How to move from ordinary to best agricultural practices

‘Best practice’ is not even a mouthful but what it means in practice remains unclear to many people who use the phrase. In African agriculture, it takes a lot for a farmer or trader to become a best practitioner.  Most value chain actors face challenges in identifying sufficient quality evidence that can be translated into[…]


Increasing odds of success through characterizing value chain actors

A fine-grained view of agricultural opportunities in most developing countries can result from better  characterization of value chain actors such as farmers. In addition to revealing interdependencies between value chain actors, a nuanced understanding of African agriculture can foster dynamic resource allocation. However, accurate farmer characterization remains a pain in the Palahuru for financiers and[…]


eMKambo Masterclasses – First Session

As agricultural niches become congested and highly competitive, evidence-based decision making has never been so important. It is against these trends that eMKambo (www.emkambo.co.zw) will be conducting a series of master classes to answer the following questions: How can farmers and other value chain actors set prices for their commodities without passing through a complex[…]


Overcoming the limitations of membership based organizations

Like other arrangements that make sense on the surface, African agriculture and rural development efforts are characterized by membership-based organizations. These range from farmer unions and diverse sizes of cooperatives to chambers of commerce. While coming together for collective bargaining purposes makes a lot of sense, members should be aware of several blind spots. After[…]


Responding to narrow margins and slow growth in African agriculture

The fact that African agriculture is beset by narrow margins and slow growth elevates the need to invest in data and evidence. People who get into agriculture expecting quick returns are often disappointed because African agriculture is no longer a one-step dance. Obsession with quick returns is one reason why opportunists tend to congest one[…]


How informal food markets disrupt and correct the notion of staple foods

For a very long time, each country has had what it considered a staple food for its citizens.  However, climate change, globalization and changes in consumption patterns are disrupting traditional staple foods. My word web describes staple food as a necessary commodity for which demand is constant. Rather than continue promoting a few staple commodities,[…]


Learning from Invisible CoPs: The role of informal actors and relationships in African food systems

Background Climate change-induced food insecurity and global socio-economic instability compels us to continuously revisit   food demand and supply models, especially in developing countries. Conventional approaches like the notion of formal value chains are no longer enough to fully understand food systems. In many African countries, it seems invisible Communities of Practice (CoPs) such as informal[…]


How market price is not a major determinant of profit in agribusiness

A keen interest by African farmers to know the price of commodities on the market is understandable. However, tracking activities in informal agricultural markets by eMKambo over the past few years has proved that price is not a major determinant of profit-making in agribusiness. Profit-making is a result of creatively managing production costs, quality, losses[…]