FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Monday, January 21, 2013

Notes on the rural majority in Africa (Hyden, Jayne, MacLean)

BONUS LINK:  My entire (so far) grad school notes collection can be found here. 

Notes on the Rural Majority in Africa (Hyden, Jayne, Maclean)

TALKING POINTS UPON READING ALL THREE ARTICLES: These three articles offer progressively different views on the rural communities in Africa.  The first article suggests that the rural peasants can survive just fine without government involvement.  The second article (30 years later) suggests that the peasant farms are near widespread failure and require state programs to assist them.  The final article suggests that the reduction of state sponsored social programs had a devastating effect on the well-being of the average rural citizen (the same citizens who required no assistance from the government a mere 30 years prior).

Goran Hyden, Beyond Ujamaa in Tanzania(University of California Press, 1980)
BLUF: The author is arguing that Africa is the only continent where the peasantry has not yet been captured by the social classes.  As producers of their own livelihood, peasants are free from social class influence.  Tanzania is used as an example to demonstrate this belief. (pg 9)  The author appears to take a rationalist approach.

In 1967, Tanzanian President Nyerere adopted a development strategy that focused on the majority of the population, namely, peasant farmers.  Their contribution to Tanzanian’s GDP was considerable but production was low due to technological constraints.  Nearly all of the farms are small plots of less than three hectares.  (pg 10)  The wide distribution of small plots of land created a majority population that was self-sufficient.  Because they are self-sufficient they do not require access to a market that facilitates the sale of their crops.  Conversely, peasants in most other parts of the world “have been forced to trade their dependence on nature for a dependence on other social classes;” a process that may or may not occur in places such as Tanzania. (pg 11)

African peasants operate under the law of subsistence rather than the law of value.  Essentially, they will work toward survival requirements NOT toward increased efficiency and profit.  Modernization is seen as a threat.  Institutions do not provide information or lessons on crop rotation and efficiency improvements.  All farm knowledge is simply passed from one generation to the next. (pg 15)

This institution-less society requires no link between the producers and the consumers.  “History has demonstrated that the development of society is inconceivable without the subordination of peasantry.  As long as this process is unfinished, the ruling classes, those who control the state, are bound to be dependent on the peasants.” (pg 16)  Hence, it is imperative for the peasants to resist state policies and market economy to maintain their independent status. 

History demonstrates that the peasants will eventually fall prey to the markets and conquest by other social classes, but this process is greatly stalled by the fact that peasants have access to land where they can meet their own needs. (pg 17)  This process is accelerated in regions of Africa (like the Sahelian zone in the West) where droughts are common.  Under such circumstances peasants are unable to meet their own needs and must sacrifice their economic independence.  This adoption of capitalist markets is not widespread.  In Africa, the peasant mode is still in place and successfully hinders the adoption of a market economy. (pg 19)

Many Marxist scholars argue that the preservation of peasant society is a good thing.  The subjugation of peasants by the metropolitan elites only serves to destroy what was a perfectly viable economic system.  Capitalist scholars argue that capitalism preserves the peasant system as it transitions to a market economy. (pg 21)  The author argues that capitalism will not expand in Africa without drastic improvements in the efficiency of the agricultural sector (likely through the adoption of technology and the use of inorganic practices to increase yield).   States have attempted to push a capitalist agenda through the use of state controlled farms and village settlements where farmers are exposed to a more diverse society of producers.  These attempts have been largely unsuccessful.

“Labour rather than land is the real scarce resource.” (pg 25) States can’t exploit surplus because families only work the farms for their subsistence.  Government officials or the “petty bourgeois leaders” are forced to promise political currency (schools, clinics) in order to win the peasants favor to promote their own schemes. (pg 30).  The peasants remain in a position of power where they can simply deny the use of such political currency.

Economic development will not occur without further subordination of the peasantry.  Subordination will not occur because they enjoy their independence.  This situation creates a weak social dynamic with the government in a position of weakness.

Topic of discussion: If the farmers still rely on some level of trade for survival, how is it not a capitalist economy? 

