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Structural causes of the crisis

The government itself, contrary to the options of the 1960s and 1970s eventually decided that a New Agricultural Policy was required.18 To establish that it was necessary meant, first of all, realizing the failure of the previous policy by ceasing to explain it essentially in terms of such factors as poor rainfall, soil impoverishment or gaps in supplies to the rural areas,19 relating these obstacles to their underlying structures. First, were the effects of the structure of Senegal's mode and dynamic of economic production on rural development. Then, the burdens of inefficiency and cost of the state and parastatal sector. Finally, the political and social project that underlay this kind of rural development.

The effects of extraversion

The economic system is part of the mode and dynamic of extraverted capitalist production. The laws and trends that govern such economic production and reproduction are those that give agriculture its place and value in relation to other spheres of the production and exchange of commodities at the world level: the subordination of agriculture to industry, of the countryside to the towns and of the peasants to urban workers.

Senegal's continued integration into the world capitalist system after independence was reflected in its acceptance of its place in the capitalist international division of labour as a country chiefly supplying raw materials-groundnuts and phosphates.

The choice of agriculture and groundnuts as the basis of economic development thus in any event meant mortgaging development by having articulated it around this commodity. Groundnuts, like all, especially agricultural, raw materials, are subject to the downward trend of their values on the world market as shown by falling share prices. The state's pursuit of the option for groundnuts thus expressed and reinforced the Senegalese economy's extraversion and dependence in relation to the outside world, where the prices of commodities are fixed in terms of the degree of productivity in the centre (socially necessary labour time) and not of the periphery. This reinforces the effects of the deterioration of trade terms between the centre (the capitalist metropoles) and the periphery. Indeed, the economic history of 25 years of independence illustrates this fact better than any theory. Even when production of the main export crop rises, falling groundout prices caused value to collapse, whereas the price of (manufactured) imports rises; this has been the case since the mid-1970s (see Tables 2 to 5).

Additionally, this downward trend in the value of primary commodities, agricultural and groundnut exports particularly, is aggravated by a similar trend in the quantity produced (see p. 174ff). In L'Afrique en panne, I. Giri establishes that this fall in production exists for virtually all raw materials in sub-Saharan Africa.20 Rural development in Senegal has, therefore, been permanently involved in a crisis rendered the more acute in that its effects had not been mitigated by industrial structures.

Burden of structures of agro-industrial processing

In the framework of an economy 'walking on both legs', the fluctuations of agricultural production due to the vagaries of the climate may be more or less compensated for by the industrial sector's dynamism, particularly one articulated on the main agricultural crops.

In the Senegalese context, the balance sheet of industrial policy shows that in no way is agriculture sustained by industry. A ministerial communication elucidating the New Industrial Policy showed that 'the earlier industrialization policy was... based on import substitution and has not produced the results anticipated of saving foreign exchange, increasing productivity and accumuIating capital..., profits and rents have often been transferred... only rarely has there been reinvestment'.21

Such an industrial sector, comprising more nearly a juxtaposition of industrial structures rather than an industrial fabric, not only makes it impossible to balance the effects of the crisis of rural development, but exacerbates it.

First, because, as the report by the Inter-ministerial Council recognizes, agriculture has been used and drained to serve the industrialization policy. 'The development of import-substitution activities has been promoted and made possible by the establishment of a major wall of protection which led to major transfers of resources from agriculture and consumers to industry.'22 Next, because it was then billed for the failure or the very heavy operational deficits of the agro-industrial structures.

Since 1981, the deficit of the groundnut sector has become chronic... From 22 billion in 1981-82, it moved to 17 billion in 1983-84 and 12.4 billion last year' the sector has been experiencing a loss of earnings of 10 billion per annum on average ...'23

The report goes on to observe that, at the industrial level, the deficit is essentially due to the disproportion between the husking capacities of the four factories, in which the state is the majority share-holder, and the groundnut crops reaching scarcely 600,000 to 700.000 metric tons.

Failure is also due to over-ambitious agro-industrial projects, as was the case with the Société Nationale des Tomates Industrielles in which capacity here too was way beyond that of the local supply. Failure, too, due to the management problems in market gardening in southern Senegal.

There were also excessive running costs for the Compagnie Sucrière Sénégalaise.

