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Fellow 1990-91

Merle L. Bowen

Center for African Studies

Rural Development Strategy in Mozambique, 1975-1989

One of the greatest challenges facing scholars of contemporary Africa is to address the continuing agricultural crisis. This project will complete a major study on the impact of changing state policies in a key African case: Mozambique. Professor Bowen's research over the last six years has been directed to the debate on Mozambique's agrarian strategy. At issue is a major theoretical and policy question: what is the potential and performance of a cooperative rural development strategy? The focus is the development of Mozambican agricultural cooperatives in the post-independence period, and specifically the role of women and rural cooperatives in agrarian development. The research method relies heavily on close and long-term observation of rural areas, supplemented by hard data in the form of statistics, government documents, and case studies.

Since leaving Mozambique in mid-1987, dramatic changes have occurred in the country's agrarian strategy. A new International Monetary Fund-approved structural adjustment program adopted by the Mozambican government in January 1987 represented a major shift in national economic policy, away from the centralized planning of a few years ago, towards a much greater reliance on market forces. In order to present a comprehensive and accurate depiction of policies and practices since independence, it was critical that the new developments be incorporated into the monograph documenting Professor Bowen's research. A five-week visit to Mozambique in the summer of 1989 facilitated the completion of his long-term research project.

Professor Bowen's CAS fellowship will allow him to make the final revisions to his monograph, supplementing the data in his thesis with material gathered in further research carried out in Mozambican rural communities in 1986, 1987, and 1989.