Linkages between Economic Growth and Food Security: An Eclectic Perspective By Professor Desta, Asayehgn

May 24th, 2016 Print Print Email Email

We live in a world where of the 80,000 edible plants used for food, only about 150 are being cultivated, and just eight are traded globally. In a world where we produce food for 12 billion people when there are only 6.3 billion living, 800 million suffer from malnutrition.

Vandana Shiva. World-renowned environmental leader (Manifesto on the Future of Food & Seed, 2007).


The causal linkage between food security and economic growth hasn’t been fully resolved. That is, does food security contribute to economic growth or does economic growth result in food security; or is there a two-way causal relationship between economic growth and food security? The causality has not yet been ascertained. Drawing on previous research and insights, this study attempted to find and understand the relationship between food availability and economic growth. A review of existing secondary studies indicates that food insecurity, low food intake and the variable access to food endemic in Ethiopia, is not due to the lack of economic growth and income distribution. Rather, excluding transitory food insecurity, chronic food insecurity in Ethiopia seems to derive directly from inflationary pressures, resulting from excess in the money supply, population growth, budgetary deficits, imprudently addressing the “supply side” of food production during favorable seasons, the lack of adequate storage systems for stocking food items that could be used to tackle food insecurity during shocking periods, a fragile natural resource base, and weak institutions. Particularly for policy makers, the study’s findings contribute to an understanding of some of the crucial factors that could lead to a reduction of food insecurity and help to design advance strategies to alleviate food insecurity in Ethiopia.
Keywords: food security, economic growth, income distribution, inflationary pressure, population growth rate, budgetary deficits, supply side


Despite the fact that enough food exists for the entire world’s population, “…almost one in seven people around the world are chronically hungry, lacking enough food to be healthy and lead active lives” (World Bank, 2007). More specifically, an authoritative estimate by the Food Agricultural Organization (2010) indicates that there are more than 925 million people in the world who are food insecure. Nevertheless, what is amazing is that Ethiopia with 100 million people has attained constant economic growth and recorded an income distribution index (based on data obtained from Ethiopian government statistical agencies and World Bank country departments) stands at 0.29.Interestingly enough, Ethiopia’s Gini-coefficient index of 0.29 is far below the Gini-coefficient of newly industrialized nations, indicating that the income attained from economic growth in Ethiopia has been fairly distributed (World Bank, 2010 and Desta 2011). More specifically, it is stated by Teshome of the World Bank (2016) that:

Since 2000, when Ethiopia had one of the highest poverty rates in the world, households have experienced a decade of remarkable progress in well-being and the country has seen a 33 percent reduction in the share of the population living in poverty. Agricultural growth drove reductions in poverty, bolstered by pro-poor spending on basic services and effective rural safety nets. This progress has been underpinned by strong and sustained economic growth averaging 10.9 percent annually.

Nonetheless, before the recent adverse climate conditions caused by El Nino that contributed to drought, Ethiopia’s dramatic economic growth in tandem with a more or less equitable income distribution seems to camouflage the fact that a staggering number of people are experiencing malnutrition and outright starvation. That is, the impact of the impressive economic growth has been negligible on food security. For instance, the average number of food insecure people in Ethiopia was about 7 million from1991 to 2003, 4 million between 2003 and 2014, 8.5 million in 2008, and is more than 10 million between 2015 and 2016 (See for example, Adugan, 2016).

Puzzled by this paradoxical (asymmetrical) connection between economic growth and food security needs, a number of scholars have questioned and seriously challenged the Ethiopian Government. As stated by Adugan (2016), because of the food insecurity that has developed recently because of El Nino, some scholars have tried to question the so called economic growth achieved in Ethiopia during the last twelve years. According to the “Aid for Africa” publication of February 5th, for example, they have questioned how millions of Ethiopians could be at risk of starvation “…when in recent years Ethiopia was lauded as a country on the rise—one of the bright spots in Sub-Saharan Africa?” Some critics go one step further and loudly argue that unless the data were “cooked” to portray an impressive image of Ethiopia to the outside world, it is not possible for the Ethiopian economy to grow at more than 10 percent per year for the last decade when so many of Ethiopia’s poor are facing chronic starvation as a persistent characteristic of their life.
In partial agreement with what the critics have been saying about food insecurity in Ethiopia, Teshome somehow seems to have changed his mind and argues that, “… poverty remains widespread in Ethiopia. The poorest households have become poorer than they were in 2005; high food prices that improve incomes for many poor farmers make buying food more challenging for the poorest” (2016).

Contesting the argument that economic growth contributes to food security, Torero (2014) argues that rather than economic growth contributing to food security, it is food security that induces economic growth. Actually, Torero persuasively argues that economic growth is only sustainable if developed countries try to achieve food security as a base for their citizens. In his empirical findings, Torero establishes that “… a 10 percent increase in economic growth only reduces chronic malnutrition by 6 percent” (2014). After establishing that there is no linear correlation between economic growth and food security, Torero asserts that this asymmetrical relationship between economic growth and food security indicates that economic growth by itself won’t resolve the problem of chronic malnutrition but needs to be taken as one of the key variables in any food security strategy (Torero, 2014).
This study, therefore, draws on previous research and insights to develop an eclectic framework that could drive or determine the relationship between food insecurity and economic growth. Exploring the linkages between economic growth and food security, the study attempts to find and understand other eclectic perspectives that could have an impact on food availability. Particularly for policy makers, finding and understanding some of the cardinal factors that contribute to chronic food insecurity could help them to design strategies to create the conditions necessary to alleviate chronic food insecurity.

