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The role of agriculture in economic development: Visible and invisible surplus transfers

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  • Paul Winters
  • Alain De Janvry
  • Elisabeth Sadoulet
  • Kostas Stamoulis

Abstract

The financial surplus of agriculture has been central to theories of the role of agriculture in economic development. Morrisson and Thorbecke (MT) have used a constant-price social accounting matrix (SAM) framework to measure rigorously the financial surplus of agriculture and decompose the mechanisms of surplus extraction. History and theory have, however, stressed the role of prices as an invisible transfer mechanism in addition to the visible transfers identified in the SAM framework. We extend the MT approach by defining and measuring the real surplus of agriculture and decomposing the mechanisms of surplus extraction between visible and invisible financial transfers. Using an archetype computable general equilibrium model for poor African nations, we trace the generation, transfer, and use of an agricultural surplus created by a productivity gain in agriculture. This shows that prices indeed play an overwhelmingly important role in transferring a surplus from agriculture to the benefit of the rest of the economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Winters & Alain De Janvry & Elisabeth Sadoulet & Kostas Stamoulis, 1998. "The role of agriculture in economic development: Visible and invisible surplus transfers," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(5), pages 71-97.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:34:y:1998:i:5:p:71-97 DOI: 10.1080/00220389808422537
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    6. Eze, Christopher C. & Lemchi, J.I. & Ugochukwu, Albert I. & Eze, V.C. & Awulonu, C.A.O. & Okon, A.X., 2010. "Agricultural Financing Policies And Rural Development In Nigeria," 84th Annual Conference, March 29-31, 2010, Edinburgh, Scotland 91677, Agricultural Economics Society.
    7. Wainaina, Priscilla Wairimu & Tongruksawattana, Songporne & Qaim, Matin, 2014. "Improved seeds, fertilizer or natural resource management? Evidence from Kenya’s smallholder maize farmers," 2014 International Congress, August 26-29, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia 182644, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    8. Nin Pratt, Alejandro & Yu, Bingxin, 2008. "An updated look at the recovery of agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa:," IFPRI discussion papers 787, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    14. Wainaina, Priscilla & Tongruksawattana, Songporne & Qaim, Matin, 2014. "Tradeoffs and Complementarities in the Adoption of Improved Seeds, Fertilizer, and Natural Resource Management Technologies in Kenya," Discussion Papers 189914, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, GlobalFood, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development.
    15. Nin-Pratt, Alejandro & Johnson, Michael & Magalhaes, Eduardo & Diao, Xinshen & You, Liang & Chamberlin, Jordan, 2009. "Priorities for realizing the potential to increase agricultural productivity and growth in Western and Central Africa:," IFPRI discussion papers 876, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    17. Mendola, Mariapia, 2007. "Agricultural technology adoption and poverty reduction: A propensity-score matching analysis for rural Bangladesh," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 372-393, June.
    18. Clemens Breisinger & Xinshen Diao & James Thurlow & Ramatu M. Al Hassan, 2011. "Potential impacts of a green revolution in Africa—the case of Ghana," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(1), pages 82-102, January.
    19. Plamen Mishev & Nedka Ivanova & Philip Kostov, 2004. "Agricultural policy options distinguishing a subsistence sub- sector in Bulgaria," Computational Economics 0409003, EconWPA.
    20. Minten, Bart & Barrett, Christopher B., 2008. "Agricultural Technology, Productivity, and Poverty in Madagascar," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 797-822, May.
    21. Shahid Yusuf, 2003. "Globalisation and the Challenge for Developing Countries," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 12(Supplemen), pages 35-72, February.
    22. Alexis Habiyaremye, 2017. "Estimating the impact of sericulture adoption on farmer income in Rwanda: an application of propensity score matching," Agrekon, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 56(3), pages 296-311, July.

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