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Basile Boulay

PhD Student in Development/Agricultural Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences

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Teaching Summary

Economic Perspectives (year 1)

Foundations of Macroeconomics (year 1)

Economic Integration II (year 1)

Economics Dissertation (year 3)

Research Summary

The first part of my PhD research looks at two specific aspects in Tanzanian agriculture, using the rich information available in the Tanzanian Panel Surveys. The first aspect I look at is output… read more

I have strong interests in development and agricultural economics, and for research related to food and sustainability more generally (including research in agricultural sciences, agrarian studies, the anthropology of food, biology and nutrition studies). I am also interested in economic history and development, as well as economic thought and methodology. In terms of regional interests, my prime interest is on East Africa since my research focuses on Tanzania, although I am also interested in other regions, particularly by the specificities of different agricultural systems and development paths in different areas of the globe.

Current Research

The first part of my PhD research looks at two specific aspects in Tanzanian agriculture, using the rich information available in the Tanzanian Panel Surveys. The first aspect I look at is output marketing, i.e., I seek to understand what are the factors driving farmers to sell their output on the market, or alternatively, to retain this output for home consumption. Because farm production is often retained for home consumption, I also study how much a particular crop contributes to the nutritional requirements of households, since this may influence their decision to sell. The second aspect of my research looks at the determinants of productivity for a set of important crops in Tanzania (such as maize, rice, beans and groundnut). In am particularly interested in establishing whether an inverse relationship between area planted and productivity is observed in Tanzania, and if yes, what are the implications of such relationship. This research is largely based on econometrics, but I attempts to fit the econometrics in a 'broader' framework and relate my results to research done in other fields, such as rural anthropology, agrarian studies and the political economy of development.

The second part of my PhD researh is based on primary data collected in Tanzania to assess the economic potential of an indigenous crop called 'Bambara nut' (for the latest info check http://www.bamyield.org/ ). Bambara is a interesting crop in many respects: it is drought tolerant (which matters in a context of declining rainfall trends), very nutritious (more so than groudnuts), has the potential of fixing nitrogen in the soils (which is a key component of agricultural productivity), and is strongly culturally embedded in several regions of the country. For more info on Bambara check the 'traditional crop of the month' page on the FAO website here. I explore the socio-economic dynamics associated with the crop and show its importance for local livelihoods, despite hardly featuring in national datasets. This research is part of the nascent effort at incorporating marginal crops in development and agricultural research.

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