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Water Development (MoAIWD) offered another training workshop through the New Alliance Policy Acceleration Support (NAPAS) project: “Journalism Ethics in Agriculture: Avoiding Fake News.”


Initial Steps in Implementation of the Malawi Land Laws: Implications for Commercial Agriculture. May 8, Lilongwe, Malawi

This symposium will constitute a dialogue on the newly adopted Land Laws and what they entail for agriculture development in Malawi. The symposium will also provide information on the status of several New Alliance commitments that are related to land: 1) Identify land in phases, suitable for large scale commercial agriculture (10,000 ha/year from 2013) every year; 2) Enactment of the new Land Bill into law (which happened but now remains to be disseminated and implemented); 3) Introduction of agricultural zoning based on priority crops and growth.


Training Workshop for Staff of Ministries of Agriculture, March 7–8, Abuja, Nigeria

A workshop to improve data presentation and interpretation for policy analysis


Socialization and Capacity Building Workshop for Local Government Authorities, March 24–29, Morogoro, Tanzania

Tanzania is set for the second phase of the Agricultural Sector Development Program (ASDP 2), which will guide investment in the sector over the next ten years.  FSP ASPIRES has partnered with two Government of Tanzania Ministries (MALF and PO-RALG) and three USAID implementing institutions (Africa Lead, AGRA, and PS3) to support ASDP 2 initiatives through workshops. The next one is taking place in Morogoro, March 24–29.


Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Sustainability Summit, March 16–17, Lusaka, Zambia

The Summit focused on climate change adaptation and mitigation in relation to agriculture and food security. High profile personalities, policy makers and scientists from Zambia, the Region, and the international community met to learn and share research findings, highlight promising response strategies, and identify unresolved issues for future research and implementation. Summit Report.


Training Workshop for Staff of Ministries of Agriculture, March 7–8, Abuja, Nigeria

How to improve data presentation and interpretation for policy analysis


3rd Annual Agricultural Policy Conference, March 1–3, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Agriculture plays an important role in Tanzania’s economy, employing over 75 percent of the country’s workforce and accounting for 25 percent of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, existing challenges hinder the agriculture sector from reaching its fullest potential. These issues need to be addressed to create an enabling environment for an inclusive, broad-based, and sustained agricultural sector growth. The conference proposed solutions and explored agro-processing opportunities toward greater economic development.


Value Chain Concepts and Application Training at Ahmadu Bello University, Feb 20–21, Zaria, Nigeria

Faculty and young researchers were trained on the application of value chain concepts and analysis to Nigerian agriculture.


This page is dedicated to FSP’s principal investigators.
These are the various project indicators for reporting.

Indicator 1. Policy Papers:
Indicator 2. Datasets:
Indicator 3. Learning Forums:
Indicator 4. Policy Reviewed:
Indicator 5. Short-term training:
Indicator 6. Institutions benefiting:
Indicator 7. USAID unit benefiting:
Indicator 8. Private CSO organizations assisted:
Indicator 9. Public private consultations:
Indicator 10. Engagement event with ministry:
Indicator 11. Engagement event with parliament:
Indicator 12. Policy revised:
Indicator 13. Policy under approval:
Indicator 14. Policy approved:
Indicator 15. Policy implemented:
Indicator 16. Policy influenced:


These Backgrounders go with the policy advocacy roundtable series. These meetings facilitated an open, evidence-based dialogue engaging public and private stakeholders from the coffee sector.

Backgrounder 1: Policy Advocacy Roundtable on Farmer’s Access to Premiums

Backgrounder 2: Policy Advocacy Roundtable on Increasing the Proportion of Fully Washed Coffee

Backgrounder 3: Policy Advocacy Roundtable on Farmer Investments in Coffee

Backgrounder 4: How might we explore improvements to input delivery and antestia bug / Potato Taste Defect control?

Backgrounder 5: How might we improve access to pre-financing for cooperatives and coffee washing stations?

Backgrounder 6: How might we promote long-term sustainability in Rwanda’s coffee sector?

Backgrounder 7: How might we understand the effectiveness of Rwanda’s zoning policy in year 1?

Backgrounder 8: How might we explore improvements to input delivery and antestia bug / Potato Taste Defect control?

Backgrounder 9: What are the differences between male and female heads of household who produce coffee in Rwanda?

