Professor in the Institute of Rural Development University of Göttingen, West Germany.


I. The Extent of Multiple Employment

Most agricultural households in Asia live from a mix of agricultural and non-agricultural income.

The size of farms show already that many of these cannot suffice as the sole means of securing a family's basis of subsistence.

Of the 103,7 million farms statistically recorded in Asia (except China)
around 1970, 52 per cent had less than 1 ha,
19 per cent were of a size of 1 to 2 ha, and
18 per cent of 2 to 5 ha.
89 per cent are smaller than 12.5 acres.

In Pakistan in 1980,
34 per cent of all farms were below 2 ha,
51 per cent were below 3 ha,
74 per cent were below 5 ha or 12.5 acres.

In the meantime, the percentage of marginal farms is likely to have increased as a result of the inheritance custom.

Considering only the size of land available to a family, it is to be expected that in a large proportion of farm-households, the cash and non-cash incomes from agriculture are not sufficient to secure but a modest subsistence to the often large families the farmers have to support.

Indeed, some of the land is irrigated, but even then, only in very favourable conditions less than 2 ha is sufficient to support a family.

Considering these farm sizes in Asia, it must be assumed that many farm families do not live from agriculture alone, but that multiple employment is quite common. Since statistics are not available, this assumption can only be substanciated by the results of empirical surveys.

These case studies showed, that the following percentage of farm-households increase their income by means of non-agricultural earnings:

Pakistan Punjab 40%
  Mardan 39 and 78%
Jordan   60%
Bangladesh   40%
Thailand   31, 40, 37, 55, 76 and 84%
Korea   between 37 and 73%
Malaysia   70%

However poorly representative the sporadic findings of case studies can be, they still show that multiple employment is widespread in Asia. It is likely to increase further in future, considering the constant distribution of land due to inheritance, while simultaneously, non-agricultural development takes place more rapidly.