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THEME:Social Policy in the Global South:

 The Challenge of Socio-economic Justice and Agro-ecological Development

 21-25 January 2019, Harare, Zimbabwe

 The main focus of the forthcoming Summer School in January 2019 will be on social policy in the Global South, with particular reference to socio-economic justice and agro-ecological development. According to the UN Statistics Division, living conditions in the Global South worsened after the impacts of the 2008 world financial crisis, and despite partial recovery thereafter, there is urgent need for renewed and reinforced social policies to alleviate poverty and empower marginalized groups and communities in a sustainable manner.

 The stagnation of economic growth, connected to the spread of labor-saving techniques in both manufacturing and agriculture has reinforced structural unemployment generally. Global competition in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors has resulted in increased dependence and deindustrialization of many developing countries, accompanied by the expansion of service sectors and informal and precarious employment. Criminality rates, drug trafficking, and mass incarceration have also been aggravated under such conditions, in addition to an intensifying flow of migrants within and across borders. The ecological, energy, and food crises which have been escalating over recent decades have also brought into sharp relief the imperative of transforming the global industrial and agro-food systems towards more autonomous forms of production, distribution, and consumption.

 Social policy is a fundamental responsibility of modern states. Under current conditions, social policy must adapt and advance towards more integrated and transformative approaches capable of addressing a wide array of interconnected issues that affect both rural and urban areas, and movements and linkages between them. Accelerated and disorderly urbanization is intimately related to declining agricultural employment, loss of agricultural land, forests, and biodiversity, erosion of soils, pollution of water resources, and climate change, which affect regions and continents unevenly. These trends are affecting especially those living in rural areas and those for whom family agriculture is the main source of income, especially rural women and youth, and indigenous and other marginalized communities.

It is imperative to develop a new generation of social policies for the twenty-first century, which requires at this juncture taking stock and reevaluating past experiences. Such a re-evaluation must consider the programmes that have in recent years been responsible for attacking hunger and improving the well-being of the poor, especially of women and children. In this regard, a number of experiences have registered success, despite their limited resources and even contradictions. Such programmes have included conditional income transfers, land reform, expansion of urban housing, public procurement connected to school feeding, as well as support for agro-ecological production.

 An important dimension of the demands of civil society for socio-economic justice in recent years has been precisely support for agro-ecological farming. The concept and practice of agro-ecology has been gaining social and institutional recognition given its potential to transform the current food and agrarian system, with positive consequences for the socio-economic, food, and nutritional conditions of urban and rural populations alike.

The field of agroecology has evolved rapidly beyond technical issues related to the connections between ecology and agronomy, to incorporate core socio-economic demands related to gender, racial, and regional inequalities, which are also linked to the negative consequences of a globalized corporate food production system. Agroecology today is not a mere set of techniques, for it strives to provide solutions to socio-economic and ecological problems which are most relevant to the Global South, and in which women, youth and marginalized communities are at heart of the transformation process.

Agro-ecology has become a field of contestation, posing questions with direct impact on rural-urban relations, control over natural and energy resources, production and employment, nutrition, and autonomous research and knowledge production. Institutions at the local, national, and global levels are themselves being challenged to act. The FAO has recently pointed out that social and institutional innovations at all levels will play a key role in encouraging agro-ecological practices. Responsible and democratic government (transparent, accountable and inclusive governance mechanisms) is now needed to support the transition to agro-ecological systems. Some examples of agro-ecological public policies are precisely the public procurement and school-feeding programs, plus market regulations allowing for the branding of differentiated agro-ecological products, and subsidies and incentives for sustainable ecosystems services.

The 2019 Summer School will focus on the recent experiences of social policies in the Global South and look ahead towards more integrated and transformative programmes capable of connecting socio-economic justice with agro-ecological development. Scholars and activists interested in participating are encouraged to examine a diverse set of issues and theoretical challenges. Possible topics may include theoretical, conceptual, or empirical approaches on any of the following issues:

 - Integrated and transformative social policy in the Global South

 - Experiences of conditional income transfers

 - Experiences of public procurement programmes

 - Gender, agro-ecology and social transformation

 - Work, agro-ecology and social reproduction

 - Land, tenure and agrarian reform

 - The rights of indigenous and marginalized communities

 - Rural-urban migration and social policy

 - Agro-ecological production and sustainability

 - Cooperative production and social transformation

 - Food and nutritional security

 - Civil society, agro-ecology and socio-economic justice 

 - Land grabbing and financialization of agriculture and natural resources

 - Contract farming trends and policy alternatives

 - Climate change, agro-ecology and socio-economic justice

 - Global environmental change and alternative consumption patterns

 In sum, all these issues, to be deliberated in the proposed Summer School would seek to reflect on some of the major challenges and key concerns associated with social policy in the contemporary Global South. As always, it will bring together leading as well as young scholars from diverse disciplines, as well as civil society activists from Africa, Latin America, and Asia in order to engage with the complexities of the issues.

Interested scholars and activists are invited to submit paper proposals or abstracts (not more than 300 words) no later than 30 July 2018. Authors of selected papers will be requested to develop their full papers by 30 September, and will be invited to participate at the 2019 Summer School in Harare (funds permitting). Some of the articles may also be selected for publication in Agrarian South: Journal of Political Economy, subject to normal peer review process.

 Paper proposals should be submitted to Walter Chambati:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and copy to Professor Paris Yeros: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.







Sam Moyo Senior Research Fellows Grant (SRFG)


                    Application deadline: 30th June 2018


The SMAIAS is an Independent Research Organisation established in 2002 which seeks to influence land and natural resources policies in Africa through multi-disciplinary social science research, policy dialogues, and training and information dissemination. The SMAIAS interacts with various organizations and countries to assist them in developing capacity for policy formulation and research. It also facilitates policy dialogue among governments, academics, civil society and others on land and agrarian development, especially the land rights of marginalized social groups.

 Senior Research Fellowship Grants: The senior research fellowship grants of the Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS) aim to facilitate the work of senior African scholars who can make distinct contributions to their field. It is also the expectation of SMAIAS that the senior scholars will have dialogue with emerging researchers and scholars who participate in SMAIAS’ other activities such as the Agrarian Summer School. The senior research fellowship grants will award amounts of up to USD$ 7500.00 to a scholar who is 10 years beyond his/her PhDs to produce a book that will help reshape work in their area of expertise. It is expected that researchers applying for this grant will be at an advanced stage of data analysis so the grant can go directly into writing the manuscript. The grants will be granted to an individual and will last for 12 months.

Thematic priorities: All applications must engage with SMAIAS thematic areas:

1. Land and Agrarian Studies

 2. Social Movements

 3. Natural Resources 

How to apply

 Interested applicants should submit applications containing the following required materials as Word documents. Please note that applications that lack any of these elements will not be considered.

 A proposal


  • Proposals must be submitted as Word documents and should not exceed 10 pages long (font type: Times New Roman; font size: 12; line spacing: double).
  • Budget: The budget should employ the template attached to this call and should take into consideration the fact that these grants have strict lifespans. SMAIAS will directly fund launch and completion workshops.


•           Annotated plan of deliverables: One-page annotated plan for the deliverable to be written.


•           A cover letter listing full details- names, email and physical addresses and telephone number.


•           CV of the scholar, including full contact details.


•           Identification sheet: A completed version of the identification sheet.

 NOTE: A successful applicant for this grant will be expected to submit, within three months of signing of the grant contract, a revised draft paper that elaborates the research issue(s), the underlying conceptual framework, a detailed review of the relevant literature, and an outline of the methodological basis of the study. We expect that this will be framed in the form of draft book chapters.

 The deadline for submission of applications for the grants is 30th June 2018. Notification of the result of the selection process will be done by 31st July 2018 and applicants who will not hear from us by then should consider their applications unsuccessful. Female scholars are highly encouraged to apply.

 All applications should be sent by email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 When sending your email kindly use the subject line, ‘SMAIAS-SRFG 2018’ to facilitate the processing of your application.











 1.1 Introduction

 The Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS), in collaboration with the Agrarian South Network invites applications from post-graduate students and social movements’ activists from the Global South to participate in the 2017 First Edition of the Agrarian Studies Training Institute (ASTI).

The SMAIAS and the ASN have since 2009 been conducting one week long annual Agrarian Summer Schools which attract over 50 scholars and social movements from Africa, Asia and Latin America. The purpose of the Summer School has been to leverage South-South and African-wide agrarian research and training capacities, promote relevant knowledge and collaborative scholarship in policy analyses around the question of agrarian transformation in Africa. There has however been a realisation that there is need to invest in building the capacities of the next generation of scholars, intellectuals and activists to envision and propose effective agrarian reforms and rural development strategies, while advocating for greater public accountability in policy formulation and fiscal resource allocation processes. The ASTI intends to offer a 3 weeks, intensive inter-disciplinary course in agrarian studies, with faculty members and students from universities in Africa, Asia and Latin America/Caribbean to address such needs.

