We should know that agri. sector can play an important role in the economic development of any country. In other words, if agri. sector is promoted it will lead to promote the overall development of any country. Therefore, the developing countries should pay greater attention to develop their agri. sectors. But practically we see that there exist a lot of problems in agri. sectors of developing countries.
Types of Agricultural Systems in the World:
More particularly, the World agri. system is classified into two types:
(1) The DCs have very efficient system of agriculture where a few people supply food for whole of the nation, even for the world community.
(2) The UDCs have very inefficient system of agriculture which is furnished with low productivity where farm laborers barely sustain farm population.
There exists an immense gap between these two agrarian systems. In I960, in DCs 115 million people were absorbed in agri. sector and they produced the total agri. production of $78 billion, hence per capita agri. production was of $680.
While in case of UDCs 850 million people were engaged in agri. sector and they produced agri. output worth $43 billion and hence per capita agri. production was of just $52. It shows that there existed a gap of 13 times in labor agri. productivity in DCs and UDCs.
In 1980, in case of DCs the 96 million people were employed in agri. who produced worth $125 billion and per capita agri. production was $1660. On the contrary in LDCs 1230 million were engaged in agri. who produced worth $77 billion and the per capita agri. production was $63.
For the year 2000 it had been projected that in DCs the employment in agri sector would be consisting of 50 million who would produce worth $186 billion and per capita agri. production would be of $3720. On the other hand, in case of Third World countries there will be the employment of labor in agri. sector worth 1480 million people who will produce agri. products worth $135 billion and hence the per capita agri. production will be of $91.
This all shows that the productivity gap in agri. sector between the DCs and UDCs is widening day by day.
According to 1985 statistics in Japan 122 million people were engaged in agri. sector and average grain yield was 5.8 tons per hectare; in US 241 million people were employed in agri. where average grain yield was 4.8 tons per hectare. In India 785 million people were employed in agri. where average grain yield was 1.6 tons per hectare; and in Pakistan 102 million were absorbed in agri, and per acre yield was 1.6 tons per hectare.
The agri. sector have had its growth in DCs since the mid of 18th century and it got rapid momentum after the World War I when it was observed that a few farmers were able to produce food for so many people. Such all is attributed to technological and biological improvements in agri. sector. As it was estimated in 1974 that an American farmer could produce food for 65 persons while in 1987 he could provide food to feed at least 80 persons. Again, it has been found that in 1987 only 2 % of US working force was engaged in agri. sector compared with more than 70% in the early 19th century.
But on the other hand the experience of UDCs was very different. Their agri. sector is furnished with following characteristics:
(i) There is a scarcity of fertile land.
(ii) There is a big pressure of labor on lands because of rising population.
(iii) There is a reduced use of agri. tools and machinery on farms.
(iv) The farming and cropping technologies are very outdated.
(v) The marginal productivity goes on to fall due to operation of diminishing returns.
(vi) There is traditional subsistence farming which is furnished with risk and uncertainty.
(vii) The agri. lands are prey to water logging and salinity.
(viii) The farmers fail to get a reasonable remuneration against their crops.
In such state of affairs the standard of living of the rural peasants is continuously deteriorating. As it is said that at the end of 19th century the food production in India was slightly above the subsistence requirements. But now a days the situation has gone worst that millions of the Indian people are prey to starvation.
Now we present the features of agrarian structure of Third World countries which will help us to know about agri. backwardness of these countries.
(i) In Third World countries which comprise of African, Asian and Latin American countries large areas of land is concentrated into the hands of a small class of powerful land lords. Therefore, the common characteristic of agri. in these three regions is operation of ‘Family Farming’. The members of these families constitute the main agri. working force. The agri. is supposed to be not only a profession, but it is also a way of Me. The people have great love for lands. They are well attached with their lands. They think that any change in their cultivation techniques will lead to bring a change in their style of life.
