Agriculture for development: New paradigm and options for success
In the classical paradigm of development economics that prevailed in the 1960s, agricultural growth was held to be the key pillar for industrial growth, itself seen to be synonymous with economic development. The paradigm was anchored in telling success stories, from the long history of the “Western Experience” to the then-recent “Asian miracles”. And it was supported by rigorous modeling exercises. But, in spite of success stories, implementation of this paradigm was running into increasing difficulty in the 1970s and early 1980s as policy favored import substitution industrialization with strong anti-agriculture price policy biases. Integrated rural development strategies, designed to meet the broadened development objectives introduced in the 1970s that included poverty and inequality reduction, were also proving difficult to implement successfully, in part because of the low profitability of agriculture and in part because of excessively complex state-led approaches. With the debt crisis of 1982, and the subsequent implementation of stabilization and adjustment policies under the Washington Consensus, use of agriculture as an instrument for development was disregarded in favor of other approaches to development such as open economy industrialization to accelerate growth and cash transfers or workfare programs to reduce poverty. With a few notable exceptions such as China and Vietnam where smallholder-based agricultural growth was pursued vigorously, the economic, social, and environmental costs of this neglect of agriculture have been huge.
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