The ASTI will be preceded by an academic workshop titled: “Sustainable Development Goals and Agrarian Transformations in the Global South: Trends and Opportunities” which will be co-organized by SMAIAS and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), therefore, successful candidates will attend both trainings as part of the month long programme.

 Both the workshop and the ASTI will offer a unique opportunity for international academic exchange of a high scholarly standard for both faculty and students. They will generate new knowledge based on shared experiences among researchers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and promote the building of networking capacity among young scholars and activists in the Global South.

 1.2 Course Content

 The institute is offering a course entitled “Agrarian Transformations in the Global South”.The aim of the course is to provide an intensive study of the agrarian question, including its origins, historical trajectories, and related policy interventions, especially land reform. It offers a historical and comparative perspective whose purpose is to provide students with the basic conceptual tools and historical knowledge to conduct research and/or engage in advocacy and policy-making.

 The seven modules to be covered by the course are:


I. Sustainable Development Goals and Agrarian Transformation (Academic workshop);


II. Theoretical Perspectives on the Agrarian Transformations;


III. Land and Agrarian Relations: Comparing National Contexts and Policies;


IV. Social Institutions, Patriarchy and Agrarian Relations;


V. Agri-business, Global Supply Chains and Food Security;


VI. Social Movements and Collective Actions in the Contemporary Agrarian Transformations;


VII. Research Methods and Techniques.

 1.3 Objectives of the Course

 The course aims to introduce students to the trends and processes of agrarian transformations under contemporary capitalism. As is well known, there has been a new phase of the scramble for land and other natural resources in the global south under the contemporary phase of corporate capitalism. The processes unleashed by this phenomenon have had a devastating impact on the lives of the working poor and also led to a new wave of resistance. Since this process is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional in its character, it is only natural that the study of the political economy of contemporary agrarian transformations is also interdisciplinary. This month long interdisciplinary course is aimed at training students in themes and methods of agrarian research in the present times.

 1.4 Dates and venue of the Institute

 The entire programme which includes both the Academic Workshop and the Institute will last for 1 month and will take place in Harare from the 23rd of October until 17th November 2017.



Young scholars resident in countries from the Global South pursuing Doctoral degrees or recently completed a Masters degree and planning to enroll for a PhD are strongly encouraged to apply. Social movement activists who possess a Masters qualification and are engaged in agrarian policy lobby and advocacy are also encouraged to apply. Preference will however be given to activists who are planning to enroll for a PhD degree. Although students will be asked to write an essay in the language of their understanding (i.e. English, French and Portuguese) they are expected to have a working knowledge of English.




a) A one-page letter of motivation indicating their interest to participate at the Institute and detail how they will benefit from the engagements.


b) A Curriculum Vitae complete with names of professional and personal referees (supervisors included) of the prospective participants, discipline being worked on, and summary of ongoing research activities.


c) A certified copy of the highest university degree obtained by the applicant.


d) A certified copy of valid passport (at least six months before the commencement of the course).


e) A letter from the applicant’s institution supporting his/her candidature.


f) A sample of a paper, article or thesis chapter authored by the applicant.




Successful candidates will be fully funded by SMAIAS, including a return air ticket from home country and food and accommodation costs during their stay in Harare.




Applications should be sent via email and addressed to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Enquiries about the course should also be forwarded to the same addresses. The deadline for the receipt of applications is 30 June 2017. Successful candidates will be notified by 15 July 2017.


For more information about SMAIAS, please visit our website:



The Ninth edition of the Agrarian Summer School will take in Harare, Zimbabwe, from the 16th to the 20th, January 2017.The event to run under the theme “Labour Questions in the Contemporary Global South” will bring together senior, junior scholars and activists from social movements from Africa, Asia and  Latin America . The Summer School will seek to reflect and deepen knowledge on some of the major challenges and key concerns of the Labour Questions under contemporary capitalism from an interdisciplinary perspective.

For updates on the proceedings, follow us on the following twitter handle: @AIAS_trust



Announcement of Launch of Regional Research on Land Tenure and Contract Farming- 1 September 2016

Against a background of resurgent land grabs, penetration of capital in the rural landscape and the expulsion of small producers from their pieces of land in most African countries, the Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS) working in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Land and Agrarian Network (ZiLAN) announces the commencement of comprehensive studies on land rights and contract farming in Southern Africa.  The study on contract farming will examine the power relations embedded in the model, its impact on the livelihoods of small producers while the land rights study is aimed at understanding the tenuous nature of land rights amongst different social groups. The studies build on two baseline surveys and various other country studies conducted by the SMAIAS since its inception in 2003.


The studies which are to be conducted in Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe are aimed at building the capacities of small producers and social movements on aspects related to land rights and contract farming to ensure that small producers derive maximum benefits from their agricultural activities and are protected on their land. The research outcome will be used to lobby and advocate for sound land tenure policies which guarantee the rights of small producers to their land as well as to develop policy guidelines on contract farming in the region. 


For more information, please get in touch with:

Walter Chambati                    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.    or

Freedom Mazwi                     Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.






 Position Announcement: Executive Director


Date of announcement: 3 June 2016

Application Deadline: 31 August  2016

The Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies(SMAIAS) invites applications to fill the post of the Executive Director within its Secretariat.


 Previously known as the African Institute for Agrarian Studies(AIAS), it was renamed to SMAIAS in 2016 by the Board of Trustees in honour of its late Founder and Executive Director, Professor Sam Moyo. Based in Harare, the SMAIAS has been in operation for over thirteen years, established and registered as an independent Trust in 2002. The SMAIAS aims to enhance Africa’s agrarian transformation by promoting informed participation towards effective land and agrarian policies and reform, by means of Pan-African and South-South partnerships, interdisciplinary research initiatives, policy dialogues, training, and information dissemination. SMAIAS interacts with various organizations and countries to assist them in developing capacity for policy formulation and research. It also facilitates policy dialogue among governments, academics, civil society and others on land and agrarian developments, especially on the land rights of marginalized social groups.

Responsibilities and expectations

Under the overall authority of the Board of Trustees and the direct supervision of the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, the Executive Director will be expected to provide intellectual, administrative and strategic leadership to the secretariat of the SMAIAS.

 1) Core responsibilities:

  •  Provide overall leadership and management of the SMAIAS;
  • Conduct research and contribute to the development of the SMAIAS intellectual tradition;
  • Prepare and implement long term strategies;
  • Liaise with donor agencies;
  • serve as Chief Operating Officer of SMAIAS responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Trust and implementation of such policies as may be adopted by the Board of Trustees;
  • Organize and prepare agenda for Board of Trustees Meetings and to serve on the Board of Trustees;
  • Ensure that SMAIAS operates in compliance with Deed of Trust regulations and law relating to governance of Trusts;
  • Represent SMAIAS in the initiatives of CODESRIA, the Agrarian South Network (ASN), and such similar networks as will further the mission of the Institute;
  • Coordinate the preparation of Donor and Annual Budgets for approval by the Board of Trustees and be responsible for proper and effective management of the financial resources of SMAIAS;
  • Develop and implement fundraising plans and mobilize resources for SMAIAS projects;
  • Serve as official spokesperson for SMAIAS, write all press releases, Director’s letters, brochures and related public materials; grants print and broadcast media interviews as required; develop video and audio documentary material for media distribution; represents SMAIAS at all educational, scientific and public functions and develop public relations policy for SMAIAS subject to approval of Board of Trustees;

 2) Academic/ Technical Competencies/Qualifications:

 Applicants must:

  •  Possess a PhD from a recognised institution of higher learning inany field(s) of the Social Sciences;
  • Have a long post-doctoral working experience (preferably 10 years but not less than 5 years) at senior managerial level in a similar independent research institution;
  • Have good knowledge of, and affinity with, the intellectual tradition of SMAIAS, CODESRIA, and the Agrarian South Network, and possess a demonstrable ability to mobilise and promote Pan-African and South-South scholarship;
  • Be experienced in fund-raising, resource management and the preparation of reports for donors;
  • Have a distinguished research and publication record on the Agrarian Question in Africa;
  • Be conversant about the debates on the Agrarian Question in the Global South and;
  • Be fluent in English;  a good working knowledge of  French and Portuguese would be an added advantage.

 3) Other relevant skills:

  •  Excellent interpersonal and communication skills;
  • Good knowledge of the workings of international independent research institutions;
  • Capacity to work under pressure and in a multicultural environment;
  • Excellent computer experience in using Microsoft office applications;
  • Good planning and organisational skills;
  • Efficient and well organised personality, and;
  • Demonstrate ability to work to tight deadlines.

 4) Remuneration 

  •  A competitive remuneration package will be offered, in accordance with the experience and qualifications of the candidate. This will be disclosed to shortlisted candidates.

  5) Location of post

  •  This post will be based at the SMAIAS secretariat office in Harare. Candidates should be prepared to live in Harare.

