Challenging conventional wisdom in agricultural development.
The three pillars of the conventional wisdom on agricultural development, priority for labour-intensive agriculture, peasant proprietorship as the ideal form of land ownership and the primacy of price policy in overall agricultural policy have continued to underpin agricultural development thinking and practice. The paper aims to show that none has a claim to universality on either historical or analytical grounds. Which sector or sectors ought to receive investment priority largely depends on the factor endowments of the country concerned, its economic, social and political situation, its stage of economic and social and development and, above all, the time horizon of its decision makers and their ability to get popular support. The choice of agrarian social organization will, to a considerable extent, be similarly conditioned by the relevant historical traditions. To impose a completely alien system has a limited chance of success. Similarly, instrumental variables (that is, individual policy measures) will depend not only on the social and political traditions but also on the stage of development which will generally condition the number and quality of trained personnel required to implement such policies. The same conditions will also determine the nature and scale of the infrastructure on which agricultural modernization depends. Under the circumstances, any 'section' approach to agricultural development which treats it as an 'end' in itself rather than a 'means' to the overall economic development of a country has questionable validity.