Although the duty on imported sugar is less than 15%, quantitative restrictions have kept the domestic retail price over 300% above the world market price; in 1982, this resulted in a rent of the order of 10 billion Francs CFA ($US 30 million), according to estimates, for the company that had the monopoly on domestic sugar.24

The primacy of agriculture (in the framework of an economy end dynamic of capitalist production) is thus reflected in enhanced dependence and extraversion, reinforced by the failure of the industrialization policy and particularly that of agro-industry with regard to the targets set.

The institutional framework for implementing rural development added an extra burden to this negative account.

Inefficiency and ineffectiveness: supervisory end 'traditional' structures

Apart from the SRDRs and the Sociétés d'lnterventions, the rural development services described as traditional are those of the agricultural department, the plant protection, seed, and the co-operation departments, the executive secretariat for the CERs and so on. This latter service serves to illustrate the limits of these structures' activities.

The Centres d'Expansion Rurale were formed by a multi-skill team, theoretically made up of a dozen technicians, but actually on average only four or five agents: one each for agriculture, stock farming, water and forests, and family and rural economy.

The reduction in the team's size seriously undermined its multi-skilled character. Lack of logistical and financial means meant an inability to respond to the tasks of development and grass-roots co-ordination. In practice, therefore, apart from data collection, these structures intervened very little on the ground. Lacking the means available to the SRDRs and the Sociétés d'Interventions they were thus rendered parasitical.

Timely supply of seeds, fertilizers and pest control products continued to be decidedly unsatisfactory. ONCAD, which had a monopoly of it, was dissolved in 1980. SONAR suffered the same fate in 1985, and in the 1985-86 season, there were still shortcomings in the supply and quantity of inputs available to the peasants at the right time.

Dissemination of technical information and intensification of production through research and popularization continued to be poorly done. These research shortcomings also existed in the area of dissemination work performed by the supervisory companies. The companies, services were often poorly performed or not performed in time - for example, the distribution of inputs - and were also very costly. Thus, peasants were forced into debt and the ADRs' deficits, given the low rates of recovery due to the peasants' low purchasing power, were increased.

At the time they were dissolved. ONCAD was employing some 5.000 agents and SONAR 1.200. SODEVA was able to cut its staff by 55% (755 agents), SOMIVAC by 38%, SODAGRI by 35%. These operations had no noticeable effect on production, and plainly illustrate the excessive number of the ADRs' staff. The Agences de Développement Rural running costs also absorbed almost 60% of government subsidies.

In 1981-82 SONAR received 7.8 billion Francs CFA in share capital and subsidies for running costs and 5.82 billion in 1982-83. SAED SODEVA, and ISRA received subsidies for running costs of between two and 2.5 billion Francs CFA per annum.25

In 1984, of the 12 ADRs only two. SODEFITEX and SEPAS occasionally turned in profits. This inefficient and bureaucratic management can also be blamed for the cases of misappropriation of funds and the misuse of public office for private gain, of which ONCAD often provided illustrations.

The responsibility for these dysfunctions and rural supervision management burdens cannot be laid on the mode and dynamic of capitalist production. The political and social management of rural development must share responsibility for the fundamental reasons for the difficulties of the rural areas.

Political project of rural development or economic confiscation

World prices for raw materials, including groundnuts, are not determined by the state, which itself decries the deterioration of trade terms. From there to denying it any share of responsibility in the crisis of agriculture is but a short step. The state is not a neutral entity.

The state is, as we have seen, responsible for the establishment and strengthening, at national and regional levels, of companies to supervise and intervene, whose inefficiency and exorbitant cost weighs so heavily on the rural areas. The state fixes producer prices of main crops (groundnuts in particular) and consumer prices (of inputs and factors of production in particular) and in this way, can stimulate or penalize rural producers. The state also determines the budget for rural development, and whether to increase or reduce investments there.

The state's acts - the political project - show that it has embarked on economic and social confiscation, or rural development to the benefit of the dominant class- the bourgeoisie and particularly its political and technico-bureaucratic fraction- and its allies the big rural producers, notables, and the urban petit bourgeoisie - at the expense of the rural areas and the peasantry.