 6) Application procedure

 The candidate should provide the following documents;

 i. A letter of application;

 ii. A detailed curriculum vitae;

 iii. Certified copies of certificates of all indicated qualifications, and

 iv. Three reference letters;

 v. Three recent peer reviewed journal articles.

 vi. Certified copy of passport.

 Other supporting documents may also be required prior to recruitment.

 The application should be submitted not later than  31 August 2016 via post to:

 The Chairperson of the Board of Trustees

 The Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies

 19 Bodle Avenue, Eastlea

Harare, Zimbabwe


Email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. under the subject header: Executive Director

All applications will be treated in utmost confidence. However, only shortlisted candidates shall be contacted.

The SMAIAS Trust reserves the right not to appoint any of the applicants for the post.

Only African citizens will be considered for this post.



                   Background Note and Call for Papers for Summer School-2017


Major Theme: ‘Labour Questions’ in the Contemporary Global South


 One of the major messages emerging from a careful reading of the longue duree of world capitalism is that the world of work, labour processes and labour rights differ fundamentally between the Global North and the Global South and these differences are organically connected with, inter alia, the nature and particularities inherent in accumulation and labour absorption regimes, which were profoundly shaped by the ‘uneven and combined’ development of capitalism on the global scale, driven in large measure by colonialism and imperialism. Hence, at a high level of generality, the political economy discourses often distinguish between the ‘core’ and the ‘periphery’ in the global economy, which are fundamentally enmeshed with each other.

 Countries in the Global South, in the aftermath of Independence from colonial, semi-colonial conditions, had managed to create varying degrees of autonomy and policy space for economic transformation. As is well documented, the strategy of State-led economic transformation, often hinging on public sector-driven industrialization resulted, in many cases, in growth outcomes, which had been unprecedented and quite respectable with reference to any appropriate benchmark. The more remarkable among these are the well-known “East Asian miracle cases”, where in a few countries the emphasis was on ‘export-oriented’ industrialization and in some other on ‘import-substituting’ industrialization, albeit with significant export optimism. In case of several other countries, such as India, where dirigisme unfolded with the degree of seriousness, accelerated capital accumulation laid the foundation for a well-diversified industrial structure within a reasonably short period. Even several countries in Africa were able to reap significant benefits with respect to some of the key concerns and indicators of the economic transformation narratives. Alternatives to dominant developmental strategies were visualised through adaption of socialist perspectives to countries emerging out of the shadows of imperialist domination. Experiments with African or Arab socialism, though not always successful, had implications for both labour rights and the reorganisation of the production and labour process.

 However, it is also important to note that even in cases of successful economic transformation with respect to industrialization and overall structural changes in the GDP, the generation of productive employment opportunities and significant shifts in occupational structure remained major challenges for most of these countries, even during the dirigiste era. As is well-known, in most developed countries in the capitalist world, the process of economic transformation was associated with the share of agriculture in total economic output and labour force becoming quite small. In fact, the early development literature hypothesized this as the final destiny for all countries. However, the experience of the much of the Global South shows, in spite of respectable output growth during the period of planned economic development (during the second half of the 20th century), vast masses of population continue to derive their livelihood from the agricultural sector.  Furthermore, as is well-known, the overall accumulation patterns in general and the dynamics of labour in particular, are strongly influenced and structured by the issues of gender, ethnicity, caste, race etc. Although there is substantial work on these issues, the need for more nuanced research can’t be overstated.


 The contemporary global labour scenario clearly shows that the world of work for the majority consists of fragile and vulnerable conditions. The changes in the strategies of accumulation and exploitation in the neo-liberal era since the early 1970s, particularly with the ascendancy of the so-called Global Value Chains (GVCs)/ Global Commodity Chains (GCCs)/ Global Production Networks (GPNs), corporate and contract out-grower schemes etc. have only made matters worse for the labouring masses. The proportion of regular wage and salaried employees is a minority globally, its spread is quite uneven across sub-regions (in conformity with the combined and uneven development of global capitalism), and this segment of the formal/regular is coming under pressure in the recent years. The majority of workers in peripheral economies fall in the category of the vulnerably employed, which is a collection of very diverse economic activities, and these workers have little prospect of joining the ranks of regular wage workers. One may, justifiably, quibble over fine-tuning of the relevant concepts, but it would be hardly off the mark to consider this large and heterogeneous segment as being co-terminus to Marx’s Relative Surplus Population (RSP).

The Summer School 2017 will engage with the historical, structural and systemic changes within capitalism that produces and perpetuates this relative surplus population. These changes may be located in the multiple processes arising out of changes in technology and organisation of production, on the one hand, and processes of social and economic discrimination, on the other hand. The sociological composition of this surplus population also reflects these two processes because the RSP is largely composed of the most vulnerable social groups in the political economy both in terms of ethnicity and gender. Thus the organisation and the resistance of these groups to the processes of accumulation and their fight for social protection is an important element to be deliberated in the forthcoming summer school.

 The trajectories of capitalist transformation and their implications for labour-processes and labouring people across time and space have generated a vast and highly contentious literature. The relevant issues and contours of these changes cover a large spectrum and are indeed complex, to say the least. Hence, the proposed Summer School would seek to reflect on some of the major challenges and key concerns associated with contemporary capitalism with a focus on the Global South. It will bring together leading as well as young scholars from diverse disciplines and activists, from Latin America, Africa and Asia in order to understand such complex dimensions of the changes in the labour process from an interdisciplinary perspective.



The core objective of the summer school would be to think through the major structural/systemic issues with respect to the world of work, labour and labour rights in the Global South and discuss alternatives and resistance to neo-liberalism. In particular the Summer School would engage with some of the major questions relating to:


  1. The relevant challenges and policy issues central to structural transformation with sustainable employment creation;
  2. Spatial and temporal strategies of accumulation and exploitation;
  3. Issues of gender, ethnicity, caste, race etc. in the dynamics of labour;
  4. Patterns of resistance and challenges for political/social mobilization and movements;
  5. The issues that need in-depth analysis and research for deepening of the trajectories of equitable and inclusive development, social protection etc.


Articles will be subject to peer review and those selected for publication in Agrarian South: Journal of Political Economy and author would be invited (fund permitting) to the Summer School 2017.  The deadline for full papers is 1 August 2016, so that the editorial team would get enough time for review and editing before presentations of the papers at the Summer School.


Papers should be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and copied to Professor Praveen Jha: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Walter Chambati: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




REGIONAL EXCHANGE VISIT for social movements (10-12 December 2015)

Land reform, one of the most bitter legacies of colonial and apartheid rule has been high on the agenda of liberation movements. However, 20 years after democracy in South Africa, only 8% of land has been transferred. Zimbabwe being a settler state just like South Africa, presents a reminder of how critical the land reforms issue continues to be as the consequences of its process continue to be a challenge in the region. However, it is important to understand the actual status, the process, and the benefits the Zimbabwean land reform process have had to ordinary Zimbabweans with regards to addressing inequality.

Mozambique, on the other hand, has a socialist system that does not allow for private ownership of land. Land is controlled by 99 year leases which guarantee tenure security for both small scale farmers and large scale investors. The right to land is rooted within both legal and customary practise. In the absence of legality, customary practice is used and vice versa. Its policy is designed to encourage the development of negotiated partnerships between customary rights holders and the private sector, allowing communities to directly benefit from the use by third parties of customarily occupied land. What lessons can be learnt from Mozambique in this scenario when it comes to land tenure, ownership and production including access to market for small scale farmers in the region.

Some key questions that this learning exchange seeks to explore include but are not limited to the following; what can South Africans especially those needing land learn from Zimbabwe? Looking at land reform beneficiaries compare to communal farmers in Zimbabwe what are some of the lessons in reducing poverty and inequality? What possible support mechanisms could be in place to strengthen the land reform process and ensure equality and poverty alleviation?

NPA partners and the groups they work with. NPA partners TCOE, Abahlali Basemjondolo and SCLC in South Africa, UNAC and ORAM from Mozambique and members of ZiLAN in Zimbabwe.

Foster partnership between small scale farmers struggling to access land and markets by promoting intra-regional dialogue on organising for land access and control. Empower small scale farmers through peer-to-peer learning

1) Regional dialogue on organising for access and better control of land with case stories from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa
2) Learning field visit to farms that have been transferred through land reform in Zimbabwe (opportunities and challenges)

3) Reflection and planning of way forward

The dates for this exchange is 10th - 12th of December 2015 and will involve one day of dialogue and sharing of experiences from the three countries, one day field visit and one day of reflection.




Call for submissions and Guidelines for the sessions on

Progressive Social Forces, Social Movements and Collective Actions in the Contemporary Agrarian Transformations in the South

 A decade ago Moyo and Yeros (2005) edited a volume mapping the most important progressive social movements  in the struggle for land and agrarian reforms in the South,. It was a moment when a new wave of social unrest hit rural areas, one that dialectically challenged the more restricted visions on the prospects of the agrarian question.