Backgrounder 10: How might we create systems that reward farmers for producing high quality coffee?

IAPRI Reports

Examples of Policy Research Support from IAPRI

Are Agricultural Subsidies Gender Sensitive? Heterogeneous Impacts of the Farmer Input Support Program in Zambia
Machina, H., Ngoma, H., Kuteya, A., Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) Working Paper 122, August 2017.
Smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa face several challenges including low productivity, food insecurity and low agricultural diversification, which contribute to high poverty. To address these challenges, governments in the region have been implementing agricultural subsidy programs to raise productivity and promote household food security, among other things. The subsidy programs have been associated with some positive impacts on productivity but not so much on stimulating overall agricultural growth and poverty reduction. In some instances, subsidies have been found to crowd out demand for commercial fertilizer. However, there is a dearth of empirical evidence on whether subsidies can reduce the gendered productivity gaps in agriculture. This paper contributes towards filling this gap. In particular, we assess the gendered impacts of receiving FISP on productivity and assess whether these impacts are heterogeneous between female- and male-managed plots. Unlike past studies done at household level, our analysis is at the plot level and distinguishes between male- and female-managed plots.

Land Institutions in Zambia: Evolution and the Determinants of the Extent of Land Titling
Paul C. Samboko, Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) Working Paper 122. August 2017.
This study sought to update the facts on the geography of land institutions in Zambia and identify the correlates of the intensity of land titling. Specifically, tracking (i) the rate and extent of conversion of land rights from customary to leasehold tenure and (ii) the extent of rural land documentation through chief certificates; also, assess the impact of land titling on crop incomes.

What Drives Conservation Agriculture Adoption among Smallholder Farmers in Zambia?
Olipa Zulu-Mbata, Antony Chapoto, and Munguzwe Hichaambwa, Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) Policy Brief No. 90. June 2017.
This paper investigates the determinants of Conservation Agriculture adoption in Zambia, and makes recommendations to support the adoption of such practice.

Do Crop Income Shocks Widen Disparities in Smallholder Agricultural Investments? Panel Survey Evidence from Zambia.
Yoko Kusunose, Nicole M Mason, and Solomon Tembo. Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) Working Paper No. 116. December 2016.
We investigate whether the effects of negative crop income shocks in one season persist in subsequent seasons due to reductions in crop inputs. If bad seasons cause household cash constraints to bind, and this results in the scaling back of the next season’s production, the next season’s crop income is also compromised, potentially creating a poverty trap. Troublingly, households most susceptible to such a poverty trap mechanism are likely to be those that rely the most on own-farm production and have the fewest sources of liquidity—in other words, the poorest.

Value Chain Analysis of Goats in Zambia: Challenges and Opportunities of Linking Smallholders to Markets.
Thelma Namonje-Kapembwa, Harrison Chiwawa, and Nicholas Sitko. Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) Working Paper No. 117. December 2016.
Zambia’s livestock sector plays a pivotal role in the socio-economic development of both the rural and urban population. Smallholder farmers, for the most part, dominate the sector, and at the household level, its role goes beyond the provision of food and nutrition in people’s diets, to act as a risk buffer by providing an alternative source of income in case of crop failure.

indicator submissions

Please use the links below to report your activity.

Indicator 1. Policy Papers - this information was already collected when you submitted your publications for web site posting.
Indicator 2. Datasets
Indicator 3. Learning Forums - this information was collected with each event slides submitted for web site posting. If you did not submit any slides, then please use this form to report your activity.
Indicator 4. Policy Reviewed
Indicator 5. Short-term training
Indicator 6. Institutions benefiting
Indicator 7. USAID unit benefiting
Indicator 8. Private CSO organizations assisted
Indicator 9. Public private consultations
Indicator 10. Engagement event with ministry
Indicator 11. Engagement event with parliament
Indicator 12. Policy revised
Indicator 13. Policy under approval
Indicator 14. Policy approved
Indicator 15. Policy implemented
Indicator 16. Policy influenced

Thank you!

