International Development Economics Associates (IDEAs)
The Ethiopian Economic Association (EEA), Addis Ababa
CODESRIA, Dakar, Senegal.
UNDP, New York.
IDEAs organized a Workshop on ‘Macroeconomic Policies, Agrarian Change and Development’ in Addis Ababa with a focus on issues of current concern with respect to the agrarian sector in developing countries.
It is increasingly evident that there is a crisis of livelihood across large parts of the developing world and issues of food security continue to be of pressing concern, though both economic security and food security problems are far from static and are continuously affected by the evolving agrarian structures and patterns of development. Understanding the changes in agrarian structures and growth patterns and the extent to which these changes have been conducive to the process of inclusive development was the first major focus area of the Workshop.
Agrarian development is intimately linked to the macroeconomic contexts both at the national and international levels. Changes in the agrarian sector have to be understood in the context of the stabilization and structural adjustment policies and the more recent “poverty reduction strategies” adopted or followed by countries facing external debt problems. Exploring the linkages between the macroeconomic processes and specific changes observed in the agrarian sector, and their implications for development was thus the second major area of focus.
The Workshop sessions covered the following broad theoretical and policy themes:
(A) The Macro Context: Constraints and Possibilities for Developing Countries
(B) Agrarian Structure and Patterns of Growth
(C) Methods of Analysing Agrarian Change
(D) Agricultural Trade Patterns and Trade Agreements
The total working time of the workshop was 30 hours over five working days. The sessions were held in a lecture format followed by open discussions. This was also intended to be an interactive forum between young African scholars and practitioners.
The capacity building workshop centered on the thematic topic ‘Macroeconomic Policies, Agrarian Change and Development’, was opened by the renowned Turkish economist and Chairman of the Turkish Independent Social Scientists Professor Korkut Boratav. Following an overview of the world economy within the broad dependency framework, he explored the unequal relations of income distribution between exporting and importing countries in the international trade of primary commodities. Prof. Sam Moyo, Executive Director of the African Institute for Agrarian Studies, Zimbabwe, presented the research perspectives and questions in the context of the land question in Africa. This was followed by a presentation of the Indian experience with land reforms by Professor V.K. Ramachandran of the Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta. The other eminent resource persons included Dr. Charles Abugre, Head of Policy Research and Advocacy at Christian Aid, London, Prof. Alemayehu Geda of the Addis Ababa University and London School of Economics, Prof. Juan Carlos Moreno, Regional Advisor of Economic Development at UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), eminent Agricultural Economist Prof. Utsa Patnaik of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and Prof. Jayati Ghosh, Executive Secretary, IDEAs and professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University. The topics ranged from the impact of macroeconomic policies on African agriculture, emerging issues in debt and poverty for Africa in the context of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), to issues of ‘right to food and work in developing countries’, global trade patterns in agriculture and the effects of WTO and RTAs, and international financial stability and external financing for development. There was also a session on Latin America, to showcase the experiences of countries that had undertaken Structural Adjustment Policies (SAP) prior to most African countries.
There were over forty African participants at the Workshop; twenty non-Ethiopians and about twenty three Ethiopians. The former group represented young economists teaching at Makerere University, Uganda; Sokoine University of Agriculture and University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania; University of Gezira, Sudan; University of the Western Cape, South Africa; Ahmadu Bello University and the University of Nigeria, Nigeria; University of Malawi Bunda College of Agriculture, Malawi; as well as researchers and policymakers working in institutions such as the African Institute for Applied Economics (AIAE), Nigeria; University of Kwazulu-Natal and University of Witwatersrand, South Africa; Friedrich Ebert Shiftung, Tanzania; Ministry of Finance, Malawi; SEATINI, Zimbabwe; CIDA, Malawi, etc. The Ethiopian participants came from the Addis Ababa University, Unity University College, the Ethiopian Economic Association, various government ministries, World Vision Ethiopia, the National Bank of Ethiopia, the Chamber of Commerce, etc.
Feedback from the workshop participants found that the workshop and the theme were considered timely, most relevant and useful in the African context. It was pointed out that IDEAs is contributing creatively to promoting alternative thinking to neoliberal policymaking in developing countries and at least some participants frankly admitted that the workshop helped them to open up their thinking in terms of alternatives. The most important suggestion was for the setting up of regional or country chapters of IDEAs.