 The book proposed an analytical framework based on the following principles: grassroots support, leadership, tactics, ideology and cosmopolitanism. Besides the fact that land is widely recognised as a source of conflict in the global south, few groups were able to have the impact of the Zapatistas, the MST or war veterans in Zimbabwe. In most of the cases described by Moyo and Yeros and observed in previous AGS Summer Schools, the collective actions around contemporary land and agrarian questions tend not to be restricted to large demonstrations, land occupations or to a single peasant path or behaviour.

In a context of land concentration, land grabs, farm conversions, large-scale developmental projects, financialization of the agricultural sector and urban-rural linkages we have to be able to understand and interrogate: a) the actions that led some groups to return to the land question and fight for agrarian reforms; b) the tendencies of possible repeseantizations or peasant paths; c) the role of land and agrarian reforms in national question; d) social forces that have resisted any of the process described above by remaining on land they occupy under adverse circumstances; e) groups that advocate enhanced rights that are related but not necessarily unique to land and agrarian reforms such as gender, labour, race and indigenous claims.

 The issue of scale also becomes relevant. While it is important to continuously map the global movements and alliances that give a cosmopolitan face to land struggles, it is also critical to recognise local initiatives that have successfully weathered the developments of capitalism. In such circumstances, it is possible to observe innovative knowledge and forms of politicizing land conflicts that are not taken into account by the established conceptual frameworks.

Methodologically speaking, it is also urgent to avoid imposing certain models of collective action as a norm. The obvious achievements of certain movements should not prevent other possibilities from being explored or be used to argue against other dissonant forms of political action. Concepts like autonomy, grassroots, identity, organization, co-optation and transitions should be carefully applied and only when necessary and methodologically relevant to avoid unfair comparisons.

For the 2016 Edition of the Agrarian South Summer School, we hope to receive contributions for the upcoming volume on how to confront these challenges, in order to begin new trends in the field of rural social movements. The goal is to move from the traditional organisational approaches to action. In other words, at this moment we seek to privilege the role of agency in redefining and politicizing contemporary agrarian questions.

Reinforcing this goal, the main criterion for defining progressive social forces is through their own actions. When thinking about a movement, we should be able to identify a collective action that has impacted, challenged or influenced the process of agrarian transformations locally, nationally or internationally. According to this definition, land occupations, protests, lobbying and other strategies adopted in the different countries can be considered, examining distinct actors in a wide range of situations whose lives have been affected by the land and agrarian questions.

After defining the actions, we can proceed to establish the nature of groups (grassroots support). Who are they? Can we link the actions with a specific class, gender, community etc.? Are they formal (movements, unions, NGOs or a mixture? Do they have a recognised structure?) or informal collectives (affected groups, gatherings, etc.)? Are the structures (formal or informal) established to address that specific claim or did they already exist (war veterans, church groups, burial societies etc.)? Are the actions sporadic (short-term) or permanent? What land are struggling to keep or reclaim (state land, communal land, private land, agricultural land, ancestors’ land, the land of traditional authorities, environmentally protected land, mining land, etc.)?

Taking into account that it is not easy to answer such questions and that the established categories often are blurred in the attempt, we look forward to presentations from scholars and activists that can address the practical and theoretical dimensions of these issues. The aim is to bring together a variety of social forces that have been able to challenge and influence processes of land and agrarian reforms and transformations in the South such as (though not exclusively):

  • The Landless
  • Peasants
  • Pastoralists
  • Indigenous groups
  • Labour movements
  • Women’s movements
  • Environmental movements
  • Movements and tendencies not yet mapped or described
  • Rural-urban dimension of land struggles
  • Race-based land claims
  • Food sovereignty and agro-ecology campaigns
  • International coalitions and solidarities (Cloc, La Via Campesina and others )
  • NGO/Grassroots initiatives

Insisting on the political relevance and consequences of concepts, methods, scales and agencies we seek to critically engage with the current literature on movements, rural resistance, peasant revolts and social unrest. We need to develop and produce (not only reflect) a new and open framework where the struggles for land in any form and on any scale could be used to challenge the established ways of understanding the agrarian question in and from the South.

For more information about the venue, participation, accommodation and other details please take a look at Call for Participation attached.

Contacts, questions and submissions:

Marcelo Rosa

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Walter Chambati

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Call for participation 

Agrarian South Summer School – 2016 

Progressive Social forces, Gender and the Agrarian Questions

Agrarian South Network and Agrarian South: Journal of Political Economy ( hosted by the African Institute for Agrarian Studies (AIAS).

January 18 to 22, 2016.

Harare , Zimbabwe

How does it work?
The summer school is a five days full time plenary event where participants are encouraged to present, listen and debate about their struggles, work, research and advocacy connected to the present processes of rural and agrarian transformations in South.

The aim of the school is to bring together the diverse experiences of movements, NGO’s, policy makers and academics in order to strengthen our capacities of understanding the current conjuncture.

How to participate?
In 2016 AGS Summer School reaches the 8th Edition aiming to improve the participation of academics, activists and policy makers from the all over the word by anticipating the call for submissions and application in order to allow potential participants to better plan their agendas and contributions.

As the title indicates the 2016 edition addresses two major issues: Progressive Social Forces and their roles in the local, regional, continental and global agrarian questions; and Gender Relations in the Changing Agrarian Political Economies in the South. The participants elected both themes during the 2015 edition.

There are three major forms of participation: presenting papers, reporting intervention and struggles, and as a participant with no presentation.

The key issues are designed to occupy three of the four indoor days of the Programme (one of the days is usually dedicated to a field trip). The remaining day will be open, as a General Issues session, for themes and presenters whose work do not fit into the themes to present their reflections on critical and pressing debates on contemporary rural, land and agrarian issues.

As the Gender Relation theme will be dedicated to debate a Special Issue of the Agrarian South Journal ( to which the call for submission is already closed, we would be glad to receive proposals for the Progressive Rural Social Forces (a detailed call for papers is attached) and for the General Issues sessions.

How to present?

To present a paper you must submit a title and a short abstract (10 lines), suggesting in which session should your work be allocated (Progressive Rural Social Forces or General Issues).

To present reports of policies, interventions and struggles you only need to provide a title that describes the general content of the presentation.

Paper proposals – 01/october/2015 

Reports – 01/October/2015 

All prospective participants regardless of being presenters or not must confirm their participation by 01/November/2015. 


The lingua franca of the school is English but we strongly encourage the engagement of non English-speaking participants. As most of us from the South don’t have the English as our mother language, we have been able to provide a friendly environment where presentations in Spanish, French and Portuguese can be easily translated by another participant.

Financial support:
The AGS Network encourages potential participants to raise their own funds. In order to promote generational, demographical and gender diversity the organisation will look for funds (always limited) to support applicants with no funding options. 

Contacts, questions and submissions:

Marcelo Rosa
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Walter Chambati
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Agrarian South Network Blog

Sam Moyo  Student Small Research Grants (SSRG)

Application deadline: 30th June 2018

The SMAIAS is an Independent Research Organisation established in 2002 which seeks to influence land and natural resources policies in Africa through multi-disciplinary social science research, policy dialogues, and training and information dissemination. The SMAIAS interacts with various organizations and countries to assist them in developing capacity for policy formulation and research. It also facilitates policy dialogue among governments, academics, civil society and others on land and agrarian development, especially the land rights of marginalized social groups.

Student Small Research Grants (SSRG)

The Small Research Grants program is intended to support research projects with budgets of $2,500.00 for dissertation writing. The SSRG Program seeks to encourage emerging young African scholars from the land and agrarian disciplines and other related professional fields to undertake research relevant to the improvement of scholarship. This program support individuals whose dissertations show potential for bringing new and constructive ideologies in the areas of agrarian studies, particularly in the Global South. The sponsored research is aimed at helping to inform policies and practices that improve the lives of marginalised groups who depend on agriculture as a source of their livelihoods.

This highly competitive program aims to identify the most gifted students conducting dissertation research related to the following areas: land issue; agriculture; climate change; food security and gender. The call targets enrolled PhD and Master students supervised by the institution they are affiliated with. Apart from the dissertation, another expected output of the research project will be a publishable paper and a presentation of the findings at the 2019 Agrarian Summer School to be held in Harare. The grants will be granted to an individual and will last for 12 months.

How to apply

Interested applicants should submit their applications containing the following required materials as Word documents. Please note that applications that lack any of these elements will be not be considered.

