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Journal article

Historicising agrarian transformation. Agricultural commercialisation and social differentiation in Wolaita, southern Ethiopia


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Taylor & Francis Group
Africa | Eastern Africa

This article discusses contemporary agrarian transformation in southern Ethiopia from the perspective of how policies of agricultural commercialisation engender new patterns of rural social differentiation and politicisation of the land issue in the rural setting. By presenting a case of biofuels production through contract farming in Wolaita, the paper sheds light on the historical trajectory of agrarian transformation to elucidate the tensions of the current project of commercialisation. The article concludes that commercialisation of smallholder agriculture is a crucial feature of the country's strategy for socio-economic and political transformation and constitutes one of the main defining aspects of the self-declared 'developmental state' in Ethiopia. The current trajectory in Wolaita sees tangible rural social differentiation for the first time since the 1975 land reform. Beyond the success or failure of individual cases, commercialisation reflects two main layers of tension...


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