Remembering our roots: new books and resources


Photo by Danilo Rizzuti

Now going for close to four years, this blog began as a platform to allow us to continually update and review the content of One Billion Hungry: Can we feed the world? Between the publication of The Doubly Green Revolution and One Billion Hungry, the agricultural development and environmental landscape had changed so much that it was important to find a way to remain relevant in order to help to bring about the changes needed for a food secure world. As such we like to periodically bring you a selection of up-to-date, interesting and thought-provoking books and resources, and here are our picks for early 2016. If you know of any interesting or pertinent books or other materials we’d love to hear your suggestions.


Otsuka, K. and Larson, D.F. (Eds.) 2016. In Pursuit of an African Green Revolution. Views from Rice and Maize Farmers’ Fields. Springer.

This book explores recent experiences in trying to bring about a Green Revolution in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), focussing on rice and maize. Authors find that an African Rice Revolution has already begun in many irrigated areas, using Asian-type modern varieties, chemical fertilizer, and improved management practices. The same technological package significantly increases the productivity and profitability of rice farming in rainfed areas as well. By strengthening extension capacity and providing management training to smallholders, African governments can boost productivity and accelerate the pace of Africa’s Rice Revolution. The story for maize is quite different, however, where most farmers use local varieties, apply little chemical fertilizer, and obtain very low yields, and thus the success of Africa’s Maize Revolution will require a different approach based on hybrid maize, chemical and organic fertilizers, and stall-fed cross-bred cows.

Moseley, W.G., Schnurr, M.A. and Bezner-Kerr, R. (Eds.) 2016. Africa’s Green Revolution: Critical Perspectives on New Agricultural Technologies and Systems. Routledge.

This book examines the dominant neoliberal agenda for agricultural development and hunger alleviation in Africa. Authors review the history of African agricultural and food security policy in the post-colonial period, across a range of geographical contexts, in order to contextualise the productionist approach embedded in the much heralded New Green Revolution for Africa. This strategy, supported by a range of international agencies, promotes the use of hybrid seeds, fertilisers, and pesticides to boost crop production. This approach is underpinned by a new and unprecedented level of public–private partnerships as donors actively work to promote the private sector and build links between African farmers, input suppliers, agro-dealers, agro-processors, and retailers. The chapters in this volume raise serious questions about its effectiveness as a strategy for increasing food production and alleviating poverty across the continent.

Brautigam, D. 2016. Will Africa Feed China? OUP USA

Over the past decade, China’s meteoric rise on the continent has raised a drumbeat of alarm. China has 9 percent of the world’s arable land, 6 percent of its water, and over 20 percent of its people. Africa’s savannahs and river basins host the planet’s largest expanses of underutilized land and water. Few topics are as controversial and emotionally charged as the belief that the Chinese government is aggressively buying up huge tracts of prime African land to grow food to ship back to China. In Will Africa Feed China?, Deborah Brautigam, one of the world’s leading experts on China and Africa, probes the myths and realities behind the media headlines. Her careful research challenges the conventional wisdom; as she shows, Chinese farming investments are in fact surprisingly limited, and land acquisitions modest. Defying expectations, China actually exports more food to Africa than it imports. But is this picture likely to change?

Lumumba-Kasongo, T. (Ed.) 2015. Land Reforms and Natural Resource Conflicts in Africa: New Development Paradigms in the Era of Global Liberalization. Routledge.

This book is a critical examination of the place and role of land in Africa, the role of land in political formation and national identification, and the land as an economic resource within both national economic development and liberal globalization. Colonial and post-colonial conflicts have been rooted in four related claims: the struggle over scarce resources, especially access to land resources; abundance of natural resources mismanaged or appropriated by both the states, local power systems and multinationals; weak or absent articulated land tenure policies, leading to speculation or hybrid policy framework; and the imperatives of the global liberalization based on the free market principles to regulate the land question and mineral appropriation issue. The actualization of these combined claims have led to conflicts among ethnic groups or between them and governments. This book is not only about conflicts, but also about local policy achievements that have been produced on the land question. It provides a critical understanding of the forces and claims related to land tenure systems, as part of the state policy and its system of governance.

Shiva, V. 2016. Seed Sovereignty, Food Security: Women in the Vanguard of the Fight Against GMOs and Corporate Agriculture. Frog.

In this unique anthology, women from around the world write about the movement to change the current, industrial paradigm of how we grow our food. As seed keepers and food producers, as scientists, activists, and scholars, they are dedicated to renewing a food system that is better aligned with ecological processes as well as human health and global social justice. Seed Sovereignty, Food Security is an argument for just that–a reclaiming of traditional methods of agricultural practice in order to secure a healthy, nourishing future for all of us. Whether tackling the thorny question of GMO safety or criticizing the impact of big agribusiness on traditional communities, these women are in the vanguard of defending the right of people everywhere to practice local, biodiverse, and organic farming as an alternative to industrial agriculture.

Brownhill, L. and Njuguna, E. 2016. Food Security, Gender and Resilience: Improving Smallholder and Subsistence Farming. Earthscan.