  • A proposal with the following clearly titled sections: an introduction; statement and contextualization of research question; brief review of literature and/or competing hypotheses; study design and research methodology; theoretical and practical significance of the study; research plan and a brief summary of budget. Proposals must be submitted as Word documents and should not exceed 10 pages long (font type: Times New Roman; font size: 12; line spacing: double).
  • Completed budget template.
  • Annotated plan of deliverables: One-page annotated table of contents for two scholarly articles.
  • A cover letter listing full details- names, email and physical addresses and telephone number- of the members and coordinator of the project
  • Updated Curriculum Vitae with three references
  • Institutional affiliation: A letter indicating your institutional affiliation

NOTE: A successful applicant for this grant will be expected to submit, within three months of signing of the grant contract, a revised draft paper that elaborates the research issue(s), the underlying conceptual framework, a detailed review of the relevant literature, and an outline of the methodological basis of the study. We expect that this will be framed in the form of draft book chapters.

The deadline for submission of applications for the grants is 30th June 2018. Notification of the result of the selection process will be done by 31st July 2018 and applicants who will not hear from us by then should consider their applications unsuccessful. Female candidates are highly encouraged to apply.

All applications should be sent by email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

When sending your email kindly use the subject line, ‘SMAIAS-SSRG 2018’ to facilitate the processing of your application.






Please join the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, and the Africa Regional Office (AfRO) for a discussion with Professor Ruth Hall and Refiloe Joala from PLAAS, and Walter Chambati  from the Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS). 

 Date:     Tuesday 8 May 2018

 Time:    14h30 – 16h30

Venue: OSISA Boardroom, Ground Floor, President Place, 1 Hood Street, Rosebank

African food systems are undergoing deep transformations, evidenced by the commercialisation of natural resources and the growing corporatisation of farming inputs, and the production, processing and retailing of food. What have been the responses and experiences of rural and agrarian communities where there has been large-scale landbased and/or agri-business investment?

 PLAAS has tried to look at the wider impact of these investments on food security, agrarian change trajectories, land-based livelihoods and the associated social relations. They draw links between smallholder farmers’ struggles over access and control of productive resources, including land and water and the right to food. The increasing levels of investment are affecting different people in different ways. They have studied the wider impact of these investments on rural livelihoods, household food security and local food environments. As both countries try to increase the level of economic inclusion and resilience of those populations, and grapple with finding the right policy mix, this Conversation will include questions and topics related to the lived experience of smallholders in Zambia and Mozambique. What role do these constituency play in shaping public policy and the behavior of private capital? How are their livelihoods impacted? What is the net effect on the availability and affordability of quality food? How does this reflect on human dignity?


  Professor Ruth Hall: Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies

  Refiloe Joala: Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies

  Walter Chambati:  the Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS)

 Masego Madzwamuse: Lead - Economic Justice cluster, at the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, will moderate the discussion.

PLAAS is a leading research, policy engagement, teaching and training institute working on the dynamics of chronic poverty and structural inequality in Southern Africa, with a particular emphasis on the key role of restructuring and contesting land holding and agro-food systems in the subcontinent.

The Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS) is an independent policy research institution committed to the development of agrarian systems that enhance equitable land rights and sustainable land uses throughout Africa.






SMAIAS to host a Regional Multi-Stakeholder Policy Dialogue on Land Tenure and Contract Farming- 4th -7th September 2017

Against a background of a comprehensive research study on Land Tenure and Contract Farming conducted in 2016/17, the Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS) working in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Land and Agrarian Network (ZiLAN) are pleased to announce that they will be hosting a Regional Multi-Stakeholder Policy Dialogue in Harare from the 4th to the 7th of September 2017. The purpose of the meeting is to  share research findings with social movements and policy makers on Land Tenure and Contract Farming.

The policy dialogue which will be attended by social movements from South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe as well as policy makers from Zimbabwe  is also aimed at training civil society organisations on land tenure and contract farming using training manuals that have been developed over the past year. The SMAIAS will also present its findings on the Impact of Command Agriculture on overall maize production in Zimbabwe.

For more information with regards to the proceedings, follow us on the following Twitter handles:

 @AIAS_trust or @ ZiLAN2015


Announcement of Successful Applicants for the Inaugural 2017 Agrarian Studies Training Institute(ASTI) on Agrarian Transformation in the Global South to be held in Harare, Zimbabwe

The Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies(SMAIAS) and the Agrarian South Network(ASN) are pleased to announce the selection of the following students/activists for the Agrarian Studies Training Institute(ASTI) course on Agrarian Transformations in the Global South to be held from the 23rd of October to the 17th of November 2017 in Harare, Zimbabwe




Institutional Affiliation

Ding Ling


The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Chandan Kumar Sharma


Jawaharlal Nehru University,India

S Niyati


Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore

Jagat Basnet


Rhodes University, RSA

Hashim bin Rashid


SOAS, London, UK

Tagesse Abo Melketo


Wolaita Sodo University, Ethiopia

Rebecca Sarku


University of Ghana, Ghana

Susan Mbithe Matiku


University of Venda, RSA

Boaventura Monjane


University of Coimbra, Portugal

Edewor Sarah Edore


Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Nigeria

Tomitho Cathbert



Auma Theresa


Makerere University, Uganda

Chrispin Matenga


University of Zambia, Zambia

Kane Gilles Quentin


University of Yaounde, Cameroon

Tshepo Niini Fokane


University of Western Cape

Lundi Wana


University of Fort Hare

Damien Lobos


National Institute of Agrarian Technology, Argentina

Aline Borghoff Maia


Universidade Federal do ABC,UFABC, Brazil

Allan Razera


UFABC, Brazil

Givania Maria da Silva



Tais Galvao Alves



Clifton Makate


Tongji University, China


Newman Tekwa



Rangariarai Muchetu


Doshisha University, Japan

Pablo Gilomo Lobo


Coimbra University, Portugal

Desmond Ndedzu


University of Zimbabwe

Admire Mutizwa


SEATINI, Zimbabwe

Flora Takayindisa


University of Venda, RSA

Hlekani Kabithi


University of Venda, RSA

George T Mudimu


China Agricultural University,China


 January 2014 Blog

 Dear Colleagues and Friends

 Foundation for Agrarian Studies: 10 year anniversary Conference 2014              9-12 January - Kochi, India

 The 10th anniversary Conference of the Foundation for Agrarian Studies held in the Southern State of Kerala, in India this month provided an opportunity for scholars, activists and mass organisations of rural and marginalised people to discuss various manifestations of the agrarian question in India and other less-developed countries.  The conference programme was organised around three major themes; (1) Agrarian relations and agrarian institutions, (2) Farming systems, climate change and sustainable development, and (3) Living conditions, social discrimination, and inequality; which were examined through presentations and panel discussions and sessions by local and international experts.  The thematic sessions were convened by Professors and Senior Scholars from the Indian Statistical Institute and Tata Institute of Social Sciences. 

 In a keynote presentation entitled Zimbabwe’s land and agrarian reform (1997-2013): A political, social and economic balance sheet’SMAIAS Director Sam Moyo reflected on the socio-economic contradictions, political and economic radicalisation, innovative socio-political mobilisation processes, and on-going resistance, which ultimately resulted in a redistributive land reform outcomes.  Specifying that Zimbabwe does not re-present an ‘ideal type’ model of reform or one which deserves uncritical emulation, he further explained that the transition should not be seen as a model of socialist revolution, since it neither produced a socialist revolution nor a socialist outcome.   This is a key issue point – at both theoretical and empirical levels - which opens up the space needed to consider the deeply embedded structural, social, labour and economic problems which escaped reform through the Independence Pact of 1980, and were further exacerbated by the  neoliberal economic policies adopted from 1990 and the social and economic crises they provoked.  Mass labour protests galvanised broader popular movements which bridged the rural/urban divide.  Outside the cities, these produced more assertive land occupation strategies to replace the ‘passive’ resistance strategies of earlier ‘squatter’ movements and these fuelled confrontation and the radical nationalist reforms, from 1997.   This important elaboration is a vital element of the narrative which makes it possible to understand the comparative lessons which can be derived from Zimbabwe’s experience, by other economies with large peasant and marginalised populations caught in spirals of social injustice and inequality.  In the contemporary Indian context - increasing deregulation under a doctrinaire brand of neoliberal policy thinking recently pushed back the last frontier of national sovereignty with an FDI amendment allowing majority foreign ownership in the key food and manufacturing sectors – is provoking increasingly confrontational strategies by peasant and rural people’s movements whose interests are systematically disregarded or marginalised.  The social dynamics and movement aspects of Zimbabwe’s experience represented resonant empirical perspectives of these themes for the 150 participants including international invitees and representatives from mass peasant, rural, women, Dalit and Tribal people’s movements who attended the Conference.


SMAIAS International Agrarian Studies Summer School 2014                         20-24 January, Harare

 We are gearing up to receive about 60 delegates next week for the Annual International Agrarian Summer School 2014.  Recent international reports (e.g. ILO, 2013) note that over 1.3 billion people on this earth (about 40% of the global workforce and 18% of world population) depend directly for their work on their control/access to land for various land uses. Agriculture continues to be the mainstay of their employment and rural incomes. Focusing on the labour angle - this year’s summer school will delve into some key implications of current trajectories of agrarian change.