Literature Review

Economic growth in less developed countries is highly dependent on food production. To measure economic growth, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or the market value of goods and services produced by a country in a given period of time is used. While producing agricultural products, since less developed countries are dependent on natural resources, less developed countries contribute to resource scarcity, ecosystem degradation, and climatic challenges. In order to assess the status of food security, the estimation of GDP needs to integrate income distribution, investment in human capital, non-marketable products, and other positive and negative externalities.

Historically, the concept of food security originated as a result of the international global food crisis that occurred during the mid-1970s and 1980s. During these decades, food security mainly focused on the status of the supply of food availability and attempted to incorporate the effect of price stability with food security. A case in point is, among the food insecurity that emerged globally, the famine, hunger and food crisis in 1974 contributed to the downfall of the Haile Selassie regime in Ethiopia. In addition, the drought of 1984 during the authoritarian Derg regime contributed to the death of more than one million and left many Ethiopians destitute.

As a result of the famine that became rampant globally, the concept of food security was elaborated by a number of scholars. For example, while operationalizing food insecurity, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) focused on securing access to food, necessary for an active, healthy life by the most vulnerable people. Around, 1994, a broader perspective of food security was adopted by the United Nations Development Program to include food security as a necessary element of human rights. Starting In 2001, the concept of food security was further expanded to include food and nutrition status (food availability, food access, food utilization) and stability (vulnerability and resilience), and food security was expected to exist “when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (FAO 1996 and DFID, 2003).

As shown in Table 1, the operational definition of food security was designed to include: 1) availability of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate quality, mainly supplied through domestic production at prices that the poor can afford, 2) access by households and individuals to adequate resources or jobs and income that give poor people the means to acquire appropriate foods for a nutritious diet, and 3) utilization of food through adequate diet, water sanitation, and health care (United States Department of Agriculture, 1996).

Table 1: Four main Dimensions of Food Security

Physical availability of food Food availability addresses the “supply side” of food security and is determined by the level of food production, stock levels and net trade (Export-Import)
Economic and Physical Access to food An adequate supply of food at the national or international level does not in itself guarantee household level food security. Concerns about insufficient food have resulted in a greater policy focus on incomes, expenditure, markets and prices in achieving food security objectives.

Food Utilization Utilization is commonly understood as the way the body makes the most of various nutrients in the food. Sufficient energy and nutrient intake by individuals is the result of good care and feeding practices, food preparation, and diversity of the diet and intra-household distribution of food. Combined with good biological utilization of food consumed, this determines the nutritional status of individuals.

Stability of the other three dimensions over time Even if food intake is adequate today, it is still considered to be food insecure if there is inadequate access to food on a periodic basis due to adverse weather conditions, political instability or economic factors (unemployment, rising food prices).

SOURCE: The EC-FAO Food Security Programme (2008). “Food Security Information for action: Practical Guides.”
Grounding their argument on the human rights clause but stressing more on the “Pro-poor growth” strategy, Dreze and Sen (1989), forcefully argue that economic growth in itself is not sufficient enough to ensure individual food security and nutrition.” Growth, of course can be very helpful in achieving development, but this requires active public policies to ensure that the fruits of economic growth are widely shared, and also requires—and this is very important –making good use of the public revenues generated by fast economic growth for social services…” (Dreze and Sen, 2011).

To explain the seeming paradoxical dilemma that exists between food security needs and economic growth, routes by which this dilemma could be resolved, along with other factors that contribute to hunger and food insecurity, need to be explored in detail. As a result, food consumption in Ethiopia is seen as a function of income distribution, inflation, population growth, and supply of food production. In addition to the possible linkages that exist between food security and economic growth, the distinction between chronic and acute insecurity needs to be elaborated. While chronic food insecurity is likely to originate because of a lack of assets, acute food insecurity on the other hand, emanates from unusual shocks, such as drought. Furthermore, a combination of short-term and long term strategies is needed to form policies to tackle food insecurity needs.

A) Income distribution: Food security is to a great extent affected by economic growth and income distribution. For example, Timmer (2004) persuasively argues that “improved food security stems directly from a set of government policies that integrates the food economy into a development strategy that seeks rapid economic growth with improved income distribution.” With the income distribution policies that Timmer portrays, economic growth and food security mutually reinforce each other, because poor countries in East and Southeast Asia have addressed these steps concurrently for about two decades to increase the production and distribution of food and have escaped from hunger (2004).

Given Timmer’s point of view, we could stress that though the Ethiopian economy has performed strongly and the income gap between the lower and upper households has been narrowing, then, the deplorable food insecurity that Ethiopia’s poor have been facing for the centuries before the havoc of El Nino, could be attributed to a substantial decline in the purchasing power of the Ethiopian currency known as the birr.

B) Inflation: As documented in the Pigou’s wealth effect theory, a higher price level contributes to lower real wealth thereby inducing to lower consumption spending (see Mankiw, G. and Scarth, W, 2011). As stated by Durevall and Sjo (2012), the Ethiopian Real Gross Domestic product has experienced strong economic growth, for example from in 5.9% in 2000 to 7.5 % in 2011. Along with higher economic growth, Ethiopia has been facing an overheated economy due to inflation volatility. For example, the inflation rate in Ethiopia increased from 0.3 percent in 2000 to 36 percent in 2011. Since the financial global crisis in 2008, Ethiopia has been faced with an average inflation rate of 17.65 percent from 2006 until 2016. Therefore the “… High and volatile, inflation is a threat to good economic performance and has negative effects on many of the poor” (Durevall and Sjo (2012). After the 2008 global crisis and the soaring price of oil and food items, inflation in Ethiopia has become rampant. At the peak of the global food crisis, in July 2008, “…annual food price inflation surpassed 90 percent” (Durevall and Sjo, 2012).