What the heck is Ujamaa? Ujamaa comes from the Swahili word for extended family or familyhood and is distinguished by several key characteristics, namely that a person becomes a person through the people or community.

If the market is NOT the determinant of African development, what is?  What will ignite industrialization and widespread economic growth?  Does this even NEED to happen?

Many scholars cited in the article believe that Africa’s lack of modernization is self-inflicted.  Asian and Latin American counterparts have modernized at a much faster rate due to the government’s exploitation of surplus product and the eventual dependency of the peasants on the social institutions created by the government.
Class Discussion: 
- Economic development requires the destruction of peasant society.  Do they need a “push” out of agricultural sector or a “push” into industrial/manufacturing sector? 
- He also wrote a book on Kenya (No Shortcuts to Progress), where there’s a more capitalist tendency, and where everyone is a lot better off than in Tanzania.   In this case, the peasantry is sucking resources out of the state (as opposed to Client-State Patronage in Senegal where the elite is sucking resources out of the peasantry) directly.  The peasant farmers don’t end up working as hard on the communal farms as their own kitchen farms, and they just sell food crops amongst themselves or smuggle cash crops across borders = black market = invisible economy—generally this is bigger than the actual formal economy. And they get schools and/or social services and only give political support but still aren’t paying any taxes. 
- “Economy of affection” maybe a more cultural than structural argument.

T.S. Jayne, David Mather and Elliot Mghenhi, “Principal Challenges Confronting
                        Smallholder Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa,” (2010)

BLUF: Changes over the last two decades have marginalized smallholder farmers (peasant farmers).  Now governments are increasingly relied upon to determine the future of smallholder agriculture in Africa.  The author argues that unless technological advances are adopted most small farms will become unviable.

Date is compared from Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

The remainder of the article discusses the eight principal challenges to the viability of the small farm in Eastern and Southern Africa.  These challenges are broken down below:

1.     Decline in land/labor rations and equitable land distribution

To contrast from the first article.  Labor not land was the scarcity.  In this second article (which was published 30 years later) Land is now a limiting factor as demonstrated by the per capita land holdings in each country on the data table below (pg 1385) Land shortages are further “exacerbated by the apparent rise in the patronage-based land allocations to political elites.” (pg 1387) 
Table 1.  Ratio of cultivated land to agricultural population (10-year means)

Note: Land  to person  ratio  = land  cultivated  to annual  and  permanent crops population in agriculture.

The author sees the small farm (peasant farm) community being erased by larger populations and failure to adapt to natural (weather) conditions that can devastate a harvest.  Compared to farms in the rest of the developing world the “majority of African farms are dependent on rain and one crop season per year.” (pg 1386)

2.     Stagnant food crop productivity and the performance of markets

“Over the last 40 years, food crop productivity has risen throughout the rest of the world, yet has remained stagnant in Africa” (see table below from pg 1387)

Low agricultural productivity (as a result of technological shortfalls) is creating an atypical situation where rural people are being “pushed” to urban areas because of a lack of food versus traditional “pull” forces when there are more jobs to be had in the cities.  These factors combine to create a “swelling of Africa’s cities and social problems associated with this [overpopulation].” (pg 1388)

The decrease in farm yields means that farmers have less surplus income to spend.  The lower the surplus income the less the famer can spend on off-farm activities that generate revenue for non-agricultural businesses, leading to an overall stagnation of the economy.

3.     Concentration of marketed agricultural surplus

The vast majority of the agricultural surplus comes from larger farms that are more in-tune with market preferences.  When the market raises the price of wheat it can hurt the subsistence farmer who purchases wheat and farms maize.  Essentially, the market driven economy does not well serve the subsistence farmers in the countries studied. 

