Agriculture and Political Economy
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Africa is generally associated with the notions of poverty, illnesses, hunger, and underdevelopment. However, this continent has been striving for successful policy reforms and changes. Politics has turned out a huge hurdle on the way to continent’s development. Currently, African policies represent the necessities of the elite and cannot bring positive results. This work aims at delineating economic policies of Africa and understanding what alterations have to be adopted in order to improve the current destructive conditions.
Researchers Bates and Block (2009) discuss this issue and state that currently African farmers are disadvantaged to affect public policies. Rural dwellers constitute the largest percentage of the population. However, the problem lies in the fact that they lack unity. Bates and Block (2009) state that thee exist few large corporations within the continent, which determine the situation. They have government protection and for that reason conduct those things, which are essential for higher authorities, but not for rural dwellers. The government has imposed high taxes on the latter, and it does not allow them to develop. In such a way, it indicates that all governmental policies are adverse to the interests of rural dwellers (Bates & Block, 2009, p. 318).
The major problem of the African economy is the fact that the government is not actually interested in its development. It mainly considers the ways of enriching without paying attention to despair within the countries. Thus, it arouses great sorrow, because Africa is a continent, which has all chances to succeed. Its agricultural sector may be quite strong, and efficiently chosen economic strategies can put it on a new stage of development.
African countries have to develop strategies of continent situation improvement on the basis of the agricultural sector. It is a strong side, able to cause serious changes, and it has to be emphasized. Currently, the agriculture sector is mainly considered as the one producing revenue. Unfortunately, it brings profits only in the form of taxs paid by poor Africans. In his article, researcher Eicher (1999) discusses a completely new perspective. He states that long-term investments in the agricultural sector will assist to solve the famine problem. Moreover, it can result in such economic breakthroughs as job generation, foreign exchange generation, and contribution to rural and urban poverty rates reduction by decreasing the inflation-adjusted cost of food (Eicher, 1999, p. 396). These conditions are real and achievable; however, African authorities do not consider them. They try to conduct quick fixes to achieve tiny people-level impacts in Africa. Eicher (1999) emphasizes this issue in the following statement:
Many African leaders are still postponing the day of reckoning, when it will be necessary to face up to the long-term food gap and the loss of export markets, and to make the hard political choices and investments required to develop agriculture (p. 25).
Africa faced the period of decline in the end of the 1970s, and this time coincided with distortions in the macroeconomic policy. They have depressed agriculture exports since that time. Moreover, for that period it has dropped by 20% (Jaeger, 1992, p. 39). During the 1980s, dramatic price reductions were recorded in real producer prices, and it had a negative effect on rural dwellers. In other words, despite the fact that it was a period of decline, the higher authorities caused fluctuations in direct and indirect policies, and the biggest crisis was experienced by farmers. Unfortunately, there are no policies trying to protect farmers’ interests even today. Despite the fact that nearly thirty-five years have passed since the downturn experienced in the 1970s-1980s, the situation has not practically changed. The governments of African countries take certain steps to change the situation, but adverse effects of their failures are felt primarily by farmers. It is the major challenge. Official authorities behave in a way, which manifests their disrespectful treatment of the African people. Robert Bates (1981) discusses this issue ad states that, “Under many governments, all producers in the countrryside are subject to a depressed price for their products; this is particularly the case of the export crops” (p. 109).
Economic policies of Africa do not aim to improve the general state of affairs. The agriculture sphere lacks investments in agriculture education, research, and credit services. The IITA emphasizes the fact that SSA farmers experience the reduced amount of appropriate production technologies (Atehnkeng et al., 2008). In Asian and Eastern countries, improved varieties include 70-90%, and in Africa, they contribute to 28% only (Atehnkeng et al., 2008, p. 23). The IITA has also affirmed that SSA farmers experience low and volatile output and high input prices. Price deterioration reflects problems in domestic and international policies.
The analysis of the African economic policy has revealed a great paradox, as governments attempt to collect taxes from people and simultaneously provide them with subsidies. Subsidy programs are not aimed actually at assisting citizens, but at creating the ground for governmental support, especially for agrarian programs. Researchers Atayi and Ladipo (2003) discuss this situation and emphasize that the provision of subsidies simply extracts financial resources from agriculture, and as a result of such actions, all steps aimed at ensuring an improvement in the agriculture sector result in the transfer of resources from this field and the rural economy in general (p. 130).
In conclusion, it has to be assumed that Africa is a continent of big opportunities and huge resources. However, drastic events, which happen there in the form of famine, poverty, undeveloped business structures, and failing policies, are a result of the deeds of the government, which is uninterested in continent development. The agrarian sector is one of the strongest sides of the continent, and long-term investments in this sphere can bear fruit. Unfortunately, governments consider ways of self-enrichment, but not stabilizing the economies of the countries. The African continent lacks agrarian education, innovative devices, and recently adopted business strategies.