Presentation submissions

Project Reports


Mid-term: Progress Versus Promises Presentation

Annual Reports (FSP core)

Year 1, July 2013–Sept. 2014
Year 2, Oct 2014–Sept. 2015
Year 3, Oct 2015–Sept. 2016

Semi-annual Reports (FSP core)

July 2013–March 2014
Oct. 2014–March 2015
Oct. 2015–March 2016
Oct. 2016–March 2017

Work Plans (FSP core)

Year 1, Nov 2013–Dec 2014
Year 2, Oct 2014–Dec 2015
Year 3, Oct 2015–Dec 2016
Year 4, Oct 2016–Sept 2017

Photo: Coffee farmer reading her cherry delivery tally (Photo: Ruth Ann Church)

Projet (FR)

Les activités de FSP pour la Région de l’Afrique de l’Ouest sont centrées autour de deux points d’intérêt particulier pour la Communauté Economique Des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (CEDEAO)[1] et USAID.

1. Apporter un appui au Secteur Agricole de la CEDEAO, par IFPRI et MSU.

En appui aux activités du Secteur Commun Agricole de la CEDEAO, MSU a preparé trois documents de synthèse sur l’évaluation de la situation régionale sur les regulations concernant les intrants, les semences et les pesticides. IFPRI est aussi en train de conduire des consultations régionales pour appuyer les évaluations du Secteur Commun au Cap Vert, en Guinée, Sierra Leone, Niger, et Libéria, et travaille à la validation de l’Atlas Electronique (eAtlas) en Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Nigéria, Sénégal et Togo.

2. Mise en place régionale inégale des régulations sur l’emploi des pesticides.

En réponse aux préoccupations exprimées par le Commissaire pour l’Agriculture de la CEDEAO, Monsieur Marc Atouga, à l’USAID/Afrique de l’Ouest concernant les differences entre pays dans la mise en place de régulations regionales sur l’emploi de pesticides, MSU, avec des partenaires locaux de la Région, conduit une série d’études de cas sur ce sujet. Les premiers résultats viennent de l’étude sur le Mali. 

Dès 1992, le Comité permanent Inter-Etats de Lutte contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel (CILSS) a mis en place des régulations régionales sur l’emploi des pesticides parmi ses neufs pays membres originels. Ces premiers efforts ont inspiré, motivé et servi de modèle pour étendre la mise en place de regulations sur l’emploi des pesticides aux zones costales humides de la CEDEAO.

Des enquêtes de terrain visant à identifier les facteurs clés qui favorisent et contraignent la mise en place nationale de régulations régionales, sont en cours en Gambie, au Sénégal, Mali, Guinée, Ghana et Nigéria. En plus de ces études de cas dans ces pays, l’équipe produit des brèves de synthèse qui mettent en avant les conclusions de ces recherches et font des recommandations pratiques pour des mises en place plus rapides et plus efficaces de régulations régionales sur les intrants, par les pays membres de la CEDEAO.


[1] La CEDEAO comprend 15 pays membres de la Région Ouest Africaine: Bénin, Burkina Faso, Cap Vert, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambie, Ghana, Guinée, Guinée Bissau, Libéria, Mali, Niger, Nigéria, Sénégal, Sierra Leoné et Togo. Ces pays ont des liens à la fois culturels et géopolitiques et partagent des intérêts économiques.

Publication submissions

Featured Stories








State Policy Notes




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''Malawi Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Water Development (MoAIWD) is leading many of the high-level policy reforms that the government of Malawi committed to in 2013 under the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Malawi. The New Alliance Policy Acceleration Support: Malawi project (NAPAS: Malawi) enables staff from the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy project (FSP) at Michigan State University to provide policy advisory support to MoAIWD to better enable the government of Malawi achieve these policy reforms.

FSP is an applied global agriculture and food security policy research project funded by the Bureau of Food Security of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Michigan State University, the International Food Policy Research Institute, the University of Pretoria, and AMG Global. Using additional financial resources provided by USAID/Malawi through the NAPAS: Malawi project, two FSP staff members – a Senior Policy Advisor and a Policy Analyst – have been placed within MoAIWD in its Department of Agricultural Planning Services (DAPS) to work for three years, starting from November 2014 to November 2017.

The twin objectives of the NAPAS: Malawi project are to improve the agriculture investment climate in Malawi and to enable increased commercialization of Malawi’s agricultural sector.