Organizational bottlenecks: The supervisory companies deter and forestall any powerful autonomous peasant organization. Even the co-operatives fall under organized supervision, decreed and fixed by the state. Crowning this takeover by the state in 1966. ONCAD, following CRAD and the OCA, was made responsible for supervising co-operatives and marketing groundnuts. It stood between the peasants and the suppliers of inputs. It also intervened in the marketing of millet and other agricultural produce, as well as in the distribution circuits of rice and other consumer products of national importance. It also stood between the peasants and financial bodies. This position as a monopoly and unavoidable middleman essentially benefited only the trig producers, big marabouts, chairmen of co-operatives and their henchmen, and the political and bureaucratic supervisory apparatus. Even after the dissolution of ONCAD leaving a hill of 98 billion Francs CFA to he paid by the country as a whole26 the task of supervising the co-operatives was entrusted to the SRDRs.

This institutional blockage is to be found too at the level of rural projects. Once more, state structures seek to he their mandatory managers, such as GOPEC when it is not the SRDRs, the Ministry of Social Development even endeavours to exercise a right of overviewing the NGOs. The struggle and the dealings of the Conseil des Organisations Non-Gouvernementales d'Appui au Développement (CONGAD) can also testify to the state's determination to prevent any autonomous peasant organization outside its own apparatuses.

Economic confiscation: The operation of eliminating the private stocking agencies until 1985, the closing of PETERSEN, the purchase of the three oil mills in Dakar, Lyndiane and Ziguinchor, the opening of the SEIB in 1981, the creation of ONCAD, SONAR and the supervisory companies, signified the establishment of state monopoly over the whole groundnut sector: from seeds to oil production. The state, therefore, was enabled to fix producer price below the world groundnut price, thus demonstrating a clear political will to control the economic surplus derived from the difference between world prices and the price paid to groundnut producers.

Data from the Caisse de Péréquation et de Stabilisation des Prix show that the net out-turn of the groundnut/oil and other products balance was in surplus until 1979 with an overall sum of 49.4 billion Francs CFA. This means that the rural areas had' until 1979, been subsidizing the other sectors.

The surplus produced by agriculture is not reinvested in that sector. Instead' the state used the exceptional receipts derived from primary products' particularly from groundnut exports, up to the mid-1970s, mainly to extend the parastatal sector, majority shareholding in over 30 companies27 and thus to increase public sector employment.28

Wages made up almost 50% of current expenditure and' between 1975 and 1982 the number of public officials grew at an annual rate of 6%. It must also be noted that while public enterprises represented a falling share of GNP from 1978 onwards, they contributed to increasing employment and paid increased wages and remuneration.29 The audit commission report shows, between 1977 and 1981, wages had risen by 78% in the main enterprises.

The development crisis also results from the fact that rural producers are increasingly conscious of not benefiting from their efforts. They see that since independence the end product of these efforts has been the steep increase in the number of state officials who are paid their wages whatever the vagaries of the climate, soil impoverishment or the supply of production factors to the rural areas.

The producer price policy, use of the surplus generated in agriculture, breakdown of state subsidies and investments, confirm that until the decision to embark on the New Agricultural Policy rural development essentially served to increase the number of petty offices and state agents and guarantee them good living conditions.

Rural development and groundnut production has largely served to form and maintain a bureaucracy of the petit bourgeoisie and the strata allied to it than to maintain the actual producers. The creation and strengthening of supervisory structures despite their admitted inefficiency, the misappropriation and the heavy deficits that burdened the management of the ADRs like ONCAD and SONAR, the enormous proportion of the wages budget, all indicate this political and social function of rural development.

The prospects of a different rural development strategy, such as the New Agricultural Policy would like to be, thus depend essentially on its capacity to confront or remedy the situation produced by the three structures of causality that determine rural development.

The first, which is diachronic and structural, concerns the mode and dynamic of economic production, particularly the downward trend of the value of agriculture, and its subordination to industry. Can the New Agricultural Policy go against this dynamic?

The second, which is functional, relates to the inefficiency and cost of supervision. Can the New Agricultural Policy forestall their effects and deal with the reasons for them?

The third, which is super-determining, is the social and political option: confiscation to the benefit of bourgeois fractions, the intellectual and technocratic petit bourgeoisie and its allies, the urban petit bourgeoisie the big producers and notables of the fruits of agricultural production. Can the New Agricultural Policy oppose and limit it?

Prospects for a different rural development strategy

To grasp the conditions and limits of a different rural development strategy may now devolve upon seeking out and setting out the processes and the situation that must be changed twenty-five years after independence, if the 'New Agricultural Policy' is to be, President Abdou Diouf's words, 'for the sole benefit of the producers, the true actors in and beneficiaries of agricultural development, by liberating them from the various negative structural constraints and making them masters of their destiny'.