 The 2014 Agrarian Summer School will be structured around a few themes. The first two days will be focused on taking stock of the key theoretical questions and conceptual directions s that are emerging in a process of rethinking the Agrarian Question specifically. The second and third day will be devoted to agrarian labour issues, to be addressed by various lead discussants from over 15 countries in the South (and North) will include:

  • Expanding forms of accumulation by dispossession
  • Agrarian employment  and agrarian labour relations
  • The diversification of rural non-farm labour relations
  • New generation rural labour policies
  • Food sovereignty revisited
  • Rural movements and the labour question

 The remaining thematic sessions will be largely based on the proposals and research being carried out by network members addressing the political economy of agrarian labour in different parts of the Global South. One full day will be devoted to a field trip to a peri urban area around Harare, providing participants to experience some of the agrarian labour and food issues discussed in the Summer School sessions.


SMAIAS Blog End of Year Edition – 2013

 Dear Colleagues and Friends,

 Conferences & Events

 Dispossessed Repossessed: Land Matters in African Letters - 7-8 November 2013 – South Africa

 The second Africa Century International African Writers Conference held in Johannesburg brought together African Writers and the African Diaspora to reflect on the broader socio-economic issues which concern Africans and the way they are being written about or appear in literature and writing.  The key theme of the Conference was ‘Land dispossession and repossession’ and the associated narratives of conflict, liberation, colonialism and the politics of place which characterize the writing on this topic, was examined through panel discussions amongst Authors and Academics.  SMAIAS Director Professor Sam Moyo was a key discussant at the Roundtable Dialogue concerning Pan African Letters: Land and Agrarian Reform.

 The event also commemorated the contributions to the world of African letters, made by renowned Nigerian author, scholar and founding patron of the Africa Century International African Writers Conference-  Professor Chinua Adebe – and Ghanaian Poet Kofi Awoonor, who  passed away earlier this year.


Land Conflicts in Southern Africa– Centre for African Studies Basel (Switzerland) – 15-17 Nov 2013

The focus of this 3 day workshop organised by Afrika-Komitee, Centre for African Studies, FEPA, KEESA and Solifonds was to review concrete case studies illustrating recent developments which illustrate the struggles between international corporations and local communities over land in Zimbabwe and South Africa.  The intention was to provide a platform to communities who are directly affected and explore the wider context of their struggles.

Farmworkers and social movements from the Western Cape presented their problems pursuing better living and working conditions on the wine and fruit farms in the region. Activists and farmers from the Southeast of Zimbabwe shared their experience of resistance they mounted against the land grab by a major ethanol project.  Agrarian South Network Committee Member Prof. Lungisile Ntsebeza (UCT) and Walter Chambati (SMAIAS Harare) elaborated on the Trajectories of Land Conflict and The Contested Issues of Land Reform and Race which shape the broader context of these struggles in Southern Africa.

 See more:[backPid]=11907&cHash=9417793272381166658198af97ef7942


New South South Dialogues Conference  – Federal University of ABC – Brazil    21-22 Nov 2013

Organised by Agrarian South Committee member Prof. Paris Yeros, under the auspices of the Nucleaus of Science, Technology and Society of the Federal University of ABC in Sao Paolo Brazil, the main theme of this conference, was to reflect on ’epistemic sovereignty’ in the South and to build the research agenda which promotes South South dialogue, collaboration and intellectual autonomy.  The historical significance of the University’s location - in Brazil’s industrial heartland where the  trade union struggles fought by Lula brought down the military regime in the 1980’s– provides the inspiration for an innovative and interdisciplinary approach to learning which seeks to break withthe domination of Eurocentric and American perspectives by bringing the South ’back in’.

 An important aspect of this is to bring renewed attention to Dependency Theory which until recently was relegated to the sidelines.  Our Agrarian South Network committee was well represented with Professors Sam Moyo, Praveen Jha, Dzodzi Tsikata and Marcelo Rosa presenting the key topics and dimensions shaping the South South Research Agenda.


Official launch of the Zimbabwe Land and Agrarian Network (ZiLan)  Harare 12 Dec 2013

 The Zimbabwe Land and Agrarian Network was officially launched with a one day Conference and Ceremony at Adelaide Acres conference Centre in Harare on 12 December 2013.  The Constitution, Strategic Plan, and Workplan were reviewed and debated among the Conference participants and prospective members.  Delegates from the Ministry of Agriculture presented the CAADPagreement and explained its application to Zimbabwe.  The conference was very well attended with representatives from diverse organisations with an interest in agriculture including women, youth, veterans, organic farmers (ZIMSOFF) and the activist organisation supporting the struggles of small producers at the global level - la Via Campesina.

Work in Progress

Zimbabwe's food grain economy

 SMAIAS is completing a study on Zimbabwe's food grain economy.

 The study examines the performance of Zimbabwe’s food grain production economy particularly the recent liberalisation of food grain input and output markets, with a focus on maize and wheat. The study assesses whether the policy environment and responses to it have promoted the development of effective grain production systems and markets.The changing nature of the food policy regime and the regulatory context within which the grain economy performs are of particular interest.  The various grain market structures, including formal and informal, large-scale and small-scale inputs suppliers and food grain buyers and processing, to gauge the degree of grain market concentration and competitiveness and the extent to which state agents (such as the GMB) are influential players in the grain market are also examined.

 A local market study is currently being done for the ZiLan network



 The December edition of Agrarian South Journal of Political Economy will be out shortly and preparations are now under way for the SMAIAS Agrarian Summer School which will be held in Harare between 20-24 January 2014.

 Wishing all our colleagues, friends, readers and members of our networks a happy end of Year and all the Best for 2014.


 SMAIAS Blog October Edition – 2013

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Conferences & Events

Land for Sustainable Peace Conference - Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania

The International Consultation Conference on "Land for Sustainable Peace Conference" organised by the ELCT took place at the S Kolowa Memorial University (SEKOMU) in Tanzania from the 9-13th September. The University’s Justice and Peace Department played a leading role in the event which brought together representatives from Government, Members of Parliament, diverse Faith based, Civil Society, Academic, Research Media and International organisations, the Diplomatic and Business communities.

The Conference identified ‘Land grabbing’ as a problem which stands to dramatically affect the lives of 80% of Tanzania’s rural population engaged in agricultural production of cash crops and food and sought to understand what part the triple crises in food, fuel and finance of the late 2000’s have played in driving the current rush for land in Africa. The aim of the Consultations was to investigate the real social-political paradoxes which Tanzania faces in this context and reach possible solutions for the sake of creating sustainable peace.

 The concept note for the Conference raised some serious issues which have broader resonance for the African continent.

 For the past few years, Tanzania and other African countries have noticed a fast growing land business in their countries. Domestic and foreign companies as well as local and foreign rich businessmen are buying vast tracts of land for investment and speculative purposes. Some companies acquire land for investment because they predict prices of food and other agricultural commodities to increase. For example, while the government gets into large scale deals, most local businessmen are also buying land for mortgage reasons so as to get assets to enable them get bank loans. Even worse, they buy for future sale to new investors. At this juncture, some of the poorest people in Tanzania are losing their customary rights on land, water sources and other natural resources that have supported their livelihoods for generations. The looming situation seems to be alarming especially on the rights of future generations.

 In a keynote address on the new ‘Scramble for Land in Africa’ SMAIAS director Sam Moyo identified the rise in speculative trading of food grains as a major factor which has both destabilised global food supply and re-orientated discourses about land towards commodification. Labelled as a commodity, food becomes undifferentiated alongside agro fuel, non-food, or specialised food commodities intended for investors’ own home markets or trading on global commodity markets. The term ‘investment’ displaces considerations about existing human and production factors which disappear from view.

Locally produced agricultural commodities are not expected to contribute directly to domestic food supply and the socio-economic toll on affected populations of eliminating entire spheres of agrarian productive activities are not taken into account. The environmental and social costs implicit in the capture of underground resources including water are also ignored. These issues have dramatic consequences for settled populations already involved in agriculture as it places their claims in direct antagonism with those of far more powerful actors in the context of opaque or contradictory conflict resolution processes. Across the continent, these processes are fundamentally redefining the rights of access to land and water resources, and restructuring the social and economic content of the continent’s accumulation trajectory. These changes are introducing structural changes with long term consequences which will be difficult to address or reverse in the future.

 Land acquisitions whether for commodity based speculation or as a financial play benchmarked on assumptions of increasing land values, transfer African agriculture and biodiversity resources into world markets dominated by transnational agribusiness oligopolies. The workings of these markets through the mechanisms of monopoly finance capital extract both surplus value and resources as these become more scarce elsewhere, whilst simultaneously providing the main stimulus and justifications for land grabbing. Far from benefitting the rural populations, such land acquisitions in the name of ‘investment’ are emerging as the proximate causes of increased poverty, marginalization, unemployment and social breakdown - without resolving the problems of food insecurity or low agricultural productivity.

