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‘Leaving something behind’ - Migration governance and agricultural & rural change in ‘home’ communities: comparative experience from Europe, Asia and Africa

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AGRUMIG (‘Leaving something behind’ - Migration governance and agricultural & rural change in ‘home’ communities: comparative experience from Europe, Asia and Africa)

Reporting period: 2019-02-01 to 2020-01-31

The AGRUMIG project - ‘Leaving something behind’ - Migration governance and agricultural & rural change in ‘home’ communities: comparative experience from Europe, Asia and Africa - examines the relationship between labour mobility and changes in agriculture and the rural sector. It undertakes a comparative analysis of nineteen field sites in seven countries in Europe, Africa and Asia to examine the economic, institutional, cultural and agro-ecological factors which shape these relationships. It will identify a range of governance interventions which can harness migration to stimulate growth in agriculture and reduce the distress associated with migration.

AGRUMIG researches the impact of migration on the agricultural/rural sector while also engaging with the policies and practices of governance actors. A dialogue with stakeholders will identify frameworks for integrated migration governance which harness its positive impacts. A key aspect of the project is its identification of strategies to promote safe and regular migration through supporting change in sending regions.

The overall objective of the AGRUMIG project is to shift the focus of migration from being considered a ‘problem’ to being an inherent feature of the development process. It will contribute an improved understanding of the links between migration and development and an appreciation of the transformative potential of migration. This shift will maximise this potential of labour migration to be a positive opportunity to contribute to rural development.
Between February 2019 - July 2020 the AGRUMIG project established a website (https://agrumig.iwmi.org/) and strengthened the institutional partnerships within the consortium. Literature reviews carried out in the case study countries identified knowledge gaps and established a need for investigation of the relationship between migration and agricultural and rural change. The preparatory work for the intensive data collection phase was undertaken training of AGRUMIG researchers in the qualitative comparative analysis method. Migration governance regimes, policies and practices were identified and outlined, and relevant stakeholders were identified.

During the final six months of this period pandemic-related restrictions forced the fieldwork to be halted. This has delayed the project by a year. However the consortium undertook a rapid research project to look at the impact of pandemic on migration in the project's focus countries.

To date the AGRUMIG project has published two policy briefs and a working paper.
The AGRUMIG project will aim to ensure that new understandings and knowledge from a spectrum of cases in Asia, Africa and Europe contribute to building effective migration-related governance and policy. The project will show that a new ‘positive migration’ approach can generate development benefits. In the period up to July 2020 the groundwork toward this was laid with an initial Brussels-based expert policy meeting that set out some of the broad governance challenges, some of the gaps in policy knowledge and major assumptions underlying current migration policy. It initiated a network of policy contacts which has been further developed by partners in the focus countries who have organised national and local level policy discussions on these issues in preparation for the next phase of the project during which policy working groups and communities of practice will be formed at country level to work with the research findings.

The halting of the field research in early 2020 due to the global pandemic has delayed the progress of the qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) - the innovative method that will be used to analyse the AGRUMIG data - as it requires complete data sets. However in some countries data collection has resumed and the QCA aspect has been re-scheduled. It is expected that the AGRUMIG project will potentially have impact in the following areas:
1. EU and global migration governance programming, policy making and actions will be better informed and have improved effectiveness.
2. Innovative and effective migration governance structures, policies and instruments within Europe, in the wider neighbourhood and in the global context are developed.
3. Indicators and assessment strategies are in place to measure the SDGs devoted to migration governance, and the performance of migration governance structures.
4. The reform process of the EU’s asylum regimes as well as the external dimension of EU migration policies are critically accompanied and appraised.
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