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"Agricultural Transformation & Rural Development"

Michael P. Todaro, in "Agricultural Transformation and Rural Development," Chapter Ten of his book Economic Development in the Third World, begins with a look at "The Imperative of Agricultural Progress and Rural Development" in the underdeveloped areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Most of the people in these areas live in rural regions, which means that they depend on agriculture and that agriculture must be developed if the lives of those people are to be improved. The people in these areas are also among the poorest in the underdeveloped nations. Development in these nations will not be successful if the poorest rural areas are not developed first. As we read,

The core problems of widespread poverty, growing inequality, rapid population growth, and rising unemployment all find their origins in the stagnation and often retrogression of economic life in rural areas (291).

The most recent economic studies of the Third World show that earlier conclusions about Third World development were wrong. Earlier studies concluded that the best development plan was to concentrate on industrialization, but newer studies show that agricultural development is just as important as, or more important than, industrialization.

This agricultural development must benefit both the rural farmer and the industrial sector. Productivity must be increased. Planners must find a way to get rid of the resistance of rural farmers to change and development. Development must increase economic incentives as well as "institutional and structural changes in rural farming `systems'" (292).

Todaro next describes "agricultural stagnation and growth" in the developing nations from 1950 to 1985. In this section, the author gives examples of the failure of development in the Third World in these years. That failure has showed that economic planning must focus more on the agricultural sector, both the improve the lives of the mass of poor farmers in rural a...

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