EPAR Technical Report #19
Publication Date: 02/06/2009
Type: Literature Review

Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are generally defined as geographically delimited areas administered by a single body, offering certain incentives (duty-free importing and streamlined customs procedures, for instance) to businesses that physically locate within the zone. This literature review provides a baseline analysis of SEZs and their potential impacts on smallholder farmers in SSA. Criticism on SEZs is distinctly divided between those who criticize on social or environmental grounds versus those who question the economic impact of SEZs. SEZs are often criticized based on perceived negative socio-economic impacts—particularly their negative impact on women, labor, and working conditions. This review includes several country-specific studies that find evidence that SEZs actually have higher environmental standards and higher worker satisfaction than outside the SEZ. Most responses to criticisms do note, however, that the case studies’ results are not necessarily generalizable to SEZs throughout the world. The literature review includes key elements of successes and failures pulled from the case studies of SEZs in SSA. Though the evidence is insufficient to conclusively determine if smallholder farmers receive direct benefits from SEZs and their associated agroindustrial contracts, this review finds that resources provided to farmers (credit at rates lower than bank rates, technical or managerial assistance, pesticides, seeds, and fertilizer on credit) tend to be concentrated among larger farmers. The report concludes with a note on donor involvement as well as recommendations for further research. 

EPAR Research Brief #14
Publication Date: 02/05/2009
Type: Research Brief

This quarterly report (Quarter 4, 2008) provides charts of historical and futures price information for key commodities including cocoa, coffee, rice, wheat, corn, soybeans, cashews, crude oil, and fertilizer.  The historical price data is from a variety of sources including the World Bank and the Food and Agricultural Organization. This quarterly update lists average monthly prices through the end of 2008 and, for commodities that are sold on a futures market, projected prices through the end of 2010.  The report provides a concise review of selected market bulletins, explaining broad trends for past volatility and future pricing.