Jim Sumberg - Research Fellow
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Jim Sumberg is an agriculturalist by training and has over 25 years experience working on small-scale farming systems and agricultural research policy in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. A key research interest has been the dynamics of change within agricultural systems.
There have been two sub-strands to this work. The first explores the persistence of agricultural research and development themes such as de-stocking, mixed farming and fodder legumes despite consistently poor results from promotional programmes.
The second strand focuses on agricultural research as a development intervention. Here he has published on the farming systems research movement; farmer-participatory research; the potential role of concepts from industrial 'new product development' in targeting research; and the value of systems of innovation theory in understanding the challenges to agricultural research in sub-Saharan Africa.
More recently he has worked on the agricultural development potential of "home-grown school feeding", the changing global food system and the growth of interest in 'local' food within the UK.
He joined IDS as a Research Fellow in October 2009. Previously he served as Programme Director at The New Economics Foundation and Senior Lecturer in Natural Resource Management in the School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia. He has also held research positions at WADRA - the Africa Rice Centre, the International Livestock Centre for Africa, CARE International and the Gambian Livestock Department.
A sweet deal? Sugarcane, water and agricultural transformation in Sub-Saharan AfricaGlobal Environmental Change 39 (2016)
Globally, the area of sugarcane is rising rapidly in response to growing demands for bioethanol and increased sugar demand for human consumption. Despite considerable diversity in production systems and contexts, sugarcane is a particularly “high impact” crop with significant positive and negative environmental and socio-economic impacts. More details
The adoption problem; or why we still understand so little about technological change in African agricultureOutlook on Agriculture 45.1 (2016)
The notion of adoption is central to efforts to measure technological change in African agriculture, and plays an important role in the evaluation of return on investment in agricultural research and technology development. More details
Contested Agronomy: Agricultural Research in a Changing World
Over the last 40 years, suggest the editors of Contested Agronomy, agricultural research in the developing world has been profoundly influenced by three powerful trends. More details
Mind the (yield) gaps(s)Food Security 4.4 (2012)
This paper explores the origin of the notion of “yield gap” and its use as a framing device for agricultural policy in sub-Saharan Africa. The argument is that while the yield gap of policy discourse provides a simple and powerful framing device, it is most often used without the discipline or caveats associated with the best examples of its use in crop production ecology and microeconomics. More details
Public Agronomy: Norman Borlaug as 'brand hero' for the Green RevolutionJournal of Development Studies 48.11 (2012)
This article examines the role played by Norman Borlaug in promoting the notion of Green Revolution as a way to rapidly transform agriculture in the developing world. More details
IDS Welcomes Matasa Fellows12 Sep 2016
By Jim Sumberg, Seife Ayele
Rethinking ‘adoption’ in African agriculture02 Sep 2016
By Dominic Glover, Jim Sumberg
Youth savings – it’s a family affair22 Jun 2016
By Justin Flynn, Jim Sumberg
Africa’s structural challenges can’t be solved by “youth innovation”17 Jun 2016
By Jim Sumberg, Philip Mader, Justin Flynn
Putting young African researchers at the heart of change14 Apr 2016
By Seife Ayele, Jim Sumberg, Samir Khan
Contested agronomy: more heat than light?18 Feb 2016
By Jim Sumberg, John Thompson, Ken Giller, Jens Andersson
Is agriculture the answer to the Africa youth unemployment challenge?08 Jan 2016
By Jim Sumberg
Are Young People the Answer to Africa’s Food Security?09 Dec 2015
By Jim Sumberg
Youth employment and imagined futures in rural Africa16 Apr 2015
By Jim Sumberg, Justin Flynn, Nana Akua Anyidoho, Thomas Yeboah