(ii) Despite certain different heritages and cultures in Latin American and Asian agrarian structures they have lot of similarities, like the basic objective of peasants in these countries is of survival. Here the farmer cultivates a small piece of land which is either his own, rented from land lord or money lender, to meet his and his family’s minimal needs. Again, in these countries farmers get nominal and sub-standard wages by working as tenants. Such peasants can hardly aspire for profits, which depend upon climatic conditions or market conditions. The fanners born in debt, grow in debt and die in debt – the common and natural destiny of the farmers. These poor tillers depend upon animal and human power, rather on tools and machinery. They use excrement rather than chemical fertilizers. They are bound to use the traditional seeds and crops rather than experimental cultivations. Here the farmers do not have any insurance laws, unemployment allowances or social security measures. They Bell their services just for the sake of small amount of food. Again in these countries the major share of lands is allocated to produce the food grains like corn in Mexico, rice in Indonesia, Mandioca in Brazil and soybeans in China. In case of India 75% of the cropped land is devoted to food grains such as rice, wheat, millets, barley and lentils. When these fail, as in Maharashtra in 1972, a peasant is reduced to trading his bullocks for a few bananas.
(iii) In Latin American, even in Asia and Africa, agrarian structures are hot only part of production system but a basic feature of the entire economic social and political organization of rural life. The agrarian system which is in operation in Latin American countries is the agri. dualism which is known as “Latifundio – Minifundio”. By Latifundio it means those big pieces of lands which can provide employment to at lest 12 persons. Whereas by Minfundio it means those small pieces of lands which can provide employment to just 2 persons. According to a FAO report there are just 1.3% landlords who own 71.6% of total lands. It means that the big land lords which are a few in numher occupy a greater part of lands.
The big land lords do not contribute to the NI. They possess the lands in order to show their power and prestige. Their lands mostly remain unused. The tenancy cultivation is in practice in these lands. Thus the absentee landlordism is in practice in Latin America, and even in Asian countries like Pakistan where the landlords live in cities. These land lords are very strong, politically. They influence the politics as well as economics of these poor countries. These landlords take away the major share of the produce produced by tenants cultivators The tenants are nothing more than the servants of the powerful feudals. In case of Minifundios 90% of the total farms occupy more than 17% of the total agri. land. In the countries like Ecuador, Guatemala and Peru, Minifundios are wide spread. The average size of the Latifundios in Argentina is 270 times that of the Minifundios in Guatemala, and the Latifundio is often as much as 1732 times the size of Minifundio.
But in addition to Latifundios and Minifundios a considerable amount of production is also attained through family farms and medium sized farms. In case of Latin American not only lands are concentrated in a few hands but the Latifundios are also furnished with relative inefficiency in comparison with other Latin American farm organizations. It is a normal view that big farms permit the greater use of agri. machinery, tractors and combine harvesters etc. But Minifundios in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile yield more than twice the value of output per hectare under cultivation than the Latifundios and more than 10 times the value per hectare of total farm land. Therefore, there exists the justification of redistribution of Latifundios tracts of lands amongst the family farmers to raise agri. productivity and output Moreover, the farmers – the small farmers should be provided with better seeds, more fertilizers, less distorted factor prices, higher output prices and improved marketing facilities. Such all will take away the 70% of rural population out of economic subsistence and social subservience.
(iv) We told above that in case of Latin American countries a few people own and control most of the land. But in case of Asia it is a common observation that so many people are attached with too little land. For example, the per capita availability of arable land in India, China and Japan is 0.29, 0.20 and 0.07 hectares, respectively.
Before the colonization the traditional Asian agrarian system was confined to village. These villages were self-sufficient. The poor peasants used to produce for the chiefs of the tribes who in turn used to provide protection to such growers. Moreover, the land which belonged to the tribe or community could be distributed among the village members either through a body or through its chief Such redistribution was made on the ground of population increase, natural calamities like droughts, floods, famines, wars and diseases. Within the community, families had a basic right to cultivate land for their own use and they could be evicted from their land only after a decision by the whole village. But due to British, French and Dutch invasions the colonial rule was inducted in Asia which led to grow the big land lords and the tenants. The British govt. in order to get the raw material, distributed the lands at very nominal prices. In this way, the big pieces of land came into being which were owned by land lords and feudals.
