1.3 AGRARIAN REFOM
The specific agrarian structure and the existing agrarian
system are the manifestation of the most appropriate combination
of people, land, and technology with the framework of the
existing economic and social conditions. Along with these,
they are subject to continual change. In the course of history,
the process of adaption to changed conditions and demands
frequently did rot take place rapidly enough. In earlier times,
these retardations in development were most frequently found
in the fields of political and social order. The present worldwide
striving for rapid economic development has shifted into the
focal point of the discussion the hindering factors in the
agrarian structure that affect agricultural production and
This stressing of the economic components should not be deceptive
and attract the attention away from the fact that inequality,
dependency, and lack of equal chances for the majority of
the population have their roots in the agrarian structure
and the predominant systems.
Changes in the agrarian structure are necessary in many parts
of the world. In the type of shortcomings and the changes
that are necessary, however, there are great regional differences.
While leaving out many details, the attempt will be made in
the following to make this clear, by sketching the most important
problems in the Third World.
In Latin America, the major problem is the
contradiction between latifundia and minifundia. The large
landowners represent not only the economic upper strata, but
rather also have political power and dominate the social system.
Their wealth makes it unnecessary for them to make complete
utilization of their land. Their situation sharply contrasts
with the situation of the dependent peasants who usually have
only small plots at their disposition in their role as sharecroppers,
colonates, or squatters (people who settle, or squat, on land
to which they have no title). One of the major reasons for
their poverty is their lack of access to land under the existing
conditions. They have hardly any chance of improving their
living conditions. The same is true of the workers who are
employed on the plantations that are, in some cases, intensively
cropped. In these circumstances, a change in the power structure
is the necessary primary step towards an improvement. Since
this is strongly based on the controll of the land, a change
in landownership gains most importance. In connection with
this, one has to face the challenge of the special problems
of the minifundia in order to improve the living conditions
for the small farmers.
In Asia, changes have taken place in the
agrarian structure in the last 30 years as a result of agrarian
reforms and, partly, the Green Revolution, but often only
the extreme cases have been touched. A limited number of landowners
still own large parts of the land that they allow small sharecroppers
to farm. Many of the farmers have very small farms and are
indebted. Large sections of the rural population are even
landless and usually underemployed. Despite the great population
pressure, cultivation is often of a poor quality because the
farmers are not given the freedom to make their own decisions
or they do rot have adequate access to the necessary services.
These shortcomings require not only a change in the land tenure
system, but rather in addition also measures for reorganizing
land use and management
In Africa, the- for the most par- lack of
private landownership has allowed a relatively egalitarian
agricultural society. Problems arise from traditional shifting
cultivation functioning inefficiently under new conditions.
The transition to market production and permanent crapping,
family members changing occupations, increasing population
pressure, and disintegration of the tribal system have created
a new situation that can be better confronted by a reorganization
of production and management than a change in land tenure.
The necessary changes in the agrarian structure can take
place various ways. Measures to adapt the agrarian
structure take place in small steps over a long period
of time. They work mainly be means of incentives such as taxes,
subsidies, investments in agriculture, setting up extension
services, etc. They are suited for supporting the continual
adoption of the agrarian structure to changing conditions,
but they are too mild to balance out serious shortcomings
once they have arisen.
Agrarian reforms are measures designed to
overcome obstacles hindering economic and social development
that are the result of shortcomings in the agrarian structure.
Changes in land tenure i.e.. ownership and tenancy and labour
organization as well as changes in land use (reform of land
management) belong to these measures. Agrarian reforms make
use of legal force and intervene in the property and land
use rights of the people, although with certain compensations.
Formerly, the term 'land reform' was common. This term, however,
only points out changes in the property rights without referring
to changes in cultivation. Owing to the increasing importance
within the scope of the struggle for economic development,
it is used today less frequently.
Agrarian revolutions are spontaneous, radical
changes in the traditional agrarian structure with uncompensated
redistribution of all rights and usually a drastic regrouping
of the society. The terms 'agrarian reform' and 'agrarian
revolution' are frequently not clearly differentiated. They
do not differ so much in their goals as in the speed they
are forced through and how radical they are. For development
planning, agrarian reforms have the most significance since
they can be used as an instrument and shaped according to
policy goals. Thus agrarian revolutions frequently turn into
agrarian reforms following the upheaval. Agrarian revolutions
and socialistic agrarian reforms are not identical. Agrarian
reforms as well as agrarian revolutions can have redistribution
as well as collectivisation as their goals.