Agricultural Statistics: Who benefits from distortions?

Morten Jerven

Published: March 2013

In developing economies the data on agricultural production are weak. Because these data are assembled using competing methods and assumptions, the final series are subject to political pressure, particularly when the government is subsidizing agricultural inputs. This paper draws on debates on the effect of crop data subsidies in Malawi. The recent agricultural census (2006/2007) indicates a maize output of 2.1 million tonnes, compared to the previously widely circulated figures of 3.4 million tonnes. The paper suggests that ‘data’ are themselves a product of agricultural policies.

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