SOAS University of London

Centre of African Studies

Africa UK Seminar (Birmingham) - Agricultural Development and the Role of the African Diaspora

Agricultural Development and the Role of the African Diaspora
Perez Ochieng, Dr Andrew Coulson & Professor Ben Bennett

Date: 19 March 2014Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 19 March 2014Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Department of African Studies and Anthropology (DASA),University of Birmingham Room: Danford Room, University of Birmingham

Type of Event: 0

As part of the regional events from Africa-UK run by the Centre of African Studies, SOAS, this seminar aims to foster effective dialogue between the Diaspora and decision makers; challenge policy perspectives that neglect realities on the ground; and recognise the crucial role that the Diaspora plays in Africa’s development. Focussing on agricultural development in East Africa, this seminar will engage both the academic and diaspora practitioner perspectives. 

We welcome Perez Ochieng, the CEO/Director of Commercialization at Sacoma, an organisation which provides information, advice and guidance linking the diaspora and small-holder famers in sub-Saharan Africa. From the University of Birmingham, Dr Andrew Coulson will bring an academic perspective on the current state of research on agriculture and development in East Africa. And from the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich, Professor Ben Bennet will present from the European Union funded research project ‘African Food Tradition Revisited by Research’ (AFTER) about 're-engineering' traditional African foods for international markets.


Andrew Coulson worked in the Ministry of Agriculture in Tanzania in the 1960s, taught in the Department of Economics at the University of Dar es Salaam in the 1970s, and then at the Project Planning Centre for Developing Countries in the University of Bradford, England, before coming to Birmingham University in 1984, to the Institute of Local Government Studies. He has an MA and a PhD from the Faculty of Economics and Politics at Cambridge.  His book Tanzania: A Political Economy was published by Oxford University Press in 1982;  a 2nd edition, with a new Introduction, was published in 2013.  In Birmingham, Andrew worked mainly on issues relating to British local government, and for 14 years served as a city councillor.  But since 2009 he has been returning regularly to Tanzania.  He has written papers about the organisation of agricultural research in Tanzania, the policies of Kilimo Kwanza (Agriculture First), and the choices between large and small-scale agriculture - which are highly relevant in the context of land-grabbing in almost all African states.  He is Vice-Chair of the British Chapter of the Britain Tanzania Society.

Professor Ben Bennett is Head of the Food and Markets Department at the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich.  His research interests include markets and market access for food and agricultural commodities and natural products.  During his 27 years with NRI he has provided advice on trade and marketing to a wide range of governments, donors and private companies on a range of products from Avocados to Zebu.  He is currently leading a Work Package for the EC funded African Food Tradition Revisited by Research (AFTER).  This Work Package is re-engineering a group of traditional African foods for a potential European market.  As part of this he has been talking to food businesses run by the African Diaspora in France and the UK.  He will share his work in progress and discuss the role that the African Diaspora might play in changing attitudes to African foods.

Perez Ochieng is the CEO/Director of Commercialization at Sacoma. The organisation works across a range of areas: Information Advice and Guidance (IAG), Training of the workforce, business development and support services by investing in people, places and partnership. Since 1998, the SACOMA ambition has been to pursue excellence and deliver opportunities for all. Together with associated partners in the UK and Africa both in the private, public and voluntary sectors, Sacoma have track record of working with this community for over 12 years, at the forefront of many regeneration initiatives in the UK as well as International Development initiatives of poverty reduction, Trade and investment. In England, Sacoma also works with Government Departments and NGOs to deliver a range of advisory and social support services.  In Kenya, Sacoma has made significant progress encouraging entrepreneurship; especially among the many young men and women who have tremendous potential but lack access to resources.  

This event is free and open to all. Please email to register.

Organiser: The Centre of African Studies, University of London

Contact email:

Contact Tel: 0207 898 4370