As a result of this unprecedented rise in inflation starting in 2006, in Ethiopia many people, more particularly, those with low incomes and retirees have lacked enough to buy the food needed for survival (See Desta, 2014). As stated by Durevall, D. Loening, abdJ. Birru, Y, (2010), with the exception of Zimbabwe and some small island economies that had the strongest acceleration in food price inflation in Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia had the strongest acceleration in food price inflation.

A caveat needs to be added that though there is no consensus on the causes of the rise in inflation, an empirical study by Desta (2014) indicates that Ethiopia’s inflationary situation is the result of an expansionary monetary policy, primarily due to large government expenditures on infrastructure and budget deficits. Rising food prices led to devaluations and feedback effects on consumer prices in general. At the same time, it is possible to argue that government budget deficits caused by an increase in large-scale capital projects and military spending might also have contributed to the extreme inflationary conditions in Ethiopia.

C) Population Growth: Another dimension of food insecurity popularized by Thomas Malthus that contributes to food insecurity is population growth. The Malthusian “approach is focused on the (dis)equilibrium between population and food. In order to maintain equilibrium, the rate of growth of food availability should not be lower than the rate of growth of the population” (Burchi and DeMuro (2012). Stated differently, on the demand side, the reason why a number of countries with the highest numbers of people face food insecurity is because they have high fertility rates and rapid population growth. Given this, it is possible to assert that an increasing population growth rate has a substantial negative impact on economic growth.

Based on the latest estimates, the current population of Ethiopia is 101,481, 000 and the annual rate of growth rate is close to 2.53percent (Countrymeters, 2016). Given this possible projection, the Ethiopian population would double in about 28 years and its effect on food security would be insurmountable. The density of population impacts the productive capacity of Ethiopia and will continue to affect the demand for food for decades to come. That is, “population increase reduces landholdings further and places intolerable stress on an already fragile natural resource base.”(Devereux, 2000).Therefore, it is vital that Ethiopia’s demographic projections be incorporated in the developmental plans of the country to help policy makers design strategies to improve agricultural production and attempt to help Ethiopia achieve greater food security (See for example, Population Action, 2015).

D) Sufficiency of Supply: As stated by Torero (2014), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization assume that high rates of malnutrition can lead to a loss in gross domestic product (GDP) of as much as 4 to 5 percent per year. Therefore, to achieve food security for its productive citizens, a nation needs to increase agricultural production through research and innovative technology. Furthermore, as a means of optimizing their food production, developing countries must use drought –resistant crops and soils and invest in rural infrastructure by building roads, irrigation, and storage facilities (Pieters, Guariso, and Vandeplas, 2013).

Although attempted, the Ethiopian government needs to take further steps to amass food stocks and create early warning systems to handle an unexpected drought. For instance, in 2015-16, experts estimated that Ethiopia would need up to $1.4 billion to cope with the El Nino drought. However, much more was needed because the Ethiopian Government only committed about $200 million and another $170 million was delivered by philanthropic international communities or NGOs (Africaaid, 2016).

Given that the majority of Ethiopian households are engaged in agriculture and live in rural areas, additional drivers of poverty reduction, more particularly, those that encourage some type of structural transformation of the Ethiopian agricultural system is worthwhile (2016). Without stable and long lasting food security that contributes to physical and mental wellbeing, the economic growth of Ethiopia cannot be sustained. Though food production in Ethiopia is unpredictable, it is persuasively argued by Torero (2014) that “strategically designed, food security is central to both short and long-term economic growth.”

In agreement with the argument that agriculture is the driving force for the economy and a means of ensuring household food security, the Ethiopian Government initiated Agriculture Development Led Industrialization (ADLI) in 1994. The components of ADLI included: a) input provision to peasants, b) promotion of small-scale irrigation, c) improved livestock herds, d)environmental protection and natural resource management, e) grain marketing efficiency, e)women’s participation in agriculture, and f) expanding rural and feeder roads (Devereux, 2000). However, since the ADLI was very low in details, it was never fully implemented (Rahmato, 1994).

It has become debatable whether those who participated in the programs were: 1) poor and chronically food insecure, 2) forced to resettle in other areas, 3) getting sufficient resources and wages in exchange for their services, and 4) productive and sustainable. Since 2003, the Ethiopian Government in close collaboration with development partners (i.e., United Nations organizations such as the office for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, NGOs, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), US international aid Program, etc.), to prepare a new Coalition for food Security in Ethiopia.

The foreign donated food security assistance package included providing fertile farm lands to settlers, seed, oxen, hand tools, access to clean water, heath facilities, feeder roads and other capacity building facilities. The food Security program (FSP) was targeted to give assistance to more than 6million beneficiaries located in 319 chronically food insecure districts (woredas).As outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO), the most vital components of the Food Security Program (FSP) resettlement programs in Ethiopia include: 1) Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP), 2) Household Asset Building Program (HABP), and 3) Complimentary Community Investment (CCI).

1)Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP): Established in 2005, the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) is “one of the largest safety net programs in the world” (USAID, 2016). It was established by the Ethiopian Government to build the resilience capacity of chronically food insecure communities to protect them from shocks and climate changes and to give assistance to food-insecure households for six months of the year for up to five years, to prevent depletion of resources in farm activities such as crops and livestock at the household level (i.e., the beneficiaries were chronically food-insecure households). More specifically, in addition to direct sustenance given to the elderly, the disabled (handicapped), sick, pregnant women etc. the chronically food- insecure able-bodied participants were required to engage in labor intensive public works projects (such as water harvesting, irrigation, feeder roads) in-exchange for food-for-work programs or cash-for-work, possibly financed by monetizing food aid (Devereux, 2000).

2)Household Asset Building Program (HABP): Officially it was started in June 2013 by the Ethiopian Government, and the USAID Ethiopia mission in collaboration with nine other donor partners (USAID, 2016). Its objectives were to improve natural resources and food security by providing inputs to increase livestock and crop production, and by establishing training and market information for food insecure households.

