Abstract: There is a general consensus that most of the poor in developing countries are net food buyers and food price increases are bad for the poor. This could be expected of urban poor, but it is also often attributed to the rural poor. Recent food price increases have increased the importance of this issue, and the possible policy responses to these price increases. This paper examines the characteristics of net food sellers and buyers in nine low-income countries. Although the largest share of poor households are found to be net food buyers, almost 50 percent of net food buyers are marginal net food buyers who would not be significantly affected by food price increases. Only three of the nine countries examined exhibited a substantial proportion of vulnerable households. The average incomes (as measured by expenditure) of net food buyers were found to be higher than net food sellers in eight of the nine countries examined. Thus, food price increases, ceteris paribus, would transfer income from generally higher income net food buyers to poorer net food sellers. The analysis also finds that the occupations and income sources of net sellers and buyers in rural areas are significantly different. In rural areas where food production is the main activity and where there are limited non-food activities, the incomes of net buyers might depend on the incomes and farming activities of net food sellers. These results suggest the need for reevaluation of the consensus on the impact of food prices on food needs. Further work on the regional differences, and more important, on the second order effects, are necessary to answer these questions more precisely. Only on the basis of further analysis can we start generating better policy responses.
This paper investigates the role of services in the household response to trade reforms in Vietnam. The relative response of the households and income growth after a major trade liberalization in rice are analyzed aiming to answer the following questions: What type of households, in which locations, having access to what type of services, benefited more from the reforms? It focuses on services that have an impact on transaction costs (roads or quality of roads, public transportation, access to credit, extension services, and availability of markets in communication services) because transaction costs are often cited as a barrier to rural households in responding to the price changes and increased incentives offered by trade and other policy reforms. The results suggest that availability of production related services contributes positively to the impact of trade reforms. Although most of the service variables have a positive and significant effect on growth in income, some that are expected to have an impact are not significant. This may be explained by the exceptional coverage of infrastructure services in Vietnam even before the reforms. When service availability is very similar across different localities, household characteristics become more important in determining the response.
Global Agricultural Trade and Developing Countries presents research findings based on a series of commodity studies of significant economic importance to developing countries. The book sets the stage with background chapters and investigations of cross-cutting issues. It then describes trade and domestic policy regimes affecting agricultural and food markets, and assesses the resulting patterns of production and trade. The book continues with an analysis of product standards and costs of compliance and their effects on agricultural and food trade. The book also investigates the impact of preferences given to selected countries and their effectiveness, then reviews the evidence on the attempts to decouple agricultural support from agricultural output. The last background chapter explores the robustness of the global gains of multilateral agricultural and food trade liberalization. Given this context, the book presents detailed commodity studies for coffee, cotton, dairy, fruits and vegetables, groundnuts, rice, seafood products, sugar, and wheat. These markets feature distorted policy regimes among industrial or middle-income countries. The studies analyze current policy regimes in key producing and consuming countries, document the magnitude of these distortions and estimate the distributional impacts - winners and losers - of trade and domestic policy reforms. By bringing the key issues and findings together in one place, Global Agricultural Trade and Developing Countries aids policy makers and researchers, both in their approach to global negotiations and in evaluating their domestic policies on agriculture. The book also complements the recently published Agriculture and the WTO, which focuses primarily on the agricultural issues within the context of the WTO negotiations.
During the 1990s, SSA countries initiated agricultural policy reforms to increase producer incentives and increase growth. Yet, agricultural growth rates after the reforms have been uneven. This has been attributed to lack of supporting infrastructure or the inability to respond to incentives by the smallholders. Based on ten studies, this volume provides a different framework to interpret the outcomes. First, it attributes the success of the reforms to the degree of consensus around the reform programs, which in turn, creates the institutions that can accommodate unexpected shocks. It differentiates between short run growth accelerations and sustained growth episodes. Second, it analyzes the impact of international prices which increased during the early 1990 and collapsed around 2000. Finally, it links the support institutions that evolved after the reforms back to the political economy of the stakeholders and their interests. Aksoy and Anil develop a political economy framework by bringing together the issues of consensus over the distribution of rents, role of unexpected changes, and the capabilities of institutions in handling these changes. Onal tests the of supply responses while Onal and Aksoy analyze international commodity prices and their transmission to the producers. Baffes analyzes impact of the adoption of cotton biotechnology in India and China, and the failure of SSA to also adopt. Baffes and Onal undertake a comparative study of coffee sectors in Uganda, and Vietnam which faced similar shocks. Five case studies cover cashew in Mozambique (Aksoy and Yagci), coffee and tea in Kenya (Mitchell), cashew in Tanzania (Mitchell and Baregu), tobacco in Tanzania (Mitchell and Baregu), and cotton in Zambia (Yagci and Aksoy). Results show that Agricultural policy reforms generated an immediate positive supply response. Real producer prices increased along with output. In unsuccessful cases where the short run supply response petered out, political and social consensus on the reforms was weak, and the ability to redistribute income after a negative shock was not built into the new arrangements. These products had been a major instrument for rent distribution before the reforms. The agencies could not be reformed to give greater non price support. In successful cases, there was greater consensus on the reforms program. The product was not a major rent distribution instrument and the producers were allied with the governments. Lower conflict also led to greater non price support. There was enough political and economic space for the parties to find solutions in case of shocks.