Morten Jerven Morten Jerven

The Political Economy of Agricultural Statistics

My most recent paper now available in Early View from the Journal of Agrarian Change.

The political economy of agricultural policies – why certain interventions may be preferred by political leaders rather than others – is well recognized. This paper explores a perspective that has previously been neglected: the political economy of the agricultural statistics. In developing economies, unhealthy the data on agricultural production are weak. Because these data are assembled using competing methods and assumptions, pills the final series are subject to political pressure, particularly when the government is subsidizing agricultural inputs. This paper draws on debates on the evidence of a Green Revolution in India and the arguments on the effect of withdrawing fertilizer subsidies during structural adjustment in Nigeria, and finally the paper presents new data on the effect of crop data subsidies in Malawi. The recent agricultural census (2006/7) indicates a maize output of 2.1 million metric tonnes, compared to the previously widely circulated figures of 3.4 million metric tonnes. The paper suggests that ‘data’ are themselves a product of agricultural policies.

Access the paper here. For an earlier and ungated working paper version see here.

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