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Working Paper 260 - Transforming Traditional Agriculture Redux


  • M. Alston Julian
  • G. Pardey Philip


In Transforming Traditional Agriculture T.W. Schultz (1964), envisioned a crucial role for investments in “nontraditional” inputs such as knowledge and education, and improvements in the quality of material inputs and people, to help shift agriculture to a firmer footing and capitalize on agriculture as an engine of economic growth. However, the patterns of agricultural change over the subsequent half century have been uneven.Around the world today can be found countries at every stage of the transition that is now largely complete in the high-income countries. Global agricultural production has been dominated for a long time by a short (but changing) list of relatively large and populous countries. In 2011–2013, just ten countries accounted for 55.7 percent of theworld’s cropland. The bulk of global crop production takes place in the temperate north (62.9 percent by value). Supply side factors affect the location of production, but demand matters too. Food commodities are predominantly produced close to where they will be consumed. Consequently, calories produced from staple crops as a share of each country’s calories produced from all crops has a visibly negative relationship withaverage per capita income—an Engel effect on the national agricultural output mix.

Suggested Citation

  • M. Alston Julian & G. Pardey Philip, 2017. "Working Paper 260 - Transforming Traditional Agriculture Redux," Working Paper Series 2371, African Development Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:adb:adbwps:2371

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    1. Beddow, Jason M. & Hurley, Terrance M. & Pardey, Philip G. & Alston, Julian M., 2015. "Rethinking yield gaps," Staff Papers 201093, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
    2. Barbara J. Craig & Philip G. Pardey & Johannes Roseboom, 1997. "International Productivity Patterns: Accounting for Input Quality, Infrastructure, and Research," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(4), pages 1064-1076.
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