In theory, democratisation, which has proceeded unevenly across Africa during the past two decades, should encourage pro-poor agricultural policy, as the majority of voters in many countries remain rural and poor. This article draws on case studies of recent policy change in six African countries, plus a review of the literature on political competition and voting behaviour, to explore the evolving role of competitive electoral politics in agricultural policy-making. It finds that democratic pressures for pro-poor agricultural policy remain weak, which may help explain the limited delivery thus far on commitments to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). However, exogenous factors – most strikingly, sustained threats to regime survival – can create positive incentives for agricultural investment. The implications for participants in agricultural policy processes are explored.
Poulton, C. Democratisation and the Political Incentives for Agricultural Policy in Africa. Development Policy Review (2014) 32 (s2) s101-s122. [Special Issue: The Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa] [DOI: 10.1111/dpr.12078]