Bureaucratic intervention and the development of peasant agriculture : the case of ALDEP in Botswana

Mayende, Peter Ntsikelelo Gili

Agricultural industries; Political science; Public administration
August 1990

Thesis or dissertation

© 1990 Peter Ntsikelelo Gili Mayende. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

In an environment marked by high rates of economic growth and political stability, the state bureaucracy ln Botswana perceives its role as primarily that of 'modernisation' (as against that of maintaining the ruling party and politicians in power), and the elimination of structural biases in resource allocation. Along with other important socio-political and economic factors, since the late 1970s a section of this bureaucracy has played a major role ln the initiation, formulation and implementation of policies aimed at the redistribution of economic resources to the peasant sector.

This study eschews instrumentalist, a priori and reductionist approaches which tend to see the state, including the bureaucracy, as synonymous with, and therefore as solely pursuing the interests of, the economically dominant class. It adopts an approach which sees the Botswana state as potentially autonomous vis-a-vis the economically dominant class. This facilitates the detailed analysis of the policy process focusing on the orientations and roles of the bureaucrats and their relationship to the peasantry within the context of the implementation of re-distributive policy. The thesis examines these issues ln detail by focusing on Botswana's major agricultural programme, the Arable Lands Development Programme (ALDEP). Field research was caried out in Kweneng District and Gaborone in 1988-89.

Despite its 'progressive character', however, this bureaucracy is ill-equipped to deal effectively with various socio-economic situations facing some of the groups targeted to benefit from the re-distributive policies implemented since the early 1980s. The study highlights the all-too-familiar trend whereby such policies ultimately benefit better-off sections of the target group. In ALDEP's case this has to do partly with largely stereotypical notions of 'progressIve farming' developed in the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA). A direct outcome of these stereotypes is widespread resistance by small peasants to the recommended package of cultivating techniques.

Since the middle peasantry fits into these stereotypes, this group has emerged to become the major beneficiaries from ALDEP, as shown by their increased output. On the other hand, the majority of small peasant households face dwindling sources of income, undermining their capacity to take part in the acquisition of inputs despite the programme's favourable grant/downpayment scheme. As it is presently constituted ALDEP therefore does not appear to provide the framework through which to improve the posi tion of these peasants. Vulnerable groups such as female-headed households have also suffered.

A second form of bias manifests itself in terms of processes operating at the 'wider' political level and impinging on the implementation of peasant-focused redistributive programmes such as ALDEP. A case in point is the initiation in 1985 of the Accelerated Rainfed Arable Programme (ARAP) as a means of placating the politically precedent kulak farmers demanding an equally favourable policy. Incipient intra-bureaucratic conflict arising partly from these biases has served to weaken the autonomy of the bureaucracy and to strengthen the position of elite farmers more closely linked to the political interests of the ruling party.

Department of Sociology, The University of Hull
Booth, David, 1945-
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