In those days, the govts. (British) used to charge Malia and Water charges from the tillers. But after the colonial rule when these countries got independence there was a rapid increase in population of these countries. In such situation, the pressure on lands increased, because in these countries due to market imperfections and limited industrial growth the laborers were forced to be absorbed on lands. In this way, the lands in Asia went on dividing and sub-dividing. But most of tillers arc the poor, they are unable to use modern technology, superior seeds and tools etc. In this way, such farmers are bound to practice subsistence farming. Because of weak financial position the small farmers have to borrow from money lenders who charge extra-ordinary higher rate of interest. While the big landlords and feudals are in a position to get agri. loans on the basis of political influence. But with the passage of time when the urban life spread, the inventions and innovations took place and the demand for food increased in the poor countries of Asia.
As a result, the subsistence farming started turning to ‘Mixed Farming’ where the farmers not only produced for themselves, but also for the market. The agri. technology became popular, and the farmers needs for finance increased. During the subsistence farming the peasants borrow for their traditions like marriages, fairs and funeral ceremonies. But when agri. sector turned into a mixed structure the farmers had to borrow for seeds, fertilizers and machinery etc. In this way, agri. sector in Asian countries have had a transformation. In this respect Prof. Gunner Myrdal writes “It is the population growth which led to sub-divide the lands in the cultivable areas. Then there emerged the big land lords when loans were made available for agri. purposes. But in such situation, the poor farmers were deprived of the land”.
Thus according to Gunner Myrdal it is a common phenomenon in the agrarian economies of Pakistan, India, Indonesia and Philippines that the lands are being divided and sub-divided along with increase in population. Consequently, the poor farmers are bound to farm at the area which is below subsistence level, Hence, the agri. production is also below subsistence level. In this way, the poverty goes on to increase, rather decreasing, and the poor peasants are bound to borrow from Money Lenders at the rate of the interest of 50% to 200%. So many farmers which are unable to repay the loans go on selling their tiny areas of land. In this way, they turn into tenants from the small owners. As the land is far below the amount of the demand on the part of tillers the rent of the land goes on to increase. In certain cases the owner takes away the rent equal to 50 to 80 % of the land produce. On the other hand, the rural areas are flooded with the labor where they earn nominal wages. In this way, they remain entrapped into some ignoble circle of poverty. Not only, their standard of living is poor, but they do not possess any self-esteem and respect. Thus according to M.P. Todaro in case of poor countries, the poor farmers rather improving their lives are throwing themselves in the doldrums of poverty.
(v) Like Asia and Latin America there also exists ‘Subsistence Farming’ on small plots of lands in Africa. The majority of the farm families in tropical Africa still plan their output primarily for their own subsistence.
There are three characteristics of African agriculture:
(a) There is an importance of subsistence farming in village community; (b) There is the existence of some land in excess of immediate requirements, which permits a general practice of shifting cultivation and reduces the value of land ownership as an instrument of economic and political power; (c) Each family in a village has a right to have an access to land and water in the immediate territorial vicinity.
Thus, the net result of subsistence family farming in Africa is the reduced productivity and production. In most of Africa land remains uncultivated. The outdated techniques, low quality seeds the droughts arid famines are the salient features causing low production and shortage of food in African countries. Moreover, with the passage of time the urbanization is increasing in the countries like Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, and Uganda. This has led to monetization of these economies where the demand for food is increasing. Again, in these countries one comes across the soil erosion and deforestation of marginal lands and introduction of land taxes. Accordingly, there is a need to transform the subsistence farming into mixed and commercial farming.