In order to enable substantial progress to be made towards these objectives, the project has three technical components:

    1. Provide technical support for policy formulation;
    2. Engage in communication activities to inform debate on agriculture and food security policy issues; and
    3. Address gaps in analytical expertise constraining agricultural policy reform

1. Policy Formulation
NAPAS: Malawi staff supports MoAIWD to address those New Alliance policy reform commitments for which the Ministry is responsible that primarily involve policy definition and strategy development. Many of these are efforts to increase levels of private sector investment and agricultural commercialization. The advisors participate in the Ministry’s efforts to advance policy processes to achieve these commitments, both at an intellectual level, by contributing insights from theory and models from elsewhere, and at a practical level, by participating in the drafting of policy, strategy, and position papers and by attending meetings across sectors and with all stakeholders to build consensus on the policy changes required and the action needed.

2. Policy Communication
Project staff work with several institutions involved in agricultural policy processes in Malawi to increase the number of informed actors engaged in policy deliberations through targeted policy communication efforts. NAPAS: Malawi mostly supported other stakeholders to lead conferences and workshops but in the past year has led several conferences/workshops including the Malawi National Land Symposium and the Agriculture Policy and Institutional Strengthening workshop, and has produced several policy reports and briefs.

3. Capacity Strengthening
The NAPAS:Malawi staff strengthens the analytical capacity of policy analysts within DAPS and other agricultural policy research institutions in Malawi. Insufficient policy analysis expertise can significantly hamper the realization of New Alliance policy reform commitments due to an absence of objective evidence on the best policy direction to take, lowering the quality of discussion in agricultural policy reform processes. Where additional evidence will strengthen political will or promote buy-in from stakeholders, NAPAS: Malawi advisors will carry out targeted policy analysis jointly with relevant individuals within DAPS and with Malawian academic institutions and civil society organizations in the sector. These joint efforts will be done to build their skills in policy analysis and to effectively communicate the analytical results for application. When appropriate, short-term training courses are held, particularly on analytical methods, bugheting, and on dimensions of effective policy communication.

Download Malawi Project Brochure


Videos & Audios

Project (EN)

FSP activities under this project focus on two key areas of interest to ECOWAS [1] and USAID:

1. Support for ECOWAS Joint Sector Review (JSR) process, by IFPRI and MSU
In support of the ECOWAS JSR process, MSU has prepared a series of three overview documents assessing the current state of regional fertilizer, seed and pesticide policies, while IFPRI is currently conducting a series of regional consultations to support JSR assessments in Cape Verde, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Niger and Liberia and Electronic Atlas (eAtlas) validation for Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo.

2. Uneven implementation of regional pesticide policies
In response to concerns expressed by ECOWAS Agricultural Commissioner Marc Atouga, to USAID/WA, about uneven rates of country implementation of regional policies, MSU and local partners in the region are currently conducting a series of case studies of uneven implementation of regional pesticide policies. First results from Mali are available here.

As early as 1992, Permanent Interstates Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) introduced regional pesticide regulations among its 9 original member countries. These early efforts have served as inspiration, motivation and as a model for the expanding regional pesticide regulations to the humid coastal countries of the ECOWAS region. Ongoing pesticide field studies in Gambia, Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Ghana and Nigeria aim identify key factors favoring and constraining national implementation of regional policies. In addition to the country case studies, the team will produce a synthesis brief outlining the key conclusions and practical recommendations for faster and more effective country implementation of ECOWAS regional input policies.


[1] The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is made up of fifteen member countries that are located in the Western African region: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. These countries have both cultural and geopolitical ties and shared common economic interest.

Projet (FR)

''L’agriculture, qui est un secteur économique stratégique du Mali, est à la base de la stratégie nationale pour la sécurité alimentaire et la réduction de la pauvreté. La promotion de politiques qui augmentent la production agricole, améliorent la qualité nutritionnelle et la résilience des moyens de subsistance est au coeur de ce projet. Ce programme vise particulièrement à identifier et à répondre aux lacunes dans l’analyse des priorités politiques, tout en développant, à long terme, les ressources locales pour la recherche sur les politiques alimentaires et agricoles. Le projet promeut les collaborations de recherche avec des partenaires locaux.

Les domaines politiques prioritaires sont : les intrants agricoles, les investissements agricoles et agro-industriels, la terre et les ressources naturelles, le commerce agricole, le genre et les jeunes (thèmes transversaux).

