Policy responses to changing perceptions of the role of agriculture in development

International relations Australia

Traditionally, development economists had a dim view of the contribution that farmers made to modern economic growth, compared with manufacturers. Hence agricultural exports and manufacturing imports were often taxed. This view changed over time though, as first economists and then policy makers came to understand the high cost of an anti-agricultural, import-substituting industrialization strategy. This paper outlines how this change came about and the resulting economic policy reforms that occurred in developing countries from the 1980s. It then considers the kinds of distortions that remain within agricultural markets, their cost to the global economy, and alternatives to these price-distorting measures.

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