3)Complimentary Community Investment program (CCI): This program was mainly tailored to create community assets and complement household investment through ecosystem rehabilitation strategies. Among other things, such programs included soil and water management, plant nutrient generation and recycling, planting drought and pest resistant crops etc.

The donors who gave food to Ethiopia may have had gracious intentions. However, it has become debatable whether the participants were actually chronically food insecure, or were getting sufficient resources and wages in exchange for their services. Therefore, Ethiopia, as an aid recipient country, needs to be aware that external sources of food donations at times can lead to disruption of the local food market and might even become a disincentive by discouraging local farmers from attempting to produce their crops and to store the excess for bad seasons. As stated by Devereux (2000), “…while safety nets risk perpetuating dependency on two levels: beneficiaries will remain trapped in unviable livelihoods and be dependent on relief indefinitely, and governments and donors will have little incentive to invest in agriculture and other sectors.” Moreover, unlike the current top-down methods that are used to design safety net programs for chronically food insecure peasants, it would be better to use a bottom-up strategy because the starving poor people “…know best for themselves what they need, and will be motivated most thoroughly to productive effort if they participate actively in decisions regarding their development” (Pausewang, S. et al, 1990).

Summary and Conclusions

The causal linkage between food security and economic growth is not yet fully resolved. That is, whether food security contributes to economic growth or economic growth induces food security or whether there is a two-way causal relationship between the two variables is not yet causally ascertained. However, a review of existing studies seems to ascertain that food insecurity in Ethiopia is not due to the lack of economic growth and income distribution. Rather it seems to be originating because Ethiopia has failed to properly ground itself with the necessary financial infrastructure to tackle the increase in inflation, resulting from an excess in the money supply. The sustained budget deficits, increase in population, and not stocking food production (supply side), necessaryduring favorable seasons as a means of mitigating of unanticipated natural disasters during unfavorable seasons, are not addressed sufficiently.

Though not fully borne out by rigorous empirical studies, proponents of a neoliberal trade theory propagate the idea that an increase in trade and decrease in government regulations, would decrease food insecurity and alleviate rural poverty. Without designing adequate methods for solving the food crisis, it is sad that this type of unwarranted assumption has been hijacking the global food supply. Taking these assumptions for granted, it is an irony to notice that poor countries are faced with the dilemma of whether they should deny their citizens their fundamental right to eat or rather concentrate on exporting their products to accumulate foreign exchanges, essential for importing unnecessary gadgets.

To sustain food security in tandem with economic growth, Ethiopian policy makers need to focus on well-orchestrated defensive stabilization policies such as making food accessible or establishing food stocks as a means of mitigating the increase in food prices or establishing food entitlementto tackle food hunger. As suggested by Dreze and Sen (2011), governments could save the poor from vulnerability to food insecurity arising from negative shocks or resulting from the disjuncture between soaring prices and the availability of food items. Based on Newbery and Stiglitz’s (1979) theory that focuses on the high cost of national price stabilization schemes, Anderson and Roumasset, (1996) empirically demonstrate that to tackle food insecurity, government efforts need to be tailored to: a) enhancing private markets, b) increasing the availability of food products for the poor through social services (i.e., food, health, education etc), c) giving entitlements through transfers , d) using intensive technology-based methods that could propel improvements in productivity, e) improving transportation, enforcing standards and measures in intensive grain transactions, and f) implementing small-scale storage facilities.

It must be stressed that property rights and land tenure might influence the food security status at the household level. Given that the Ethiopian government has full ownership of the country’s land, it has achieved socially equitable outcomes because land in rural Ethiopia is distributed fairly. However, the radical egalitarian measures of distributing land in rural Ethiopia has “…generated insecurity practiced by fears of further redistribution and a consequent unwillingness to invest effort in measures to improve soil conservation and enhance fertility’ (Quan, 2000).

It needs to be underlined here that in patriarchal Ethiopia, since women by and large are excluded from owning land, reforming the use and ownership of land by women is vital in Ethiopia (Pieters, Guariso, and Vandeplas2013). Therefore, given the important role of women in Africa’s agricultural sector and “… in all the different dimensions of food and nutrition security, policies that support and stimulate productive activities of women in general, especially in agriculture, have great potential in terms of improving food security.” In addition, as stated by Hull (2009), growth in the agricultural sector of the economy cannot be translated into benefits for the poor because benefiting the poor needs an identification of the location of the poor. If culturally acceptable, people who are volunteering to move to settlements in ethnically sensitive regions, the needs of food security in Ethiopia could be accomplished by designing the mobilityof the poor across sectors of the economy. However, not to repeat the mistakes of the Derg, the basic infrastructures need to be in place before the chronically food insecure are encouraged to move. Furthermore, in order to participate in productive and sustainable food production activities, participation in the programs needs to be for chronically food insecure poor and who are given sufficient resources and wages (instead of food for work) in exchange for their services.

Finally, various donors with gracious intentions need to be appreciated for their humanity-based food donations. However, as an aid recipient country, Ethiopian policy-makers, need to be aware that external sources of food donations at times can lead to disruption of local food markets and might even become a disincentive. They might even discourage local farmers from attempting to produce their crops and to store the excess from good periods for seasons of emergency.


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  1. Birassa
    | #1

    The writer is one of the well known a TPLF propagandist and is trying in vain to create confusion and misunderstanding regarding famine and poverty in Ethiopia. He is also trying to hide behind literature to hide the utter failure of the TPLF regime in ensuring food security or alleviating famine despite receiving tens of billions of dollars in foreig aid. There is a dirct and strong relationship between famine (chronic shortage of food) and poverty. Famine is the outcome and measure of abject poverty in a given country. The fact that the mainly agrarian country like Ethiopia is experiencing repeated famines also under Africa`s major aid recipient regime shows that the country is trapped in a vicious cycle of abject poverty and misery. It has also shown that the TPLF regime can not produce favorable and effective policies to overcome famine and its root cause poverty in Ethiopia.

