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Examine narratives to end policy deadlock, boost agricultural development in Africa, economists say

Economists argue that a dichotomy between either state-led or market-led approaches to boost food production leads to political deadlock that hinders alternative solutions. Credit: CIAT/G.Smith

Impasse over dominant and counter approaches — state-led or market-led policy — to promote agricultural development in Africa could be solved by analyzing the one-sided narratives that shape this dichotomy.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to transform food systems and achieve sustainable development. But the lively policy debate on which policy approach will promote agricultural development in Africa still prevents progress.

Debates include: Do small-scale farms have development potential or does supporting them promote ‘romantic populism’? Are input subsidy programs an effective strategy to increase agricultural productivity? What role should the government play?

In new research published in World Development, economists argue that a dichotomy between either state-led or market-led approaches to boost food production leads to political deadlock that hinders alternative solutions.

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