Afin de développer la capacité locale en matière de recherche sur les politiques, les professeurs et le personnel de MSU sont impliqués dans des activités de recherche collaborative et de formation de courte durée avec des collègues et des étudiants de plusieurs institutions maliennes. Les activités de recherche collaborative incluent des enquêtes auprès des fermiers, des commerçants et des décideurs politiques. Les résultats empiriques qui affectent les décisions politiques sur des points clés de la sécurité alimentaire et de l’agriculture sont disséminés à travers des ateliers de travail, des présentations professionnelles, des séances villageoises, ainsi que dans les medias.

Carte montrant les régions où FSP travaille au Mali
Photo: Participants à une restitution de travaux sur l’intensification agricole auprès de villageois (credit: Naman Keita)

Examples & outputs

of activities and topics covered under C1 and C2

''West Africa:

Mechanization of Agriculture in Malawi


Eastern and Southern Africa:

  • Research and analytical support to Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia
  • Capacity building in Partial Equilibrium modeling and crop outlook forecasting—Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi
  • Institutional architecture assessment to focus on policy gaps
  • The economics and political economy of local government authority (LGA) levies in Tanzania
  • Journalists training on food, agriculture, and nutrition policy issues in Malawi and South Africa (see also a report on IFPRI’s website)
  • Training and capacity building of national statistical agency
  • Support to the Malawi Department of Land Resources and Conservation in developing crop suitability maps
  • Stakeholder assessment of the agriculture and food security policy processes in Malawi
  • Capacity building support to IAPRI, Zambia (see an example of an IAPRI publication reflecting this support, and the capacity building workshop on using economic household models - Part 1 and Part 2)


 Photo: Motorized plough in Malawi




Examples & outputs

of activities and topics covered under C4a

''Fertilizer Policy
FSP/C4a team has finished a major study on input subsidy programs and the need for a more holistic farm productivity growth strategy that focuses on the need for soil fertility improvements, sustainable land management, and bi-directional extension learning programs to enable farmers to use fertilizer more efficiently and profitably. Based on this new study, the team has undertaken a number of policy engagement activities in Africa with national governments (e.g., Kenya, Malawi, Zambia) and at regional fora such as the AGRF which assembled over 1,000 African policymakers, government representatives and members of development organizations.

Holistic Sustainable Intensification Strategy for Smallholder Farmers in Increasingly Densely Populated Areas of Africa
FSP has finished a study on strategies for promoting sustainable agricultural intensification and productivity growth. Based on this new study, we have undertaken a number of policy engagement activities in 2016 in Africa, internationally, and at regional fora such as the AGRF.

Land Dynamics and Land Policy 
FSP/C4a team has developed a strong global analytical base for formulating land allocation and land tenure policies in Africa. Research and policy engagement in this area has:

    • Conducted multi-country studies on the relationship between farm scale and farm productivity involving a strong team of local and international researchers in Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, and Zambia.
    • Conducted numerous policy engagement and outreach activities in Africa, with national governments, policy conferences, government retreats, and seminars.
    • Formalized partnership with the African Union-Land Policy Institute to work collaboratively on monitoring and evaluation of land governance policies in selected African countries and areas of capacity building following the NELGA initiative.
    • Generated empirical evidences from several African countries that show:
      • the rise of medium-scale farms, the causes and consequences of this development, and policy options that African governments may want to consider (see for example, the study by Jayne et al. and featured story.)
      • the status quo (in terms of the customary tenure arrangements) is no longer an option as social, economic and climatic transformations/dynamics erode the tenure security the traditional system used to guarantee. Differential analysis shows that the adverse tenure security effect of such transformations/dynamics is critical to female, migrant and younger member of a community. (See the study on customary tenure in Mozambique).
    • Created awareness about the new reforms, regulations, process and procedures concerning land governance that dictate tenure security and the consequential intra-household power relations and welfare outcomes of interventions and initiatives to protect land governance (see the example of the study in Ghana and Ethiopia). New programs in Mozambique, Nigeria and Ethiopia now consider public sensitization as integral part of their land administration interventions

Mechanization in Agricultural Transformation: SouthSouth Learning and Knowledge Exchange:
This activity is designed to offer African stakeholders and the governments the insights about the economic conditions for promoting growths in the demand for mechanization, and how proper regulations and policies may help such growth, and the role of the private sector to meet such demand. To this effects, study tours have been conducted for African government officials from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia to visit Bangladesh and learn from its experience as part of the South-South knowledge exchange (see Policy Research Briefs 11 and 12) summarizing the perspectives and observations by African visitors.

