Mahmood Hasan Khan, Underdevelopment and agrarian structure in Pakistan


The relationship of agrarian structure to agricultural development in developing countries is a controversial issue. The polar positions in this controversy can be summarized by the following descriptions of the “technocratic” and “structuralist” schools of thought. According to the former, the major obstacle to agricultural development is not existing agrarian structure but existing agricultural technology. Proponents argue that the marginal return to traditional inputs is too low to generate growth-inducing investment and that developing country farmers are “poor but efficient” so that a reallocation of existing resources (i.e. structural change) is unlikely to promote agricultural development. It follows that government policy should be directed primarily at the provision of more productive and profitable inputs such as high yielding seeds, fertilizers and irrigation [see, for example, Schultz (1964)]. The contending structuralist position focuses on such features as tenancy, land concentration, and debt-peonage – collectively denoted by the term “semi-feudalism” – in attempting to explain agricultural backwardness. Proponents argue that such semi-feudal features inhibit and distort agricultural development and perpetuate the power of landlords on the the one hand and the poverty of a vast mass of peasants on the other [see, for example, Griffin (1979)] .

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