  2. Fasildes
    | #2

    There are those who talk bla bla, and there are those who do their best.

    Instead of being negative and critical of others and get your ass moving, work and show us how to do it.

    Do the actions not the useless hollow talker.

  3. Endale
    | #3

    The connection between Famine and poverty are obvious and does not need presentation of so much wrtiting and references. From the points the writer has raised and dealt with, it is understandable that the motives of the writer in using the innuendos is to blur the relationship between famine and poverty (underdevelopment)in the light of the baseless and false growth of figures of the TPLF. He is trying to challenge the long known fact (that famine is the worst form or expression of poverry) by basing his points on the economic growth the TPLF regime falsely claims. That is why his arguments and points are not mre than innenduous and I hope that readers do not get lost in therm.

  4. Mezmur
    | #4

    Food insecurity and famine are the crises poor or underdeveloped countries experience.The TPLF is preoccupied more with hollow and false propaganda and can not address the real and root causes for famine and abject poverty. Not surprisingly the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are basing their analyses and projections on the cooked and false statistical date of the TPLF. As a result these International Institutions have been alternative channels for spreading the lies of the TPLF and have lost credibility. The TPLF has been showcasing the high rise buildings of its leaders and members to create the false impression of growth and progress in Ethiopia. Ib addition, the low quality infrastructure built by the TPLF contractors and sub-contractors are of little or no use for food production.

  5. Boru
    | #5

    The available evidence shows that the World has enough or even suprplus food production and this surplus is produced mainly in the developed countries. However, there is a lack of appropriate distribution mechanism to distribute the surplus to the parts of the world having food deficits. Ethiopia has never achieved food self sufficiency despite the false claims of the figure head prime minister ato Haile Mariam Desalegn. Ato Haile Mariam was obviously instructed by his TPLF bosses to make this shameful lie amd claim a year ago. many countries that do not produce enough or at all import food from the world market (surplus producers). Ethiopia has neither the foreign currency (cash) to import nor its own production to supply enough food to its hungry. The big famine in Ethiopia is mainly due to the wrong policy of the TPLF regime and the effort to hide this fact can not succeed.

  6. Gadissa
    | #6

    The Oromo land is rich in natural resources and can even produce enough food for Africa. Our region had never experienced famine, food insecurity or shortge of food before the take over by the TPLF. There is evidence that the TPLF leaders have conspired to punish the oromos and Amharas by denying them access to food aid. Famine and food insecurity are the hall marks of poor countries and that is why Ethiopians as one of the poorest in Africa are periodically affected by famine. If the writer is sincere enough and is concerned about the population (20 million Ethiopians) he must inquire about why the TPLF after having collected between 50-60 billion dollars in aid has failed to avert even famine in Ethiopia. Famine is the worst form or face of poverty and its increase in Ethiopia under the TPLF is marked. The so called TPLF lies or claims of poverty reduction in Ethiopia contradict the reality in Ethiopia. It is true that the TPLF elites have been amassing wealth and enriching themselves while condemning millions to famine and death.

  7. Mustafa
    | #7

    I categorically dismiss this piece by the pro-TPLF person as the weyanne diversion tactic. Its main aim is to divert the Public focus from the real and root cause of famine and poverty in Ethiopia. The present famine is the worst to hit the country and has exposed that the double digit growths the weyanne has been feeding the media and public in the past decade are mere lies and Deceptions. The professor is looking for evidences that show economic growth and food Security or Production of enough food are not linked to give another cover for the weyanne lies.I advise the professor not ti insult our intelligence.
    ወያኔዎች ህዝብ ነቅታል አይታለልም:: የአለም ባንክና IMF መረጃ እንደ `የዓይጥ ምስክር ዲንቢጥ`አባባል ነው::

  8. aha!
    | #8

    This article looks like a PhD dissertation with literature review, that is not supported by survey research with its objectives and its outcome, independently for each of the two variables economic growth (GDP) as a function of supply and demand model in a free market capitalism with liberal and/or social democracy. With respect to the second variable of food security as a function of drought, a natural disaster, and availability of food supply produced by irrigated farms by communal and/or the government supported by the donor nations.

    The agrarian economy may still considered to be at subsistence level, let alone burdened by fertilizer and GMO seed costs, with little or no gains to pay for the cost, which may force farmers to pay off those debts than going to prison. In the past farmers take grains to market after assessing for consumption to buy kerosene and oil with clothes being a luxury. This situation is applicable to all ethnic groups. Farmers are not endowed property ownership of land anywhere in Ethiopia, instead the major ethnic groups are divided by “settlements, languages and (ethnic ) identity that defines ethnic federalism, which is a prelude to ethnic secessionism (art. 39 (1)) and future boundary conflicts among the original provinces of eclectic groups, ethnic cleansing and out migration for slave labor, etc., which is confounded by the support ethnic federalism, secessionism totalitarianism receives from the opposition party now known as OPDO/EFDF/Medrek/fdre, rather coalescing around Ethiopian Nationalism with the goals for unity, territorial integrity, sovereign ty of Ethiopia and Ethiopians, where the last item refers to individual rights to super cede ethnic and secessionist rights as the basis for liberal and/or social democracy.

  9. aha!
    | #9

    Please add to the last sentence in the first paragraph “foreign donated food assistance package” as enumerated in this article.

