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Morten Jerven Explains How Agricultural Statistics Can Be Used for Political Purposes

Poor NumbersIn an blog for Democracy in Africa, Morten Jerven, author of Poor Numbers, discusses agricultural statistics and refers to a recent article he published in the Journal of Agrarian Change, which looks at how these statistics can be used for political purposes.

Read Jerven’s blog post and journal article:

In the first blog of our series on the politics of agricultural policies and reform, Morten Jerven tell us about his latest research into the numbers surrounding agricultural policies, and the politics behind those numbers. Morten Jerven is Assistant Professor in the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser University and author of Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do about It.

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, the data on agricultural production are weak. Because these data are assembled using competing methods and assumptions, 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.

Book details

  • Poor Numbers: How we are mislead by African development statistics and what to do about it by Morten Jerven
    EAN: 9781775820659
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