Journal Article

Addressing the “Wicked Problem” of Input Subsidy Programs in Africa

Jacob Ricker-Gilbert, Thomas Jayne and Gerald Shively

in Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy

Published on behalf of Agricultural and Applied Economics Association

Volume 35, issue 2, pages 322-340
Published in print June 2013 | ISSN: 2040-5790
Published online February 2013 | e-ISSN: 2040-5804 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aepp/ppt001
Addressing the “Wicked Problem” of Input Subsidy Programs in Africa

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  • Corporate Regulation
  • Development Planning and Policy
  • Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
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  • Economic Development

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This article reviews and critically assesses evidence on input subsidy programs implemented in selected countries over the past decade in Africa. We believe that input subsidies should be considered wicked problems because of the indeterminacy and difficulty surrounding how they are evaluated. Main findings from the current body of literature are that input subsidies provide some measurable but relatively small positive benefit to recipient households' well-being. In addition, most studies find that subsidized inputs crowd out commercial input purchases, mitigating the extent to which subsidy programs contribute to total fertilizer use and crop production. African governments may wish to carefully consider the benefits and distributional effects of input subsidy programs relative to other uses of scarce public resources.

Keywords: Agricultural policy; Crop production; Crowding-out; Fertilizer; Food security; E65; G38; O13; O20; Q18

Journal Article.  8875 words. 

Subjects: Corporate Regulation ; Development Planning and Policy ; Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook ; Agricultural Economics ; Economic Development

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