  10. aha!
    | #10

    Ctd from #9, alternative to “foreign donated food assistance package”, you might use the variable specified by MSF April 25, 2016, that relates food security as a function of “food distribution by Ethiopian Government(?), the World Food Program (WFP), and the Joint Emergency Operation Plan, which is a coordinated NGO responses to the crises”, even though it does not fit into the political and economic model in both cases. Food insecurity is defined as “when people do not have access to sufficient healthy and nutritious food to ensure an active life and development” as well as the energy to perform a task. The educational system has been able to produce the work force for the 21st century, with less emphasis of human resources development of human and natural resources under Ethiopian Nationalism of Ethiopia as a one nation, instead of multi-national state of multi-ethnic-groups (80) as integral part of Ethiopia, while developing languages and cultures in hyperspace.

  11. aha!
    | #11

    Correction: The educational system has not been able to produce the work force …….

  12. aha!
    | #12

    To enhance economic growth and/or food security in the Northern and central highlands of Ethiopia, I have a list of 7 Proposed and 9 Minor Prospective Projects following the results of the Survey Research Results.

  13. Dawi
    | #13

    Reading some of the comments before me, I wondered if any of you realize that Prof. Desta is one of the few exceptions of Ethiopian “economists” who are non-Neo-liberal types?

    His expertise is in research of “sustainable development” and happen to teach such courses in a US University; So if his thoughts coincides with some of the “developmental state” policies of EPRDF, it is because the similarities of the theoretical underpinning they share nothing more in my opinion; however, when you read his recommendations and the way he analyzes the existing predicament of the Ethiopian government, EPRDFites can’t help but, say with friends like this Professor, who need enemies? :-)

    The following is some the things he pointed out to EPRDF in a friendly way but, not hiding the truth:

    1) You printing too much Bir is why the inflation is so high and Ethiopians can’t afford to buy; increasing population growth rate has a substantial negative impact on economic growth as well.

    2) You are not storing/stocking food during favorable seasons therefore, not prepared. For instance, in 2015-16, experts estimated that Ethiopia would need up to $1.4 billion to cope with the El Nino drought. However, much more was needed because the Ethiopian Government only committed about $200 million

    3) You need to sustain food security with the economic growth and you’re not doing enough. He didn’t say the following and some of you may not know these many folks in the US are in food aid but, I will tell you that here in the USA, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service reports that as of September 2014, there were around 46.5 million individual food stamp recipients (22.7 million households) receiving an average benefit of $123.74 each (around $257 per household).Jul 22, 2015. I saw some reporter’s video taken in Addis recently acting shocked that folks formed big lines to get some discount grain? What a BS? Isn’t it normal to look at longer lines of people around food banks in US Cities once or twice a week? That is in country where close to 50 million folks don’t leave home without their EBT cards, for god’s sake!

    4) If culturally acceptable, people who are volunteering to move to settlements in ethnically sensitive regions, the needs of food security in Ethiopia could be accomplished by designing the mobility of the poor across sectors of the economy. However, not to repeat the mistakes of the Derg.

    5) Ethiopian policy-makers, need to be aware that external sources of food donations at times can lead to disruption of local food markets and might even become a disincentive.

    Finally the following warning is for neo-liberals:

    It is not .experts in few who The neoliberal trade theory propagate the idea that an increase in trade and decrease in government regulations, would decrease food insecurity and alleviate rural poverty. Without designing adequate methods for solving the food crisis, it is sad that this type of unwarranted assumption has been hijacking the global food supply. Taking these assumptions for granted, it is an irony to notice that poor countries are faced with the dilemma of whether they should deny their citizens their fundamental right to eat or rather concentrate on exporting their products to accumulate foreign exchanges, essential for importing unnecessary gadgets.


  14. Genbee Wolleggaa
    | #14

    @ Gaddisa,

    You are 100% right, that Oromos land is fertile next to sidamas and gambelas vergin, but according to Amhara era (neftegnas governing thinking) that land is occupied by uncivilized oromos, that is why King Menilike was invading oromos land given to Amharas feudals to be used properly and to civilized the uncivilized people of oromos. “Amhras superiority over oromos”/ Such thinking of under valuing and undermining oromos still lingering among Neftegnas elites.

  15. aha!
    | #15

    CTD. from #8. The narratives about the performance of the TPLF/eprdf regime May 29, 2018 as precedence to your partial dissertation.

  16. Ethiopia under homegrown enemies
    | #16

    If foreigners are invited from around the world to come to Ethiopia and grow abundant crops and flowers, why don’t the evil regime grow food to feed its own citizens, instead of selling Ethiopia’s fertile land and robbing Ethiopia and stashing billions of dollars in foreign banks?

  17. Ibrahim
    | #17

    The TPLF leaders and their beneficiaries such as `Dawi` and Desta Asayehgn continue to live in their own detached and little world of lies and denial. The United States produces surplus and does not face famine. It is the main donor of food aid to Ethiopia. A parallel should not be drawn between the welfare recipients in the US and millions of Ethiopians facing death as a result of famine. The argument Neo-liberlalism vs developmental state is not relevant to Ethiopia as the country is mired and abject poverty and famine. The late ethnical fascist TPLF leader Meles Zenawi was a copy cat and picked up the Asian model or developmental state. His level of formal education and intellect had not allowed him to understand the developmental state but he parotted and confused his cadres and followers. Priort to being the disciple of the developmental state, Zenawi became the student of the neo-liberal economists such as Sachs preached neo-liberalism mainly to eat from the World Bank and IMF. Zenawi implemented some of the preconditions of the World Bank and IMF such as privatization which he misused to transfer public property or state owned enterprizes into the hands of the TPLF controlled mega businesses like EFFORT and his ethnic cronies. After taking full control of the key economic sectors of the country, Zenawi changed course and declared his allegiance to the developmental state. This way he closed all the economic and political spaces to the citizens of the country and his TPLF remains the sole actor and force in the economic and political lives of the country.

