Kene Ezemenari


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Institution: World Bank



Kene Ezemenari is an Economist in the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network of the World Bank. Her main area of research and applied policy analysis deals with poverty alleviation projects, particularly the design, implementation, and evaluation of targeted transfer programs in various countries. Prior to joining the World Bank, she was a Visiting Researcher at the International Food Policy Research Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Guelph in Canada.

Title: "On the relative merits of food based production versus consumption transfers to reduce poverty and the implications for agricultural research" Co-author: K. Subbarao.

Theme: 1F


Targeted programs are designed to protect people suffering from either a chronic incapacity to work or earn enough income to survive, or from a temporary decline in earnings capacity because of cyclical declines in the economy or other shocks or crises. In very poor countries, food-based programs constitute an important component of anti-poverty strategies. This is particularly the case in rural areas where the majority of the poor reside and where a significant number of the poor are likely to be both consumers and producers of food.

Traditionally, with the exception of food-for-work programs, food-based transfers focused on the consumption side – i.e., subsidized rations, food stamps, etc. However, increasing questions regarding the effectiveness of these programs in reducing poverty has led to a re-examination of the role of these programs in enhancing the welfare of the rural poor in general and rural poor farmers in particular. Some very poor countries are considering a shift from consumption-based transfers to production-based transfers. Production-based transfers are to be preferred to production subsidies since they are less likely to distort relative producer prices and therefore production incentives. However, are these production-based transfer programs likely to have any greater impact in reducing poverty than consumption-based transfers? What considerations (distributional impacts, political economy) need to be kept in mind in determining whether one approach is to be merited more than the other, based on country experience? What are the implications of each type of transfer for agricultural production?

Though the paper may not provide definitive answers to the above questions, the available recent evidence on the evaluation of food-based programs will be pulled together from the perspective of the above issues. The paper will delineate cross-country patterns in program effectiveness and also assess the institutional and political economy imperatives that contribute to the success of failure or both types of interventions. The focus of the synthesis will be on the impact of programs on rural poor households, and on the food economy.

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