The Process of Economic Development

By James M. Cypher; James L. Dietz | Go to book overview

11

Agriculture and development
After studying this chapter, you should understand:
• the significance of the dual biases confronting agriculture: urban bias and gender bias;
• why agricultural development is crucially dependent on governmental infrastructure investments;
• the extent and nature of the difficulties faced by mono-exporters of primary products;
• the special conditions and behavioral responses to economic variables of peasant cultivators;
• the nature of environmental problems in the agricultural sector, including issues of erosion and deforestation, the "circle of poison" effect, and the dispute over property rights and resource depletion;
• the structural barriers created by historically defined land tenure systems;
• the Green Revolution's achievements and limitations;
• the nature of large-scale agricultural enterprises;
• the promise and limits of transnational agribusiness; and
• the elements of successful land reform and its role in undergirding development strategies.

Introduction

Most people in the developing regions are either cultivators, farm laborers, or relatively small-scale producers of services or manufactured goods in the countryside. In 1970, 75 percent of the population of low- and middle-income countries lived in rural areas; by 1999, this share had fallen somewhat to 61 percent. In the low-income countries, the share of the rural population in 1999 was still 74 percent (UNDP: 2001:157; World Bank 1994:222-223, Table 31). In 1993 there were over 2.2 billion people involved in agriculture as producers, while another 800 million lived in rural areas. As we know, there is a strong inverse relationship between a nation's level of per capita income and the size of the rural population: 78 percent of the population in nations with per capita income below US$400 per year were located in the rural sector, whereas in the "upper-middle income countries" with per capita income

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