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While there is renewed interest to promote agricultural development, there is a lively policy debate on the appropriate instruments to achieve this goal. While some actors argue that agricultural development requires strong government support and input subsidies, others criticize those state-focused instruments and favor market-oriented approaches. Applying a narrative policy analysis approach, this paper addresses the question: Who has a better story-line? The study aims to contribute to a better understanding of contested policy debates using the case of Senegal as an example. The study applies the Advocacy Coalition Framework, and combines quantitative cluster analysis with qualitative narrative policy analysis. Transcripts of in-depth interviews conducted with policy stakeholders in Senegal are the primary data source. The empirical analysis reveals that, there are two coalitions with opposing policy narratives: a large “agricultural support” coalition and a small “agricultural support critique” coalition. The story-line of the agricultural support critique emphasizes that, the government provision of input subsidies is ineffective while story-line of the proponents of such policies consider support essential to promote agricultural development. The analysis of the narratives suggests that, the agricultural coalition has a convincing story-line with a clear beginning (low productivity caused by lack of inputs), middle (providing subsidized inputs) and end (increased productivity). In contrast, the agricultural support critique essentially presents “non-stories” (focusing on what should not be done without providing a convincing alternative story-line of what should be done). Based on the proposition that a more consensus-oriented approach will ultimately lead to more effective agricultural policies, the study explores strategies to achieve a “discursive turn” and examines the role of policy brokers in this context.


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