Agrarian Reform and Grassroots Development: Ten Case Studies

Agrarian Reform and Grassroots Development: Ten Case Studies

Agrarian Reform and Grassroots Development: Ten Case Studies

Agrarian Reform and Grassroots Development: Ten Case Studies

Synopsis

In the developing world, more than 100 million agricultural families make their living from land they do not own, working as tenant farmers or as agricultural labourers on large farms or plantations. This book examines issues related to land tenure and the prospects for land reform in a variety of settings, ranging from agriculture-based Third World economies to the centrally planned systems of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China.

Excerpt

It is easy for those in the First World, having progressed over the past century from agrarian to industrial economies, to forget how important the issue of land is today in less developed countries. In the developing world, land continues to constitute the principal source of livelihood, security, and status. About six families out of ten are still engaged in agriculture. Yet roughly 100 million agricultural families—over half-a‐ billion people—make their living principally from land they do not own. Some work as tenant farmers, paying rent to a landlord, as in the Philippines, Bangladesh, and large parts of India. Others work as agricultural laborers on large plantations or medium-sized farms, as in Latin America or parts of southern Africa. Still others work for a wage or a share of the crop in the small-holding sector, as on Java. Together, these insecure and impoverished nonlandowning agricultural families—the poorest of the poor—are sometimes referred to as the "landless," and there are tens of millions more who are near-landless.

Such landlessness is at the root of some of the world's most serious and persisting problems, with consequences frequently extending to severe exploitation and deprivation of minimal political rights and basic human needs. Yet, for decades this problem, an issue that should be at the heart of the development process, has been neglected or ignored.

Landlessness is a cause of low productivity on lands farmed by poorly compensated and poorly motivated tenants and laborers. Farmers with insecure tenure lack incentives to make capital improvements to the land or to invest the "sweat equity" needed to produce high yields. Where the mass of the population is unproductive, poor, and hungry, and has little income with which to purchase basic goods and services, the village economy stagnates. Where landless families form a significant part of the population, their low productivity . . .

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