International Development Economics Associates (IDEAs)
The Ethiopian Economic Association (EEA),
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
(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,
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.