- There is no ideal land tenure system, but only one adjusted
to the social, economic and political circumstances of the
- Therefore, at different times throughout history, the
land tenure system has had to support goals of varying importance
in the society, according to the stage of socio-economic
Consequently, changes in the land tenure system, which
are necessary to allow a smooth social and economic development,
are not uniform, but vary according to the level of development:
- In early history, the land tenure system was a means
of organizing society and guaranteeing survival.
- Later on, it helped to maintain social and political
order and assured the state its taxes.
- In colonial times, the land tenure system served colonial
interests: it assured the elite's loyalty, organized capital
extraction and food production.
- After independence, the land tenure system was supposed
to assist integration, increase equity, absorb labour
and increase production.
- At the beginning of industrialization, the land tenure
system has to allow productivity increases, release land
and labour for other uses and provide comparable incomes
The wide differences which exist not only between countries
but also between regions within countries have an influence
an the type of necessary and possible measures:
- At early stages of development, the greatest problem
results from the concentration of land in the hands
of a few people. In agrarian societies, land ownership
is the basis of existence, and land monopoly leads to
power and exploitation of the landless. Landowners'
interests concentrate more an the control of the land
than an productivity. Reforms of land ownership reduce
this inequality in access to land, tie more labour to
the land and cause an end to the stagnation of the agrarian
- At a somewhat advanced level of development, industrialization
nd and urbanization begin, accompanied by population
increase. At this level, agrarian reforms have to overcome
the obstacles preventing an increase in agricultural
production. These can still be found in the land ownership
system, but measures for promoting land management gain
importance. In view of the limited demand for manpower
in the non-agricultural sectors, increase in agricultural
production should be mainly on the basis of a more intensive
use of labour.
- Beginning industrialization requires setting free
manpower and forces agriculture to become more capital
intensive. The increased employment of inputs produced
outside the agricultural sector causes an interweaving
of the agricultural, industrial and service sectors.
Agrarian structure has to be adjusted to the demand
created by employment of capital. That may require an
increase in farm unit areas, or transition to forms
of cooperation and integration in production. The increased
risk resulting from farming being interwoven with the
market demands requires an intensification of extension
work and training.
- In an industrial society, agriculture has diminished
to a small sector of the economy and society. Because
of alternative ways of making a living, there is little
pressure to redistribute land. In order for agriculture
to be comparable to other sectors, farm size, capital
assets and investment of labour have to be appropriate.
Agricultural production acquires characteristics similar
to those of the industrial production.
- In view of the varying conditions and requirements,
it will be less and less possible to satisfy the needs
with one law covering the whole country.
- True agrarian reform laws become of lesser importance
than carefully planned incentives in the form of taxes,
prices and subsidies.
- Measures have to be integrated in the overall development
policy due to the inseparable interlacing of agrarian
economy and society with the other sectors of economy
- The need for regional and transsectoral measures can
probably best be met by regional development policy.
- In view of the rapidly changing conditions, measures
should be flexible and allow easy adaptation to new
situations. The time when land tenure changed once in
centuries has passed.