  18. Dawi
    | #18

    Professor Desta said:

    [[..The causal linkage between food security and economic growth hasn’t been fully resolved..]]

    It may not be intuitive but, one interesting study showed that economic growth can have negative effects in a society.

    For example, a 10 percent increase in economic growth is correlated with a 7 percent increase in obesity among women. :)

    Targeting the society “fat cats” with tax and fiscal instruments to optimize the consumption of nutritious foods and minimize the use of foods that cause obesity, is maybe in order.

  19. Semere
    | #19

    I know professor Desta Asayehgn and had some discussions with him on the situation and the TPLF government in Ethiopia. Our difference is that he supports the TPLF government and even defends its human rights violations. He has his own personal interest and favored by the government. There are many scholars who believe that his professorship is the personal reward he has gotten from the government and is not based on academic merit.

  20. yihdega
    | #20

    Professor Desta is known as one of the few supporters of TPLF. This time he is denying the obvious to serve his friends in the minorty regime. Professor Desta is badly mistaken and I do not think he would survive. At a basic level, it is well known that inflation hurts the poor more than the rich, and transfers wealth from the poor to the rich. Yet the Professor is talking about low ginni coefficient, thus denyig the results of ethnic favoratism and inequality in the country. Shame! Ethiopia had famines and the current one is not different from the past. It is just that TPLF is hinding it. No obladi oblada, Professor.

  21. Alex
    | #21

    Globalization is the main cause of abject poverty,malnutrition and famine for 3rd world countries including Ethiopia.What is wrong with the global political economy as a system? Why life has no value?
    To get an insightful scientific explanation read the following whistle-blower article no one dares to talk about in the mainstream media.

  22. Dawi
    | #22


    We are talking about “sustaining food security” my friend; no amount of producing surplus will help if you don’t have a government with a plan for those who are food less.

    When the US government offers “food aid” or EBT card to its 42 million people, it is exactly doing what Prof. Assaye suggested to be done by a responsible governments; that is … “..increasing the availability of food giving entitlements through transfers..”.

    EBT card is as an entitlement to buy only food from stores. “welfare recipients” issue you talk about is another story.

    Semere said:

    [[..I know professor Desta Asayehgn ...... many scholars .. believe that his professorship is the personal reward he has gotten from the government and is not based on academic merit...]]

    I don’t know the Professor but, you are implying here that Dominican University of California is influenced by EPRDF or something like that?? Can you elaborate on that?

  23. MOSES
    | #23

    We revisit the “Letter from Your Globalist Friend,” (1999) a chilling revelation of our true political status. This grim summary sheds new light on recent developments — the US election, migration, common core, sex ed, vaccinations, surveillance, gay and transgender “rights” .
    These are all psychological and physical attacks ultimately designed to enslave the population.

    The banker says they always control both sides. Indeed, Trump will be like Reagan, who made cosmetic changes but did not alter the course of the NWO. Trump is superior to Clinton but people who see him as a saviour don’t understand that Western society is totally controlled by Freemasonry, a tool of the bankers.

    “We are taught that society is participating in an age of enlightenment and progress but this is a ruse. In fact, a primitive claw reaches out of the past to impale mankind on its sharp talons.”

    (from May 19, 2006)

    By Henry Makow Ph.D.

    Current events are like a “Magic Eye” picture that you have to stare at for a long time. But if you know what to look for, the picture emerges as plain as day.

    As incredible and bizarre as this sounds, a satanic (cabalistic) occult society has taken control of the planet through the central banking system. It seeks to impose its tyranny through the ruse of the “war on terror” and world government. Every war was a trick used to slaughter and brutalize humanity and to increase the wealth and power of this cabal.

    A confirmation of this disturbing truth is a spine-chilling letter that is worth reconsidering periodically. The letter dispels any illusions that we are free citizens living in a beneficent democracy. Signed, “your globalist friend” the letter advises citizens of the world, “you are our property” and must accept servitude “for your own good.”

    “The days of putting a stop to us have long since past,” he writes sounding like the author of the Protocols of Zion, also a banker.

    “We have full control of the earth and its finance, along with the major media propaganda, and there is simply no way any nation or power can defeat us… We can send American or European troops to wherever we like, whenever we like, and for whatever purpose we like, and you dutifully go about our business…How much more evidence do you need? …Does it not seem reasonable that you simply obey and serve us?”

    The six-page letter appears to have been written in the autumn of 1999. I present the highlights here but urge you to read it in full.

    The letter could be a hoax but I think it describes our present reality. It is consistent with what many conspiracy researchers have discovered independently, yet more vivid and insightful than anything they could fabricate.


    Our globalist friend says he wants to explain political reality to us so we “might know how to behave in the New Order now taking shape on the earth.”

    He exults in the fact that he represents a secret force that controls the world yet is invisible to all.

    unnamedJFK.jpg”We run everything, yet, you do not know who to attack. I must say this hidden hand is wonderfully devised and without any known historical precedent on this scale. We rule the world and the world cannot even find out who is ruling them. This is truly a wonderful thing. In our media we present before you exactly what it is we want you to do. Then, as if in a flash, our little servants obey.”

    But he does identify himself. He clearly represents the central bankers: “Your own money has served to forge the chains we bind you with, since we are in control of all money.”

    The central banking cartel is the mainspring of the New World Order. By giving foreign private interests the power to create money based on our credit, our predecessors doomed Western Civilization. These private interests naturally bought control of everything and everyone and now want to institutionalize their control globally.