Exploring the Relationships between Agricultural Transformation and Youth Employment in Africa’s Economic Transformation. Research undertaken under this topic is designed to create a better understanding of how Africa’s economies and employment patterns are changing, and to meet the demand for better evidence base to project future trends and develop policy options. Several major publications in Foreign Affairs, The Conversation, AgYEES Youth Report, the 2016 AGRA Status Report, and Agricultural Economics highlight why it is critically important for African governments to make agriculture more attractive to Africa’s rural youth. Possible strategies for African governments and development agencies are proposed to achieve this objective.

Photo: Agriculture intensification in Africa (credit: Thomas Jayne)

Key messages

  • ''Agricultural productivity growth is at the heart of Africa’s economic transformation, and investing in Africa’s economic growth is in the United States’ national interest.
  • Even with strong agricultural productivity growth, sub-Saharan Africa will be increasingly dependent on world markets for staple grains and oilseeds due to rapid population growth.  Income growth will further increase Africa’s reliance on world markets for commodities such as wheat, rice and soybeans.
  • Young people between 15 and 34 years of age account for roughly 60% of Africa’s labor force. The agri-food system is a major source of employment for this young population.
  • Exploiting win-win opportunities for the US and Africa will require sustainable building of African public and private sector organizations that support African farmers:  universities, training colleges, vocational schools, national research and extensions systems, and policy analysis units.
  • US assistance should emphasize long-term capacity building support to these African institutions. US development assistance can most effectively build African capacity and support economic development in Africa by shifting their role from providing the technologies, services, and answers themselves to helping African institutions to do so.


Examples & outputs of activities and topics covered under C4b

While continental trends are clear, there exists an extremely weak knowledge-base at country-level on who (local firms, regional firms, multi-nationals) is producing what products, where (in urban areas, peri-urban, nearby rural, or distant rural), and how (with what technology and at what scale). Even less is known about how this mix of who / what / where / how has evolved in recent years, how it is likely to change in the coming five to ten years, and what this implies about needed public policy and investment. These information gaps make it difficult to determine what steps government and development agencies need to take to ensure robust and equitable growth in this sector that serves the needs of consumers for a safe, nutritious, and high quality food supply while assisting local entrepreneurs to respond vigorously and competitively to these opportunities.

Work described below is designed to begin filling these gaps in five countries of Africa: Senegal, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Mozambique. The work features a combination (with different relative emphases depending on the country), of processed food mapping at retail, and selection of one value chain that features substantial processing for more in-depth study.

Value chain analysis:
The FSP C 4b team has undertaken grain processing value chain studies in Tanzania and Mozambique, millet and sorghum value chain analysis in Senegal, teff value chain analysis in Ethiopia, and poultry sub-sector study and FSP Research Paper 22 in Nigeria. The analyses are based on conducting surveys of key players along the value chain, such as processors and retailers.  

Building inventories of processed foods:
Such inventories have been developed for major cities in Tanzania and Nigeria.
“Stages of Transformation in Food Processing and Marketing: Results of an Initial Inventory of Processed Food Products in Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Mwanza.” Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research Brief 8

Analysis of secondary data, to examine the trends in food production, trade and consumption patterns.
“Gendering Malawi’s National Nutrition Policy using the integrated framework for gender analysis in nutrition policy.” Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research Brief 18.

Policy engagement and outreach:
The team actively participates in various national, regional and global events to disseminate the insights gained from this stream of research to policy makers, donors, private sector partners, CSOs and other stakeholders. Such engagements are focused on sharing policy implications of changes occurring at midstream and downstream and how the agrifood system fits into the broader industrialization strategies of many countries.
FSP PowerPoint Presentations

Key messages

  1. A diet transformation on the demand side, towards non-cereal foods, fresh foods (both animal and vegetable/fruit) processed foods, and food away from home, all increasingly sourced (even in rural areas) through markets. 
  2. A quiet revolution on the supply side in the wholesaling, processing, and logistical operations between farming and retailing.  
  3. The primacy of domestic food value chains – in most countries, food import bills amount to only about 10% of total food consumption. While imports are higher in urban areas (about 20%), in most urban areas of Africa their share does not rise with incomes.  
  4. The primacy of urban demand, especially in secondary and tertiary cities. Most food is flowing in rural-urban supply chains to urban areas that now are the majority of food markets.
  5. But there is also a reverse flow of processed foods from urban- to rural areas: About half of food consumption in rural areas is now sourced through markets.  
  6. These findings have major implications for employment: The specific implications, however, depend critically on the size distribution of the firms that capture growing demand. Policies that help micro firms grow in size, and that favor competitive response by small and medium-size firms, can generate substantial employment within the hidden middle. On the other hand, policies that favor consolidation into fewer, larger firms will result in less employment growth from this quiet revolution. Because women play major roles in most food processing and food away from home, pro-employment policies in this area will favor gender equity. 

