3.C. Prerequisite for a Successful Rural Development Programme: Change in Attitudes towards and Policies Concerning Land Tenure

In Pakistan the goals in rural development are twofold: in view of the still existing food shortage in the country, increase in production is as important as higher welfare of the total population. So far, rural development policy always had a heavy bias towards the first goal, and the opinion was that higher production can be achieved only at the cost of welfare of the population.

It is suggested that rural development programmes will only be successful if this opinion is changed completely. This change is possible without sacrificing the goal of production increase.

The generally prevailing assumption is that increase in production is possible only by concentrating all efforts on the large landholder* This approach resulted in a remarkable production increase but also brought about growing differences in income and impaired the welfare of the population.

But it should be realized that production increase is not exclusively attached to large holdings - not to speak of large land properties. On the contrary, numerous examples, from Egypt to Taiwan, show that small scale agriculture can be most intensive and productive. Even in Pakistan, small holdings usually have a higher intensity and the centres of production increase in the green revolution are the farms of 25 to 150 acres, and not the big estates. If it is claimed that production is higher on large farms than on small ones, this is because there is a confusion between production and marketed production.

The better performance of larger farms is true only under the prevailing service structure which is highly biased in favour of the large farm and often excludes smallholders. Little is done to satisfy their needs. This bias in agricultural policy explains the better performance of larger holdings.

It should be realized that this bias is the result of pressure and influence of large landowners who, with their economic power, achieved political power. While the desire of the landed aristocracy to gain political power exists everywhere, there seems to be little justification for a modern nation to comply with this desire to such an extent as to allow a few to reap the fruits of development and exclude the majority of the population. This unjustified bias in agricultural and rural development policy has to be changed.

If supported by a service structure which meets his needs, the small holder will certainly do much better and equal the productivity of large farms. He will substitute his labour to these scale economies which cannot be brought to him by proper institutions. Such a development policy has the immense benefit of distributing the gains of progress by assuring participation of the large majority of the rural population. For a country with increasing employment problems, it is of importance that a policy focussing on small holders should provide incentives for labour intensive production. Such a policy would soon lead to the abolition of the share-cropping system which constrains tenants to apply more labour to improve their performance and level of living.

Technically, it is possible to change the focus of policy from landlord to small holder. Institutions and policies are man-made, they are the result of historical conditions in society. That is, they can and should be changed in time.

Society has to assess whether its existing rural institutions and its prevailing rural development policy coincide with its goals for development.
If the goal is "integrated rural development", it seems that certain institutional changes and a certain shift in policy is a prerequisite for success.

Table 1.: Land tenure categories in Pakistan