Agriculture for Development in the 21st Century : Evidence from Ethiopia

Sammanfattning: The 21st century has seen a rise of optimism about the prospects for African economic development, and Ethiopia, with its rapideconomic growth in the last two decades, is at the forefront of this current wave of optimism. The rapid growth has been achievedunder a policy focus on the agricultural sector – another aspect of development that has seen a renewed wave of optimism in the21st century. Recovering from two decades of neglect in the 1980s and 1990s, the role of the agricultural sector in economic growth has again risen to the top of the development agenda among many scholars, policymakers, and donors. This forms the starting point of this thesis, which uses Ethiopia’s rapid, but so far relatively short, growth experience as a case to study three aspects of development: the role of the agricultural sector for economic development in today’s low-income countries; the likelihood of that the current growth episode in Ethiopia will turn into sustained economic growth; and the role of the state in both agricultural and sustained economic growthFour main findings emerge from the research. First, that Ethiopia has undergone a “Green Revolution”, defined as a specific caseof agricultural development where crop output and crop yields double at the national level in under 25 years (Paper 2). Second,that agricultural growth has been central to the aggregate growth given Ethiopia’s economic structure (Paper 3) and, thereby, thatthe renewed interest in agriculture-for-development seems warranted (Paper 1). Third, that the state has a large role in igniting agricultural growth, especially via agricultural public spending (Paper 2), and in sustaining economic growth (Paper 4). Fourth and lastly, the thesis finds that while a focus on agricultural growth as a means to achieve aggregate economic growth can be warranted during the initial phases of development (Paper 3), rapid agricultural growth does not automatically translate into sustainedgrowth. This is instead conditioned by a country’s social capability, as defined and discussed in Paper 4. The thesis contributes to the previous literature by lending support to the large body of work arguing that the agricultural sector is important for initial economic growth in low-income countries, and by addressing the importance of both public spending and of a country’s social capability for agricultural and aggregate growth. It also provides three purpose-built datasets to the literature: on agricultural production and agricultural public spending in Ethiopia 1994-2018; on four elements of Ethiopia’s social capability 1950-2019; and on the bibliometric trends of the literature on the role of agriculture in economic growth 1969-2015. Based on the findings emerging from the thesis’s four papers, the thesis concludes that the agricultural sector continues to be animportant engine of growth in today’s low-income countries, and that there is scope for states to take a leading role both in thetransformation of the agricultural sector and on the path to sustained economic growth.