See featured story: Surprising facts about Africa’s rapidly expanding middle class” by David Tschirley

Photo: Bamako, Mali, street scene

C4b. Downstream Global Research Policy

''Engagement in Global Research-Policy Debates

C4 work addresses the entire agrifood system, including “upstream” policy issues that affect on-farm production and practices (C4a), and “downstream” policy issues that affect players along the value chain, from the farmgate to the plate (C4b).

C4b: Agrifood System Transformation in the Downstream and Implications for Linkages to the Upstream

Research and engagement work under this component is focused on documenting the rapid changes underway in agrifood systems, and helping policy-makers design programs and policies that promote rapid but equitable growth in the systems. Key drivers of this transformation are rapid growth in per capita incomes and urbanization. These drivers result in the rapid rise in demand for food through markets as opposed to own production, and the rising demand for processed and perishable foods as opposed to grains and staple root crops.

The combination of these forces is creating enormous agribusiness opportunities for local entrepreneurs, which promise to make important contributions to continued growth and to employment. Thus, a special focus of work in this sub-component is on the challenges to promoting the ability of small- and medium-size food processing firms to compete in local and regional markets. This competitiveness will depend on the overall enabling environment within which these firms operate. Thus policies and programs that promote such enabling environment in the “downstream” are immensely important in promoting the agrifood system transformation.



''FSP policy research addresses four cross-cutting themes particularly relevant to food security:

Photo: Vegetable retailing, Sikasso, Mali (credit: Steven Haggblade)

Project Components

Field in ZambiaFSP tackles five specific problems that must be addressed in order to ensure sustainable agricultural growth and improved nutritional status of men, women and children:

1.  Inadequate farm, firm, and market information that leads to ill-informed policy making.
2. Weak food security policy capacity in government, private sector, civil society, and academia that results in unsustainable program and policy responses, exemplified by the recent return in some countries to the food self-sufficiency programs that proved so costly in the 1980s.
3. Governments and policy makers have inadequate understanding of the most effective food security policy institutional and consultative arrangements.
4. Major global policy discussions and decisions are not grounded on solid farm, firm, and market information and analysis.
5. The donor community lacks access to up­ to-date information related to food security policy and long-term and strategic analysis looking toward the future. Strengthening policy systems at the country level is the foundation for resolving these problems.

Accordingly, FSP activity implementation is organized under five interrelated components:**

Component 1:
Field-Level Collaborative Research (on Farms, Firms, and Markets) and Formulation/Analysis of Policy Options

Component 2:
Capacity-Building for Policy (Data, Analysis, Advocacy, Formulation, Consultation, Coordination, and Implementation)

Component 3:

Global Collaborative Research on Support to the Policy Process and Policy Capacity

Component 4:
Engagement in Global Policy Debates on Food Security
C 4a: Upstream
C 4b: Downstream

Component 5:

Strategic Analytical Agenda and Support to Donor Policy and Strategy


** I
n most cases, the same staff, resources and actions working on field-level research and policy analysis undertake this work in ways that intentionally build capacity, so the first two components are lumped together for organizational purposes.

Photo: Field in Zambia (credit: Nicholas Sitko)



''FSP activities in Zambia are focused on capacity building and technical support for policy system strengthening and agricultural policy research, following the end of the third phase of the Food Security Research Project (FSRP III). FSRP III created the Zambia’s first think tank dedicated to agricultural policy research and outreach, the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI), and supported its institutional capacity development over the period 2012-2016.

Year Three FSP activities in Zambia will be carried out in support of IAPRI’s research, outreach and capacity building activities, and to undertake work that supports sustainable improvements in policy systems for agriculture.


Photo: Farmer family in Zambia (credit: Nicholas Sitko)


Policy Tools




Project Leader:
Thomas S. Jayne, Principal Investigator, University Foundation Professor, MSU

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