Agricultural Employment and
Poverty Alleviation in Asia
C. Peter Timmer
Most analysts would agree with the viewpoint expressed by Hayami and Ruttan that inappropriate policies are the major constraint limiting the pace of agricultural development in the developing world. "The basic factor underlying poor performance was neither the meager endowment of natural resources nor the lack of technological potential to increase output from the available resources at a sufficiently rapid pace to meet the growth of demand. The major constraint limiting agricultural development was identified as the policies that impeded rather than induced appropriate technical and institutional innovations. As a result, the gap widened between the potential and the actual productive capacities of LDC agriculture" ( 1985, p. 416). The extent of that agreement, however, varies for different components of agricultural policy. In some areas there is broad consensus on the role of government involvement—for example, in the provision of such public goods as research and extension and investments in rural infrastructure and irrigation. The debate is at the margin over levels of funding, institutional organization, and balance between the roles played by the private and public sectors. Much of the analysis conducted by Hayami and Ruttan focuses on this debate.
Significant areas of government intervention into agriculture do not reflect such consensus, however. Despite agreement that government policy is important, its efforts to alter the distribution of land