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Abstract

This work examines how, for almost a century, coffee has been transformed into a tool to develop Burundi. While the country has become one of the most dependent in the world of this production, many producers are discouraged and stop cultivating it. The trend raises the fear of a disappearance of this culture. The research focuses on the years 2000 to 2015 and follows the controversies that arise with the application of the privatization-liberalization of the sector, initiated at the instigation of the World Bank and the IMF. Transformation involves the removal of government regulatory mechanisms in favor of "market-based" mechanisms, particularly with respect to ownership of processing plants, pricing and producer supervision. Following the evolution of the producer price-setting process, the thesis argues that its merger with the futures market allows new plants owners to protect themselves from spot market fluctuations, to which producers are now exposed. Throughout the chapters, we understand that the actors (be they framers, consultants, international merchants, etc.) tend to make "selective oversights" allowing them to ignore the contradictions they face, things having often a tendency to go backwards: the reform is posed as a solution before having established the problem of profitability of the sector; the factories are not privatized to make them profitable, but strategies are built to make the factories profitable in order to privatize them; the success of the reform requires tightening constraints on producers and increasing of development aid funding.

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