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 rural development.

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.