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PhD Trade politicies and agriculture in Sub Saharan Africa

Mathilde Douillet, has undertaken a PhD in economics within FARM and at the Groupe d’Economie Mondiale at Sciences Po between 2009 and 2012. She is studying public policies for african agriculture in the new global context.

Historical break for agricultural policies

The subject of the PhD is consistent with the regained interest in agriculture worldwide :

Indeed the rise of commodity prices of 2008, the severe food crisis but also the new emerging social demands on agriculture have driven international attention towards agriculture.

But, agriculture also stands structurally at the crossroads of major collective stakes such as ensuring food provision of a growing global population while preserving the environment.

In addition, agriculture is of primary concern for developing countries for both economic and social reasons.

As a consequence, the hypothesis of numerous experts is that this new global context constitute an historical break for agricultural policies, while at the same time it seems that mobilizing international and national funding towards agriculture has been set as a priority. It is thus an unprecedented opportunity to rethink and revitalize agricultural development.

Nowadays, numerous developping countries are confronted with the need to immediate action and have to define new public policies for that sector after a long period characterized by a lack of investments in agriculture, and deregulation often following the structural adjustment policies.

Yet, the analysis of the economic and agronomic literature indicates that, as of today, there is no consensus either on the type of policies to promote or on the tools to guide such political choice. Often short-term measures favor consumers and forget producers, even though the latests are the only ones who can lead the countries out of the crisis by producing more food.

As part of its activities, FARM wished to support reflections on agricultural policies in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) . Between 2009 and 2012, Mathilde Douillet, now project manager on agricultural policies and markets at FARM, has undertaken a doctoral thesis on the comparative analysis of the impacts of different economic policies on agriculture and development in sub-Saharan Africa. Trained as an agronomist, Mathilde Douillet is enrolled in the doctoral program in economics at Sciences Po under the scientific supervision of Antoine Bouët, researcher at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Her PhD has been funded through a specific convention (CIFRE in French) with FARM as a private partner, hence she is also benefitting from the professional guidance of the Director of FARM (initially Bernard Bachelier, who was succeeded by Jean-Christophe Debar).

The economic analysis combines quantitative tools (computable general equilibrium, with the multicountry model MIRAGE developped by the CEPII and national model developped by the IFPRI ) and qualitative tools. This research aimed at contributing to the debate on the role of agriculture for economic development in Africa and on the perspectives that can be awaited from reforms of trade and agricultural policies in these countries,with a specific focus on Malawi.

Download the brief presenting the research of the PhD from FARM’s perspective French and in English.

The dissertation

This dissertation aims at contributing to the comparative analysis of trade and agricultural policies in Sub-Saharan Africa from a policy coherence for development point of view. The framework is established by reviewing the policies historically implemented in the region, linking them to the history of economic thought. The debates on the role of agriculture for development and on the use of public intervention and trade policies to promote development strategies are explored justifying the need to prioritize potential policy reforms based on their impacts on agriculture and economic growth, and the choice of computable general equilibrium modeling. Chapter I highlights the main challenges and opportunities for Sub-Saharan African agricultural trade stemming from the changes in the global agricultural markets and the trade agreements currently negotiated. Chapter II and III show that global computable general equilibrium provides a useful tool to compare regional integration to multilateral integration, in terms of their impacts on gross domestic product, welfare and sectoral growth distribution. Chapter III is a case study on Malawi. The global model is linked to a national model including household data to compare the distributional impacts of trade policies and agricultural policies on poverty. This dissertation highlights that regional integration could bring substantial economic gains to Sub-Saharan Africa, together with more diversified and more processed agricultural exports than multilateral integration. Not all policy reform is found to equally reduce the poverty of the small-scale farmers, the majority of the poors and vulnerable in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Key words : Computable general equilibrium, Poverty, Agricultural policy, Trade policy, Regional integration, Trade preferences , Africa, Malawi

- The full dissertation in English (200 p).
- Le long summary in French (50p).
- Les short summaries French /English(4 p)


- 2011 "Which trade integration scheme can best help Sub-Saharan Africa develop and export more processed agricultural goods ?" IFPRI Discussion Paper
- with Karl Pauw, 2012, "Trade integration in Sub-Saharan Africa
Lessons for Malawian trade policy" IFPRI Policy Brief

Research themes

- Agriculture in growth models
- Political economy of public interventions in agriculture in Africa
- The agricultural world trade context and SSA’s integration potential in regional and world agricultural markets
- Compared impacts of trade and agricultural policies on agriculture and poverty in Malawi
- Construction of a Social accounting Matrix for Malawi.
- Linking global and national CGE with households surveys.

Publications et presentations at conferences

- Presentation at the annual conference of the European Trade Study Group (ETSG), 9-12 september 2010, Lausanne (Swizerland).
- Presentation at a Policy Seminar organized by IFPRI MaSSP at the Ministry for Agriculture and Food Security of Malawi, 18 november 2010, Lilongwe (Malawi).
- Presentation at the doctoral seminar in economics of Sciences Po, 17 december 2010, Paris (France).
- Presentation at the brown bag seminar of IFPRI, 29 May 2011, Washington DC (USA)
- Presentation at the 14th annual conference of the Global Trade Analysis Project, 16-18 june 2011, Venise (Italy). Paper on the conference website
- Presentation at the annual conference of Ecomod, 29 juin-01 juillet 2011, Puerta Delgada (Portugal).
- Presentation at the annual conference of Center for the Study of African Economics (CSAE) of Oxford University, 18-20 march 2012, Oxford (UK).
- Presentation at the 15th annual conference of the Global Trade Analysis Project, 27-29 june 2012, at the WTO, Geneva (Switzerland).
- Presentation at the 28th conference of agricultural economists (IAAE), 18-24 august 2012, Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil).

*CIFRE : Industrial agreement of training through research – innovative PhD fundings through the private sector managed by the ANRT (National Association for Technical Research) under the aegis of the French Ministry of Research.

For further information contact Mathilde Douillet

Publié le : 13 juillet 2012

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