1.3.1 Objectives of Agrarian Reforms

Agrarian reforms usually have an entire package of goals. They are often imprecisely formulated and can only be deduced by looking at the list of measures. This is because the laws are passed during unsettled periods in which there is very little time to formulate them precisely. Sometimes it is also done on purpose, especially if the government is forced to introduce the reforms through inner or external pressure. Imprecise formulating of the goals makes it easier to effect changes later on and increases, therefore, flexibility. Most reforms comprise political, social, and economic components. Classifying them is somewhat arbitrary because there are many overlappings, even goal conflicts.

The kernel of agrarian reforms are changes in the power structures, i.e., political events. The goal behind abolishing large scale land ownership and feudal forms of power and liberating the small farmers and tenants is to put an end to unrest among the rural population and integrate it, in many cases, in the overall society for the first time. Stabilizing the political system likewise often plays an important role as a goal. Reforms passed shortly before a revolution maintain the old order, while reforms carried out after a revolution help legitimize the new order.

In the social sector, the goal is to reduce inequality in income, wealth, and chances in life. Since this inherently means a conflict of interests between those who own property and those who own nothing, it is as impossible to separate this target from the political goals as in the case of improving the status of the rural population and liberating it from feudal bonds.

The economic goals consist of increasing production and productivity in agriculture, improving capital formation and transfer, employing more labourers, and later on discharging them with progressing development, as well as increasing the demand for inputs and services that work as incentives towards development in non-agricultural sectors. An improvement in the balance of payments by increasing exports or avoiding imports by raising domestic production is likewise an aspiration. In addition, mutual promotion of the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors by increasing coordination between them is a goal of some agrarian reforms.

In the individual cases, the goals and goal combinations are determined by the existing situation and are especially influenced by the conditions at the beginning, by the already achieved degree of economic development, and the existing social system. The package of goals has grown continually more complicated over the years. Whereas in past centuries more equality was the main goal of most struggles for agrarian reform, there are many variations today. According to the particular political ideology, the target will be collectivization of family farms based on individual property or permanent rights of use. In these cases the attempt is also made to attain the advantages of larger units by founding cooperatives. If the priority is given to making a contribution towards economic development, the measures may concentrate on an increase in production and more employment. In the case of an already achieved higher level of development. and already existing occupational alternatives, income distribution gains more significance than the distribution of land. Higher incomes bring with them a tendency towards larger farm units. The changing technology that results presents special demands on the agrarian structure, especially the suitability for mechanization. Just as agrarian reform is not a one time process, but rather an adoption to changing requirements and circumstances, the reform goals shift in type and intensity in the course of time.