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Industry Papers on Food and agriculture

Measuring the Impact of Agricultural Finance on Rural Inequality: Evidence from Egypt
Heba Farida Ahmed Fathy El-laithy, Ahmed Rostom & Lamia Donia , World Economics, March 2017
Evidence suggests that financial development and improved access to credit not only accelerates economic growth, but also reduces household poverty and income inequality. Using Egyptian household survey data evidence it is found that a 1% increase in agricultural wages causes poverty to decline by 6.6%. Agricultural wage increases lead to the largest decrease in overall income inequality where a 1% increase in income from agriculture wages will cause overall inequality to fall by 0.049 percentage points: equivalent to a fall in the Gini coefficient by 18.8%. A regression analysis shows that receiving formal loans increases non-agricultural net revenues by 2.94 times whereas credit increases a household’s agriculture revenues by 2.08 times.
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Pastoralism: Africa’s Invisible Economic Powerhouse?
James MacGregor & Ced Hesse, World Economics, March 2013
Many elements of developing economies are missing from their national accounts. This is more than a statistical dilemma. It hampers the development of government policy, results in under-investment in those missing elements and simultaneous over-investment in others, and helps to paint an incomplete picture of the health, wealth and opportunities existing in these economies. There is a considerable literature on how the informal economy is excluded and the need to strengthen data collection for better policy development. This paper builds on this literature by examining pastoralism in order to exemplify this underinvestment and marginalisation, which creates a vicious circle of impoverishment, conflict and environmental degradation in most developing countries with significant pastoral communities. Investment in data collection and analysis will result in considerable benefits to policy, activities to achieve sustainable development and transparency.
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Averting a Global Food Crisis: Policy and data needs
Keith Boyfield, World Economics, March 2013
The World Bank’s Food Price Watch reached a new historic peak in August 2012. High and volatile food prices spell real hardship for the world’s poor, and supply problems due to volatile climatic conditions have exacerbated the surge in global food prices. Investment in agriculture is handicapped by the lack of reliable, accurate data. In many developing countries, the methods of collecting agricultural statistics have hardly advanced in 50 years. This article analyses these flaws and omissions and reviews initiatives to resolve current shortcomings. Plantation agriculture offers one of the most effective means of producing sufficient food to meet global demand. The scope for enhancing production is considerable, particularly in certain countries such as Nigeria which are faced with a substantial food import bill. This article reviews a dozen key staple commodities and explores the opportunities to expand output with a particular reference to Sub-Saharan Africa. Recent research reveals the opportunities to improve production through planting more appropriate seeds and the use of fertiliser. Any step change in production hinges on the adoption of larger scale commercial production, for which private capital will be required. In the case of palm oil, the last few years has seen significant investment in Africa by global agri-business groups keen to complement production from the two major exporting countries: Malaysia and Indonesia. The potential for large scale agriculture has never been so bright as it is today in Africa.
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Agricultural Statistics: Who benefits from distortions?
Morten Jerven, World Economics, 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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Malthus Postponed: The potential to promote palm oil production in Africa
Keith Boyfield & Inna Ali, World Economics, June 2011
The authors examine the potential to promote palm oil production in the tropical regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Given world population pressures and soaring food prices, the need to grow more food has never been more urgent. Palm oil cultivation offers one possible route to meet this demand; it also has a variety of other uses, notably biofuel. Major investors are committing substantial sums to develop palm oil plantations throughout West Africa. However, this major driver of economic growth has triggered controversy, particularly from environmental NGOs. The article assesses how far these criticisms are valid. In the process, four key challenges surrounding the development of plantation crops are identified. The REDD initiative – aimed at restricting forest land conversion for commercial purposes – is analysed and a number of practical hurdles to successful implementation are highlighted. The authors conclude that large-scale commercial plantation agriculture clearly has a major contribution to make in resolving the rapidly emerging global food crisis.
The Future of North Korea is South Korea: (Or hope springs eternal)
Marcus Noland, World Economics, September 2007
North Korea's famine was in significant part a product of state failure, and unleashed an unintended grassroots process of marketization. Reforms undertaken in 2002 are more usefully interpreted as a response to this development than as a pro-active attempt to improve efficiency, and the government’s stance remains ambivalent. The economy is progressively more integrated with those of China and South Korea, but the modalities differ: involvement with China increasingly occurs on market-conforming terms, while interaction with South Korea has a growing official transfer or subsidy element. Recent floods will contribute to a political context for enhanced South Korean government support.
Agricultural Reform and Trade Negotiations: Can the Doha Round deliver?
Kimberly Ann Elliott, World Economics, December 2006
In this essay, Kim Elliott examines the patterns of support for agriculture across countries and commodities in the industrialized world. She then summarizes the approach to reducing trade-distorting support that came out of the Uruguay Round, and concludes with a discussion of the implications for reviving and successfully concluding the Doha Round.
From The Hong Kong WTO Ministerial Conference to the Suspension of the Negotiations: Developing countries reclaim the development content of the WTO Doha Round
Faizel Ismail, World Economics, September 2006
This paper makes an assessment of the WTO Doha Negotiations from the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference until the suspension of the Doha Round at the end of July 2006. The paper analyses the events from a development perspective distinguishing between the perspectives of two broad groups of developing countries; the first that have an interest in an ambitious outcome in the agriculture negotiations; and a second group of developing countries that constitute the least developed and other small, weak and vulnerable economies. The paper concludes by arguing that the suspension of the Doha Round, and the almost certain extension of the round beyond 2006, means that the prospects for the development outcomes of the round to be realized have been postponed once again for both the above groups of developing countries.
The Nature of Corruption in Forest Management
Charles Palmer, World Economics, June 2005
Corruption is a well-documented and common feature of natural resource management in the developing world. This article investigates the nature of corruption and whether or not there is such a thing as a ‘tolerable’ level of corruption, particularly where there is an established culture of patronage. Using the log trade in Indonesia as a study in rent-seeking transactions, this article shows that a failure to account for the incentives underlying rent-seeking undermines forest policy. Also, attempts to eliminate corruption are doomed to failure. Instead, policymakers should seek to understand the nature of corruption in seeking to move from rent creation to wealth creation.
Can Agriculture Become an Environmental Asset?
Daniel W. Bromley, World Economics, September 2000
Traditional treatments see agricultural practices as inimical to many environmental attributes in rural areas. In the policy arena, farmers and environmentalists often clash over land-use practices, crop monoculture, animal wastes, and the application of chemicals – the residues of which are said to contaminate the environment and threaten human well-being. The existence of agricultural abundance in the OECD countries provides an opportunity to rethink old beliefs and attitudes, as well as to reformulate traditional policy approaches to agriculture-environment interactions. This requires seeing agriculture as a land-management activity, with production of food and fibre taking a secondary role. Economic incentives and property rights issues will require reconsideration.