 Further reading on this topic:

 Moyo, S; Praveen Jha & Paris Yeros (2012), Imperialism and Primitive Accumulation: Notes on the New Scramble for Africa.

 Hall, Ruth (2011) Land Grabbing in Africa and the New Politics of Food - Policy Brief 041- June 2011

 News from our Networks

 LA VIA CAMPESINA highlights Small holder producers’ Key role in eradicating World Hunger

According to a Press Release from Rome on 04 October 2013 The FAO has formally acknowledged the essential role played by small holder food producers in the eradication of world hunger and formally recognised La Via Campesina’s role as the major international small food producer’s organisation. In an agreement signed with La Via Campesina, the FAO's Director general Jose Graziano da Silva cemented FAO cooperation to strengthen peasant based agro-ecological food production, protect small holders rights to access land and water, as well as improving farmers rights over seeds in accordance with international and national seed laws. The cooperation will lay special emphasis on the key role played by youth and women in food production as well as the need to improve their access to land and other productive resources.

 According to Elizabeth Mpofu from the General Co-ordination of La Via Campesina,’this is an important step forward in our efforts to address UN institutions and governments to have a policy shift towards food sovereignty. We expect that this cooperation will give further support to our peasants and small farmers who work on their fields to produce food for the majority of the world population’. Concerns over the implications of GMO seeds, land grabs and the growing encroachment of transnational corporations over the food chain, were raised as major challenges to food sovereignty and small farmers.

 FoodMattersZimbabwe - Announcement

 The 1st Traditional and Organic Food FestivalZimbabwe will be held on Saturday 7 December, 9 am to 4 pm, at the Botanic Gardens in Harare

 A number of organisations and groups (including ZAVSAP, ZOPPA, ZIMSOFF, PELUM-Zimbabwe and a recently formed citizens' food group known as FoodMattersZimbabwe), in conjunction with the Food and Nutrition Council, the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, have come together to organise a first “Traditional and Organic Food Festival”.

 Many of our traditional foods are highly sought after abroad for their nutritional properties. Awareness of what our small farmers in Zimbabwe produce and learning about how to enjoy the great food grown in our country is a vital part of a healthier, more affordable lifestyle which also strengthens our economy and agrarian markets.

 The aim of the festival is to increase awareness of the many different types of nutritious foods which are grown locally, providing information about the systems that produce this kind of food, as well as benefitting small-scale farmers. Cooking demonstrations will showcase different ways of preparing these foods; while their health and healing properties will be discussed through mini-lectures/talks on food related topics.

  Read more at:

 Join the debate: Discuss the issues, Share with your networks, Like us on Facebook



SMAIAS Blog Spring Edition - September 2013

Conferences & Events

Highway Africa 2013 was held at Rhodes University Grahamstown, SA on 1-2 September.

Under the theme: Speaking truth to power? Media, Politics and Accountability the conference provided a forum to reflect on the role of journalism and the media in society. The media’s central role in making meanings out of phenomena in the daily life of a nation, emphasizing certain facts and eliminating others, was examined against questions of legitimacy, accountability, and power. The power to set the discourse agenda came under closer scrutiny given the media’s increasing role in national revolutions; as the ‘opposition press’ or ‘regime change agents’.

 Speaking on the topic of ‘Power: whose power?’ SMAIAS director Sam Moyo delivered key insights into the dichotomies which shape the understandings of land reforms in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa promoted through the media. The address underlined the need to question assumptions and concepts which define visions of who is involved and what is at stake.

 Starting out with a classic definition of the power matrix locating the bureaucracy or government, and its counterpart in the social relations that are embedded in it being composed of the relations between labour, capital and the peasantry, he noted that much of the discourse is about government – what is the government doing or not. In terms of events since 2000 capital is thought of in a more liberalised context of State withdrawal from public functions, and its replacement with the rise of monopoly finance capital, which includes agrarian capital. At the level of the discourse agrarian interventions through the traditional mechanism of policy reform suddenly appear to contradict the contemporary liberalised context and this raises a fundamental problem for the narrative.

 The solution to the problem has been to break up the story along two standard lines. The first, anchored in old school cultural anthropology of the 19th century type, has successfully transformed the ‘big man’ caricature, into a caricature of culturally shaped politics which obscures the struggles between groups, classes and even races, regions and other identities which are being played out over such important issues as for instance land reform. When combined with the purported irrationality of the so called ‘neo patrimonial’ State, which is simply power hungry and has no interest in responding to the demands of people – the narrative becomes easy to perpetuate.

 The limited source which has informed these narratives has also created a distorted perspective of events by relying primarily on the accounts of land owners and their chosen employees, some corporate sources, and NGOs to frame the ‘popular perspective’ based on their particular field of interest or action. The formation of movements and how the redistribution was negotiated is peremptorily treated in this narrative as a ‘descent’ into chaos. When defined as a non compliance to market transactions and rules, this notion explains why the news of Zimbabwe’s land reform success is met with such surprise.

 News from our Networks:

 Zimbabwe Land and Agrarian network (ZLAN)

 We are planning some field research on land tenure and markets for the ZLAN. The intention is to conduct a field survey with small farmers in one of the peri-urban districts near Harare. The dates and agendas for the network’s forthcoming General Assembly are currently being finalised and approved and we will expect to come back with updates soon.

 People’s Dialogues

 Solidarity Calls for a moratorium on the controversial Pro Savana project underway in Mozambique was a key concern articulated in the joint Press Statements issued after the SADC People’s Forum in Malawi we attended and contributed to last month. (see our Winter blog coverage of the event).

 The Pro Savana Project in Mozambique -Food Security through Cattle Fodder?

 Three years ago, the hectare lease price of agricultural land in Mozambique was being billed at the World Bank’s Annual Bank Conference on Land Policy and Administration in Washington, as ‘cheaper than a cup of coffee’.

 Last year, the Mozambican Government gave the go ahead for Brazilian companies to enter one of the country’s best geographic locations for rain fed agriculture which is currently under cultivation by millions of small farmers producing food for their families and for local and regional markets.

This project known as Pro Savana is a joint venture between Japanese investors and Brazilian agribusiness interests. It aims to replace food production primarily with soyabeans production. Soybean is a livestock feed and whether directed to the domestic or export livestock industry – its assumed contribution to food security only adds up on the premise that it will generate enough surplus to fund food import to compensate for lost domestic food production.

A third problem is the fate of the millions of farmers being threatened with displacement. The Pro Savana project’s large industrial farms can create jobs for only a fraction of the farmers currently settled in the area. In a statement reminiscent of colonial discourses used to justify land grabbing in Zimbabwe and South Africa, a spokesman for the Brazilian investment coordinator GV Agro has dismissed the idea that the project will displace Mozambican farmers saying ProSavana is targeting ‘abandoned areas’ where ‘there is no agriculture being practiced’, adding ‘There is room for mega projects of 30-40,000 ha without major social impacts’.

 A Gates Foundation report misleadingly hails it as a ‘boost to agricultural production to achieve food security…’. The chances for this seem slim. For one, global food grain markets are highly speculative and controlled by a small group of multinational trading firms. On the other hand, Pro Savana investors benefit from extremely generous ‘incentive’ frameworks of Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT) which severely limit the contributions which will end up in the public purse from any surplus generated under the Pro Savana scheme.

Under such circumstances, how will the food production, self employment and related rural income generating activities which currently engage the peasant populations settled in this area be replaced? If we are to believe that projects such as Pro Savana are necessary to modernise agriculture, the profitable aspect of this capitalist transition will be a ‘pitiful drop of water in a vast ocean of destruction’ (Amin, 2012).


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 SMAIAS Blog Winter Edition - July 2013

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Our blog this week focuses on Land and Food sovereignty issues in Southern Africa where members of our Agrarian South Network been especially active.

News from our networks

People’s Assembly of South Africa has now issued a Civil Society Declaration which addresses important topics including land occupation, land acquisition, food sovereignty, farm support and governance.  The Declaration was adopted after the Land Race and Nation Conference held in Cape Town 19-22 June.

The Conference was jointly convened by SANPAD.  The conference was designed to discuss ways out South Africa’s current impasse over the issues of Land Tenure Reform, Land Restitution and Land Redistribution, which have remained severely circumscribed by the legislative context which protects the utterly racialised division in access to land.  Resolving the land question is crucial to resolving the national question in South Africa.

The Conference organising committee was led by Fred Hendricks (Dean of Humanities at Rhodes University)and LungisileNtsebeza (NRF Chair in Land Reform and Democracy in South Africa at the University of Cape Town) with support from Kirk Helliker (HOD, Sociology, Rhodes University and CODESRIA. Fred Hendricks, Lungisile Ntsebeza and Kirk Helliker are all key members of our Agrarian South Network. Sam Moyo (Director of SMAIAS) and other Agrarian South Network members (Praveen Jha and Bill Martin) participated.