4.     Demand is growing rapidly but African smallholders are not filling this demand 

Urban populations are growing at a rate of 4% per year but agricultural production has not grown to sustain an increased urban population.  Additionally, food preferences for the urban areas demonstrate higher consumption of rice and wheat while the majority of smallholder farms are producing maize. (pg 1390) 

5.     Limited non-farm options for households with minimal land and education

Labor activities that do not involve farming are available but the entry cost to pursuing these careers is the primary barrier for the more impoverished smallholder farm families.  Additionally, the future availability of non-farm jobs is limited by the stagnant economy (which is limited by the lack of surplus to stimulate the economy).  The author suggests investment in rural education to promote job skills and empowerment through the understanding of new technology and the inner workings of the capitalist markets.  (pg 1391)

6.     HIV/AIDS

Studies show that the death of a head-of-household does impact the crop output of a family; however, this only represents a small portion of the rural population.  Many studies show no connection between HIV/AIDS prevalence and crop output.  Essentially, HIV/AIDS is one of many inhibitors to increased productivity (although not a significant one) (pg 1392)

7.     Farm policies in high-income countries and global agricultural trade policies

Global free markets are proving too competitive for low-output African farms.  African nations cannot afford to subsidize their agricultural industries like the U.S. Access to developed country markets has not bee achieved with many African nations suffering import surges following trade liberalization. (pg 1392)  Data suggests that reforming rich country agricultural trade policies would lift a large number of developing country farmers out of poverty. 
**As a discussion point: this belief is a moot point if there is only a minimal surplus produced (as pointed out earlier in the article).

8.     Donor and state support to agriculture has decline significantly

Donor assistance to social programs, education, and health have far outpaced the assistance provided to agricultural R&D. (pg 1393)  The decline in funding can be attributed to donor frustration with poor performance, and the perception that money was used to line the pockets of the rural and urban elites.  Additionally, short time horizons for improvement are expected while agricultural productivity increases are more associated with long time horizon improvements. 

To stem the tide of failing/unviable small farms the author suggests the following:
·      Investment in physical infrastructure (particularly in the realm of transportation)
·      Regional trade (as a method to curb expensive transportation/shipping costs)
·      Streamlining regulations and trade barriers (elimination of tariffs and import bans across the globe)
     Emphasis on rural financial markets to improve traders’ capacity to absorb the limited surplus production

Lauren M. MacLean - Exhaustion and Exclusion in the African Village: The Non-State Social Welfare of Informal Reciprocity in Rural Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire (2011), Studies in Comparative International Development (2011)
BLUF: Reduced foreign aid has led to the reduction in social services provided to African citizens, particularly in the rural areas.  Social reciprocity (friends and family helping each other out) was not as extensive as originally thought and policy makers should consider this fact when deciding what to do.

 Previously, it was widely accepted that strong family networks, communities, and church groups were able to facilitate the funds necessary for education, healthcare, and additional social services where the government fell short.  This article seeks to challenge this belief with the authors extensive field study results from Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire. 
this paper challenges much of the policy and scholarly literature, which presumes that informal institutions of reciprocity promote both deeply vibrant and broadly inclusive level s of access to social welfare. (pg 123)

The table 1 below demonstrates that Ghana has relatively low levels of social reciprocity while Côte d ’Ivoire has higher levels of social reciprocity.  Significant numbers of people in the Ghana region were not participating in reciprocal social exchange at all. (pg 124)

Table 2 demonstrates that “only 6% of all Ivoirian respondents reported that they did not give any type of help, over 39% of Ghanaian respondents did not invest in any type of social exchange.  When only the help given for hospitals, medicine, school fees, school supplies, and clothing was analyzed, 6 even more dismal rates of participation in informal social networks was revealed with nearly two thirds of Ghanaians and one fifth of Ivoirians not participating at all.

So what does this data mean?  It suggests that informal institutions (the willingness to support each other) among families, communities, and friends has seriously eroded in the neighboring regions studied for this article.  Even though the communities are very similar and near each other they still demonstrated significantly different levels of reciprocity.  For some, the levels of social reciprocity were so low that it is doubtful they would have adequate social security in the short or long term. (pg 133)  Additionally the author claims that the retrenchment (cost cutting) of state social programs had a much more devastating impact than was initially believed because the state sponsored social programs did reach the rural communities.

Should she have included the nuclear family exchanges?  Typically immediate families always help each other globally—therefore, not so worthwhile to include that data.  

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