Topic: food and agriculture

What can DFID learn from Chinese and Brazilian aid programmes?

IDS researcher Henry Tugendhat (right) wonders whether UK aid is following in the path of China and Brazil Two weeks ago at the London Stock Exchange, Justine Greening announced her new policy of supporting UK businesses to invest in developing economies for the mutual benefit of both sides. According to the UK’s Secretary of State […]

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Strikes, Spookytown, and a traumatic exit from feudalism: Women on Farms in South Africa

Managed to squeeze at least one day away from offices and lecture theatres in South Africa last week. In this case a road trip with Women on Farms, an Oxfam partner led by the charismatic Colette Solomon (right), IDS PhD turned grassroots activist. In the Western Cape, scenic is an understatement: lush vineyards festooned with […]

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What’s the link between land grabs, trade rules and climate change? Good new briefing from Sophia Murphy

You can rely on Sophia Murphy for crisp, credible analyses of agricultural trade and food issues. Her latest paper, Land Grabs and Fragile Food Systems, is up to her usual standard. She locates the current row over land grabs in some broader debates that have rather fallen off the agenda, namely globalization and trade rules. […]

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Attack? Equivocate? Engage? How Big Food responds to a tough new campaign

Chris Jochnick, director of Oxfam America’s Private Sector Department (twitter: @cjochnick), reflects on the different corporate responses to our ‘Behind the Brands’ campaign launch Companies have had decades to hone their engagement strategies with activists, but still struggle to find the right approach.  Initial reactions to Oxfam’s Behind the Brand campaign offer an interesting case in […]

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If we can’t prove that speculation drives food prices, should we regulate it anyway?

One of my more wonk-mind-blowing moments last year was refereeing a debate about financial speculation and commodity prices between Oxfam’s Rob Nash and a UK Treasury wonk who wished to remain nameless. I couldn’t understand either of them (even by international development standards, the language is really weird – try ‘contango’ or ‘backwardation’).  I tried […]

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Beyond Horsegate: comparing the supply chains of the big 10 food companies

Erinch Sahan (right), a private sector policy advisor at Oxfam GB, introduces Behind the Brands, a big new report and company scorecard, launched today. So we didn’t know we were eating horses. What else don’t we know about the supply chains delivering our food? 18 months ago, Oxfam posed this question to the Big 10: […]

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Bad Governance leads to bad land deals – the link between politics and land grabs

Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva (right) and Marloes Nicholls (left) crunch the numbers to find that big land investments sniff out countries with ‘weak governance’ – aka no accountability, no regulation, no rule of law, and a green light for corruption. If you had bags full of money and wanted to buy land, where would you go for […]

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‘Technology Justice’ – what does it mean for how NGOs think about new and old tech in development? And would you like a job working on it?

I had an interesting exchange with Practical Action’s policy director, Astrid Walker Bourne (right) recently, about one of my (many) hobby horses – technology and its absence from the NGO agenda. Practical Action is trying to fill the gap with a work programme on ‘technology justice’, but a failed recruitment has got her thinking about […]

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Has Zimbabwe’s land reform actually been a success? A new book says yes.

I’ve never been to Zimbabwe, so tend to get my messages from the news coverage. On land issues, that means a picture of a predatory state driving white farmers off the land and handing it out to cronies and bogus war veterans, who fail to produce anything much in the way of crops. Zimbabwe Takes […]

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Launch of ‘If’ – new megacampaign to tackle global hunger: how does it compare with ‘Make Poverty History’?

Sorry for a second post in one day, but the launch of If is a biggie Ah the perils of age – am I becoming one of those annoying old guys who greets every new idea (however excellent) with a weary sigh and ‘we already did/discussed all that back in the 19XXs’? I ask because […]

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‘Resource Futures’: good new report on how to confront resource scarcity and conflict

Looks like this is going to be crystal ball week on the blog – must be the time of year. Just read Resource Futures from Chatham House (inventors of the ubiquitous Chatham House Rule). The analysis is pretty good, but it really raises the bar on communication, with great interactive infographics and killer facts. Advocacy […]

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Global Trends 2030: top report from US intelligence

My inbox regularly receives the latest ‘global trends 20XX’ reports from thinktanks and futurologists, and a lot of them are pretty bland, and the scenarios they describe threadbare and unconvincing. The new ‘Global Trends 2030’ report from the US National Intelligence Council shares the usual flaws on its scenarios, and is understandably US-centric (the NIC […]

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