    “Our kingdom is the kingdom of money,” our globalist friend writes. “We have given you a piece of paper or some numbers on a computer screen that we have termed ‘money.’ It is backed up by nothing and proven by nothing but what we say it is. We create it from nothing, we print it, we loan it, we give it its value, and we take its value away. All things that have to do with money are in our hands.”

    Our globalist friend reveals that the bankers have a symbiotic relationship with us. We produce profits by borrowing from them.

    “We want you to be in the system. When you are buying a house, we not only receive the tax revenue to use for our purposes, but we gain large increases from the interest on the loan. You may pay for your house two or three times over from the interest alone. The interest is also taxed which is again placed for use in those sectors of influence we choose. ”

    One of those sectors of influence is education. He says our taxes pay for “the indoctrination of your children in the public schools we have set up. We want them to grow up well trained into the system of our thinking. Your children will learn what we want them to learn, when we want them to learn it, and you pay for it.”

    “You are our property. We will not permit you to buy or sell unless you submit to our mark of authority. If you go to court against us, we will wear you out there and in the end you will lose. If you use violence, we will end up having you in one of our labor camps, more specifically called prison industries. You need our money, our entertainments, our fuel, and our utilities to function and if you don’t have them, you feel deprived. By this, you are made to yield to our will.”


    Our political leaders are chosen from the ranks of criminals and perverts because they can be made to obey using blackmail. Exposing President Clinton’s depravity was “very helpful in adjusting the moral habits of the youth downward.”

    He scoffs at attempts to impeach Clinton: “He is useful to us and he will not be removed by anyone until we are ready to have him removed…the leader we set up will be there until it serves us to have another. At that time we place our proposed leader before you and you vote for what we want. In that way we give you the vain voting exercise in the belief you had something to do with placing your president in office.”

    He cites Sadaam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic as leaders who refused to obey. “There is only glory in following our purposes and doing what we say. If one does not, there will be such a sad and tragic result. I would really have you spared of such an end.”

    As for smaller fry, he says rebellion will merely serve as an excuse for more repressive laws. They can tie dissenters up in court, which they also control. They can destroy people like David Koresh and discredit them at the same time.

    trumppaedophileronaldreagan.jpg(Trump-Reagan – Masonic handshake)

    He says Liberals and Conservatives “serve with the stamp of our approval but they are not allowed to present the real issues. By creating controversy on all levels, no one knows what to do. So, in all of this confusion, we go ahead and accomplish what we want with no hindrance.” (Emphasis mine)

    “It makes no difference to us but it serves to make you believe there are two sides struggling for their particular position. This helps to make things seem fair and free since everyone has a voice. Actually, there is only one side now with all kinds of masks on, but you are unable to penetrate our purposes. You see, we can do whatever we like and you can do nothing about it.”

    “Does it not seem reasonable that you simply obey and serve us? Otherwise, you get eaten up in the resistance you suppose will liberate you. You cannot be liberated. Imagine how you can. We supply your fuel for your cars. We can turn it off whenever we like claiming that there is some sort of fuel shortage. What if your car breaks down? You cannot get parts for it without us. We supply all the money you use. At any whim of our desire we can stop the money supply or cause a complete crash all together. We can then order the president to declare all money worthless and that we will have to have new money. All of your stashes of cash will go up in smoke in a moment’s time. Don’t you need food? If necessary, we can cause a trucker’s strike which would stop deliveries of food to your local store. We can starve you whenever we like.”

    He says the media occupy the masses with sex and violence so people are programmed to fight mindlessly and “do not have the integrity or brain power to deal with the really important matters which are left entirely in our hands.”

    China and Russia do not present a challenge: “We have no fear of Russia or China for we are already in full control of their system of things. China knows that we can freeze any number of its corporations in America and all of its capital at the stroke of a pen.”


    We are taught that society is participating in an age of enlightenment and progress but this is a ruse. In fact, a primitive claw reaches out of the past to impale mankind on its sharp talons.

    We are witnessing the culmination of a diabolical conspiracy against mankind. Human events only make sense when we realize disciples of Lucifer are establishing a global regime dedicated to Evil. I know this sounds too bizarre to be true. They count on that.

    The “Letter from Your Globalist Friend” is consistent with the other great revelations of the invisible government: the Harold Rosenthal Interview; the House Report; the Svali Disclosures; The Soviet Art of Brainwashing; Quiet Weapons for Silent Wars, The Report from Iron Mountain, The Red Symphony and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

    We are living in a fool’s paradise. Unfortunately people won’t wake up until they take away the goodies, and then it will be too late.
    Source links

  24. aha!
    | #24

    Alex@#21, You brought up the concept of “globalization as the main cause for abject poverty, malnutrition and famine for the third world countries”, which is not embraced in Prof. Desta Assayehgn literature review nor by Prof. John McMurtry of Global Research, who postulates that globalization “does not produce more prosperity and reduce poverty for the world”. In the context of globalization, I think Prof. Mc Murtry is stressing on “Life Capital” as human capital, pertaining to the development of human and natural resources of any given country: developing and developed. He defines “Life capital is an objective and quantifiable process …….”. In a liberal and/or social democracy and free-market capitalism which accommodates Marxism, but not totalitarianism and/or developmental state capitalism theory, the development of human resources/human capital fits in well along ecological regions, because of the interaction of genetic make up of the ethnic groups in the region with the environment rather as separate ethnic enclaves/homelands in the development of the resources of the regions of Ethiopia as a one nation state.

    As far as globalization as a variable affects both the developed, particularly USA and developing countries in East Asia and Ethiopia differently by Multi-national corporations. With regards to USA, the manufacturing base that provides jobs to the middle class has been outsourced to East Asia, while providing jobs to these countries, but not to Ethiopians, but as recipient of manufactured good from these countries as well as fertilizers and GMO seeds by Multi-national corporations.

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