One way of defining the difference between developed and developing countries is in terms of the extent to which the nation’s resources have to be devoted to the production of food and the other basic necessities derived from the cultivation of the land. Almost without exception, rich countries devote only a small proportion of their labour and capital to agriculture, whilst poorer ones of necessity devote more, and development is frequently described and modelled as a process of resource transfer out of agriculture and into an expanding industrial sector. Like it or not, development is equated with industrialisation and the role of the farm household in the process has essentially been to discover ways of contributing its labour and output to the growth of the non-agricultural sector.
In due course, therefore, in cases of successful industrialisation, agriculture is bound to become a declining and increasingly less significant area of economic activity. As incomes rise, smaller and smaller proportions of them are spent on food and the technical constraints on the growth of agricultural output make it increasingly difficult for farm households to match the income growth experienced by their urban industrial counterparts. For farmers and policy-makers in industrial countries, agriculture then comes to present new kinds of problem involving complex mixes of issues, ranging from intersectoral income distribution through food security to the environment and the cultural and spiritual value of the countryside.
Until relatively recently, the only examples of the long-term development of agriculture’s role in industrialisation were to be found in ‘the West’ and the nature of the issues involved was defined, on the one hand, by the pattern of European and American industrialisation experience and, on the other, by the responses of farmers within the particular forms of agriculture practised in those environments. However, the emergence of first Japan and then South Korea (hereafter Korea), Taiwan and the other newly industrialising ‘tigers’ and ‘dragons’ into the ranks of industrial