emkambo

How consumers use their buying patterns to signal priorities

As buying patterns signify ordinary people’s priorities, developing countries should invest more in finding pockets of opportunity from micro-markets than pursuing mega deals. In most African countries, much of the overlooked growth is within open food markets from which the majority get food and income. An outside observer may see open markets as chaotic economic[…]

emkambo

How capital determines the structure of agriculture and food systems in Africa

How capital determines the structure of agriculture and food systems in Africa Although finance will not solve all challenges facing developing countries, the structure of African agriculture is largely shaped by the way capital flows into this fundamental sector. In Zimbabwe, for instance, more than 55% of the entire capital devoted to agriculture goes to[…]

emkambo

Small consistent incomes are better than random high yields

Rural households that receive regular small incomes tend to have a better standard of living than those earning a once-off payment from a single commodity like cotton, cocoa or tobacco. Levels of malnutrition and poverty are often higher among communities that depend on high yielding monocrops than those surviving on diverse agricultural and non-agricultural activities.[…]

emkambo

Various shades of shrinkage and identity theft in the market

Every time farmers inquire about prices of commodities in the market they are often looking for the highest price. However, unless there are serious shortages, in both formal and informal markets, it is rare for farmers or suppliers to sell the entire consignment at the top price. In almost all agricultural commodities sold either through[…]

charles-dhewa

How marketing systems in developing countries penalize poor farmers

Whether it is potato production in the highlands of Rwanda, cassava production in Northern Mozambique or sweet potato production in Gokwe South district of Zimbabwe, the marketing season presents the same headaches for farmers. While production is now much easier, profitably moving commodities from farms to markets remains a nightmare that cannot be solved by[…]

charles-dhewa

Extent to which inherited knowledge systems are constraining African Imaginations

The introduction of exotic crops, fruits and livestock into Africa was initially guided and informed by the way indigenous crops, livestock and fruits performed in different micro climates. Unfortunately, instead of cultivating co-existence between exotic and indigenous foods, the colonial knowledge system has sought to completely replace indigenous crops, fruits and livestock with exotic food[…]

emkambo

The opportunity cost of industrialization in developing countries

The African spiny horned cucumber (pictured below) is abundant in Southern Africa this farming season. Like other natural crops, it does well in seasons characterized by global warming-induced drought such as the one ravaging Mozambique, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe this year. Replaced by the English cucumber, the African cucumber has been completely ignored[…]

emkambo

From academic and scientific research to commercial and social viability

When academic and scientific research came into African economies, communities were already surviving on Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS). In agriculture, for instance, a long tradition of seed selection, multiplication, retention and preservation exists up to today. Conservation Agriculture and other related forms of knowledge have also been part of community assets since time immemorial. The[…]

emkambo

How can developing countries build financial systems that work for the majority and for the environment

Not much research is needed to prove that financial systems in most developing countries do not work for the majority of people and for the environment. To the extent that financial systems are fundamentally urban ecosystems, more than 60% of the populations that live in rural areas are not part of mainstream financial systems. Where[…]

emkambo

What if policies are highly over-rated?

Policy makers in developing countries are often blamed for lacking the vision to craft appropriate agricultural policies that can guarantee food security and better standards of living for their people. While  good policies are considered magic bullets, there is no sufficient proof that countries that have developed their economies have done so through robust policies.[…]