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Applying a Systems
Framework to Research on
African Farming Systems
CRP1.1 Regional Inception Workshop East and
Southern Africa
5-7 June 2012
Expanding Global Agendas
and Increasing Demands on
Agricultural Research
 Global food security under increasing
land and water constraints
 Provision of ecosystem services and
eco-efficiency of farming systems
 Adaptation and mitigation to climate
change
 Agroecological intensification of
smallholder agriculture and poverty
Changing Research Methods
and Technology Design
Production systems research
Integrating ecological science
Place-based research methods
Research consortia
Scaling up integrated into research
design
 Flexible institutional arrangements





Design Issues in Production System
CGIAR Research Programs
 Target Area Selection
 Research Site Selection
-Target area characterization
-Research hypotheses
-Methodology for research site selection
-Baseline and monitoring of system change
 Methods for Research on Farming Systems
Developing the Science of
System Intensification
Data and Analytics for:
 Characterization and targeting
 Extrapolation
 Baseline and monitoring
 Causal relationships
-System change
-Comparative frameworks
Design Characteristics for Analyzing
African Farming Systems
 Heterogeneity: system boundaries and
classification strata
-Spatial Characterization
-Within site household stratification
 System Change and Dynamics: drivers
and intensification pathways
 Embeddedness: landscape,
market/sub-sector, agricultural sector
Livelihood
strategies
Key variables
INSTITUTIONAL
MANAGEMENT
ENDOGENOUS
Livelihood
Capitals
EXOGENOUS
Implementation
programs
Institutions and
policy network
Spatial Scale
Structure of Farm/Household
System
 Asset base: five capitals
 Production activities
 Household objectives:
-Subsistence/food security
-Risk management
-Income
Within site variability: typologies
System Boundaries and
Classification Frameworks
Hierarchical Classification
 Land use: Cultivated land within
managed natural ecosystems
 First order spatial classification
-Agroecology: eg semi-arid, highlands
-Crop-livestock interaction: eg pastoral
 Staple food crop: spatially contiguous?
 Sub-system speciation
System Speciation
East African Highland Banana Systems
Utilization
 Matoke: Uganda
 Beer bananas: Rwanda and Burundi
 Enset: Ethiopia
Crop Management
 Commercial: southwest Uganda
 Soil fertility constrained: Bukoba
System Variation and System
Performance
System Performance
-Productivity, profitability, income
-Vulnerability, food security
-Resource efficiency, resilience
System Variation
-Spatial/causal comparative frameworks
-Within-site socio-economic variation
Drivers of System Change
 Rural population growth
-Declining farm size
-Increasing inequity in farm distribution
-Pressure on common resources and
natural capital
 Improvements in Market Access
-Transaction costs and input/output
-Staple terms of trade
 Changes in agroecology from climate
change or biotic pandemics
Relative Prices and Marginal
Returns to Nitrogen Application
Marginal Return
(kg)
Relative Price
Kenya: HYV Maize
19.9
16.0
Kenya: Recycled Maize
16.1
16.0
Uganda: HYV Maize
25.0
33.7
Uganda: Recycled Maize
25.2
33.7
Pathways of System Change
 Intensification of existing production
patterns: sustainable and unsustainable
 Diversification of production
 Expanded farm size or herd size: high vs
low population densities
 Increased off-farm income: expanding
non-farm rural economy vs transfers
 Exit from agriculture
East Africa: Average Farm
Income, 2004-06
Kenya
Uganda
Ethiopia
367
154
94
% Crop Income
36
64
53
% Livestock Income
24
13
34
% Non Farm Income
42
29
12
Per Capita Income
Kenya: Crop Diversification
Indices by Zone
Markets as a Driver of Farming
System Evolution
Stage in Farming
System Evolution
Farmer Objective
Principal Driver
Static Equilibrium
Subsistence Dominates
Rural Population Growth
Diversification
Both Income and
Subsistence
<Shifting Farm Gate
Terms of Trade
<Staple Food
Productivity
Specialization
Income Dominates
<Price Signals in Efficient
Markets
<Regional Competition
and Comparative
Advantage