6. Conclusions

  1. There is no ideal land tenure system, but only one adjusted to the social, economic and political circumstances of the time.
  2. 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 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 for agriculturists.
  3. 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:
    • 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 economy.
    • 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.
  4. 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:
    • 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 and society.
    • 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.