Edited by Guy M. Robinson and Doris A. Carson
Chapter 9: Heroes, villains and victims: agricultural subsidies and their impacts on food security and poverty reduction
Subsidies have been a pervasive feature of agricultural policy throughout history. This chapter describes different kinds of subsidies and their changing roles in different societies. It reviews evidence on the economic, food security and poverty impacts of different agricultural subsidies in developed and developing countries. The evidence suggests that different subsidy programmes have had in some contexts profoundly positive and in other contexts profoundly negative impacts on food security and on the livelihoods of poor people and poor societies. Discussions of the historical and potential roles of subsidies and their more recent use have, however, often been the victim of a narrow overemphasis by some on their negative effects and, paradoxically, of their misuse as a result of others’ exaggerated expectations of their benefits. The chapter concludes with recognition that more judicious, differentiated and new uses of subsidies for food production may (with complementary investments in technology, infrastructure and socioeconomic change) be crucial in both high- and low-income countries in promoting sustainable food security and poverty reduction in the face of growing national and global challenges in food production and access.
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