1.3.5. Agrarian Reforms and Development
As necessary as agrarian reforms are in many parts of the
world, one must not expect too much of them. Very often, they
produce the preconditions without which a development process
cannot get started. Creating the preconditions, even if they
are successful, is not a guarantee, however, that there will
be development. Agrarian reforms are only a contribution.
In particular, they are not able to overcome some of the
basic obstacles that hinder development in economic and social
fields. Among these are, first and foremost, the population
problem and the resulting employment problems. In densely
settled countries, agriculture is not in a position to provide
all of the people with productive work. It is indeed able
to employ more labourers if the structure and organization
are appropriate and has to keep people in the rural areas
who are not really needed even if this means less productivity
in order to provide them with the minimal basic needs. A solution
to the employment problem can, however, only come form the
non-agricultural sector. Adequate agricultural production
is the prerequisite for this.
The above has already intimated that agrarian reforms can
only obliquely touch the problem of poverty and not solve
it. The really poor are landless and are generally not affected
by agrarian reform measures.
These limitations that agrarian reforms are faced with make
it clear that the more integrated they are in the overall
economic development process and its promotional measures,
the more effective they will be. The fact that, unfortunately,
agrarian reforms are still frequently restricted to the agricultural
sector means that they will be faced by limitations because
this ignores the intertwining and interdependence of agricultural
and non- -agricultural development The mostt consequent integration
of agrarian reforms in the overall economic development took
place in the case of the Chinese people's commmes.
Finally, agrarian reform measures are limited in the time
they will be effective. The newly created agrarian structure
will soon exhibit new problems regarding the relation of people,
land, and technology and, therefore, necessitate new changes
to adjust to the situation, or new reform measures.
As the individual countries have reached different levels
in the development process, the major targets of agrarian
reform measures will vary.
In the early stages of development, the greatest problems
result from the concentration of the land in the hands of
a few. Since the basis of existence is the ownership of land,
the land monopoly leads to power over, and exploitation of
the handless. The landowners' interest concentrates more on
the control of the land than its productivity. Land ownership
reforms reduce the inequality in the distribution of the land,
tie more labourers to the land, and cause an end to the stagnating
At a somewhat more advanced level of development, industrialization
and urbanization begin, frequently accompanied by a population
increase. At this level, an agrarian reform has to overcome
the obstacles preventing an increase in agricultural production.
These can partially still be found in the land ownership system.
Measures for promoting land management also gain importance
at this stage.
In view of the limited demand for manpower in the nonagricultural
sector, an increase in agricultural production should be achieved
mainly on the basis of more intensive employment of labour.
Progressing industrialisation necessitates setting manpower
free and, thus, forces agriculture to become more capital
intensive. The increased employment of inputs produced outside
the agricultural sector causes the agrarian economy, industry,
and service sectors to became interwoven. The agrarian structure
has to be adjusted to the demands created by the employment
of capital. That may necessitate increasing the farm unit
area, or a transition to collective forms of farming. The
increased risk, resulting from farming being interwoven with
the market, demands an intensification of extension work and
A mature industrial society, again, means new roles for agriculture
that has diminished to only a small sector. Since there are
adequate alternatives for earning a living, there is little
pressure to redistribute the land. In fact, small farms are
not attractive. The centre of interest is not the ownership
of land, but rather the income that can be earned through
it. In order for agriculture to be comparable to other sectors,
the farm size, capital assets, and investment of labour have
to be appropriate. Agricultural production has characteristics
similar to industrial production whether in a socialistic
or capitalistic system. True agrarian reforms are less important
under these circumstances than carefully planned incentives
in the form of taxes, prices, and subsidies. They have to
be integrated in the overall development policies due to the
inseparable interlacing of the agrarian economy and society
with the other sectors of the economy and society.