Logo Doctoral Certificate Program in Agricultural Economics Deutsch
Course of Study

Module 2300
Political Economy of Agriculture in Developing and Emerging Economies


Professor Dr Thomas Herzfeld (TH) is head of the Department Agricultural Policy, IAMO and taught courses in Agricultural and Food Policy, Microeconomics, and Economic Modelling at Universities in Kiel, Wageningen and Halle-Wittenberg.

Dr Bettina Bluemling (BB) is Assistant Professor at Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University (The Netherlands) and taught courses in Environmental Policy, Institutional Economics, Environment and Development, Environmental Ethics, as well as on methods in the social sciences and for interdisciplinary research at Wageningen University and University of Glasgow.

Jean Balié (FAO) is economist with the Agricultural Development Economics Division (ESA) in FAO and manager of the project Monitoring African Food and Agricultural Policies (MAFAP) that is a joint initiative of FAO and OECD.

Course Description

This one-week course will introduce PhD researchers to the major theories and models of the Political Economy of Agriculture, will discuss them based on a simulation, and will apply them to empirical cases from developing countries and countries in transition.

Learning objectives

In this module, students will

Course Outline

The course consists of lectures, individual assignments and one simulation. In a simulation, a real-world situation is recreated in which participants take up different roles in order to explore key mechanisms that are at work in such a situation. After the simulation, different theoretical approaches will be presented and discussed in their applicability to phenomena in the simulation. Furthermore, participants will be introduced to case studies from Africa and Asia and will apply theories to analyse those case studies.

Organization and time

This is a one week block course which will be held at Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO), Theodor-Lieser-Str. 2, 06120 Halle (Saale).

The course will be divided into three parts:

  1. Simulation (BB):
    A simulation in the beginning of the week will support researchers’ experiential learning about a contemporary agrarian issue in a developing / transition country. This part will take place from Monday afternoon to Tuesday afternoon and involve active participation in the simulation, the writing of a strategy paper and of a debriefing paper.
  2. Theoretical lectures (TH, BB):
    Using examples from the simulation, lectures on theories and models of the political economy of agriculture follow, complemented by short lectures on relevant theories from geography. This part will consist of morning lectures, and take place from Wednesday until Friday. Lectures will be grouped thematically:
    • Lectures on Wednesday will introduce to the principles of Political Economics and Political Ecology as a critical theory that contextualizes agriculture within societal dynamics. Theories that focus on politicians’ orientation towards voters’ preferences will illustrate how the agricultural sector fares rather differently under governments with different political orientations.
    • Lectures on Thursday will focus on the power of consumers and pro-consumer policy as the agents for change in agriculture of the South, including models focusing on the role of agriculture as a source of public revenues.
    • Lectures on Friday will discuss the shift from taxing to subsidising agriculture observed in several middle-income countries and introduce theories which will be able to explain this development.
  3. Country cases (FAO): 
    After each block of theory, participants will work in small groups to discuss how they would apply theories to certain cases. Cases will be presented by FAO and / or may refer to participants’ own research. This part will take place in the afternoon of Wednesday and Thursday, and consists of group work and a short presentation of discussion results at the end of each session.

The course would hence provide a rich combination of theoretical and experiential learning on the political economy of agriculture in developing / transition countries, as well as learning on the application of theories.

Core literature

Teaching methods

Simulation (15%), Lectures (35%), Individual learning (50%)


Microeconomics at an intermediate level (decision making under certainty and uncertainty, game theory).
Preparation of the simulation: Active participation in the simulation is required as the simulation will be the basis for further discussions of the theories taught in the lectures.


Each participant will receive a certificate of attendance. To obtain full credits, students have to pass the following elements:

Credit points: 3

Language: English


Professor Thomas Herzfeld: herzfeld@iamo.de
Dr Bettina Bluemling: b.bluemling@uu.nl