African governments reversed policy and are now subsidizing farm inputs as of 2013

May 9, 2015

"Consequently, the debate about subsidies has since shifted awayfrom whether to have them toward how to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of using them. At this time, the general consensus in development circles began to shift to the design and implementation of smart subsidiesthat target the poor and support,rather than undercut, the development of private agricultural input distribution markets. Agricultural subsidies have since been introduced in many African countries, with Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zambia at the forefront. Meanwhile, many of the donors who have traditionally pushed against subsides are now increasingly providing aid in the form of subsidies. Evidence of the policy reversal on input subsidies can be illustrated by the U-shaped trends in the share of public agriculture expenditure in total expenditures in many countries—see Table 1.1 for the examples of Ghana, Malawi, and Zambia—with the share’s declining during the structural adjustment era in the late 1980s and in the 1990s and then increasing in the 2000s. All three countries now spend a large share of their public agriculture expenditureson agricultural subsidies and at proportions similar to or higher than those of the 80s." (page 1)



Source: International Food Policy Research Institute, Samuel Benin et al., “Revisiting Agricultural Input and Farm Support Subsidies in Africa: The Case of Ghana’s Mechanization, Fertilizer, Block Farms, and Marketing Programs,” IFPRI Discussion Paper 01300, (Washington, D.C., November 2013), 1, accessed August 12, 2014,

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