Impoverishment of the countryside

'Rural income is inadequate... One can only observe the general stagnation of the peasant condition despite (or because of) the marked stepping-up of government action on agriculture'.30 That is how the introduction to an official ILO report begins its discussion of the situation in the rural areas.

A 'negative structural constraint' with the subordination of agriculture to industry means impoverishment of the countryside. The remuneration of ordinary rural labour in the framework of the capitalist mode of production is below the average real remuneration of urban manual and white collar workers.

'Income inequality [in Senegal] is such that the average income of 70% of the total population is one-third that of the average income of the remaining 30% living in the urban centres.'31 The effect of such an imbalance is obvious, notably for Cape Verde. Dakar, which had only 16% of the total population, sees an extra 200.000 coming in each year. According to a statement on the New Agricultural Policy' 'those who leave are mainly the young and the most economically active, the ones least resigned'.32 The ILO report concluded: 'Rural income is inadequate and there is a more or less permanent exodus towards the urban areas, on top of the annual seasonal migration.'

In the framework of the capitalist mode of production, the development of agriculture and its modernization tends to draw the labour force from the countryside to the urban areas. This migration, fuelled by the rural-urban income differential is further increased by the fact that the vast majority of people depend on rain-fed agriculture. After three or four months of activity, the vast bulk of the rural population is condemned to under- and unemployment and hence migrates out of the rural areas.

There is' then impoverishment in the countryside, with underemployment, unemployment and rural exodus, and enrichment in the urban areas- the income of the 30% in the towns is three times that of the 70% in the countryside. The countryside is thus made dependent on the towns. The maintenance of the precapitalist structures of mutual assistance within the community which still survive' mitigates the social consequences of rural conditions. 'On average, each employed urban worker supports 2.6 individuals with no regular occupation [ 1976]. How, for example' can it be justified that in the rural areas where about 70% of the population live' no structures have been set up to promote the integration of young rural dwellers whose general educational level it is sought to raise?'33 Six years later, the New Agricultural Policy provides no answer to this question.

Destruction of traditional production systems and capitalist reconstruction

Generalization of commodity economy and monetarization, in short the development of capitalism, has destroyed any possibility of living in the countryside without becoming involved in growing cash crops and particularly groundnuts. This activity is the leading source of monetary income for 46% of the population. Rural craftsmen have all but disappeared. Food crops have had to make way for groundnuts. Ultimately, the rural areas can no longer support the country, and the food deficit is such that some 400,000 metric tons of cereals have to be imported annually; a clear indication of a structural food dependence.

Destruction of the production system also signifies subjection to the capitalist system of production and exchange, international division of labour and to the capitalist reconstruction of agrarian production systems. The 'Letter on development policy' indicates that the New Agricultural Policy's aim is less to deal with the effects of a cash crop such as groundnuts than to make all other crops into cash crops. Official speeches sometimes give the impression of a dilemma between developing groundnut production and developing food crops, but the major concern remains to ensure the priority of groundnuts, the economic profitability of which, according to the World Bank, is high. The New Agricultural Policy's approach therefore is not to oppose the destruction of agrarian systems and their capitalist reconstruction but rather to develop them and thus to accelerate integration into this system.


The cost in subsidies for running costs of the supervisory structures was high: 4,033 billion Francs CFA in 1977-78,6,924 billion in 1980-81;10,920 billion in 1981-82.

Taking over the dissolved companies' debts also remains a heavy burden: 98 billion Francs CFA for ONCAD, to which must be added the billions in running costs of other structures or the failure of others such as SONAR: the ADRs debts would also have to be added in. Overall, to see the function of the burden of state apparatuses on the rural areas as formidable structures to create indebtedness for the nation would not be invidious. Debt servicing today amounts to 160 billion Francs CFA with arrears of 30 billion. Total rural debt was zero in 1972, nine billion in 1975 and 24 billion in 1980. Foreign capital also receives its share in the form of repatriation of profits on this capital or net factor incomes.

The process of indebtedness thus makes it possible to develop economic subjection, ensure and tighten the links of extraversion and dependence between Senegal and the states in the centre. This explains why the World Bank, the IMF, the suppliers of funds are always ready to support either a 'stabilization plan', an economic and financial recovery plan, a structural adjustment programme, or a medium- and long-term adjustment programme... and always ready with the next one too.

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