For further reading on this issue see:

Reclaiming the Nation: The Return of the National Question in Africa, Asia and Latin America  Sam Moyo & Paris Yeros (eds)

SANPAD (South Africa-Netherlands Research Programme on Alternatives in Development) is a unique collaborative research programme that is financed by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. SANPAD funds high quality, collaborative research by South African researchers in association with Dutch researchers.

Food Security in Crisis: Lessons for South Africa from Zimbabwe

Neither government’s pre-ESAP high-input agriculture efforts, nor the free market, private sector thrust of the last 20 years has succeeded in substantially increasing the production of the bottom 80%. The “miracle” maize increase by Zimbabwe’s small farmers in the 1980’s was almost fully produced by the top 20% who had easier access to inputs such as seeds, fertiliser and credit and lived in areas with better soil and higher rainfall. In the absence of credit and extension services support, a greater focus on small grains, rather than mono-cropping, and the use of high yielding maize varieties, would reduce the risks of crop failure in drought-prone areas.  (SACSIS)

Jos Martens (agricultural export & deputy director of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Johannesburg) examines the lessons South Africa can draw from Zimbabwe’s experiences and changing policy dynamics around food sovereignty and security.  Jos Martens is connected to our Zimbabwe and Land Agrarian Network.

The third leg of the Zimbabwe Land and Agrarian Network (ZLAN) national policy dialogues on land and agrarian transformation scheduled for the 5th of July 2013 was cancelled. 

Reflections & Reading:

Coloniality of Power in Postcolonial Africa: Myths of Decolonization

A new book published by CODESRIA considers the incomplete de-colonisation of Africa with important case studies from Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Free Access to the book and case studies on CODESRIA’s site:

Coloniality of Power in Postcolonial Africa: Myths of Decolonization. Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni. Dakar, CODESRIA, 2013, 308 p., ISBN: 978-2-86978-578-6

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People’s Dialogue Network

The People's Dialogue is a South-South dialogue platform that brings together social organizations and movements particularly from Latin America and Africa to promote action and democratic participation processes which consolidate the foundations for change towards new models of development.

The People's Dialogue incorporates aspects relating to the organizational experiences and struggles, as well as the ethnic, cultural, political diversity and gender diversity. Through the establishment of national/local Rural Women Assemblies in various Southern African countries, the People’s Dialogue platform is also strengthening the Rural Women’s Voice in these important debates.
Currently, the People’s Dialogue is focusing on the following broader themes: (1) Land and food sovereignty (2) Ecological crisis and extractives and (3) The state, democracy and popular power in Southern Africa. These themes will define the campaign thrust for 2013, whose calendar was developed and adopted in February.

The People’s Dialogue is also developing an initiative to fight Transnational Corporations (TNCs) through the establishment of the Southern African People’s Tribunal. The tribunal will allow smallholders and grassroots women to bring their cases (through video, stories, writing etc) against the TNCs and the exact formulation of the charges would be constructed against the TNCs from their perspective.

African Institute for Agrarian Studies (AIAS) is part of the coordinating team of the People’s Dialogue and a member of the Reference Group responsible for developing the plans, programmes and strategic direction of the People’s Dialogue. AIAS participates in a numerous events organized by the People’s Dialogue aimed at promoting the interests of the small holder farmers in Southern Africa and Africa in general. AIAS contributions are anchored in grounded research on issues of food security, social movements and globalization which take popular struggles into account in building alternatives.

In 2012-2013 AIAS has been involved in the following People’s Dialogue Events


Venue and date

PD Seminar on “Rio + 20 and the Green Economy: the need for a new paradigm”

Johannesburg, South Africa, 5-7 May 2012

Rio + 20 People’s Summit No to the “Green Economy”
Social Justice and Environmental engagements

Rio de Janerio, Brazil, 16-23 June 2012

People’s Dialogue Strategic Planning meeting

Johannesburg South Africa, November 2012

People’s Dialogue 2013 Planning meeting

Johannesburg South Africa, February 2013

World Social Forum: Another world is possible

Tunis, Tunisia, 25-30 March 2013

Agrarian Studies Summer School

The past three decades have witnessed the further weakening of rural livelihoods, exclusive growth and the promotion of land markets. The failure of the development project in many parts of the Global South (Asia, Latin America and Africa), particularly connected to the structural adjustment programmes in the past decades has increased the dependence on ‘development experts’ whilst weakening African scholarship. In this context, the SMAIAS has sought to reinvigorate the debates by promoting critical thinking and analysis among a wider range of African scholars and activists in the context of a South South Collaboration. 

Since 2009, the SMAIAS has organised the Annual International Agrarian Summer School. This event provides an important platform for African Scholarship and their counterparts in the Global South, to engage with alternative perspectives, reflect and deepen dialogue about the challenges of Agrarian change.

Established scholars, researchers, activists and young scholars from universities and other institutions in a broad spectrum of countries in both the Global South and North: including South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal, Mali, Brazil (Brasilia and Belo Horizonte), India, US, UK, France, Germany and Norway have participated in this event.

Agrarian Summer Schools 2009-2013: Themes

The first edition of the Agrarian Studies Summer School in 2009 was held in Harare under theme “Social Movements and the Agrarian Question”.

the 2010 Agrarian Studies Summer School was held in Tanzania under theme “The Agrarian Question: Historical Trajectories and Contemporary Policy Alternatives”.

The 2011 Agrarian Studies Summer School was held under the theme “Global Crisis, Scramble and Agrarian Reform in the South” at Rhodes University from the 17th  to 22nd of January.

The 2012 Agrarian Studies Summer School was held under the theme “Agrarian Question in Africa in the face of multiple Global Crises” in Harare from the 16th  to 20th  of January.

The 2013 Agrarian Studies Summer School was held under the theme “Political Economy of Food Sovereignty in the Global South” in Harare from the 14th to 18th January.


What We Have Achieved

The Agrarian Studies Summer School has enabled the SMAIAS to maintain institutional space for African academics, young scholars and CSOs to engage in land and agrarian reform debates.  It provides a forum to engage diverse interests drawn from academic, research, policy, and activist milieus internationally, around the neglected Agrarian Question.  To date, Agrarian Studies Summer School has welcomed participants from the ‘Global South’ continents of Latin America, Africa and India, as well as from the US, and Europe in the ‘Global North’ which has significantly contributed to deeper understandings about the consequences of particular problems in different contexts.  Countries represented at this year’s event included: Brazil, the US, France, Senegal, Norway, Germany, Mali, Uganda, Tanzania, Angola, South Africa, Kenya, Mauritania, Botswana, India and Zimbabwe.  The ensuing debates have served as a springboard for critical new research studies on contemporary agrarian problems such as the New Scramble for Africa’s natural resources.

As a regular forum centred on Agrarian questions affecting primarily the Global South, it has been a catalyst to the development the South-South Network which brings together African, Latin American and Asian scholars to conduct comparative studies, policy dialogues and publishing through a free e-journal. A significant achievement was the emergeance of an Agrarian Studies Consortium to support post graduate training and promote collaborative research and policy analysis activities with CSO activists.

The Agrarian Studies Summer School is continuously developing a critical mass of young scholars and civil society activists with the aim of developing a critical mass of young intellectuals and activists who can play a leading role in the analysis and design of solutions to Africa’s agrarian problems.

Illustrating the successful impacts this event has been able to achieve, the journal Les Afriques January 31, 2013 edition ran an important feature article on emerging lessons from Zimbabwe’s land reform examined at this year’s Summer School.

Read our free English translation of the article originally published in French.

Agrarian South Journal

The Agrarian South Journal of Political Economy was launched in 2012  to renew the debate on the Agrarian Question and respond to the challenges of the 21st century; notably food, energy, climate and economic crises.  The Journal promotes research on a variety of issues related to agrarian change, land use and global agriculture, whilst also contributing to the development of autonomous thinking in the South.  It is published quarterly.

The editorial board headed by Professor Sam Moyo is made up of prominent scholars whose work in the past decades has played a major role in clarifying the economic, gender, labour and social issues at stake, in the Continents of the Global South.  They include: Praveen Jha (Professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi), Marcelo Rosa (Adjunct Professor of Sociology, University of Brasilia, Brazil), Dzodzi Tsikata (University of Ghana, Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT) and current Vice President of CODESRIA) and Paris Yeros (Adjunct Professor of International Economics at the Federal University of ABC (UFABC), São Paulo, Brazil.).  These and advisory board members of the journal are also key figures in our Agrarian South Network and regular contributors to our Agrarian South Summer School.

The thematic areas which the Agrarian South Journal deems fundamental are:

  • The role of Rural and Land movements in Democratic, National and Global struggles
  • The unequal integration of Southern Societies and Agriculture in the World System
  • The Construction of Alternative Development Strategies towards a multi-polar, just and sustainable world.


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AIAS is a regional organisation that seeks to influence land and agrarian reform policies through multidisciplinary social science research, policy dialogues, training, networking and information dissemination