An attempt to evaluate the results of twenty-five years
of agrarian reforms can result in differing conclusions depending
on the viewpoint held.
a) In view of the existing political situation in most countries,
the prevailing power structure, and considering the level
at the time of the enactment of land reform laws, one cannot
the progress made in the change of land tenure in Asia.
- In most countries, feudal and semi-feudal tenures and
intermediaries have been abolished. The tenants now hold
their land direct from the State and thus exploitation and
dependence have been partially abolished.
- As a result of ceilings legislation, big landlords and
especially absentees have been expropriated, their power
reduced and their land distributed to tenants and small
- In some countries, as a result of tenancy legislation,
a large number of
tenants acquired ownership rights and had their rights recorded
or improved their security in other ways.
- Last, but not least, the reform laws have had an important
effect. Their enactment has acted as a warning to landlords,
so that many of them realized, for the first time, the limits
of their power. To small peasants and tenants, it was an
indication that they are not completely at their landlord's
mercy. This recognition was, in many cases, an important
step to improve the relations at the village level.
b) An evaluation of the achievements may result in quite
different conclusions if one takes into account the need for
tenure changes, the increasing
tension of the political situation in many countries, the
fact that the under
privileged people are becoming more and more aware of their
the rapid population growth which increases continuously the
- Taking these factors into account, one has to admit that
little has been
accomplished which has brought really penetrating changes
in the rural
- It must be admitted that the rural upper class, except
its top-most strata,
has hardly been touched. The situation of the peasant landlords
has some times even been strengthened. A noticeable improvement
has only been achieved in respect of some rural middle-class
sectors, especially the privileged tenants who became owners
of their land. The conditions of the small peasants have
- There has also been little change for the lower class
in rural areas. Tenants of lower standing have usually not
improved their situation and have been evicted in large
numbers. The same is true for share tenants and croppers
who, often, are not even mentioned in the reform laws and
wage levels, too, have not been much affected.
Summing up the results, one can say that
- maldistribution of ownership has changed little;
- the rural power structure and exploitation are about
- economic power is based on control of resources and is
an important factor in determining political power;
- distribution of income and wealth remains about the same;
- the uneconomic size of holdings and lack of supporting
services results in poor output, poor income and indebtedness;
- the few changes in tenure did not create enough incentive
for the masses to do more work and to increase their investment
- because of lack or insufficient supporting services,
agriculture in most
countries has generally retained the status of traditional
agriculture without technological change.
Judging from this line of thinking, one cannot help feeling
that the past twenty-five years of agrarian reform in Asia
have not met the challenge.