Through the integration of gender analysis into resilience thinking, this book shares field-based research insights from a collaborative, integrated project aimed at improving food security in subsistence and smallholder agricultural systems. The scope of the book is both local and multi-scalar. The gendered resilience framework, illustrated here with detailed case studies from semi-arid Kenya, is shown to be suitable for use in analysis in other geographic regions and across disciplines. The book examines the importance of gender equity to the strengthening of socio-ecological resilience. Case studies reflect multidisciplinary perspectives and focus on a range of issues, from microfinance to informal seed systems. 


Green, H., Broun, P., Cakmak, I., Condon, L., Fedoroff, N., Gonzalez-Valero, J., Graham, I., Lewis, J., Moloney, M., Oniang’o, R.K., Sanginga, N., Shewry, P. and Roulin, A. 2016. Planting seeds for the future of food. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Dube, T., Moyo, P., Mpofu, M. and Nyathi, D. 2016. The impact of climate change on agro-ecological based livelihoods in Africa: A review. Journal of Sustainable Development, 9: 256-267.

Jägermeyr, J., Gerten, D., Schaphoff, S., Heinke, J., Lucht, W. and Rockström, J. 2016. Integrated crop water management might sustainably halve the global food gap. Environmental Research Letters, 11.

Henderson, B., Godde, C., Medina-Hidalgo, D., van Wijk, M., Silvestri, S., Douxchamps, S., Stephenson, E., Power, B., Rigolot, C., Cachoc, O., and Herreroa, M. 2016. Closing system-wide yield gaps to increase food production and mitigate GHGs among mixed crop–livestock smallholders in Sub-Saharan Africa. Agricultural Systems, 143: 106-113.

Nally, D. 2016. Against food security: On forms of care and fields of violence. University of Cambridge.

Powlson, D.S., Stirling, C.M., Thierfelder, C., White, R.P., Jat, M.L. 2016. Does conservation agriculture deliver climate change mitigation through soil carbon sequestration in tropical agro-ecosystems? Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 200: 164-174.


Future books

Henson, S. and Jaffee, S. 2016 (August). Agri-Food Systems and Economic Development: Lessons from European, North American and Asian experiences. Routledge.

This book draws on a three-year programme of research undertaken in sub-Saharan Africa, involving research teams in six countries looking at the role of donor interventions in the context of African smallholder participation in higher-value markets for agricultural and food products, both domestically and through exports to industrialized countries. In so doing, it explores the interface between donor-led interventions and the actions of the private sector, and of government, in developing countries. Put bluntly, this book investigates ‘what works and what doesn’t’.

Njuki, J., Parksin, J. and Kaler, A. (Eds.) 2016 (August). Transforming Gender and Food Security in the Global South. Routledge.

Drawing on studies from Africa, Asia and South America, this book provides empirical evidence and conceptual explorations of the gendered dimensions of food security. It investigates how food security and gender inequity are conceptualized within interventions, assesses the impacts and outcomes of gender-responsive programs on food security and gender equity and addresses diverse approaches to gender research and practice that range from descriptive and analytical to strategic and transformative. The chapters draw on diverse theoretical perspectives, including transformative learning, feminist theory, deliberative democracy and technology adoption. As a result, they add important conceptual and empirical material to a growing literature on the challenges of gender equity in agricultural production.

Maxwell, M. and Critchley, W. 2016. (July). Community Innovations in Sustainable Land Management: Lessons from the field in Africa. Earthscan.

It is increasingly recognized that land can be managed most sustainably through involving local communities. This book highlights the potential of a new methodology of uncovering and stimulating community initiatives in sustainable land management in Africa. Analyses of four contrasting African countries (Ghana, Morocco, South Africa and Uganda) show that as communities directly face the challenges of land degradation, they are likely to develop initiatives themselves in terms of sustainable land management. These initiatives (or ‘innovations’) may be more appropriate and sustainable than those emanating from research stations located far from the communities. The book describes the rationale of the approach used, the set of steps followed, how the project managed to engage the communities to understand the importance of the activities they were undertaking, and how they were stimulated to improve and extend their initiatives and innovativeness.

Trewin, R. 2016 (March). Crucial Agricultural Policy: Analysis of Key Threats to Food Security. World Scientific.

Following recent price spikes, food policy will continue to be of crucial concern to developing countries for the foreseeable future. Governments are trying to manage their food issues, but would need critical economic policy analysis to do so appropriately. The aim of this invaluable book is to present economy-wide but detailed information that will facilitate state-of-the-art economic agricultural policy analysis in the light of future threats, and stimulate the formation of better policies for Indonesia’s as well as other countries’ longer-term visions of food security, productivity and social welfare. The scope of the book is comprehensive, analysing a range of key food security issues (self-sufficiency, stocks and industry development), policies and futures, with unified presentation of several key and captivating commodity case-studies (rice, livestock and dairy). This is achieved through state-of-the-art evidence-based economic policy analysis, drawing at times on a mix of Asian countries’ relevant experiences and hence having broader relevance.

Kalkuhl, M., von Braun, J. and Torero, M. (Eds.) 2016 (March). Food Price Volatility and Its Implications for Food Security and Policy. Springer.

This book provides fresh insights into concepts, methods and new research findings on the causes of excessive food price volatility. It also discusses the implications for food security and policy responses to mitigate excessive volatility. The approaches applied by the contributors range from on-the-ground surveys, to panel econometrics and innovative high-frequency time series analysis as well as computational economics methods. It offers policy analysts and decision-makers guidance on dealing with extreme volatility.


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