Agriculture and Development.

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Agricultural growth: why and how

Debates about the means to social and economic development have brought the role of agriculture into question. Food production cannot be neglected; the world population still increases which implies that more and more people are to be fed. Moreover, an efficient rural economy can promote poverty reduction as well as the achievement of livelihood security. In his unimodal strategy to agricultural development, John Mellor has argued that if the rural economy increases its productivity and if gains are well distributed, then the demand for non-agricultural products will increase. In addition, if the benefits of the agricultural growth are supplied locally, non-agricultural employment can also become

more prominent. As a result, an increasing demand for wage goods will occur. These evolutions then lead to a more general type of development that one could refer to as the virtuous spiral of growth. Mellor wrote: "The underlying assumption here is that agriculture is a large component of economies in their early stages of development.

To achieve structural transformation in such economies, it is necessary to increase agricultural income and expenditure and rapidly increase labor productivity in agriculture, which will further accelerate structural change in the employment distribution of the labor force" (Mellor 1995:1). In other words, developing countries first have to improve the agricultural system to answer the basic needs of the people who will then be able to concentrate on other sectors of the social and economic life. This change of focus represents a requirement to industrialization and further development.

Caroline Ashley and Simon Maxwell point out that "rural development has been central to the development effort, but rural poverty persists and funding is falling: a new narrative is needed" (Ashley 2001:395). Some argue that small scale farming can contribute to agricultural growth, and thus development in...