JAN 31 2009 (Dagmawi Blog)– About Five Million Ethiopians Need Food Aid. WHY? After 18 years of a supposedly pro-farmer government, why are we still here? Look at the figure below from the World Bank Report (2008): Ethiopia Agriculture and Rural Development Public Expenditure Review 1997/98 – 2005/06. The TPLF/EPRDF could not even restore per capita agricultural GDP to levels beyond that of the war-torn Mengistu era. This is despite a huge increase in spending (driven largely by foreign aid)
The problem with the Derg and the TPLF/EPRDF is the same. The world has known for many years now that socialized agriculture produces poor results. But the TPLF/EPRDF is intensifying its control of the countryside. Its cadre system controls fertilizer distribution. Its rural cadres control land distribution. Its party-affiliated companies control marketing. Its cadres control microfinance institutions. Private enterprises are squeezed out. Surplus from this agricultural “rent-seeking” goes to fund TPLF/EPRDF party work. Its a vicious cycle of control.
Even if the TPLFs monopoly control of agricultural inputs and outputs was a good idea, the centralized, top-down, Leninist organization of the TPLF limits the efficiency of the system.
But some people have lots of food. Ethiopia, the most starvation-prone country in the world, has probably the most obese president in the world. Obese leaders in a famine country – a fitting symbol of “revolutionary democracy”.