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James Sumberg

Research Fellow

James 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.

Google Scholar
http://goo.gl/VzamdG

Research

Programme

Policy Anticipation, Response and Evaluation

Evidence-based policy is often framed by questioning what works, for whom and in what situations. It is often forgotten that the ability to answer this question depends on knowledge about what has happened, what is happening and what is likely to happen.

Programme and centre

Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA)

Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) is an international research partnership. We are working together to discover how agriculture and food-related interventions can be better designed to improve nutrition, particularly for children and adolescent girls.

Project

Matasa Fellows Network

An exciting initiative to support young African scholars engage their research with policy on youth employment in Africa.

Opinions

Opinion

The cult of the African youth entrepreneur

What image does the phrase ‘Africa’s youth employment challenge’ bring to mind? Is it, for example, an image of social unrest and violence; or of young migrants risking everything to get to Europe? Or an image of family and personal sacrifice to gain coveted educational qualifications? Or...

27 September 2018

Publications

Journal Article

Youth Savings Groups in Africa: They’re a Family Affair

Enterprise Development and Microfinance 28.3

Based on field work in Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda and Ghana, in the paper we provide new evidence that young people’s engagement with savings groups in Africa is deeply embedded in networks of family and social relations. Savings group members rely on money that is given to them by husbands,...

1 September 2017

Book

Agronomy for Development: The Politics of Knowledge in Agricultural Research

Over the last decade there has been renewed interest in food security and the state of the global food system. Population growth, climate change and food price spikes have combined to focus new attention on the technologies and institutions that underpin the production and consumption of food...

27 June 2017

James Sumberg’s recent work

Cluster

Resource Politics

Resource politics – the politics of access, use and control of resources as well as contested knowledge claims around these – has leapt up the global development agenda in recent years. Climate change, ‘planetary boundaries’, humanity’s survival and role in the Anthropocene and the...