Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Member Profile: Keijiro Otsuka

Keijiro Otsuka
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies

AAEA Activities:
  • AAEA Fellow, 2013
  • Quality of Research Discovery Award, 1992
Keijiro Otsuka has made seminal contributions to diverse branches of agricultural and development economics on the basis of careful empirical research. He has published prolifically; 7 coauthored and 12 coedited books, more than 100 journal articles, 80 book chapters, and 12 book review articles. His election to the positions of president of the International Association of Agricultural Economists for the 2009-2012 period and of chairman of the Board of Trustees of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for the 2004-2007 period is a testament to his international reputation and leadership.

Learning about the fear of future famines in Asia, he became interested in food security and agricultural development in this region. As a result, he studied agricultural economics at the Tokyo Metropolitan University under Professor Yujiro Hayami, and at the University of Chicago under Professors Theodore W. Schultz and D. Gale Johnson. He became professor of economics at Tokyo Metropolitan University, before joining the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in 2001.

He is extremely talented in coordinating collaborative projects. When he was a visiting scientist at IRRI from 1986 to 1989, he organized a seven-country comparative study on “The Differential Impact of the Green Revolution between Favorable and Unfavorable Areas in Asia,” together with C.C. David. This study became a classical contribution in this area. Having revisited sample households first surveyed in the late 1980s in recent years, he published another book with J.P. Estudillo and Y. Sawada to explore the structure of dynamic changes in rural poverty in Asia in comparison with the current situation of selected African countries.

He is interested not only in agricultural development but also in institutional economics. His interest in the latter led to path-breaking research on the efficiency of share tenancy, which had been hotly debated in the 1970s and 1980s. In collaboration with his colleagues, he undertook a global review of the theoretical and empirical literature and successfully synthesized the diverse views on share tenancy in a highly consistent but critical fashion. He received the Quality of Research Discovery Award of the AAEA for his 1992 article in the Journal of Economic Literature.

He joined the International Food Policy Research Institute as a visiting research fellow from 1993 to 1998. He again demonstrated a genuinely rare ability to organize a collaborative project, this time covering three countries in Africa and four countries in Asia. Based on the results of careful empirical studies, he published a new classical book in the area of land tenure and natural resource management with Frank Place.

While he believes that development of the small-scale farm sector is essential for poverty reduction in poor economies, he also believes that the development of labor-intensive non-farm sectors is indispensable to provide ample employment opportunities for the poor. Thus, he has inquired into the development processes of the manufacturing sector based primarily on his own questionnaire surveys and applying his rich experience in rural household surveys. He and his colleagues published a unique study on the development of township and village enterprises in China and a number of papers and a few books on the long-term development of industrial clusters in prewar Japan, and contemporary Asia and Africa.

He is a strong advocate of the Green Revolution in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). As the chairman of the Board of Trustees of IRRI, he has been particularly successful in shaping the new mission and the strategic vision for IRRI with a new focus on disadvantaged SSA. Since 2008, he has been a major adviser to the Coalition for African Rice Development, which aims at doubling rice production in SSA in ten years from 2008 to 2018.

This post is part of an ongoing series of profiles of AAEA members. Have a suggestion for a future profile? Send them to or use the Submit a Member Profile form.

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