6.3.1 Increase in Production and Productivity

Certain - not all - areas in Asia experienced a remarkable increase in production and productivity in the past. This is not only, but to the greatest extent, a consequence of the 'Green Revolution' (new seeds, fertilizer, irrigation, mechanization). The degree to which agriculturists could apply these new technologies depends on the availability of the prerequisites, water in the first place. Non-irrigated areas are more or less excluded. In some regions, irrigation has been made possible due to the construction of tubewells, etc., but, by and large, dry areas are omitted.

Besides water availability, the following factors are mainly concerned:

  • Access to Services
    Farmers require information and advice on the new technologies, cooperatives for delivery and marketing of products, credit to purchase the expensive inputs, etc. All of these were unevenly available to tenure groups. Usually, the factors were at the disposal of the large owners while the smallholders and the tenants were not provided the required services. Thus, applying modern technology entailed more risks and the incentive and possibility to participate in farming along modern lines were reduced.
  • Freedom of Management
    Tenants, especially sharecroppers, are often not free in making decisions regarding management but are rather workers restricted by their landlord's instructions. The lease of some of them was terminated because the landowner wanted to change to self-cultivation. Prices and changes in prices and subsidies caused the unknown technology to entail more risks still and reduced whatever incentive there may have been.

The 'Green Revolution' is considered a proof that agricultural development is possible without costly land reforms under the financial and the political aspects. This is correct as long as agricultural development is understood as being equal to production increase. Even then, it is rather a lift to a higher level than a real development. In view of the regional limitation to irrigated areas and to the more prosperous sections of the rural society, one can hardly speak of development. This does not intend to limit the positive impact on production which put an end to the period of food shortage. In addition, the strata-specific impact of the 'Green Revolution' mentioned above shows the limitation of the technological innovations.

Another consequence concerns the question of productivity of different farm sizes. According to the prevailing dogma, small holdings have a higher productivity than larger farms. But it is doubtful whether this holds true under the conditions of a technologically advanced cultivation. Experience shows that modern agriculture requires not only the application of one modern technology, but constantly changing technologies. These are available, but the owners of small holdings have difficulty in coping with them, intellectually and financially. Today, it seems that the medium farms have the highest productivity. This is partly influenced by the fact that some of the small farms belong to families employed not only on the farm but also in non agricultural work, and which have various interests. However, this varies much between regions.