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Monday, 29 April 2013

Agriculture Policy As A Retrospective Bribe?

Photo: I used to think that FRA subsidies were invebted by MMD as a BRIBE to rural dwellers to vote for them, until I saw this graphic. It shows the subsides were a REWARD for voting for them.

An helpful chart from Jayne & Hichaambwa's presentation on The De-Linking of Agricultural Growth and Poverty Reduction . The pattern is clearly that fertilizer support program (FSP) has largely followed political victories, in effect acting as a reward or "retrospective bribe". However, one could also interpret this as politicians doing their bit to "respond" to their constituency. If so, that would presumably be a good thing since we want politicians to listen to the people. 

Are the politicians following the masses or are they driving the policy? Its probably a bit of both. Especially given that FSP is predicated on achieving sustainable maize prices to keep the urban masses on the leash. What matters of course in the end is whether FSP and FRA policies are coherent in the long term. The answer to that question seems be a definite no - as discussed here. And that is why the chart matters. We want politicians to act based on the best long term interests of the public not just for short term expediency

Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013

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