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April 10, 2017


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Agricultural monopsonies are still a HUGE thing throughout much of Africa. The average small African farmer isn't easily able to get his goods to market! So often he's literally selling his corn or yams to a dude with a truck. (Or, "that fucking guy with the truck", as an agricultural acquaintance of mine once said.) TFGWTT is usually associated with local elites in some way. But when he brings the stuff to market, often there's at least another level of monopsony, particularly if the food is heading towards a processor (increasingly common) or towards a town or city.

The extreme case I saw of this was coffee farmers in Burundi, where the system was quite consciously and carefully set up to allow rent-seeking at three or four levels while providing the coffee farmers juuuuuuust enough surplus profit to survive -- usually.

Anyway: it's completely unsurprising to learn that this extends back to the colonial period. A lot of bad habits in Africa do.

Doug M.

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