There are three causes for the gradual reduction in peasant agriculture:

  • The common inheritance system foreseeing the division of the farm area among
    all children or all male children in combination with the large number of children
    per family causes a reduction in farm size. This process has reached a level Which
    does not leave enough to the individual heir for allowing him to earn his living from
    the land.
  • Overuse and misuse of land, especially under dry and upland marginal conditions,
    have led to yield reductions. This reinforces the process caused by the inheritance
    system. Under such conditions, the young people do not see any future and lose
    interest in agriculture. Ecological reasons make it necessary to stop cultivation.
  • Rising income possibilities outside agriculture - not everywhere, but in many
    places - offer alternatives. In principle, this reduces the consequences of
    inheritance as not everybody is interested in land. In practice, whenever
    opportunities exist, one brother often calls the other as soon as he has settled
    outside agriculture.

The process of reduction in farm sizes has progressed differently over the world. Some figures may indicate that, quite often, the majority of all holdings are below the required size of a real "peasant" holding: