SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH IN RURAL DEVELOPMENT
THE ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION
APRIL 29-30, 1975
May 1, 1973
r"" REPORT OF THE SEMINAR ON RURAL DEVELOPMENT
Carl Gotsch (Parts 1, 2 and 3) and
David Heaps (Part 4)
The generality of the seminar topic--employment and rural development--
predictably solicited a wide variety of observations and comments on the problems of
-rural areas. All of the traditional proposals for improving the situation--improved
technology, input delivery systems, infrastructure, removal of factor price distortions,
etc.--were raised, receiving varied emphasis depending upon the participant's back-
g round and personal research efforts. From the beginning, however, there was also
- a substantial effort to define more explicitly the circumstances in which various programs
and proposals were socially and politically "possible". This distinction between the
nature of the environment and the specific characteristics of the activities to be under-
taken was aimed at insuring that only those policy options for which descriptions of the
environment and the requirements for implementing the technical programs could be
satisfactorily matched, would be considered "viable". Failure to find such consistencies
in both the technical and socio-political dimensions of a proposal was to condemn it to
the limbo of irrelevance.
In the seminar report that follows, no effort has been made to develop the
perspective indicated above chronologically or to attribute comments to individual
participants. Instead, remarks and observations by those attending and extracts from
prepared papers have been grouped into four broad categories: (1) the analysis of the
environment, (2) the analysis, both technical and institutional, of various programs and
policies, (3) remarks addressed to the questions of how "policy options" were.to be
defined, i.e. how additional rigor could be introduced into the process of deciding
on the kinds of development efforts that were compatible with particular physical,
political and social environments, and (4) opportunities for donor agencies to assist
with these and related matters.
1. THE ENVIRONMENT OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES
There was no doubt in the minds of the participants that the economic, social
and political environments in which the problem of unemployment and poverty exists
differ widely. This was seen to be true not only between countries, in which substantial
differences in social organization could be easily detected, but also within regions and
between the smallest sub-units, e.g. villages. Speakers cautioned that global statements
that sought to associate particular situations with scenarios derived from more general
environmental descriptions should be undertaken with some care. Indeed, insistence
on the need for disaggregation of the situations in which purposive development was to
be undertaken was a recurrent theme throughout the seminar.
There was, however, general agreement among the partieipants--sometimes
explicitly stated, often implicitly assumed--that knowledge about the following environ-
mental attributes was necessary if any diagnosis, selection and implementation of
programs was to be successful.
Agro-climatic environment: The need to describe the physical environment,
particularly with respect to the potential for increasing agricultural productivity, was
taken to be axiomatic. Several delegates pointed out however that despite the obvious
need to understand the natural environment, many of the more dramatic failures or
rural development programs could be laid at the door of simple miscalculations of the
effects of climate, rainfall, soils, etc. (These fears were made especially concrete by
the presentations of the IITA staff regarding the difficulty of finding alternatives to the
practice of "shifting cultivation" that were consistent with the physical environment
of the fore st tropics.)
Distribution of resources and political power at the local level: A number of
grass-roots institutional va-iables crucial to the effective implementation of employ-
ment-oriented programs were identified. For example, there was a unanimity of view
that the type of social stratification that existed within the village was a strong
determinant of the outcome of any program or policy that depended on employment
g generation by directly favoring the disadvantaged. Analysis of this variable would
require knowledge of the pattern of land ownership and the prevailing tenure system,
and of the role of traditional types of status as derived from non-wealth sources of pow.'er
including the family, the tribe, castes, etc.
Ability of implementing agencies: A good deal of thought was given to the
problem of assessing the administrative and managerial skills present in a given
environment. Examples were provided in which the failure to assess correctly the
capacity of government bureaucracies to implement complicated development schemes
could have been foreseen from the beginning. (It was also noted, however, that entrusting
various groups with the carrying out of difficult tasks provided an opportunity to learn-by-
doing in ways which a cautious paternalistic view.would never have permitted.) Implicit
in these latter comments was a concern that in most developing countries the bureau-
cratic system was much too centralized to supervise effectively development programs at
the grass-roots. As a generalization, the experience of the seminar participants thus
lent support to evidence from other sources that the best intentions of the central regime
and bureaucracy cannot be carried out without a clearly articulated mechanism for local
While there was general agreement to the, importance of effective local institutions
in implementing development programs, it was also noted that local associations might be
worse than no associations at all if they were organized in such a way that no concern was
given to the representation of the weaker sections of the community. In cases where local
organizations already existed, it was particularly necessary to investigate their makeup
before programs sensitive to the distribution of power were undertaken.
An assessment of the number, size and quality of non-governmental bodies was
also deemed necessary; It was pointed out, however, that the presence and competence
of such groups as universities, churches, etc. vary a great deal from place to place and
it is hard to make a judgment about what kind of an impact they are likely to have. However,
as several participants suggested, in those cases where the government bureaucracy is
unable, because of its own dependence on certain powers in the rural or urban areas to
implement programs aimed at the disadvantaged, the role of non-government agencies may
be crucial in improving conditions among the rural poor.
Make-up and political will of ruling elites: Most rural employment programs
originate with the national regime. Hence there was a good deal of discussion regarding the
nature of the political process that prompts a regime to concern itself with employment
problems. It was. generally conceded that most regimes do not concern themselves with
employment out of an idealistic need to eliminate poverty. It would be best to assume, at
least in a government's initial years, that it is concerned about rural employment largely
because it sees unemployment as a potential threat to regime maintenance. The scenario
judged most likely was one in which a regime became concerned about the problem of poverty
because of the number of people who are simply not getting enough to eat, realizing that this
problem was much more explosive when it appeared amidst considerable affluence by other
classes in the society or found spokesmen among the educated unemployed.
The extent to which national parties are beholden to certain organized rural groups
for support in the countryside was also judged an important element in assessing the environ-
ment within which employment-oriented programs were expected to function. Indeed, it
was pointed out that the rise and fall of efforts to introduce rural works programs in several
developing countries (and poverty programs in the United States) contain a lag structure in
which the program is first prepared and implemented by the national government only to
have that government subsequently modify or withdraw the program in response to pressures
from local constituencies.
In the discussion of the relationship between national governments and local groups,
it was also pointed out that the causality could be reversed, i.e., that a number of cases
existed in which the central authorities had in fact acted in such a way that initiatives for
self-improvement at the local level were smothered higher up. A frequently encountered
example is one in which village level activities have sprung up around the commitment of
a particularly, charismatic individual. However, hig'--level resistance may also occur when
the spread effects of initial programs result in increased demands for the fulfillment of
heretofore latent needs and aspirations.
Lastly, it was argued by several seminar participants that the constraints imposed
by a country's foreign policy stance were important in determining the extent to which it
was free to consider alternative domestic employment strategies. It was suggested, for
example, that the jockeying currently underway among the major powers required a degree
of alignment that made domestic policies in Idc's more difficult to implement. This was seen
to be especially true among countries that were still within the international capitalist system
but were seeking to revolutionize the nature of their social environment. Such international
dependencies, regardless of their origin, were seen, on balance, to be detrimental to pro-
grams that could be of the greatest help to the weaker groups in the community.
In an attempt to make the foregoing general observations more concrete, the seminar
took up a number of countries in substantially more detail. In each case, emphasis was
given to those aspects of the economic and political aspects of the environment that bore on
the implementation of employment programs. (Most comments in the discussion did not deal
in detail with the physical environment that would have to be the base for increased agricultural
productivity, an omission that was to plague the later discussion of technology.)
China: Given the perspective of employment-generating strategies, the Chinese
experience was of paramount interest to the group. The historical basis for development in
recent.years is roughly as follows:
(1) Land reform. It was noted that most land reforms were of the type in which
land is given to the peasants without any process of struggle in which new attitudes, and
behavior patterns are forged. As a result, there is usually a lapse of only a few years
before the land acquisition process begins again. The Chinese, however, preceded the
take-over by raising the consciousness of the peasantry who themselves confronted the
landlords and took over the land. By this action they helped to insure that the process would
not be easily reversed.
(2) Labor organization. Labor has been organized into larger and larger production
units. However, considerable care and experimentation (replete with a number of mistakes)
has been evidenced about the appropriate level for various tasks. For example, it was soon
discovered that decisions involving the day-to-day activities in crop and livestock production
required management decisions to be made within a production team involving no more than
several dozen families. Larger organizations such as the commune, however, made it
possible to create a significant amount of capital (irrigation works, flood control, roads,
etc.) through labor intensive works programs.
(3) Dispersal of economic activity. In 1961 a decision was made to create an indus-
trial base of small-scale enterprises in the country. These were oriented at processing
agricultural commodities and at providing for supplies of inputs particularly those related
to intermediate mechanical technology. Certain types of consumer goods industries in
which economics of the firm were not terribly important were also created in the rural
(4) Terms of trade. In addition to the generally increased direct attention that the
Chinese have paid to agriculture in recent years, they have also sought to improve the terms
of trade between the rural and urban sector.
These historical policies add up to an environment highly conducive to implementing
employment-oriented programs. The political regime has its power in the peasantry of
the countryside. Political competition at the national level is not a day-to-day phenomena
and hence the planning and implementation of long-run national development strategies is
possible. Village level social stratification of the type that would make the distributional
consequences of employment programs a problem has been eliminated by the nationalization
of land and a high degree of equity-oriented socialization at all levels. The need for a
substantial central bureaucracy has been minimized by a concerted effort to place responsi-
bility for the implementation of development programs at the local level. As indicated by
the variety of capital-generating works programs such as terracing, the construction of
irrigation works and the building of roads, substantial initiative and organizational skills
at the grass-roots must be present.
As several participants pointed out, achieving the environment that currently exists
in China has not been without its problems. There has been and to some extent continues
to be a difficulty with the role of the political cadre in organizing and deciding objectives
at the local level. It was feared by the delegates that in the future, the exhaustion of
readily obtainable local mineral resources might alter the ability of local manufacturing to
service agriculture's needs.
.Bangladesh. The similarity of Bangladesh and China, as, reported by various con-
ference participants; seemed to end at the technical level, i.e. South China and Bangladesh
are both density populated rice growing areas. Although little is known about Chinese
advances in varietal improvement, the presumption must be that the fertile deltas of the
great rivers have the same potential for increased rice yields that have been dcmonstrat(d'
by the IRRT strains in Bangladesh. Judging from all reports, however, the latter is still
well behind China in its ability to control the seasonal flooding that makes the introduction
of new technology in many areas of Bangladesh so difficult.
It is, however, on the social and political level that the two countries differ profoundly.
Despite a socialist rhetoric, land in Bangladesh has thus far remained in private hands
without any effort to introduce effective land reforms. (Land ceilings have been set at levels
that will have virtually no effect on ownership patterns.) At the moment,, there is no local
government to which development activities at the grass roots could be attached. The Basic
Democracies mechanism utilized by the Ayub regime has been dismantled but nothing has
been created to take its place.
The ability of the central bureaucracy to implement rural development programs is
problematical. The group is essentially urban oriented and urban based with limited know-
ledge of villagers and village life. Moreover, the difficulties following the war with West
Pakistan have produced a need for the political regime to rely heavily on the traditional
sources of power in the countryside. This type of dependence has naturally insured that
measures having distributive effects in favor of the poor would either be difficult to initiate
or be captured by the class of larger framers cum moneylenders that make up the dominant
group in most villages.
Several pointed out that it was ironic to give lip service to poverty in Bangladesh
given the very considerable scope there for the creation of capital by the application of labor
and local resources. For example, it was estimated that a large number of the thousands
of tanks that scatter the "country side could yield additional protein in the form of fish.
However, considerable excavation and cleaning would be required. Unfortunately, most
tanks are owned by more than one family and the problem of organizing the families so that
all contribute equally has.thus far been virtually unsurmountable.
The case of the tanks was to come up a number of times in the seminar as an example
of the more general problem of public goods. One participant remarked that of the four
principles on which Bangladesh is to exist: nationalism, secularism, democracy and
socialism, the latter two had never been observed to co-exist in any country. In the con-
text of the public good case, the point was related to the extent to which coercion could be
tolerated in dealing with situations in which (1) development required the participation of
large numbers of the group, (2) the benefits from the joint activity were difficult for those
involved to visualize, and (3) various social and cultural relationships tended to dominate
thinking about the merits of joint activities. As might be expected, no consensus was reached
among the participants on this question.
Chile: The Chilean case underlined the point that even in the presence of land reform
and a significant commitment to a socialist economic system, a variety of obstacles to
improving the employment situation in rural areas could be expected.
(1) Production efficiency. Much of the land was communally farmed and the peasants
were expected to work 80 percent.of the time on the cooperative holdings. However, given
the incentive structure, peasants found it more profitable to work on their own small pri-
vate plots. The result has been an inappropriate allocation of labor and capital between
public and private uses.
(2) Problems with inputs. The Government's monopoly of fertilizer, seeds, machines
and other agricultural inputs has produced a wide variety of bottlenecks in the input distribu-
(3) Landless labor. With the "reformist" approach to land reform, many of the
poorest rural inhabitants have benefited little from the reorganization going on in the agri-
(4) Agro-climatic environment. Chile has substantial areas that are basically
unfavorable to significant improvements in the productivity of agriculture. Many of the
poorer areas are in rugged and mountainous terrain. Increasing employment in such areas
will be extremely difficult.
Nor have the reforms resolved the institutional problems associated with increasing
employment. To be sure, the once powerful hacienda owners have been replaced by coopera-
tives that operate the lands that were formerly privately tilled. But these groups, as might
be expected in a "reformist" system, have behaved viz-a-viz the government and other
segments of the rural society in approximately the same fashion as the previous owners.
Until recently, labor needs beyond those that cooperative members could supply were met
by hiring labor from outside sources. Wages paid were market determined and were well
below the incomes cooperative members received from their share of the cooperatives
The groups organized under the "asentamentos" program continue to exercise a
more powerful influence on rural programs than the small peasant farmers who neither
benefitted from the agrarian reform nor were effectively organized into cooperatives that
would insure the supply of new inputs.
While in contrast to Bangladesh, Chile has a strong central bureaucracy with a sub-
stantial amount of technical personnel in the field of agriculture, thus far the mechanism
for translating this sort of expertise into effective local programs has been lacking. It was
also pointed out that at this juncture in Chile's history, the ruling political regime was in a
somewhat precarious position with respect to carrying out policies that would alienate the
new groups that have arisen in the countryside regardless of the need for further struc-
tural reforms aimed at providing greater equity for the poorer sections of the rural society.
It is being seriously challenged by an opposition seeking to broaden its base of political
support and hence cannot afford to initiate further distributive programs if these mean a
lessening of support for the current political constituencies.
Despite the difficulties indicated above, it was clear that the seminar debate had
shifted ground in moving from the Bengali to the Chilean case. The questions were more
oriented toward what should be done than toward what could be done, the group had accepted
implicitly that the political commitment of the center was real and that it had every intention
of carrying out a variety of significant reforms. What was frequently missing was the
knowledge and the resources with which to actually implement the programs.
Summary: The attempt to describe, in somewhat more concrete terms, the environ-
ment in which rural employment programs are to be implemented inevitably revealed the
limited knowledge among the conferees about any given situation. In most instances, more
questions were raised than answered. Consequently, the comments made above about
various country conditions must be judged as partial and incomplete. Indeed, the discussion
made clear that it was unlikely that the expertise of any one individual could encompass the
variety of technical, social and political phenomena about which judgments were required.
In the process of debate, the need for multi-disciplinary work in approaching the develop-
ment problem was again underlined.
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2. PROGRAMS AND POLICIES FOR GENERATING EMPLOYMENT IN RURAL AREAS
The papers and discussions at the seminar underlined the many forms that efforts to
generate rural employment might take. It was noted that not only were there differences in
general characteristics, e.g., technology, service delivery systems, resource redistribu-
tion, the provision of infrastructure and economic policies, but further variation existed
within each of these categories. In order to provide a basis for assessing the probability
of successful implementation, the various alternatives were examined with respect to the
demands they would make on the environment into which they were to be introduced. These
included (1) the extent of "hard" technical knowledge that was available, (2) the demands
that would be made on resources, especially scarce administrative and managerial capa-
cities, (3) the severity and/or sensitivity of the distributive characteristics inherent in the
specific policy or program.
The discussion on technology, both agricultural and non-agricultural, was divided into
three general categories. First, there is the highly divisible improved variety fertilizer
nexus that has played such an important role in the so-called green revolution. The seminar
spent little time debating the virtues of this means of increasing productivity noting only that
its divisibility m inimized adverse distributive effects at the same time that minimal demands
were made on supporting institutions for its diffusion. (The tour of IITA's work demonstrated,
however, how far the humid tropics were from having materials of this sort that could becor:-
the basis of a rural development program. The same.could be said of many of the world's
arid and semi-arid areas where irrigation water was not available.)
The question of intermediate technology, or more specifically, the "indigenization"
of agricultural and non-agricultural mechanical technology at the grass-roots was extensively
reviewed. It was noted that past experiences in agro-climatic zones where substantial in-
creases in productivity had occurred from inputs of improved seed and fertilizer were among
those in which demands for additional human and animal power had prompted rapid develop-
ments in locally manufactured technology. It was also argued that the extent to which such
indigenous technology develops depends very much on the historical pattern of industrial
development and urbanization. When this consisted of a few large urban centers set in a
relatively backward rural environment, the linkage between farm needs and manufacturing
capabilities were generally too weak to be effective. Indeed, as far as agriculture is con-
cerned, "indigenization" seemed from the discussion to be almost synonymous with a more
disaggregated industrial structure.
The question of tractorization and its effect on employment was, as usually, sharply
contested examples of favorable and unfavorable situations being cited. On the one hand,
tractors appear in some cases, notably the Indian Punjab, to have increased cropping
intenities thereby increasing the overall demand for labor. In other situations, e. g.,
Pakistan and Ethiopia, not only has labor been displaced but share cropping has been re-
placed by capitalist enterprises, a change in the social relationships of production that has
produced a further deterioration in the economic condition of the weaker sections of the
With respect to the environment, it was argued that the larger the unit size of holding.
(owned or operated) and the greater the political influence of the groups in the rural areas
who want tractors, the harder it would be to contain premature and inappropriate mechanization.
(As several participants noted, the objective of postponing the introduction of this type of
mechanical technology is not to deprive farmers of a means of lightening the drudgery
associated with tillage operations, but rather to protect the position of those who would
suffer severely in terms of labor displacement.)
Delivery systems supplying services to rural areas
A number of the participants in the seminar felt that a better understanding of how
to organize and maintain delivery systems for services was the key to rural development.
Proposals ranged all the way from a detailed blueprint of how this could be done in a micro-
area to the general proposition that the provision of adult education ought to have one of the
highest priorities of any rural activity. This general category is quite demanding in terms
of the administrative and managerial capacities existing in the environment and needs to be
evaluated with particular care on that score.
Rural credit: The problems of providing credit to small farmers are widely known
and the seminar did not concern itself with any lengthy diagnosis. The fact that the costs
of administering small loans are almost equal to those of administering large loans and that
the risks are greater was explanation enough as to why credit programs gravitate to the
larger farmers. The status and extra-market influence of the affluent farmers of the
community only reinforces a phenomenon that has a powerful internal logic.
In connection with credit and other services, the question of cooperatives was dis-
cussed.in some detail. The dismal record of cooperatives was pointed out at the same.
time that there was general agreement that some sort of village organization that could
receive various nationally supplied inputs was imperative. It was argued that many of the
problems of cooperatives stem from the failure to relate effectively intimately connected
functions, e.g. credit and marketing. Cooperatives, if they w.cre to be successful should
be multi-purpose cooperatives and would have to be aided in the early years of their forma-
tion by supervision and protection of governmental or non-governmental institutions higher
in the system.
Rural works: The possibility that labor could be used to generate capital through
organized public works has always been an attractive possibility in rural areas. In almost
every situation, there are communal projects that could be undertaken. (In Bangladesh, the
excavation of tanks, in China, terracing and the construction of irrigation works, etc.)
Admittedly, the same problems of local organization indicated above prevail with this type
of activity. But, as various participants pointed out, many of the difficulties of management
cotild be overcome if villagers were permitted and encouraged to define their own needs.
Some cadre or outside organizer would undoubtedly be required but the day-to-day super-
vision and management could be left to local people.
As in all situations involving the provision of services through government channels
or the organization of villagers to receive those services, the counter-argument was that
such efforts can only benefit. the weaker groups if in fact they possess either protectors or
political power. In the absence of organization among the landless, tenants and small
farmers, i.e., among those most likely to be the target groups of employment schemes,
it would be relatively difficult to make them the true beneficiaries of the programs.
Education: Education, particularly for adults, was seen as an important clement in
helping those at the bottom of the income distribution both to improve their material well
being and to gain a better understanding of their situation within the society. The curriculum
should contain not only material to develop literacy and to diffuse knowledge about improved
But a good part of the discussion on the effect of such measures as land reform on
employment dealt with the lessons from countries where a land reform had already been
carried out, but where new problems had arisen in its wake. The case of Chile has already
been cited. Cuba, Algeria, the USSR and Yugoslavia were also mentioned as instances in
which the nationalization of land was accompanied by substantial inefficiencies, and even
The question was then raised as to what form the redistribution of land might take
in the eventthat the political and administrative demands could be met. A variety of options
were noted ranging from complete nationalization to more modest reforms that left lands
in the hands of the small and medium owner-operators. Each had its strengths and weak-
nesses. There was, on the one hand, the acknowledged ability of large holdings, communally
or privately operated, to circumvent the indivisibilities of technology and certain types of
services.. On the other hand, there was a general consensus that the incentive systems
contained in a system of small owner-operators was not to be sneezed at. It was proposed
at one point that the two nations be combined, i.e., that the ownership of land be nationalize,!
but leased back to individual tenants for operation. The nationalization would permit some
control over subsequent distribution decisions and the individual leaseholding arrangement
(a cash rent, i. e., a land tax would be charged) would continue to provide the incentive for
private exploitation. Those who advocated reforms that would retain the institution of private
property were of course in agreement with the diagnosis concerning the need to insure that
decisions would be taken at the right level and that incentives were being maintained. Both
these problems were seen by most of this group of participants as being best resolved in tlhe
context of small family-owned farms.
With respect to demands on managerial requirements, most economic policies re-
quire relatively little broad-based administrative input. However, what is required is
competence in understanding the economy and in assessing the quantitative implications of
different.types of market interventions, i.e., substantial demands may be placed on a very
particular type of expertise.
In the political arena, concern for.economic phenomena tends to introduce a number
of new actors into the. picture. For example, there is hardly an economic decision taken
in the rural areas on output prices that does not affect some groups .in the city. Higher
wheat:prices to farmers also mean higher food prices to consumers. In the area of invest-
ment, rural areas also compete with the rest of the economy for both foreign and domestic
resources. The result of this plurality of interests is to produce an environment in which
marginal -- and indeed'even major (devaluation) -- economic reforms may find the con-
stituency for their implementation.
3. POLICY OPTIONS
A policy option as defined by the seminar had to meet feasibility requirements of b(tl:
a technical and political nature. Because of the number of generally defined characteristics
of the environment (resources) and the variety of possible programs and policies (activities),
it was agreed that the discussion of policy options necessarily takes place within the con-
text of specific country settings. However, three kinds of social and political climates were
considered as a mean s of identifying the range of policy options open to each. These
fundamentally different situations can be characterized as (1) deep structural change (2)
reformism, and (3) "modernization."
The first of these, structural change, contained only a small number of examples for
it was seen to involve not only the rural areas but the entire society. In one sense, it could
hardly be called a strategy because its inception and outcome were determined by forces
only partly under the control of the initiating leadership. However, there was a question
regarding what policies or programs would be consistent with the post-revolutionary situation.
As expected, these lay not in the area of distribution but in the area of growth and an incentive
system that rewarded efficiency and hard work.
The second type of situation, encountered more frequently, contains some elements of
reform, e.g., land redistribution, founding of cooperatives, etc. However, this situation
differs from the previous one in that many of the environmental conditions remain intact,
e.g., marketing channels continue to be what they are, the research establishment is not
severely affected, financial markets remain in traditional hands and the roles of the center
and the periphery in the decision-making process remain unaffected.
The limits that reformism puts on the ability to deal with the employment problem are
considerable. While there is less of a problem of village level stratification, the rural-urban
and regional differentials may continue to be important. Certain target groups such as
landless labor and small farmers may also find themselves excluded from reform benefits.
Nevertheless, delivery systems for inputs such as credit, information, education, etc., arc
more likely to reach target groups in the weaker sections.
Lastly, and by far in the majority, are societies whose development strategy is based
on a "modernization" of the existing rural environment. The major thrust is to increase
agricultural output through the application of modern technology. (In this case, new organiza-
tional and managerial forms should be included.) Development efforts might include virtually
the full range of activities described earlier. Only those involving a redistribution of re-
sources would be specifically excluded.
Under sudc a strategy, increased employment becomes very much a problem of a
trickle-down effect in the presence of fairly rapid growth. Attempts to get at the poverty
problem directly will be frustrated either because: (1) the necessary program cannot be
sanctioned and undertaken or it cannot be implemented. That is, the intended beneficiaries
cannot be reached within the stratification associated with the status quo. Because of
the wide variety of actors involved in decisions on economic policy, some progress could
probably be made in improving factor price relationships, in trying to minimize the
employment distorting impact of biased relative prices, etc. Under any circumstances
the seminar agreed that the best that can be done with respect to dealing with the problem
of inequity in such strategies is to "lean against the wind" in as many areas as possible.
Virtually all participants pointed out that the kind of generalization indicated above
was too static a conception of the ultimate outcome of development programs on the genera-
tion of employment. However, there was considerable divergence in judgments as to what
this meant. There were, on the one hand, the optimists who felt that the cumulative,
interacting effects of the development process would be likely to act in diffuse and indirect
ways permitting new groups to rise within the 'economy and by virtue of their newfound
economic status, claim a larger role in influencing the course of events for themselves.
The pessimists, on the other hand, agreed with the importance of concentrating
on the dynamics of the situation but felt that without significant environmental changes, the
cumulative effects would continue to worsen the position of the currently disadvantaged.
4. OPPORTUNITIES FOR DONOR AGENCIES
The wide-ranging discussion on the role of donor agencies tended to be diagnostic
rather than prescriptive. The relative paucity of specific action proposals to emerge
underlined the difficult problems inherent in identifying relevant developmental strategies
to mitigate rural poverty and rural unemployment. The participants were agreed that much
more systematic analysis and hard thought were still required to provide effective support
action for rural development objectives.
Possible avenues for donor program operations were explored within a general
conceptual frame comprising three primary components:
(a) the need for improved knowledge of alternative developmental strategies in
varying types of rural settings;
(b) the need for political will or commitment as a prerequisite of effective rural
programs -- and the kinds of policy actions which should be considered when
this precondition is lacking;
(c) the constraints and parameters which are likely to be encountered in the im-
plementation and management of rural development programs even when
improved knowledge and political will are present.
It was pointed out that developmental assistance agencies could not be considered as
a uniform group and that they differed considerably because of size, resources, objectives,
internal composition and operational methods. The World Bank, for example, would be the
logical agency to approach for the creation of a capital-intensive rural electrification scheme
while the Ford Foundation might have special advantages for flexible and selective activities
involving research, training and high-level advisory services.
-Throughout the discussion on donor agency activities, the emphasis consistently was
laid on the overriding necessity to gain more basic knowledge about the processes of rural
development. Greater understanding was considered to be the indispensable precondition to
resolve the thus far intractable problems of rural poverty. Some of the specific subject
areas suggested for applied research were as follows:
(a) Why do the benefits of rural development projects and reform measures, even
when seemingly well-conceived, still invariably accrue largely to the privileged
rather than to the poor for whom they are designed? There is an urgent need
therefore to learn more about traditional peasant and small farmer behavior,
about general rural behavior patterns, about the rationales underlying tradi-
tional farming systems and the behavior of rural elites.
(b) Knowledge needs to be derived more directly from authentic local conditions
by indigenous researchers and scholars rather than just through the efforts
of foreign social scientists. It is important therefore that well-focused re-
search projects be increasingly undertaken at the local level with national
scholars taking the initiative while "outsiders" cooperate in an ancillary
(c) In view of the shortage of scholarly resources available for basic research on
rural issues, it was thought that such limited resources might be more effec-
tively employed by improved inter-university coordination, better communica-
tion and interchange, and by selecting more relevant issues for exploration.
It was emphasized that the dispersal and ad hoc use of such resources continue
to militate against the attainment of useful research results.
(d) The need was stressed for more collaborative research involving inter-disci-
plinary and comparative studies of social values and social situations in rural
areas. Thus far, it was noted, work in this field tended to be discrete and
compartmentalized, and failed to make use of the spectrum of potential re-
sources and knowledge available.
(e) It was pointed out that more realistic knowledge was needed about the various
kinds of basic services administrative, technical and financial -- which are
required to provide the essential underpinnings of rural development programs
and that the methodology of regional planning was neither well nor widely
(f) A number of participants expressed the view that entrenched social and political
processes do impede rural development and that counterveiling policies, such
as decentralization, might be usefully explored to combat these factors. The
identification and understanding of such impediments to development were
considered a research objective of the highest order of priority.
(g) Other issues -- such as the application of technology and mechanization,
the social and material costs of rural infrastructures -- were also cited as
areas in which further research is required to advance essential rural
Rural development projects, even when graced by political commitment and official
support, have often failed at the implementation level. At the top, administrative procedures
and organizational competence have been deficient; at the bottom, there has often been
inadequate popular responsiveness and limited understanding of what was being attempted.
Chile and Tanzania were cited as two examples of countries in which major governmental
actions to effect large-scale land reform programs failed because of these two levels of
deficiency. There is therefore at all levels of rural administration and policy-making an
urgent need for improved training and particularly the development of effective cadres.
With increased efforts now being made by some countries to achieve greater administrative
decentralization by dispersing administrative personnel through the rural areas, the
quantitative need for trained administrative personnel to work in the rural sector will in
all probability increase in the period ahead.
It was noted that most institutions designed to serve small farmers and rural poor
perform inadequately. At the same time they constitute -- as inadequate as they may be -
the only existing operational agencies which directly serve the rural people. Where
particularly promising institutions of this type can be identified, perhaps in such fields
as education or community development, they should be judiciously encouraged by donor
agencies. It was suggested that all such institutions need not necessarily be governmental -
agencies, and'that support should also be considered for appropriate non-governmental
institutions, such as farm and trade associations, unions, coopratives, and voluntary agencies,
particularly those exercising influence and leadership at the village level.
(a) Individual scholars and institutions of higher learning in poor countries face
many problems in undertaking collaborative projects with their analogues in
the developed countries. Contrasting pay scales and differences in standards
of living or basic perspectives often render such joint efforts ineffective and
disharmonious. Instead of continuing to support often incompatible collabora-
tions of this nature, donor agencies were urged to toster directly the develop-
ment of the research capacities of indigenous institutions, to encourage work
on local trainees, to improve the capacity of country research and study activi-
ties for scholars and institutions of the developing world which would not only
advance action-oriented research objectives but would permit indigenous uni-
versities and research centers to develop more direct contacts and interchanges
with the political and administrative decision-makers in their own countries.
(b) An inordinate number of the educational 'systems in developing countries are
dysfunctional. They were established originally on expatriate models with
little or no concern being manifested at that time or now for adaptation to the
agrarian and pre-industrial societies in which they are located. They remain
antiseptically removed from the needs of the rural sector. Similar criticism
can be directed to vocational and technical schools which were set up to produce
graduates with modern sector skills largely inapplicable to current rural con-
ditions. Systematic program efforts, undergirded by ongoing research, are
required to determine the most appropriate forms of general pre-university
education and vocational training required for rural dwellers of school age.
(c) While adult education is conventionally advocated as a means of contributing
to the improvement of rural life, little has been dcne to determine realistically
its essential relevance, significance, and limitations. If, as its proponents
assert, adult education can bean important technique for developing local
rural leadership and disseminating pertinent information, little knowledge is
available as to the specific best means available by which adult education can
attain such objectives. More work and study are needed in this area.
The need for experimental and innovative ventures in the rural sectorhas long been
advocated. Few specific proposals have however been advanced to serve as potentially
replicable models for this purpose and thus to chart feasible programs. It was suggested
that consideration should be given to the establishment of a rural development pilot project
to be initiated under optimum conditions which would include full host government support
and the availability of the best professional experience on the subject. Such a venture, it
was thought, might over a sufficient period of time provide valuable insights for the wider
application of rural development programs in countries committed to this objective.
Some Tentative Propositions Concerning Rural Development
in the Less Industrialized Nations
Presented at the
Workshop for Extended Rural Development in Asia
November 23, 1974
Lowell S. Hardin, Ford Foundation
These observations draw heavily on the Foundation's experience in
agricultural development and on efforts to relate what we may have learned
there to the larger, more complex problems of overall rural development. The
context is Latin America, Africa, Middle East, as well as Asia; hence these
comments are not focused on any one region.
A Bit of the Foundation's History with Agricultural Programs
Experience with traditional community development and agricultural
extension projects in the 1950s and early 1960s to our view produced less than
satisfactory results. Too often the required economic force, the profit poten-
tial of markedly improved technology, was lacking. Without such an engine to
drive the system agricultural development did not move very fast or very far.
Hence the shift to research; to emphasis on the development, adaptation, testing
and use of improved production technology. We are encouraged that a global
system for solving food production problems is evolving.
National and State
Agricultural Research and Food Production Services
in the LDCs
International Agricultural -- I Resource Base Institu-
Research Centers; Regional tions, Individuals in
Units, Networks Industrial Nations
Some Observations on Agricultural Development
Focusing on agricultural development as we have during the past ten
years we came to believe that:
1. For agricultural development to take place, access to and use of outside
inputs are almost universally required. These are classically technological
in character (genetic materials, tube wells, plant protection) but certainly
can be structural or institutional (markets, access to inputs, etc.).
Despite many Readers' Digest stories to the contrary, I see relatively
few illustrations of people pulling themselves up by their own boot-
2. Well-trained agriculturalists (teams) can diagnose situations, do a
fairly good job of selling out the constraints impeding increased agri-
cultural productivity and production. This function appears to be best
.done by a team of a least two people an agronomist/biological scien-
tist and an agricultural economist/farm management type.
3. Having conducted the diagnosis, feasible courses of action can be speci-
fied through implementation is often a much more complicated and dif-
4. If trained agriculturalists can do diagnoses, presumably they can help
teach others to perform this function. One wonders, however, whether
training efforts are being tilted as far in this direction as would be
5. Relatively few pilot projects achieve sought-for generalization and wide
a. They are built around a unique personality, institution or situation
(speCial market outlet).
b. They often have a larger infusion from the outside (especially in
management talent and budgetary flexibility) than can be sustained
at any attainable budgetary level over a large area.
c. They are so location-specific that only the methodology (and perhaps
only part of that) is transferable.
6. Agricultural development projects tend, quite naturally, to face the
toughest-going where resource endowments are most meager. Those who
seek'to achieve income redistribution among agricultural areas there-
fore are most frustrated when tackling regions of low agricultural
potential (the Appalachia effect is indeed powerful and pervasive).
Looked at socially, I wonder if we aren't at times kidding ourselves
when we undertake agricultural development efforts in regions where
resource endowments are meager and are destined to remain so. In these
situations, while it is very difficult politically, perhaps we should
call a spade a spade: what is faced is a welfare operation or the
necessity to generate non-farm employment.
7. Rural public works can be made to contribute importantly to agricultural
development where resource endowments permit economically feasible pro-
duction responses. I refer to rural public works of the non-"leafraking"
types roads, water conservation and management, well drilling, etc.
Merging Agricultural Development and Rural Development
When we move to rural development projects with an agricultural com-
ponent, I, at least, am much less sure of myself. The rhetoric here (as to a
degree with agricultural development) tends to move toward group activities,
collective action. Often, it seems to me also, this tends to be more an
"ideology than a methodology." The movement toward group organization as a
type of solution may in turn be influenced by our fragmentary knowledge of
what goes on inside the People's Republic of China.
With respect to rural development, we are concerned with an assess-
ment of all the resources and services (not just the agricultural ones) in
search of means whereby productivity can be increased. Generalizations are
difficult, of course, but one has to start with a small enough universe (area
or region) that it can be analyzed and that realistic alternatives can be
conceptualized. Sometimes the unit of observation becomes a village. Some
of this research takes on the attributes of a case study. While often anec-
dotal in nature, such studies may be a necessary starting point. If so, care
has to be exercised not to generalize too quickly.
There are some advantages to thinking in terms of area development.
This helps assure exploration of rural-urban inter-relationships and differences.
as well as rural-urban contrasts and opportunities. And again, one needs to
make hard judgments with respect to welfare (redistributive) vs. productivity
Recently Foundation staff and some of their Latin American colleagues
held a seminar on Rural Development in Colombia. Ideas that emerged from their
discussions included the following:
1. The three case studies (Project Puebla, Garcia Rovira and Cajamarea) are
probably more nearly agricultural development than rural development pro-
jects. Taking the seminar's definition of rural development (any socio-
economic change in rural areas accompanied by greater participation in
benefits and decision-making) however, would, as I understand it, include
the three projects under study.
2. Rates of adoption of "improved technologies" were substantially lower than
project developers had predicted (i.e., 11% of the farmers had adopted im-
proved technologies in Puebla after four years). A combination of reasons
is advanced as possible explanations for the relatively slow rates of
a. Agriculture and the commodities central to the technological push turn
out to contribute a relatively unimportant portion of the income of the
smallholders in the project areas. Often agriculture in total may con-
tribute less than 20% of the incomes with off-farm work being the prin-
cipal earning source.
b. Even "improved practices" are not very profitable or involve risks.
smallholders are unprepared to bear.
c. Externalities make adoption of "improved practices" difficult because
of the non-availability of essential inputs such as credit, etc.
3. The projects did have large indirect effects: many similar projects have
been initiated; research and training in rural development have been stimu-
lated; and some modifications have been made in the programs of agricul-
tural research stations better to get at the questions previously unaddressed.
- 4 -
4. The projects were formulated and carried out in relative intellectual
isolation. Design and execution appear not to take advantage of accu-
mulated experience elsewhere; there is limited inter-project dialogue
among similar initiatives even within the same country.
5. The quantity and quality of resources applied to the design and execution
of the projects under study were unequal to the task. For this reason it
is unfair to judge these as real "pilot" projects because of this limita-
tion to the test.
6. Many of the problems with the projects trace back to inadequacies in
theory or analytical framework for rural development (which the seminar
treated as essentially synonymous with alleviation of poverty). This
suggests that descriptive studies presumably are necessary before hypo-
theses can be formulated and tested. It is argued that one must know
what is and how it got that way as a starting point. Even the ordering
of extant knowledge, however, requires a frame of reference. It is
argued that one could measure whether productivity increases commensurate
with costs are likely to be derived from:
a. Improved crop production technology, taking full account of
natural and human resource constraints.
b. Investment in irrigation or other private or public works.
c. Land and/or tenure reform to evolve change patterns of ownership
of means of production and of rights to the resulting output.
7. Even more fundamentally, strong disagreement exists concerning root causes
of rural poverty and stagnation. Two sets of answers emerge to the ques-
tion, why are the "have nots" so poor relative to the "haves"?
a. Neoclassicists argue that underdevelopment of the "have nots" is due
a to their being left behind by technological change. If so, this is
correctable by providing a strategic combination of conventional
tools in somewhat the way intended by the case projects.
b. The opposing view holds that underdevelopment of the "have nots" is
due to historical, lopsided progress of the "haves" who exploited,
alienated and marginalized the "have nots". That is, the poorest
have not been left behind, they have been pushed behind.
Based upon the above, the seminar recommended that as an interim
measure at least the Foundation's rural development program continue its cur-
rent agricultural and agricultural economics emphases, making special efforts
to achieve broadened participation in decision making and benefits.
Quite a bit of the talk in rural development today, it seems to me,
stresses institutional organization from the bottom for improved diffusion.
While this smacks a good bit of the model of development, espoused by USAID
in the 1950s, of transfer of technology and diffusion locally through improved
extension, it may have a new component. This is the component of "power to the
people" means of more directly and effectively involving the poor in the process.
- 5 -
Recognition is given to the high payoff input model which closely
parallels the neoclassical theme. It argues that poor farmers do not resist
technical change. They simply do not have the appropriate kinds of techno-
logies and associated inputs accessible to them. This, in turn, places em-
phasis on chemical-biological research.sector, on industry to provide the
inputs, and increasingly on analysis of the "externalities" which may still
be limiting in the presence of improved production practices and availability
of inputs and markets.
Personally I have the impression that the high payoff input model
works reasonably well if the new technology which is vastly superior is in
fact in the pipeline. It suffers from inadequate diagnostics for establish-
ment of priorities on what technology to generate and where to do the work.
We seem to be searching for a theory of induced innovation for in-
stitutions somewhat comparable to the Hyami-Ruttan model for induced biological,
chemical, and mechanical change. Vern argues that the induced innovation model
permits a country or a region to find a development path consistent with its
resource endowment. The system is driven by the operation of the price system
responding to present and prospective price relationships. The model is based
on the theory of the firm.
To a substantial degree, the Foundation's work in rural development
has adopted a view espoused by many institutional theorists: technological
change becomes a source of institutional changes. If we can put the right
kinds of parameters on technological change scale neutral, proper kinds of
income distribution effects, etc. then this may be a reasonable horse to
But increasingly we are not content to leave the matter of institu-
tional change at that point. Several seem to be calling for political action.
Suggestions that "poor power" rural enterprises be strengthened make an appeal
for charismatic leadership, group organization, and group action at the local
In assessing its situation the Foundation's India staff says that
we must ask ourselves of each grant: What are the consequences for the less
advantaged, for one region of the country vs. another? What are the production,
income, employment and nutrition effects? What is the impact on the human and
physical resources of a grantee, its locale, the state and the nation?
Having rambled much too widely, let me attempt some tentative propo-
sitions. As a trial effort, let me paraphrase them thus:
1...Given the tight food situation globally, local adaptive research on biolo-
gical, chemical and mechanical (as necessary) technological change, needs
continued strengthening. (Induced technological innovation, the neoclassical
approach guided by the theory of the firm.) Efforts here can be improved
by more rational setting of priorities, better linkage to resource bases
including the international centers as sources of essential outside inputs.
In our concern for farmer adoption of improved practices let us not redis-
cover the "diffusion" model without making reasonably certain that the
system has something worthwhile to diffuse.
2. More good farm and market micro studies and greater capacity to undertake
them are much needed. From such studies comes better understanding of
what farmers and farm families do, how they do it and why. Diagnostic
techniques which quantify and causally identify the constraints impeding
increased agricultural productivity and production are as yet not very
well developed. In the absence of such micro studies, there is danger
that production researchers seek answers to the wrong questions; that
public policies will continue to be made without realistic understanding
of their probable consequence at the farm and family levels.
3. We need to be brutally realistic about the limits (on any approach to
agricultural development as a driving force for rural development) im-
posed by resource constraints size of farm, irrigation water or rain-
fall, topography, climate, soils, etc. If the only solutions rest in
the non-agricultural sector we should not be a party to building false
expectations that agricultural productivity can be rapidly and economically
1. We should put our minds to understanding how and why institutions change,
how such innovations may be induced by non-violent means. This suggests
that our own research, the research of others that we help support and the
training of those who can do such research in the future need to be tilted
a bit more in this direction. It may well be that accumulated experience
has been inadequately mined for the insights contained therein. FAO pro-
poses to form a rural development institute for this purpose. The O.D.I.
conference suggested a rural development network with some type of rural
development institute as a communications (possibly analytical) hub. Your
Cornell study proposes an international institutional network to promote:
(a) the transfer of ideas about rural development strategy, training efforts,
research approaches and findings; (b) the exchange of staff responsible for
training and/or research; and (c) the sharing of research results about
rural development itself and about the ancillary training and research re-
quired. Further, there is a Bellagio social science group which is now
attempting to focus in on social science research for rural development.
From these and other intellectual inputs should emerge a more coherent ana-
lytical frame if not a full-blown theory.
We are entering what I judge to be a highly dynamic period in which
new stresses of two types may well appear. In the third world nations (the oil-
rich LDCs) capacities may be stressed by the infusion of large capital inputs.
We may have some firsthand opportunity to observe and learn from this phenomenon
in countries like Iran, Nigeria, Algeria, the states in the Persian Gulf, Vene-
zuela and Indonesia. A second set of stresses appears to be developing in
fourth world nations (LDCs without major mineral resources) which are under in-
creasing financial and balance-of-trade pressures with sources of needed outside
capital outputs quite uncertain. The keen observer-analyst should be able to
gain new insights from reactions to these two types of stresses. And if the
People's Republic of China continues to open, we can hope for better understanding
of what is happening there.
In this environment we as a foundation will likely try to retain suf-
ficient flexibility to enable us to experiment, to participate in and learn
from the dynamics of current developments while continuing to push initiatives
of the type outlined above.
A RE-POIT OF '111il SASAIMA SINMINAR ON RURAL IDEL,1OInIlNf
During the first week of May, 1974, the agricultural program staffs of the
Foundation's Offices for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Middle East
and Africa met in Ibadan, Nigeria, to review questions of professional and pro-
gram relevance. A number of the participants from the Latin American staff
were dissatisfied with discussions of that seminar which dealt directly with
rural development on the grounds that they failed to delineate the subject area
and indicate the kinds of Foundation programs which might fit into it. Also,
important.differences were evidenced in definitions, assumptions, language, and
modes of analysis which seemed to prevent the sort of interpersonal communica-
tion around the rural development theme that the Foundation's Latin American
agricultural program staff enjoys in other subject areas, particularly in agri-
A second seminar was agreed to for the purpose of trying to overcome some
of these differences and to move toward a greater consensus concerning the mean-
ing of rural development and its possible implications for Foundation programs.
The seminar was ultimately held in Sasaima,.Colombia, for two days in mid-July.
A list of participants is appended to this report. Nine members of the Founda-
tion's staff attended, along with seven Colombians (primarily from the Colombian
Agricultural Institute, ICA); a Peruvian; and one staff member from the Depart-
ment of Agricultural Economics at the University of California (Berkeley), the
"This report suffered from being written.three months after the-seminar but
benefited from very excellent notes taken of the proceedings by Norman Collins,
Alain de Janvry, Jim Himes, and Ismael Rochin.
International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and the International De-
velopment Research Center (IDRC). Also,attached is a copy of the program for.
the two days of meetings.
The first day was devoted to discussions of available socioeconomic data
on three rural development projects in Latin America with which the Foundation
is involved: the Puebla Project in Mexico, the Garcia Rovira Project in Colombia,
and the Cajamarca Project in Peru. In examining this information, the following
kinds, of questions were addressed by papers prepared by Santiago Friedmann (Puebla),
Ismael Rochin (Garcia Rovira), and Efrain Franco (Cajamarca). Who are small-
holders? What is the organization of their farms and families? What objectives
and constraints operate within that organization? What have smallholders' re-
sponses been to change agents operating through the rural development projects?
What have those change agents been? How effective have they been, and how have
they been organized?
After assessing existing strategies, current needs in the rural development
field were discussed on the second day. In the last hours of the seminar, an
attempt was made to identify those needs which might be addressed by the Founda-
tion, given its comparative advantages in assisting .with problem definition and
supporting research and training activities.
This report, like the seminar, is divided into tw'.principal parts. The
one which follows draws on the papers by Franco, Friedmann, and Rochin and at-
tempts to highlight major impressions ("observations" or "conclusions" would
apply as well in some cases) about the three rural development projects. Since
participants in the main were critical of these projects, the impressions listed
are.themselves rather negative and critical.. The last section of the report re-
lates to discussions of the .second day--namely, those dealing with program
As available socioeconomic data on each of the three rural development
projects were presented, similarities emerged which either strongly supported
or rejected available literature and data on small farmers and processes of
rural development. It is these similarities, confirming or contrasting with
current wisdom, which are recorded here as "major impressions."
Low Rates of Adoption.--Data presented by Friedmann on the Puebla Project
and by Franco on Cajamarca--similar data.being available on Garcia Rovira--
point toward low rates of adoption of "improved technologies." Friedmann re-
ported that, after four years, only 11 percent of all farmers had adopted the
Puebla Project recommendations (these-included recommendations with respect to
seeding densities and the rate and timing of chemical fertilizer applications
for corn in four project subregions). The comparable figure reported by Franco
for Cajamarca .was 0.16 percent after two years of project operations (recommenda-
tions related to seed type and to levels of chemical fertilizer application for
corn, wheat, and barley).
Are small farmers reluctant adopters?- Or do low rates of adoption re-
flect the fact that the "improved". practices recommended by the rural develop-
ment projects are not particularly profitable?- Or are practices profitable
and farmers willing adopters, but are the complementary resources (e.g., credit)
and new inputs unavailable by reason of institutional and/or other nonagroeco-
nomic constraints? None of the three.projects currently has replies to these
1/ For an excellent discussion of this view, see F. Cancian, "Stratification
and Risk-Taking: A Theory Tested on Agricultural Innovations," American Socio-
logical Review, Vol. 32, No. 6 (December, 1967), pp. 912-927.
2/ One of the original studies of the profitability hypothesis was done by
Zvi Griliches, "Hybrid Corn: An Exploration in the Economics of Technological
Change," Econometrica, Vol. 25, No. 4 (Qctober, 1957), pp. 501-523.
Agriculture's Unimportancc to Small Farmcrs.--Strategies of the rural
development projects focus on improving technology on a limited set of crops.
While the crops chosen are important components of the value of crop produc-
tion in each project area, incomes derived from crops--and from agriculture
generally--appear to be a much smaller proportion of total income of small
farmers than would have been expected on the basis of available literature.-
In the case of Cajamarca, the value of crop production represents only
14 percent of gross farm income from all sources for farms in the smallest size
class (3.5 hectares or less).- The most important single source of income for
these farms is wages and salaries, the largest part of which (62 percent) is
earned outside agriculture. Total income derived from agriculture (including
crop and livestock production, agricultural labor incomes, and transfers within
the agricultural sector) is only 38 percent of income reported from all sources
by small farms. As the size of farms increases in Cajamarca,- two things happen
to this figure: (1) it increases to a level of 67-84 percent, and (2) its com-
position changes with the share represented by livestock production increasing.
Data available on Puebla indicate that total crop production represented
only 35.5 percent of all farm family incomes in 1970.- These data are not
currently available by farm size class;'income derived from agriculture as a
1/ See, for example, Bruce F. Johnston, "Agriculture and Structural Trans-
formation in Developing Countries: A Survey of Research," Journal of Economic
Literature, Vol. 8, No. 2 (June, 1970), pp. 369-398.
2/ Proyecto Piloto Cnjamarca-La Libertad, "Estudio de Diagno.stico Socio-
economico del Area de Influencia del Proyecto Piloto Cajamarca-La Libertad"
(first draft, August, 1974, Table 3).
3/ The Cajamarca diagnostic excluded farms in the area with 100 or more
4/ Puebla Project, "The Puebla Project: Seven Years of Experience, 1967-73"
(unpublished manuscript, 1974), Table 10.1.
proportion of gross farm income is .likewise unavailable; and it may be that the
35.5 percent figure cited is not strictly comparable with the data on Cajamarca.--
Still, there is the inference that crop production is surprisingly unimportant
to small farmers in Pucbla in terms of its contribution to their total income.
Rochin reported, in the case of Garcia Rovira, that "there are no precise figures
on how much income is earned from each economic.activity."- Ilowever, he did
note that 86 percent of all heads of families in the area claimed to be employed
primarily on their own lands. This information, of course, would be consistent
with agriculture's relative unimportance as a source of income were on-farm re-
turns lower than those earned off the farm. And, if that were the case, there
might be the additional inference that on-farm employment is only a marginal
or residual use of labor time of small farmers.-
Much more data and analysis are needed, however, on (1) incomes by source
and (2) employment and labor productivity by activity before such inferences can
Low rates of adoption of project-recommended technologies and the apparent
unimportance of crop production to small farmers suggest that the direct effects
of the rural development projects on incomes may have been small. These effects
need to' be quantified in each case, however, and compared with costs, carefully
1/ Substantially more attention and resources appear to have been devoted to
estimates of farm income in the case of Cajamarca. The Puebla data on income
are not fully defined in the source cited.
2/ R. I. Rochlin, "l1 ;i rights Into the Socio-economic lasis for Rural Develop-
ment: The Case of (arcia Rovira, Colombia," Paper prepared for the Ford Founda-
tion Agricultural Advisors Semrinar on Rural Development, Sasaima, Colombia,
July 19 and 20, 1974, p. 10.
3/ A number of interesting hypotheses flow from this proposition. One, for
example, would be that a rural development project could have an important ef-
fect on wages and/por salaries of small farmers'even if they do not adopt the
accounted for. It might be shown, for example, that Puebla, Cajamarca, and
Garcia Rovira are cost effective, even 'though their impact on farm incomes has
Large Indirect Project Effects.--Whatever the direct income effects of the
projects may be, it appears that some nonincome, indirect effects have been
large. Puebla can now claim success in sponsoring:similar projects throughout
Latin America--perhaps even within Mexico itself where rural development proj-
ects are now operating with Puebla-like models-in the states of Mexico and
Tlaxcala, and others are on the drawing boards in 17 different regions--and in
contributing to a "conscientization" with respect to small subsistence farmers.
In Colombia the 6 initial pilot projects, of which Garcia Rovira was one, have
led to 24 more rural development projects and a complete reallocation of re-
sources within ICA which is responsible for public programs of agricultural
research, extension, and education. They may have also contributed to the
creation of a graduate program in rural development at the ICA/National Univer-
sity Graduate School. In the case of Peru, nonincome, indirect effects of
Cajamarca appear to have been rather more modest, although the Project was
instrumental in the decision to open two new rural development projects and to
establish, within the Cajamarca area, an experiment station.
Isolation.--The background papers and literature cited on Cajamarca, Garcia
Rovira, and Puebla make each of the three rural development projects vulnerable
to criticisms of intellectual isolation.
1/ Two cost-benefit analyses are, in fact, available for the Puebla Project
including one contained in Chapter 14 of the 1974 manuscript cited earlier,
Puebla Project, op. cit., and one authored by Delbert Myren and Jairo Cano,
"Benefit-Cost Analysis of the Puebla Project," in Strategies for Increasing
Agricultural Production on Small Hloldings (Mexico: CIMMYT, 1969). These analy-
ses could be refined, however, and then extended to others of the rural develop-
ment projects for which cost-benefit analyses are yet unavailable. More is said
about this at a later point in this report.
One such criticism is that the projects do not appear to have benefited
from the accumulated wisdom, lessons, anld experiences of others with similar
kinds of objectives. Nowhere, for example, in the seven-year .review document
on Puebla is a reference made to Mexico's long history of experience with land
reform, colonization, and irrigation projects and the fact that Puebla's value
might be measured in terms of its contribution over and above that which would
have obtained had, say, an irrigation project been put in the Puebla area.
Another criticism is .that the projects are isolated one from the other.
This seems to be true, for example, within Colombia and as between projects in
Colombia, Peru, and Mexico. Mechanisms like ALADER and the Ford-Rockefeller
grants to the University of California at Berkeley may help reduce this isola-
tion at a regional level. The creation within ICA last year of a submanager
for rural development and a couple of divisions concerned with evaluating and
coordinating efforts among individual Colombian rural development projects may
be beneficial at the national level; COCOSA should have similar effects in the
case of Mexico. Still, there is an impression that interproject relations are
Finally, there is the criticism made by de Janvry tht the projects have
isolated themselves from the dynamics of development in the project areas, in
other sectors of agriculture, in other economic activities, and in the world
economic system. The proposition was stated in his paper in the following way:
"The induced influx of technologies from the Green Revolution
through small farmer projects has been looked at as permitting
a break with the low-level equilibrium trap and shifting sub-
sjstence peasants to the blessed status of commercial farmers.
Focussing rural poverty in this context is, in my view, an his-
torical inconsistency. On-the contrary, it needs to be
done in the context of the economic destruction of traditional
societies after the first industrial revolution in England; of
the barriers to industrialization, especially after the second
industrial revolution in the 20th century; of unequal commercial
exchange between imperili st and dependent nations and the con-
sequent need for low waJgcs in the periphery; of the exhaustion of
import substitution policies to promote industrialization and the
transformation of industry into an economic and social enclave in
the 1960's; and of the resulting reinforcement of structural dual-
ism and marginalization of large sections of society. Rural
poverty should be analyzed in the framework of marginality instead
of traditional culture."i/
The Cajamarca "diagnostic" has been criticized in these terms for providing only
a snapshot.of the current state of poverty in the region and neglecting to con-
sider the historical conditions which produced that poverty over time. This
criticism would applywith greater force, however, to research on Garcia Rovira
"Pilot" Projects--A Mi.snomer.--Observed problems with the continuity of
project staffs; with the design of experiments (socioeconomic and agronomic);
with overall project organization, coordination, and planning; with intellec-
tual isolation of some of the projects; and with theformidable and still un-
resolved problems 'encountered in socioeconomic data collection and analysis--
all suggest that some of the pilot programs (as' most of the rural development
projects have been termed) have not been assigned resources of the quality and
quantity necessary to ensure that learning through systematic experimentation
Several hypotheses can be entertained to explain why this has been so.
One would be that there were ways of making the projects truly pilot endeavors
but not the will to do so. Under this hypothesis, the major objective of the
1/ Alain de Janvry, "The Political Economy of Rural Development Projects in
Latin America" (unpublished manuscript, July, 1974, pp. 1 and 2).
2/ The problems are identified and-discussed in the last 12 pages of the
Cajamarca diagnostic; in the case of Garcia Rovira, they are highlighted by
Rochin, "Integrated .Rural Development: Lessons from the Colombian Experience,"
Paper presented at the Ford Foundation Seminar of Program Advisors in Agricul-
ture (Ibadan: IITA, 1974); and, in the case of Puebla, Friedman focused on
these problems during his oral presentation.
rural, development projects is seen to be one of proving that available, new
biochemical technologies, supplemented by institutional credit, will be adopted
by small farmers and lead to increases in incomes and improved conditions of
life. Another hypothesis would be that there was the will but not the way to
make the projects effective pilot endeavors because the human and financial
resources required to sustain a truly experimental effort were found to be un-
available. Stress is laid in this regard on the availability of qualitatively
relevant human resources--trained in and capable of handling problems of rural
poverty.- A final hypothesis would be that there was a will and a way but
that the problems evidenced by the rural development projects were symptoms of
poorly articulated project objectives; that objectives were poorly-articulated
because there was little appreciation for what is really needed for small farmers
to develop; and that there was little appreciation for what is needed because
there was an incomplete understanding of how poor farmers got to be poor. With-
out a theory to explain and help understand the dynamics of poverty, project
activities were bound to flounder and become less purposeful and effective.
Other Impressions.--Below are listed three impressions derived from discus-
sions which did not occupy, perhaps, as much. time at the seminar--and, hence,
are presented here apart from the rest 'and rather summarily--but which were
judged to have been of importance nonetheless.
1/ The first of these two hypotheses appears to be most relevant to the
case of Puehla, Garcia Rovira, and the other five ICA rural development pilot
projects, while the second hypothesis may be most relevant to Cajamarca. In
the seminar there was also some discussion as to whether the :rural development
projects were really mechanisms for social control or "incorporation."
1. CritertL seem to be lacking currently which would provide the
basis for judging when a project has been successful, when
its mission has been completed, and when its activities
should be terminated.
2. Not unrelated to the preceding point is the fact that criteria
used in choosing among alternative rural development sites have
not been made explicit. If the reasons for making interventions
in a particular geographic area were more explicit, so, too,
undoubtedly would be the conditions for withdrawal.
3. The rural development projects have extremely high profiles
within the community of international assistance agencies--an
impression which really only extends an earlier one that certain
indirect effects of the projects have been large.
A number of research needs of the rural development projects are suggested
directly by the preceding section, and they might be divided into four or five
One would be analyses of adoption rates of recommended practices by small-
holders which sought to explain specifically the low rates of acceptance of
recommendations made by the rural development projects. Attention would be
given in these studies to the effects on adoption of the characteristics of the
technology recommended; on-farm determinants of the responses.of farmers to new
1/ These reflect more the views of the author of this report than those of
the participants in the Sasaima seminar. The agenda did not call for a discus-
sion of "research priorities" and little discussion, except for some extra-
seminar sessions, related directly to them.
production opportunities; and intervening institutional, cultural, and socio-
political factors--those nonagrocconomie elements referred to in a previous
section of this report.
'Another set of studies is needed which would carefully quantify incomes
of smallholders and.their family members by principal source and estimate em-
ployment rates and labor productivity by major farm and off-farm activity.
The essential purposes of these studies would be to provide a better under-
standing of when and why crops become unimportant to small farmers as a source
of income and how a change in crop technology would affect the small farm
family, its income, and the allocation of its available labor time. Since
searching for, obtaining, and then using a new production technology are time-
consuming activities, which may result in some loss of income, the suggested
research on the determinants of adoption might be related in important ways to
studies 'of income and employment. For this reason, plus the fact that com-
parability of income and employment data should be maintained as between proj-
ects, it would seem essential that there existed opportunities for cross-study
and cross-project discussions and dialogue in both the adoption and the income
and employment work.
A third area of research would include benefit-cost analyses of existing
and planned rural development projects. These would be done less for the pur-
pose of calculating social investment yields per se than for purposes of check-
ing the sensitivity of expected project outcomes to particular assumptions,
identifying areas for profitable in-depth socioeconomic research, and sharpening
the specification of project plans and priorities. Because there is not avail-
able at present a model or theory of rural development and poverty, it is ex-
tremely difficult for project personnel to organize complex and interrelated
observations on sma llholders for purposes of fixing goals and plans of work.
Something needs to be done about this and well before a theory of poverty
finishes cooking. One way of attacking the problem is with the benefit-cost
methodology. In the hands of an experienced practitioner and knowledgeable
"applied welfare economist," techniques of benefit-cost analysis do provide
means of ordering a vast quantity of data.
A fourth area of work which is needed would include case studies of other
kinds of rural development projects which promise to provide insights for the
Pueblas, Garcia Roviras, and Cajamarcas. Irrigation, land reform, and coloni-
zation projects.have been mentioned. A careful synthesis of existing studies
may be all that is required.
A final area of research need, which was intimated, concerns whether the
qualitatively relevant manpower really exists which is capable of assisting
with solutions to rural poverty. If not, what qualities and characteristics
at what levels of training are needed? Increasingly, this question is being
asked by national agencies. Certainly, the Foundation and the graduate agri-
cultural economics programs with which it has collaborated would want to know
more about the relevance of current M. S. training in agricultural economics
for planning, monitoring, and fieldwork'in rural development.
Before turning away completely from implications for research to program
implications, it is worth asking whether mechanisms exist for supporting a
menu of research like the one suggested here which would more fully exploit
opportunities for comparative analysis between projects. Some such mechanisms--
ALADER, the University of California at Berkeley group, and perhaps even
CEDEAL--are now available. Are these adequate, however? Is something else
needed? These questions were not discussed at any length at Sasaima.
Turning :more directly ,to the discussions of the second day and possible
program implications for the Foundation, a rather sharp distinction was drawn
between the area:of rural development and rural development projects.
The Foundation was drawn into the rural development projects as a result
of a long-standing interest in graduate agricultural economics programs in
Latin America. Specifically, as Colombia and, to a perhaps lesser extent, Peru
began mounting Puebla-type projects in 1970-71, the Foundation was approached
to partially finance the extension of agricultural economics competence to the
undertaking of socioeconomic diagnostics in certain project areas. The final
package of financing included some complementary support for activities of the
rural development projects per se, but it was neither the focusof the Founda-
tion's assistance nor the primary basis for its involvement.
Sasaima produced a consensus that this kind of action involvement at the
project level need not be extended further unless there are unique opportunities
for insights gained to be applied to similar projects within a country and the
Latin American region more broadly, manpower inputs--project leadership and
staff--are of pilot quality, training efforts of long-standing Foundation in-
terest are to be reinforced, mechanisms exist for interaction and feedback be-
tween the project.and policy analysis and decision making, and the Foundation's
inputs are small in relation to those of collaborating national institutions.
In contrast, discussions at Sasaima led to a conclusion that rural develop-
ment more broadly should not only be an area of future interest for the Founda-
tion's Latin American program but possibly one of its major interests. This
conclusion was based more on an understanding of the meaning and importance of
tural development than on agreements about what the specific content of a rural
development program-might be.
For most participants at-Sasaima, rural development came to mean any socio-
economic change in rural areas accompanied by greater participation by larger
numbers of rural inhabitants in determining the direction of that change and in
benefiting from its results. It is understood by this definition that rural
development means greater access by rural inhabitants to resources, a more equal
distribution of benefits from development, and a more equitable distribution of
power in the countryside.
Less progress in the direction of specifying a rural development program
undoubtedly reflected less accord among participants about the causes of rural
poverty and stagnation. That, in turn, appears to be a consequence of the ab-
sence of a comprehensive theory of poverty. All subscribed to a view that there
is some economic and social dualism in Latin America--a dichotomy of sorts which
distinguishes haves and have-nots. But some consider the underdevelopment of
the. have-nots as a passive state-that of being "left behind" by technical
change--which could be activated by a strategic combination of conventional
1/ 2/ 3/
tools in the best tradition of Lewis,- Fei and Ranis,- and Schultz.- This
is essentially neoclassical, liberal wisdom; the highest current level of its
perfection is now the model of induced development of Hayami and Ruttan.-
Others view the underdevelopment of the have-nots in a dynamic context and as
1/ Arthur Lewis, "Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labor,"
The Economics of Underdevelopment, ed. A. N. Agarwala and S. P. Singh (London:
Oxford University Press, 1963), pp. 400-449.
2/ J. C. 11. Fei and Gustav Ranis, Devel.opment of the Labor Surplus Economy
(Homewood, Illinois: Richard D. Irwin, 1964).
3/ T. W. Schultz, Traditional Agriculture (New Haven: Yale University Press,
4/ Yujiro Hayami and Vernon W. Ruttan, Agricultural Development: An Inter-
national Perspective (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1971).
a product of specific historical developments correlated with the lopsided
progress of the haves and their alienation, marginalization, and exploita-
tion of thie have-no2ts.- Contrary.to neoclassical wisdom, this perspective
does not consider the Jave-tnots to be people who have been left behind but
rather pushed behind.
Passions and differences among proponents of these two views run deep in
Latin America. Neoclassicists associate the opposing perspective with uncon-
scionable ideologists who argue from a base of economic fiction. They are
also classified as impractical types since inevitably an appeal is made by
them for a multidisciplinary, integrated systems approach to development, for
". .. the reasons for the impoverishment of rural areas often lie
outside of these areas themselves the ultimate cause of rural
poverty is still lack of integration into the overall socio-political
and economic system not only on a nationwide, but sometimes on a
worldwide, scale and hence the application of a package pro-
gramme. It must take account of the interrelationships of
socio-polit cal, economic, and technical factors in a systems
The standard reply to the neoclassical criticism is that facts should not
be confused with already existing self-evident truths. The issue is not at the
observational or descriptive level but at the level of establishing valid con-
nections between what is already observable.
Until a new, more comprehensive theory of rural poverty emerges, which is
capable of reconciling some of these existing differences, Sasaima participants
were of a mind that an interim rural development program mi.Ight be defined simply
in terms of an extension of the Foundation's current agricultural program in
1/ See, for example, Herbert R. Kotter, "Some Observations on tile Basic
Principles and General Strategy Underlying Integrated Rural Development," Monthly
Bulletin of Agricultural Economics and Statistics, Vol. 23, No. 4 (April, 1974),
2/ Ibid., p. 2.
Latin America but with an important qualitative difference: that additional
concern be evidenced for who is benefiting from the program and how much how
many have to say about its final outcomes. This would not imply any abrupt
break with existing activities. Indeed, a rural development program cast Jn
these terms would he more revisionist than reformist. The emphasis would still
be placed on developing research and training capacities, for example. However,
there would be the twist that "capacities" would not relate exclusively to the
traditional agricultural economics discipline at the graduate level but to ca-
pacities at any level in educational and research systems which could address
relevant problems of poverty and rural development. It was agreed that this
could involve anything from support for an M. S. graduate program--which has
a serious commitment to problems of rural development and is exploring differ-
ing views of the causes of poverty--to support for training centers for field-
workers in rural development. Two provisos were inserted: that the Foundation's
inputs lead to a self-sustaining activity (e.g., it would not be interested in
simply training fieldworkers to fill existing positions in Colombia's rural
development projects) and that the undertaking be related in some way to the
talent and institutions of long-standing Foundation concern.
In addition to the examples already mentioned, it was felt that this kind
of.rural development program would permit advancing projects like the following
to the consideration of the Foundation:
Proposals which would lead to additional comparative analysis and
cross-country generalizations about the rural development projects
discussed in the seminar.
Programs for national-level policy research for rural development
(like, for example, the COCOSA program)..
Resource base proposals to further synthesize available information
and liLerature in an attempt to provide a more comprehensive theory
of poverty and stagnation.
Research which provided an assessment of the relevance of existing
production technologies available at the national and international
levels for small farmers.
Proposals promoting additional interaction between international and
national research centers concerned with smallholders' production
Friday, July 19
Santiago Friedmann, Puebla
Ismael Rochin, Garcia Rovira
Efrain Franco, Cajamarca
James R. Himes
Reed Hertford, Towards a synthesis of
common and contrasting lessons
Alain de Janvry, Suggested directions
for the community .of effort
Informal evening discussions with
Rodrigo Botero, Executive Director,
Foundation for Higher Education and
Development (FEDESARROLLO), and Rafael
Marino, General Manager, ICA
Saturday, July 20
Norman R. Collins
James R. IHimces, Other program options
in rural development
William D. Carmichael, The place of rural
development within Foundation programs
Saturday, July 20 (continued)
Michael Nelson, Suggested agenda for
discussion of rural development "position
William D. Carmichael
Discussions leading to the rural develop-
ment "position paper"
(C) Botero, Rodrigo
(A) Caballero, Carlos
(B) Carmichael, William )D.
(B) Collins, Norman R.
(B) de Janvry, Alain
(A) Franco, Efrain
(B) Friedmann,. Santiago
(B) Guardiola, Beatriz
(B) Hertford, Reed
(B) Himes, James R.
(C) Marino, Rafael
(B) Nelson, Michael
(B) Rochin R. Ismael
(A) Rojas, Alvaro
(A) Rojas, Elsa
(A). Scobie, Grant
(A) Valderrama, Mario
(A) Villadiego, Tomas
(A) Zulberti, Carlos
Executive Director, FEDESARROLLO
Consultant in rural development, Ford Foundation.,
Rural Development Program Advisor, ICA
Head, Office for Latin America and the Caribbean,
Program Advisor, Agriculture, Office for Latin
America and the Caribbean, Ford Foundation
Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural
Economics, University of California, Berkeley
Project Specialist, Ford Foundation, Mexico
Administrative Assistant, Ford Foundation, Bogota
Program Advisor, Ford Foundation, Bogota
Representative, Ford Foundation, Bogota
General Manager, ICA
Program Advisor, Ford Foundation, Mexico
Program Advisor, Ford Foundation, Bogota
Director of International Department, IFI, Bogota
Secretary, Ford Foundation, Bogota
Staff, Agricultural Systems Program, CIAT
Director, Division of Agricultural Economics, ICA
Rural Development Section, Division of Agricultural
Attending July 19
Attending July 19 and 20
Attending evening session, July 19
Second International Seminar
on Change in Agriculture
Id Reading England- 9-19 September 1974
TIE CHOICE OF METHODS FOR IMPLEMENTATION:
By Guy Hunter
Overseas Development Institute, London
1. One basis upon which much of the programme of this Seminar, and
the choice of background Papers, has rested is the work of the Reading
University/Overseas Development Institute joint programme of research,
which has been running for the last five years. The research was
based upon a belief that, however good agricultural policies might be,
there is a widespread failure in implementation; and that a major part
of this failure (certainly, not all) could be ascribed to a failure to
learn the lessons of experience in the choice of organisational methods
and of institutional forms. The programme was run in what was, in
1969, an unusual method. The field research financed by the programme
(which was in turn financed by O.D.M., the Ford and Rockefeller Founda-
tions, F.F.H.C., Barclays International-and Shell International) was
executed, save in one instance, by Indian and African scholars, in con-
sultation with the Reading/O.D.I. staff; and- its initiation was the
outcome of consultation with the Ministries of Agriculture in India,
Kenya and Nigeria. The work was supplemented by 'library work' in
London, the overseas experience of the staff and a few specially
2. The purpose of this present Paper is to lay before the Seminar
the main hypothesis underlying this work. It does not cover the whole
range of subjects to be covered by the Seminar. This hypothesis under-
lies both the research, the choice of documentation, the subjects of
plenary addresses though their content is not dictated! and the
arrangement of subject matter.
3. The hypothesis can be put in the following form: "Agricultural
development takes place among local farming communities at various points
in a continuous transition from fully 'traditional' to more 'modern'
technical and social organisation; in various different ecologies; with
various post-harvest treatment of crops or animals produced; and under
the guidance of Governments with different resources of personnel, ad-
ministrative capacity, and budgetary resources. In considering the
choice of methods (administration, organisation and institutions) for
implementation of agricultural policies, consideration of four main
factors will lead to choices which are more likely to succeed -
1) The attitudes, capacities and needs of the local
farming community at-the time.
2) Technical factors, especially the type of crop
or animal husbandry mainly concerned.
Choice of Methods for Implementation
3) The nature of the processing and marketing channel.
4) The administrative resources and capacity of the main
agency of change (usually, the Government or a
4. These criteria may look deceptively, and indeed unrealistic-
ally short and simple. In such an immensely complex subject they cer-
tainly cannot be complete and decisive. It is necessary, therefore, to
spell out some of the major issues which underlie each 'criterion' -
perhaps 'guideline' would be more modest and this is done below. We
do not claim that the use of these criteria will provide to overseas
Governments or donors an infallible and precise guide to the choice of
administrative methods and institutions in all cases; the world, and
chance, are too complex for that. But we do claim that if the criteria
are carefully considered and sensibly used, the repetition of grave mis-
takes will be substantially reduced, and the chances they are still
chances of success will be substantially, and even critically, increased.
Criterion 1: The Attitudes, Capacities, and Needs of Farmers
5. This criterion is by far the most difficult and complex to apply.
In commonsense terms, backward 'tribal' farmers in India or Africa will
differ in attitudes to innovation, in their capacities to manage change,
and the need of assistance which they have, from a group of sophisti-
cated Punjabi wheat farmers, or Kilimanjaro coffee farmers, or success-
ful West African cocoa farmers, who have long since learned to adopt
scientific methods, geared the farm to cash.earnings, and learned to
adapt to both market prices and new technological advances. But between
these extremes lie the majority of situations, where some change in
attitudes and capacities has taken place, but, in varying degrees, not a
complete change and one which is not yet self-assured and secure.
6. Attitudes may be religious, social and customary, and economic.
They tend to be highly specific in place and time, particularly in the
earliest stages of innovations, when local sub-cultures retain maximum
vigour. There are, however, a few general attitudes which are widespread
at this stage aversion to taking risks with the main subsistence crop;
fear and suspicion of outsiders, especially officials; dependence of small
farmers on some forms of power or authority within the community public
opinion of the collectivity itself, chief, landlord, etc. Beyond these
generalised fears there may be far more specific rules and taboos about
particular crops (especially the staple food) as to planting dates, etc.,
and communal arrangements for such matters as access to fields, mutual
help, grazing rights. In general, the process of modernisation, inclu-
ding wider contact outside the village, involves a gradually increased
dominance of economic motives, at the expense of attitudes which obstruct
economic success, and a corresponding diminution of some (but not all) of
the attitudes and behaviour patterns of the traditional idiosyncratic cul-
7. Capacities. The technical skill of the farmer himself is not
usually a critical issue he is in many ways skilled already, and can pick
up line-sowing, for example, in a season or two. Illiteracy is, of course,
limiting at later stages, when chemical and engineering techniques, and
i i T -. I . ~r 41 .. ,, ^
Paper le: 3
can be critical in innovation; but this is more relevant to the
content of the 'package' and less to organisation and institutions.
Socially determined capacities are more important. The farmer, for
many reasons (tenure, public opinion, etc.) may not.be able to use his
land as he might wish, whatever his personal attitude. Economic
capacity of the farm family (apart from labour) may be restrictive. A
short-straw variety may reduce necessary thatching or animal foodstuff,
may deprive the family economy of vital milk or ghee or transport or
fertilizer; high cash input requirements (even on credit) may be beyond
him, if the cash-flow in the rural economy is minimal and indebtedness
gravely feared or socially disapproved. Finally, managerial capacity
in a social context (e.g. active participation in running a Cooperative)
may be very low, not merely from lack of sophistication in handling money
and accounts but because of social dependency which excludes challenge to
8. Needs, naturally, overlap lack ofcapacities. Access to inputs,
to markets, to water supply, to fencing material, to information are
among the most common needs, which must usually be supplied organisa-
tionally from outside before adoption of new methods can even start.
Extension services can be greatly frustrated by the lack of investment
and organisational services outside their control but vital to the pro-
gramme which they are trying to achieve.
9. Implications for organisation flowing from this and other criteria
are dealt'with below.
Criterion 2: Technical and Environmental
10. Ecology, population density, type of human settlement, type of
crop grown, seasonality, will all, in varying degrees, affect the
organisation of implementation. Certain crops and organisational
requirements e.g. a steady flow of uniform-sized and equally ripe
tomatoes for canning -'imply performance which may be extremely diffi-
cult for small farmers. Irrigation involves organisation and disci-
plines which may be new; extensive pastoralism involves considerable
modifications of extension pattern and marketing organisation; tree
crops with a long period before bearing involve investment in labour
and possibly credit or even subsistence payments. Acute shortages of
resources land, grazing, water, supplies will involve government
Section to ration or control. Highly dispersed settlement patterns
make grouping (Cooperatives etc.) hard to organise, in contrast to
dense and compact communities. lost of these points are painfully
obvious; but they are not always taken into account, particularly
where the organisation of programmes, extension staffing and credit
systems are highly centralized and governed by uniform rules: to
contact 400 farm families in a big village might be possible for one
extension officer; the same number in a'pastoral area might be quite
Criterion 3:. Nature of Processing and Marketing Channel
11. This could be regarded as an extension of Criterion 2
(Technical). It includes the cases where a crop (Tea, Tobacco, Sugar,
Rubber, Palm-oil are examples) requires major processing for a market
well outside the village (domestic or international 'export'). Such
Choice of Methods for Implementation
cases lend themselves to 'integrated management' by a Company, very large
Cooperative, or parastatal Board, servicing out-growers, and often pro-
viding research, :Etension, credit, collection of the crop, processing,
grading, marketing and payment. There are many well-known examples.
This system supplies from outside the managerial capacity which farmers
in early stages may lack, whether as individuals or as Coopera ives, and
can sometimes be applied attery early stages of modernisation.
12. In contrast, staple cereal foods, which may be used: a) for
family consumption; b) for paying share-crop rents; c) for brewing beer;
d) for repaying obligations; "e) for seed and insurance-storing, and
f) for minor sales, present a far more difficult problem. For example,
crop-season credit for fertilizer, which will be applied to the whole
crop, may be very hard to recover because: a) the credit agency does
not control the disposal of the crop; b) the credit debt looks very
high in relation to the few bags which may ultimately be sold for cash;
and c) because small merchants usually have an advantage over official
organizations in handling this type of situation.
Criterion 4: Administrative Capacity of Government
13. This poses difficult issues which have rarely been raised in
this form. Because government disposes of a number of paid staff
. (Extension, Cooperative, Community Development, Credit service, etc.,
etc.), it is easy to.draw up on paper increasingly elaborate duties and
increasingly sophisticated systems of coordination (for 'integrated
rural development', for example), as though the staff were a totally
flexible instrument of infinite capacity. Iloreover, as the years go
by, more duties and more committees and reporting requirements are added,
without reducing the original load. A second, common, phenomenon is a
tendency to create a new Agency for each new need, so that Crop Boards,
Land Boards, Credit Corporations, Natural Resource Boards, Irrigation
Authorities, Ranching Corporations, Settlement Boards, with their in-
evitable accompaniment of coordinating committees, are set up in pro-
fusion, and almost without regard either to the skilled manpower available
(especially at field level) or to the conflicts of function and authority
which, though excluded on organisational charts, invariably arise in
14. It would seem clear that the complexity of organisation must be
related to the skill-resources of government. Where these are small,
extremely simple organisational forms, with.a high degree of delegation
of discretion to act locally, will be necessary. This cuts across the
manifest tendency to increase complexity and centralisation through
planning controls, theoretical perfectionism, attempts to do too
many things at once (very evident in 'integrated' schemes), and a blind
eye to the realities of Departmental jealousies, bureaucratic traditions
and the motivation, conditions of service and career opportunities for
the minor staff in the field.
Limitation of the Hypothesis
15. The focus of the Reading/ODI work has been on the choice of
organisational and institutional forms within a given policy. Thus
the field is limited in several ways. First, it is not.directly con-
cerned with the formulation of the content of policy, except, somewhat
GUY HUNTER Paper le: 5
indirectly, in so far as a policy may be organisationally impossible to
implement. Policies may be chosen primarily on political grounds; and
political beliefs may even rule out certain organisational methods .
e.g. private enterprise, though it will still have to find a mechanism
of implementation, largely through public institutions: a bureaucracy,
Party Cadres, Cooperatives, Communes, etc. In this Seminar, the
opening sessions take account of some of these political choices.
Secondly, technical agricultural policy was outside the field cf re-
search. Clearly, if a policy of growing cotton is applied to land
which is unsuitable there are many lesssimple but still catastrophic
mistakes no amount of good organisation can prevent failure. To a
large extent technical choices are very highly location-specific, and
therefore unsuited for handling in generalisations of the type.which we
have considered. Thirdly, the research has concentrated on develop-
ment policy for the mass of small farmers, largely neglecting planta-
tion agriculture and (except by implication) the management of very
large collective or State farms.
16. By this time we feel able to go beyond the mere statement that
the four Criteria must be 'taken into account', and to suggest, from
the basis of experience and research, some at least of the detailed
implications for organisational choices which flow from the use of these
Criteria. .These implications are arranged under organisational head-
ings, since they may result from applying more than one of the main
criteria. I have largely avoided using a 'stage-theory' presentation,
because of the well-known difficulties of such an approach But
because we are dealing with a transition, through time, from one pattern
of agricultural and economic activity to a different pattern, and
because organisational choices have to take into account the point on
the line of transition which. a particular farming community has reached
at a given time, the concept of sequence and timing through the
'stages' of transition, although they are blurred at the edges, will be
always in evidence.
17. Because of the insecurity, suspicion and fear of change which
is strongest in the very earliest stages of development, it would
appear that a classical 'Community Development' approach is best suited.
to communities at this point. Ideally, C.D. staff are trained to get
to know a farming community, to listen, to help the community to meet
expressed needs, and thereby to gain the trust of the farmers. They
may go beyond this, in suggesting new possibilities (not locally known,
and therefore not felt2as needs), but they will.not act on these
without local consent. This style contrasts, unfortunately, with
the most common style of extension staff, who come with a package of
supposedly superior practices, usually centrally devised, which they
try to persuade the community to adopt.
18. If this initial contact is successful, a time will come when
the farmers, or a substantial number of them, want to go a step
further, particularly in increasing incomes rather than in improving
social facilities, with which C.D. is often most concerned.
Choice of Methods for Implementation
At this point fairly simple but well-founded technical agricultural
advice, through extension of tested agricultural techniques, becomes
appropriate. There are occasions when a complete and advanced agri-
cultural package can be introduced 'at a blow'; -but since this may
involve multiple changes, perhaps commercial as well as technical
(purchased inputs, credit, new types of organisation, as well as a dif-
ferent agronomy and crop-protection system), it is more often desirable
to advance by stages: line-sowing before fertilizer, savings before
credit loans, improved cultural practices before revolutionary changes
in varieties and methods. Close contact with farmers by relatively
simply trained staff will here be essential.
19. At a much more advanced stage the role of extension and the type
of staff may have to change. The period of motivating farmers to accept
change will have passed; what they now need is more and more specialised
advice, both agronomic fertilizerr mix, disease control, implements) and
economic (costs, prices, farm management). They will also require com-
mercially signifi ant quantities of inputs efficiently delivered and of
reliable quality. Extension staff will require better technical train-
ing, better supported by specialist advice. The University may well
enter the extension field at this point. Further, Government, quite
apart from the extension service, will face new duties, in the efficient
organisation of supply, repair, marketing, seed-production, agricultural
chemicals and machines. Further, .because demand is rising, Government
"may soon be able to pass over the executive responsibility (though not
the supervision) to the private sector, since the farmer has, at last,
become a profitable customer for inputs and a producer of commercially.
worthwhile outputs, increased both in volume and quality.
20. There is considerable evidence that, despite appearances, even
poor farmers can find sources of small amounts of cash (US 0 50) when
they really want to (e.g. for school fees, to meet social imperatives).
Secondly, that, despite appearances, savings groups of various kinds are
quite widespread in many traditional economies, and can also be stimulated.
Thirdly, that borrowers are prepared to accept quite high interest rates
on small loans for short periods, e.g. 10 per cent for 6 months, equi-
valent to a 20 per cent per annum rate (but only $2.50 on $50 for six
months). Fourthly, that official crop-season subsidized credit schemes,
for farmers in a fairly early stage of development, are extremely costly
and not often efficient agriculturally. They are costly either because
of low repayment levels or (more frequently, nowadays) because of the
high staff costs of loan recovery, except in certain cases where credit
is given and recovered by an organisation having monopoly control of the
crop. They are agriculturally ineffective because the purchased inputs
are spread too thinly, or used for other than the intended purpose, or
partially used for consumption or social needs.
21. All these findings point to a far more cautious and more selective
use of official crop-season credit schemes. Some suggestions would be:-
a) To exhaust other methods of assisting farmers before
purchased inputs for credit started.
b) To stimulate savings before loans (the Comilla principle).
Paper le: 7
c) To stress cash purchases by emphasising the cost of credit,
which should be reflected in realistic interest rates.
d) Experimental use of free fertilizer for demonstration over
.1 year, followed by cash sales.
e) Encouragement of small, mutually guaranteeing, credit groups.
f) Use of Cooperative credit only after the Cooperative is
firmly established with adequate staffing and management,
since credit is both the least profitable and the most
difficult Cooperative function.
g) Extreme caution in credit provision where the destination
of the crop is not controlled by the credit agency.
22, All these suggestions reflect the fact that the wise handling
of production credit by farmers is a skill which comes late in his
growth towards modern farming, requiring training in its disciplines;
that institutional credit is not necessarily his first need, but may
become more important when he is already successful and wishing to
expand; and that, on the record, credit administration through
official channels is always difficult, and usually both inefficient and
Grouping of Farmers Cooperatives and Other Groups
23. Agricultural administration has to find some intermediary
between official services and the vast multitude of small farmers,
as a point for distribution of physical or credit inputs, as a channel
for distribution of information, and as a focus for shared facilities
(e.g. storage). Formal Cooperatives have been widely used for this
purpose, sometimes for political reasons, sometimes simply as a con-
venient administrative tool. By criterion 1 (Attitudes, Capacities
and Needs) the circumstances in which a formal Cooperative is likely
to succeed in the various tasks set it are fairly few and specialised.
24. The Cooperative is a social organisation which cuts across the
most common forms of social grouping in most traditional agricultural
communities in the developing countries for example, kinship systems,
age-grade systems, landlord-tenant relations, patron-client relations,
employer-employee relations, clan systems, tribal societies (West
Africa), caste and status systems, and even the mutual assistance'
schemes (house-building, weeding, harvesting) common in many early
societies, which are built on wholly different lines.
25. Nevertheless, if the Cooperative is accepted as an alien
innovation useful for agricultural progress, we must estimate its
chances of success in performing two very different and distinguish-
able functions -
a) As a democratic, egalitarian system it is unlikely to
succeed in the early stages of development, when
attitudes of dependency are very high. Only after
a period of economic success which has included a
substantial proportion of previously dependent members
of the community are they likely to modify or sup-
Choice of Methods for Implementation
plant the dominance of traditional magnates in the
management of Cooperative affairs.
b) As an economic organisation cooperatives demand considerable
managerial skill, and a value system which puts a neutral
role efficiency above the obligations to political,
kinship or patron interests. H1re again, a fairly late
stage of development is implied.
c) Purely as a coherence system (i.e. one relying heavily on
loyalty to the group), Cooperatives are likely to succeed
when the group is small, its members know each other
and have interests consciously shared. This would argue
that Cooperatives should initially be small (50 100
members). This conflicts with commercial efficiency and
capital-accumulation arguments, which point to large
societies with substantial turnover and capital, able to
provide worthwhile services. This difficulty may be
resolved by a small start, and a very gradual expansion.
d) The implications are -
i) that formal Cooperatives are not a tool of first
choice in the earliest stages:
ii) that coherence will be more likely if: a) the group
is initially small, and b) it is built round a
clearly needed physical facility (stores, pump,
well, motorboat, dairy, etc.) used equally by
all members. Pure credit cooperatives have the
least impetus to coherence each man wants his
26. There is an increasing emphasis on various forms of elective or
semi-elective popular representation, as an active element in agri-
cultural development, often including executive, or at least decision-,
making, responsibility. While these units at village-level (Gram pan-
chayat, Village Development Committee, etc.) have a fairly obvious func-
tion (to express local wishes and to contribute local knowledge), the
two or more higher tiers, which exist in many countries and in some
Projects, appear to have representative functions (they are no longer
face-to-face with village people), and in some cases executive functions
where staff are more or less directly under their control.
27. It is doubtful how far.the Reading/ODI work can rightly include
this subject, since the purpose of establishing.these Committee systems
is primarily for political education of the citizens and perhaps for
strengthening a dominant political Party by diffusing Party activity
widely through the provinces. But-in so far as development as such
is in issue, two points emerge. First, direct mobilisation of effort
is likely to be successful primarily at village level. The higher
levels give orders or pep-talks to villagers; but they may also have
an effect (where this is necessary) in prodding the executive bureau-
cracy into greater energy where that bureaucracy is controlled by the
central government. There is little evidence that the higher levels,
Paper le: 9
where they themselves control development staff, achieve high levels
of efficiency or impartiality. Secondly, in so far as development
depends on technical expertise and technical decision-making, there is
reason to fear failure. The record is often of mainly politically-
based decisions, and of ambitious projects which lack staff and ex-
pertise for implementation. In countries where trained personnel are
scarce, a tough and competent administration, prodded and checked by
local councils but not controlled by them, may be both more economical
in staff and more technically sound in programming. The information
available from mainland China would appear to contradict this statement,
since the Communes appear to be effective. But it is as yet hard to
distinguish how much-this efficiency is owed to local election-and how
much to a bold decentralisation of administration through the Party
cadres and nominees, combined with revolutionary enthusiasm and revo-
lutionary discipline too.
The Commercial Function
28. The variations in political policy and in the facts of national
history make this subject the least amenable to wide generalisation.
Some countries have indigenous traders and entrepreneurs; in some,
immigrants (Asians in East Africa: overseas Chinese in much of S.E.
Asia) have, unless politically excluded or restrained, pre-empted
much of the commercial sector. In heavily planned economies, and
anti-capitalist economies, or where there is no effective indigenous
trading network, this is the stamping ground for parastatal Boards and
Corporations, or state-supported Cooperatives.
29. Where these large organisations-deal with a m"jor crop of high
value, not mainly locally consumed in unprocessed or lightly processed
form, with a fair proportion grown by sizeable and efficient growers,
they can succeed fairly well witness some of the Kenya Crop Boards,
originally aimed mainly at European growers. But faced by a mass of
small growers, bad access by road, uneven quality, and local markets,
they seldom can compete with small traders; and, if they have a mono-
poly, smuggling and black markets will appear, because (in contradiction
of the exploitative trader theory) traders and smugglers give the
farmers either better prices or quicker and more local service. There
is here a penalty exacted by ideological preferences which falls most
sharply on the small men whom ideology is designed to protect: it
may be a penalty outweighed by other political and social benefits. It
is also necessary to weigh the opportunities for patronage and cor-
ruption which Boards give, their re-emphasis on State and centralised
power, and the economic prizes they offer to the elites and the party
which can capture and monopolise control of Government.
30. The main implication has already been mentioned under Criterion
4 the necessity to match administrative patterns to available mana-
gerial skill and budgetary resources. What the Reading/O.D.I. pro-
gramme has not studied is the possibility of improving efficiency by
better management practices, ably set out in thepaperby Belshaw (5a),
and certainly of major importance. A glance at the administrative
superstructure of very small States will at once raise questions of
proportion. Can States with a population no bigger than that of one
or two Indian Districts really require so many Ministries, Departments
Choice of Methods for Implementation
DIFFICULTIES OF INTERPRETATION
31. Every person, every village is, in some degree, unique. Clearly
no administrative system can treat everyone differently. This is a
difficulty more real in theory than in (possible) practice. General
patterns of farm systems exist over areas at least as bij as one extension
officer's area, and frequently to sizeable administrative areas. The
difficulty of adjustment lies in the administration, not in the facts.
Again, within a single village there may be a few sophisticated and wealthy
farmers, some halfway in transition, some still highly traditional -
who is to be served? The answer is again fairly clear the smaller,
less favoured, more 'traditional'. For if Government programmes are
firmly aimed to be feasible and profitable to them, the better-heeled
citizens will look after themselves. The trouble with much of the Green
Revolution has been that a fairly capital-intensive and complex package
has been offered which is, in effect, out of reach of the weaker members.
32. Again, how is the judgement the application of criteria to
be made? Can anyone weigh up all the factors, or decide at which point
in a complex transition one particular farming community stands, at a
point in time? Again, real life is simpler than theory. Really local
people know most of the real local facts, which seem so complex to out-
side observers, and which Governments at the centre rarely bother about.
What is, indeed, more difficult is to estimate the exact point at which
a local custom will bow to an economic incentive, and the exact moment
when new local leadership will emerge. These.questions can indeed only
be answered by (intelligent) trial and error.
33. If the need for closer adaptation of policies and programmes to
local situations is accepted, the clear implication is that these situa-
tions must be 'known', and the knowledge acted upon. They are, of
course, known by the people who live in them. 'Known' must mean known
to government, administrators, decision-makers; and also, perhaps,
'analysed, quantified and recorded', since this is the language which
officials and planners understand. This leads to the major, central
implication: that local programming decisions must be made very near to
the field; because it is only there that there is any real chance of
effective local knowledge.
34. Four processes are necessary to push decision-making and dis-
cretion downwards from the centre; to establish.an acceptable point to
which it is pushed; to establish an effective contact with farmers and
an'.upward flow of information from them; and to retrain field staff to
listen first and advise afterwards. Everyone knows how difficult this
is, but primarily because the first step delegation of authority is
never taken. It is not token because: a) politicians, planners and
administrators at the centre insist on knowing best; b) simultaneously,
knowing that they don't really know, they hang on to slowly changing
generalised orthodoxies: 'Credit is the first step', 'Cooperatives must
be created', 'Elected committees must be set up everywhere', 'Traders
are exploiters', 'Extension staff must deliver packages and achieve
targets', 'Integrated Rural Development'.
35. Ministers, planners, donors and universities all share the
blame for these orthodoxies. There are, indeed, some hopeful signs
of change. 'District Planning', 'Farmer Service Centres' at local
levels; some variations on the Cooperative model. But they are still
tentative; and there is still a great deal of detailed work to do in
establishing the minimum essential central control; the maximum feasible
local discretion; the point and the quality of expert technical input;
and the variety of forms of farmer organisation and contact. It is not
only work which is needed, but a change of heart at the centre, both as
to exercise of authority and as to the nature of the agricultural plan-
1. The paper by Phillips and Collinson (4c) and the chapter by
Waheeduddin Khan in Serving the Small Farmer refer.
2. See, e.g., the Animation approach in Niger described in the paper
by Gentil (3o).
3. This transition is admirably described in Kahlon's chapter in
Serving the Small Farmer.
4. Papers by Youngjohns (3i), Hyden (3k) and Texier (3p) refer
5. The paper by Haldipur.(5b) and the chapter by Sinha and Jain
in Serving the Small Farmer refer.
6. Here Trapman's report on Kenya is highly relevant.
7. Roughly 1- million inhabitants to one District.
SOCIAL SCIENCE AND DEVELOPMENT
ANALYSIS AND ACTION
by Guy Hunter
April 15, 1975
1. One major danger in the use of social sciences in development is
that policy and action should follow too closely the findings of partial
2. This danger is visible at all levels from general ideologies to
micro decisions. At the macro-level, Marxism is as good an example as any.
Over the last century Marxist theory has had a compelling appeal, particularly
to intellectuals. Its sweeping analysis, based on a high degree of abstrac-
tion from selected processes of history and applied to a huge range of human
activity politics, economics, culture, religion has a satisfactory ele-
gance and comprehensiveness. But when the believers try to guide action from
this analysis, they have to explain away formidable anomalies, which arise
from factors assumed away in the analysis. The poor, instead of growing
poorer, grow demonstrably richer; well meaning reformers, of the type of, say,
Robert Owen, have to be dubbed as Menshevik enemies of the working man; colo-
nial District Commissioners, trying to persuade Africans to send their children
to school, or to plant corn in rows, have to be described as capitalist and im-
perialist exploiters. Worst of all, the analysis precluded any objective assess-
ment of how, after the revolution, the new governors would avoid the temptations
. of power and greed, or solve the social tensions aroused by a philosophy of
violent group conflict needed to heat up the revolution; nor did it consider
the social and economic results of attempting to run large nations through the
clumsy bureaucracy of the State.
3. At an intermediate level, economic Planning is subject to the same
criticism. The high degree of abstraction (from very suspect data) which is
involved in a national economic plan constantly neglects vast areas of human
motivation, ignores deeply held beliefs and fears, and, equally, forgets the
opportunities for evading or exploiting the mass of government regulations
through which its authors hope to ensure that their projections are fulfilled.
It may honestly confess the partial nature of its approach; but it is apt to
be used for total social action.
4. Finally, at the micro level, a similar but perhaps more subtle trap
can be seen; alas, I have been falling into it lately myself. For, just be-
cause of the imperfections of macro planning, a considerable number of "devel-
opment thinkers" have sought salvation in'micro-planning at the District; nay,
at the sub-District; nay, at the village level. For here we shall at last reach
reality the actual, complex conditions of motivation and of circumstance in
which the poor live; and here we can tailor action to full reality.
5. Quite complex, multi-disciplinary analysis is needed at this level.
In the rural area, an economist with farm-management training must be there;
surely a social anthropologist would be essential? The need for an agronomist
goes without saying; but what about a public administration expert with manage-
ment theory experience to suggest a system for running the Extension Service?
And a political scientist? for we cannot forget elitism, TANU, political
arenas and socio-political scenarios. An ecologist...?
6. To research-minded people this analysis is immensely attractive and
I (gladly) prophesy that a very great deal of it will be done over the next
ten years. But how does it look to the administrator and to the government?
Where are all these experts to be found? How much will they cost? How long
will they take to survey even a group of a dozen villages before anyone should
dare to suggest an executive programme which will meet all the difficulties
which their final report will enumerate?
7. I am sorry to ask these destructive questions, for I firmly believe
that the switch of attention to local realities, and the careful reconnaissance
of an area before a programme for it is imposed would represent a great advance,
not only from general ideological approaches but from central national direction.
But can we really believe that government in a large country will take on this
huge task of detailed diagnosis and detailed local prescription? Is it possible
to treat some millions of farmers in this nurse-maiding way?
8. What I am saying is NOT that the research should not be done, at least
in a far greater number of varied situations each of which might, to the best
feasible degree, typify an area. My thesis is really in two parts. First, that
the choice of action cannot simply arise from analysis (if sociological issues
arise, a sociologist must be sent in). Action is constrained by other consid-
erations by feasibility in manpower and expense; by knowledge of the capacity
of 3rd level field officers; and, above all, by the aim of providing, not a
thousand individual prescriptions but a physical and motivational environment
within which the main actors (farmers and officials) can use moderately en-
lightened common sense and discussion to find their own way through their part
Sof the forest. Government action must be broader and simpler than the sum of
9. The second part rests on a belief that sample researching at micro
level (more of it, and better done), will in fact reveal common factors, common
guidelines to conduct, by means of which commonsense can indeed be enlightened.
This, of course, implies a belief that the local social process itself, enabled
by adequate infrastructural help, but not constrained by detailed regulation,
has the necessary dynamism to meet its own problems.
10. Ultimately, this means a belief in the free society.* But even rela-
tive simplicity of government action will not be achieved by simple thinking,
or just saying "Participation," "Democracy." Just as clear and simple engineering
design is painfullyevolved from Heath Robinson complexity, so the lines of simpler
and more effective government action will need much hard and detailed work in
elucidating local facts and problems. The tabk of the Social Scientist remains,
to inform the designers of action; but the design will not follow their detailed
*Cf. "We all want to be God, and to manage things much better than God...by
eliminating just these possibilities of error in which human freedom consists."
Draft Outlines of Research and Management
Development Programmes in the Field of
Rural Development for
Asian Centre for Development Administration
OUTLINE OF THE PROGRAJT I OF RUTJ?.L
DEVEOPiETT FOR 1974-75
Summary of Programme Elements.
This programme would undertake primarily four activities during
I. Organise a management development programme for senior officials
of Asian governments for a duration of two to three weeks in the
first quarter of 1975. (For details see section II below).
II. Implement a research programme providing support to the manage-
ment development programmes. The research projects listed are:
(A) A comparative study of approaches to rural development
in Asia with a view to determining their relative
(B) Study of "programme innovations" in the field of rural
development in Asian countries.
(Details of research programme given in section III below).
III. Diffuse useful literature in the field of rural development among
scholars, administrators, and relevant institutions. An effort
would be made to undertake the following activities in this area:
(A) Prepare an annotated bibliography on rural development;
(B) Compile already published material which could be useful
for policy-making and programme implementation in the
field of rural development;
(C) Prepare and circulate a digest of significant developments
in the field of rural development.
(For details see section IV below).
IV. Collaboration with other international organizations on projects
relevant to ACDA's research interests.
(For details see section V below).
- 2 -
MANAGEMENT DEVELOIPENT PROGRAMIE
Policies and Programmes of Rural Development in Asia
The chances of improvement in the quality of life of many Asians,
who mostly live in rural areas, depends upon the effectiveness of the
rural development programmes of their countries. The effectiveness of
these programmes is determined by various factors such as the extent to
which they are part of a comprehensive policy and strategy of national
development, the degree to which they make correct diagnosis of the
causes of rural underdevelopment and mobilize and organize adequate
human and material resources to overcome it.
Due to a variety of political, economic, social and administra-
tive factors operating in different Asian countries, the rural develop-
ment programmes have come to develop different characteristics and
consequently achieve different degrees of effectiveness. The purpose
of this management development programme is to:-
(a) Understand the process of conception and formulation of
policies and programmes of rural development in different
countries of Asia;
(b) Isolate the critical factors which determine their
(c) Examine the relationship between the elements of
different approaches to rural development and the
problems different countries face.
It is expected that the programme would be able to achieve the
(a) It will sensitize the participants to the critical
factors which determine the effectiveness of these
(b) It will enhance their capacity to organize, implement
and evaluate rural development programmes of their
(c) It will deepen the understanding of the participants of
the rural development programmes of Asian countries in
general and those of their own countries in particular.
Contents of Programme
The central focus of this programme would be a study of why
different approaches to rural development were adopted in different
countries; what programme characteristics and societal conditions
explain the varying impact of these approaches on rural communities;
and finally what can be done to enhance the effectiveness of different
The following method would be used. To evaluate the impact of
rural development programme, the contemporary conditions of rural com-
munities determined through community studies and micro-data would be
compared with conditions at an earlier historical point (say at the time
of end of Second World Har) to determine the extent of change that has
since occurred. Such a change could be the result of the combined impact
of the feroes of unplanned change and planned programmes of rural deve-
lopment. Independent determination of the impact of either would enable
the evaluation of 4he inmact of the other.
The irmpact of rural development programmes would be evaluated
in terms of their avowed goals as well ap in terms of desired develop-
mental changes they produce including the following:-
(a) Impact on productivity, income distribution, poverty;
(b) Impact on rural social structures flexibility in class
structure, changes in leadership, consolidation of
(C) Impact on national integration (rural-urban) popular
Isolation of the factors which explain the differential impact
of rural development programme is a difficult methodological task.
There are numerous inter-related factors and it is difficult to
- 4 -
separate them analytically and empirically. An effort would be made
to seek an explanation in terms of the content of policies governing
rural development, structure and scope of these programmes, the
pattern in which they are introduced mobilizational and administra-
tive capacity of the governments, the level of socio-economic
development of the country and finally the resource constraints.
Hopefully, such analysis would lead to generalizations which could
be helpful in reconstructing rural development programme in Asia.
(For details of contents of this programme see Appendix A).
I. All participants would be requested to bring along with them
the major basic documents concerning their country programmes
as well as prepare a short paper analysing their country
II. After a period of a week's stay at Kuala Lumpur during which
they would be exposed to different approaches to rural
development, the participants would be divided into groups
for field work. They would proceed to selected countries
for field observations. A field observation guide would
be prepared by the group itself. After termination of the
field work, the participants would re-assemble in Kuala
Lumpur and discuss and compare their observations. Each
participant would prepare a paper on some aspect of the
country programmes he observed.
III. During the last week of the programme, the participant would
be required to prepare a critical review of their country
programmes and prepare a blueprint of changes they would
Participants in this course would include officials of the
- 5 -
(a) National/regional directors of the programmes of rural
(b) National/regional directors of departments of cooperation,
or local government, or agricultural extension services;
(c) Senior officials of Ministries dealing with rural develop-
(d) Senior members of staff of training institutes concerned
with training for rural development.
It is expected that not more than 25 persons will participate in the
programme and that more than one participant will generally be invited
from each participating country.
The course should run at least for 15-20 working days.
The follow up may take the following form:
(a) The participants from each country may be asked to arrange
a seminar at national/regional level and present the blue-
print prepared by them at the Centre to such a seminar;
(b) A particular area/region may be selected to implement the
(c) A national institute concerned with training and research
in problem of rural development should be associated with
this area to evaluate the consequences and utility of the
(d) The ACDA staff should associate itself with such
experimentation and evaluate it when possible.
- 6 -
RESEARCH PROGRIMIE ON. RURAL DEVELOPIMN2T IN ASIA
It is suggested that ACDA should engage in a comprehensive
research programme on rural development. The importance of such a
programme cannot be over-emphasized. The success of national develop-
ment programmes is reflected as well as determined by the extent to
which problems of rural areas, whore most of the people in Asia live,
are effectively tackled. But precise knowledge about these problems
and the efforts made to solve them is scanty and fragmented. The
purpose of this research programme would be to generate systematic
and useful knowledge in this field.
Main Components of Prograrme
This research programmo would have two basic components:-
(a) Comparative study of effectiveness of programmes of
rural development in Asia;
(b) Study of programme innovations in rural development in
The research programme would be useful to ACDA in three
(a) It will strengthen ACDA's capacity to advise Asian
Governments on formulation of policies and programme;
(b) It will provide useful and relevant material for
training programmes for Asian rural development
(c) It would make useful professional contributions Lto
the body of knowledge dLaling with development.
A. COMPARATIVE STUDY OF DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO RURAL
The main purpose of this project would be to collect
systematic and useful analytical information pertaining to the
impact of rural development programmes on Asian rural communities.
An effort would be made to organize data from individual countries
in such a way that useful hypotheses about the process of rural
development are generated and tested. The end-product of this
project would be a statement specifying different approaches to
rural development and isolating the conditions which determine
their impact. This statement would not only be a useful academic
contribution to the field but would also provide necessary
material for management development programmes at ACDA and
enhance its capability to advise Asian governments on rural
development policies and programmes.
The project would be divided into three phases:-
(a) In the first phase, a paper could be prepared by
ACDA staff suggesting the research design for the
survey. This paper would be presented to scholars
willing to collaborate on this project.
(b) The research scholars would then conduct research,
do field work where necessary and submit papers
to ACDA which would be discussed in a symposium
(c) The revised papers would be edited and published
The basic foci of research interest would be the following:-
- 8 -
(a) Delineation of the characteristics of the rural
communities in different" countries, including social,
economic and political aspects; description of major
problems of rural communities such as poverty, un-
employment, low productivity, rural migration, etc.
(b) Mapping the dynamics of change; description of the
external and internal unplanned forces of change such
as demographic imbalance, monotization of the village
economy, penetration of mass media, increase in physical
mobility, and their impact on the traditional rural
society would be analysed.
(c) Description and analysis of programmes of planned
change. The programmes of planned change to be studied
would include land reforms, local government, community
development, cooperatives, communes, peasant associations,
agricultural .extension, family planning, etc. The
evaluation and analysis of these programmes would cover
a brief historical review, analysis of basic assumptions
and goals, determination of their structural adequacy,
and their overall capacity to achieve the developmental
(d) Isolation of critical variables which determine the
impact of rural development on rural poverty, unemploy-
ment, maldistribution of income, productivity, popular
(For statement on specific studies, see Appendix B).
- 9. -
B. -STUDY OF PROGRAMME INNOVATIONS IN RURAL DEVELOPMENT
IN ASIA '
The purpose of this study would be to select certain
"programme innovations" in Asia in the field of rural development
and systematically study them. This study would hopefully suggest
the conditions under which such innovations emerged and made their,
impact on rural communities.
I. The innovations may include a new co-operative approach, a
new unit of local administration, or a method of implemen-
ting land reforms.
II. About two to three innovations evolved in different
countries of Asia would be selected for study.
III. Main foci of interest would be:-
(a) To describe the conditions under which the
(b) To describe and analyse the processes through
which such innovations overcome resistance, and
diffuse through the society;
(c) To evaluate the impact of these innovations on
development of rural areas.
I. A common research design would be developed to study
II. The research staff of a national research institute may
be contacted to do the field work on these innovations.
The project should not take moro than a year to complete.
COLLABORATION WITH INTERNAmITOATI T. ORGANISATION ON
PROJECTS RELEVANT TO ACDA'S _RESEIHiCH INTERESTS
ACDA is already collaborating with Social Development Division
of ECAFE. Research linkages with other organizations will be established
DIFFUSION OF USEFUL LITERATURE ON RURAL DEVELOPMENT
The purpose of these activities would be to inform the adminis-
trators, scholars and other agencies interested in rural development
about the literature produced on the subject of rural development.
Following three activities would be undertaken:-
A. Preparation of an annotated bibliography on rural development:-
(a) The bibliography would cover the published material
pertaining to all aspects of rural development in Asia;
(b) An effort would be made to include significant material
published in English and possibly in French during the
last ten years;
(c) An effort would be made to include the significant
material available in local languages if translation
facilities are available.
B. Compilation of published material for use in management develop-
ment programme as well as for circulation among interested
scholars and administrators. An effort would be made to compile
material on rural development published in scholarly journals and
not easily available to Asian scholars and administrators. This
compilation would also be served as background readings for the
management development programme on rural development.
C. Preparation of biannual digest on significant developments in
the field of rural development in Asia.
Appond x A
I. Introduction to Asia Rural Community:
1. Rural communities in different Asian countries types.
(b) Cultural and Social structural;
2. Major problems of Asian rural communities.
(a) Low productivity;
(b) Unemployment, underemployment;
(c) Maldistribution of income;
(d) Rural migration;
(e) Population increase;
3. Effects of unplanned forces of change on Asian comm
(a) Effect of demographic changes;
(b) Extension of market and monetization of rural
(c) Effect of
(d) Effect of
increased physical mobility.
_1____* ~_1 __
- 12, -
Policies and Programmes of Rural Development
I. Constraints and choices in policy-making for rural development:
1. Determinants of Policies of Rural Development.
(a) Ideology and doctrine:
(i) Sources of ideology; indigenous,
(ii) Regime orientations and commitments;
(c) Framework of decision-making.
2. Major Policy-models of Rural Development in Asia:
L.issez fair productivity model;
Limited intervention solidarity model;
Extensive intervention equality model.
3. Typology of programmes of rural development:
(a) Technology-oriented programmes agricultural
extension agro-based industry; assumptions,
scope, limitations, impact;
(b) Solidarity-oriented programmes community
development cooperatives, local government,
assumptions, scope, limitations, impact;
(c) Equality-oriented programmes land reforms; -
assumptions, scope, limitations, impact.
Administration of Rural Development
1. Institution Building for Rural Development:
(i) Importance of institutions'in rural development.
(ii) Problems of institution building.
(iii) Strategies of institution building.
(iv) Models of institution building.
2. Implementation of Rural Development Programme Major
(i) Problem of coordination between different rural
developments departments, different mechanisms
(ii) Problems of motivations and understanding of rural
development programmes by rural development
(iii) Training for rural development;
(iv) Relationship between rural development administration
and the local community in context of power structure;
(v) Relationship between political parties, rural develop-
ment administration and local government.
- 14 -
Evaluation of Rural Development Programme
1. Criteria of evaluation:
(i) Impact on productivity income distribution, creation
of opportunities for the less privileged, redistri-
bution of resources urban vis-a-vis rural areas.
(ii) Impact on rural social structure flexibility in
class structure, leadership changes, participation
of lower classes.
(iii) National integration (rural-urban) political
2. Determinants of impact on Rural Development:
(a) Contents of policy; structure of programmes
and pattern of their introduction.
(ii) Administrative and mobilizational capacity of
(iii) Societal development:-
(a) Level of socio-economic and political
development of the country.
(iv). Ecological constraints; resource endowment,
Future of Rural.Development
1. Critique of existing approaches.
2. Exploration of alternative approaches.
- 15 -
Research Studies to be prepared under "Comparative
Study of Different Approaches to Rural
Development in Asia"
There would be two types of studies under this programme:
(A) Comparative studies of similar type of programmes
in several countries and case studies of rural
development in individual countries;
(B) Country studies.
(A) Comparative Studies
I. STUDIES TO BE PREPARED BY ACDA STAFF
(Subject to availability of research assistance).
1. Basic approaches to rural development in Asia;
2. Effect of international, transnational and national
ideologies on programmes and policies of rural
3. Cooperatives and rural development in Asia;
4. Institution building for rural development.
II. STUDIES TO BE PREPARED BY CONSULTANTS
1. Analysis of factors influencing policies of rural
2. Effects of community development programmes on
rural productivity, unemployment, distribution of
incomes and popular participation;
3. Land reforms and their impact on rural development
4. Effects of farm technology on productivity, un-
employment, distribution of income;
5. Analysis of government policies toward rural
6. Role of peasant organisation in rural development.
(B) Country Studies
There will be two types of country studies under this
programme. First, all participants in management development
programmes would be requested to bring with them a short review
of programmes in which they are engaged. An outline for preparing
such studios would be supplied in advance. Second, there would be
ten studies of country programmes prepared by professional social
scientists. These studies will be distributed as follows: two
on India, two on China, one on Iran, one on Philippines, one on
Korea, one on Malaysia, one on Thailand and one on Pakistan. As
far as possible national scholars would be asked to prepare these
INTEGRATED RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS: A SKEPTICAL PERSPECTIVE
Vernon W. Ruttan
Agricultural Development Council, Inc.
After more than a decade of relative neglect rural development has
again emerged near the top of the agenda in development policy. The
President of the World Bank has pledged his organization to direct its
resources toward improving the productivity and welfare of the rural poor
in the poorest countries. The U.S. Congress has instructed the U.S.
aid agency to direct its effort toward "meeting the basic needs of the
poorest people in the developing countries."2
In the developing world the new concern with rural development
represents, in part, a reaction against the distortions produced by'tie
production-oriented development efforts of the 1960's, which were in turn
a reaction against the economic failures of rural development programs
of an even earlier vintage.- There are, however, major differences in the
rationale and orientation between the rural development programs being
initiated in many developing countries in the 1970's and those of the 1950's.
Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the Coloquium on "New
Concepts and Technologies in Third World Urbanization," University of
California (Los Angeles), May 17-18, 1974, and to a seminar at the Center
for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, April 4, 1974. This draft
has benefited from the comments of the participants in the two seminars
and from comments by David Brown, Robert Evenson, Arthur Mosher, John
Mellor, Wilbur Maki, Richard Niehoff, Edward Soja, Robert Stevens.
- 2 -
In the 1950's the major concern was to induce rural people to substitute
rational economic calculation for the dictates of custom and tradition.
In the 1970's the concern is to achieve greater equity in the distribution
of the gains from economic growth between urban and rural areas and between
economic and social classes within rural areas.
These shifts in development thought have, however, had relatively
little impact on the lives of most rural people. Large elements of the
rural population have not shared at all in the impressive gains in agri-
cultural and industrial production that have been achieved in many
developing countries over the last several decades. In many areas the
welfare of substantial elements of the rural population, particularly
the landless, has declined both relatively and absolutely. Most of the
world's rural people continue to live in environments, and in economic
and political circumstances, which are intolerable to them and which should
be intolerable to the larger societies of which they are a part.
While welcoming the renewed concern with the welfare of rural people
this inquiry was initiated with considerable skepticism regarding the
potential achievements of rural development programs. Indeed, it repre-
sents an attempt to disprove a long standing personal hypothesis to the
effect that rural development does not represent a viable project, program
or plan objective.4
It would be possible to devote a good deal of effort to the develop-
ment of a workable definition of rural development or of rural development
programs. Such discussions have a tendency to dicotomize around the issue
of whether the objective of rural development is to increase agricultural
production or to increase the well-being of people living in rural areas.
Activities directed primarily toward single objectives, such as a crop
production campaign, the organization of cooperative credit institutions,
the extension or improvement of rural roads, the control of malaria or
cholera, or the adoption of family planning, are not included under the
rural development program rubric even though their successful implementation
does contribute to the wealth or welfare of rural people. This definition
excludes, therefore, a number of widely publicized programs such as the
intensive agricultural districts program in India,5 and the Puebla Project
in Mexico.6 Rather than pursue this issue further in this paper, I refer
you to the several works of Arthur T. Mosher on this topic and to Table Al.
- 4 -
Rural Development Program Experience
The experience with attempts to implement rural development programs
in poor countries, and in the poorer regions of the developed countries,
does not inspire confidence in the capacity to achieve either the equity
or the productivity goals that have been set before us in the new policy
commitments and directives.
The aid supported community development efforts initiated in many
countries in the early 1950's (in India, Pakistan, and the Philippines,
for example) were by the mid-1960's in serious trouble.8 These programs
had been based on the assumption that the mobilization and development
of community resources -- human and physical -- motivated by the multi-
purpose village worker and supplemented by credit and limited grants of
materials would lead to the modernization of rural society. Program
commitments to self-determination at the individual village level, where
resistance to change by the traditional leadership was most strongly
entrenched, tended to weaken the independence of the village level worker
and to emasculate the reform objectives of the program. Nevertheless,
the programs did result, in some areas, in highly visible symbols of
development -- roads, schools, water supply, community centers. The
community development programs were least successful in efforts designed
to expand the economic base needed to support rural development -- in
introducing changes in farming practices that were capable of increasing
agricultural productivity or in efforts to generate employment and income
through expansion of village industries. Neither the communities themselves
nor the village level worker had access to the materials in which high
- 5 -
productivity technologies were embodied or the knowledge or
authority to institute more efficient institutional performance.
In many countries the establishment of new communities has
been viewed as a more promising route to rural development than
the reform or modernization of old communities. This has been
particularly true in many Latin American countries where develop-
ment of new lands on the frontier has remained technically feasible.
It has also seemed a promising alternative in some areas of South-
east Asia -- in Malaysia, the outer islands of Indonesia, and the
Cagayan Valley and Mindanao in the Philippines. But the record
has typically been one of limited accomplishment or outright
failure. In his review of the experience of 24 tropical land
development projects in Latin America, Nelson concluded that, "few
spheres of economic development have a history of, or reputation
for, failure to match that of government-sponsored colonization in
humid tropical zones." He found that the probability of failures
was directly related to the level of government participation in
the organization and management of the project. Spontaneous colon-
ization was uniformly more successful than directed or semi-directed
colonization. The government was much more effective in the role
of organizing specific services or transportation facilities to
service spontaneous settlement. And access to markets, including.
highway development, appeared to be the most pervasive factor
characterizing successful settlement projects (Table A2).1
- 6 -
The Comilla Rural Development Project
The examples cited above are typical of the experience which led in
the 1960's, to widespread disillusionment with the effectiveness of many
comprehensive regional and.rural.development programs. Yet these, and
similar experiences, represent an incomplete, and perhaps even biased
perspective on the broadly based or "integrated" rural development efforts.
There are a-number of widely cited examples of successful rural or
community development projects which have made effective contributions
to the income and welfare of rural people.12 A number of these efforts
have been patterned at least in part on the experience of the village
development program of the Bangladesh (formerly Pakistan) Academy for
The Academy was established in 1959 as a training center for public
officials responsible for rural development programs with the primary
objective of helping the officials put to more productive use the
administrative and technical skills they had, and of aiding them in-the
acquisition of new skills needed in rural development.14 The program
evolved out of an effort by the Academy staff to understand rural
development processes in Comilla District, where the Academy is located,
and to utilize development activities in the Comilla villages as a
laboratory for the training activity. The program, involved three
elements: (a) development of a two-tiered, village and than, cooperative
system; (b) inducing cooperation among public agencies in labor intensive
resource development efforts -- particularly irrigation, drainage and roads;
and (c) development of the capacity of local government to coordinate and
direct the efforts of departments responsible for civil administration
and development (agriculture, water, health, education, and others).
The program was clearly successful in terms of the generation and
diffusion of technical and institutional change, and in improving the
welfare of rural villages in the Comilla Thana. The cooperatives proved
capable of generating modest savings and in partially replacing traditional
moneylenders as a source of credit. They also became effective channels
of technical information about rice production practices, health practices,,
and farm and cooperative management between the villagers and the techni-
cians located at the Thana center. Many of the cooperatives also proved
capable of managing capital investments such as tube wells; handling the
distribution of inputs such as fertilizer, insecticides and seeds; and
of organizing services such as tractor plowing. Roads, irrigation, and
drainage were improved. In areas where such changes occurred the value
of farm output increased; the incomes of owner and tenant cultivators
grew; and land values rose in response to the greater productivity and
higher incomes. And the experience gained in the Comilla Thana did have
an impact on rural administration and development in a number of otber
Thanas in East Pakistan.
After independence the Government of Bangladesh announced that the
Comilla project would be utilized as the model for a national rural
development program that would extend to all 413 of the nation's Thanas.
Yet the content of the model that is being extended could be described
more accurately as a cooperatives development program than a rural
development program. And in 1974 the current Vice Chairman of the Academy
appeared to be committed to a model of rural or village development that
was considerably less intensive in its use of professional and technical
inputs than in the original Comilla Project.
- 8 -
A review of the Comilla, and a number of other rural development
projects, does lead to a modification of the hypothesis stated above.
It clearly has been possible in a number of situations where high levels
of professional inputs directed by dedicated or inspired leadership has
had access to external resources, to mobilize village level resources
to accelerate rates of development in specific rural communities.
Modification of the earlier hypothesis does, however, still leave
us with an unresolved puzzle. Why is it relatively easy to identify a
number of relatively successful small scale or pilot rural development
projects but so difficult to find examples of successful rural development
programs? Where does one go for the insight needed to understand the
reasons for the relative success of many rural development projects and
the failure of rural development programs?
There are three bodies of literature which represent useful components
of an attempt to develop a more comprehensive model designed to provide
insight into the morphology of rural development projects, programs, and
processes. These include (a) the urban-industrial impact hypothesis;
(b) the theory of induced technical change; (c) the new models of insti-
tutional change drawing on the literature on institution building and on
the economics of bureaucratic behavior. The urban-industrial impact
hypothesis helps to clarify the relationships between the development of
rural areas and the development of the total society of which rural areas
are a part. It is particularly useful in understanding the spacial
dimensions of rural development -- where rural development efforts are
likely to be most successful. The induced technical change provides a
guide to what must be done to gain access to efficient sources of economic
- 9 -
growth -- the new resources and incomes that are needed to sustain rural
development. The models of institutional change provide insight into
the possibilities and limits of how to organize rural institutions to
utilize the human and physical resources available to rural communities.
The Urban-Industrial Impact Hypothesis
The literature on the relationship between urban-industrial and rural
development has its origins in the early efforts of Von Thunen to determine
both the optimal intensity of cultivation and the optimal farm organization
or combination of farm enterprises. 15 In the United States the implica-
tions of urban-industrial development for agricultural development were
outlined by T. W. Schultz in the early 1950's.
The Schultz perspective can be stated in a series of three hypotheses:
"(1) Economic development occurs in a specific locational
matrix.... (2) These locational matrices are primarily industrial-
urban in composition.... (3) The existing economic organization
works best at or near the center of a particular matrix of
economic development and it also works best in those parts of
agriculture which are situated favorably in relation to the center."16
Schultz was particularly concerned with the development of a hypothesis
that would explain the failure of agricultural production and price policies
to remove the substantial regional disparities in the rate and level of
development of rural areas in the United States. The rationale for the
urban-industrial impact hypothesis was developed in terms of more efficient
functioning of factor and product markets in areas of rapid urban-industrial
Formulation of the urban-industrial impact hypothesis generated a
series of empirical studies designed to test both the validity of the
empirical generalizations and the factor and product market rationale.17
The effect of these studies has been the development of a model of rural
development in which the rural community is linked to the urban-industrial
- 10 -
economy through a series of market relationships:18 (a) The product
market through which the commodities produced in the rural sector are
transmitted to the urban sectorand through which incomes are generated
in rural areas; (b) The markets for purchased inputs through which move
the capital and operating inputs, in which the new technologies are
embodied, that the rural economy obtains from the industrial sector;
(c) The labor market through which labor is allocated between the rural
and urban sectors and among economic and household activities in each
sector; (d) The credit and land markets through which both land and
non-land assets are reallocated both between and within the urban and rural
sectors; (e) The market for consumer goods and services through which
rural families achieve access to or are excluded from the patterns of
consumption which characterize urban families. In developing countries
the markets for consumer goods and services represent an important source
of change in the transition from subsistence to market agriculture.19
It is clear that both the rate of growth of the urban economy and
the efficiency with which the intersector product and factor markets
transmit the sources and products of productivity growth among sectors
place important constraints on the possibilities of development in rural
areas. Rural development in France was inhibited for a century by the
stagnation in demand associated with slow growth of both population and
per capital income. Neither the product market nor the labor market
functioned as dynamic sources of rural development. In contrast the
availability of an expanding market for livestock products in the United
Kingdom was an important factor in Denmark's successful rural development
- 11 -
experience.0 The rapid economic growth in rural areas affected by
the new cereals-fertilizer technology, in Taiwan and the Indian Punjab,
reflects the capacity of the factor markets to deliver to rural areas
the high-payoff technical inputs suited to local factor endowments.
The urban-industrial impact hypothesis is also consistent with the
results reported by Nelson (Table A2) on the sources of success and
failure of colonization efforts in Latin America. It represents the
implicit theoretical foundation for a number of proposals to organize
rural development efforts around new towns, and urban-industrial growth
centers or growth poles.21
The only formal test of the urban-industrial impact hypothesis with
which I am familiar in a developing country is the intensive analysis
by Nicholls in the State of Sao Paulo (Brazil) for 1940-50.22 Prior to
1900 the growth of Sao Paulo was closely associated with the coffee boom
that extended from 1840 to 1940. After 1940 there were clear indications
that urban-industrial development was beginning to exert a differertral
impact on labor productivity in agriculture by facilitating the flow of
capital into and the flow of labor out of agriculture. The urban-
industrial impact was limited, however, due to the locational impact of
resource based opportunities for development and the failure of the
Brazilian Government to invest in the research capacity and services
necessary to permit the agricultural sector in Sao Paulo to respond
effectively to growth in the urban-industrial sector.
The implications of the urban-industrial impact model are not
entirely congenial to the new rural development ideology. Development
- 12 -
processes in the contemporary rural community in a developing society
can not be isolated from development processes in the larger society.
Even the most intensive rural development efforts are unlikely to succeed
if rural development is viewed as an alternative rather than a complement
to urban-industrial developments. Yet, acceptance of an urban-industrial
impact or "growth-pole" strategy clearly implies differential rates of
development among areas. This may be consistent with efficient use of
development budgets. But it may also be accompanied by intensification
of social and political stress. Perhaps an even more serious problem
is that no one really knows how to make the growth poles grow!
- 13 -
Induced Technical Change2
The design of a successful rural development strategy involves a
unique combination of technical and institutional change. The ability of
rural areas to respond to the opportunities for economic growth generated
by local urban-industrial development, or by the expansion of national
and international markets, depends on the capacity for adaptive responses
on the part of cultural, political and economic institutions to realize
the growth potential opened up by new economic opportunities. And it
depends on the capacity to transfer, adapt or invent technical innovations
capable of generating substantial new income flows in response to the
new economic opportunities resulting from expansion of inter-sector
factor and product markets.
During the early stages of economic development the capacity of
rural areas to successfully respond to the opportunities for growth that
are potentially available to them depends critically on the achievement
of rapid technical change leading to productivity growth in agriculture.
Significant growth in agricultural productivity can rarely be realized
by the reallocation of resources within traditional agricultural systems.
The capacity to respond to growth opportunities becomes available primarily
through technical changes embodied in new and more efficient inputs --
better crop varieties, cheaper plant nutrients, and more efficient sources
of power -- capable of releasing the constraints on growth of agricultural
A critical limitation on the capacity of rural areas in most
- 14 -
developing countries, and in many of the backward rural areas in the
highly developed countries, is the location-specific character of much
of agricultural technology. This limits the gains that can be realized
by the simple transfer of agricultural technology from areas of high to
areas of low productivity. A necessary condition for sustained pro-
ductivity growth in agriculture is the institutionalization of experiment
station capacity capable of producing a continuous stream of ecologically
adapted and economically efficient technology -- consistent with resource
endowments and relative factor prices -- for each commodity of economic
significance in each agricultural region.
The evidence is relatively clear that alternative paths of technical
change in agriculture can be made available (Figure A3). Technology can
be developed to facilitate the substitution of relatively abundant (hence
cheap) factors for relatively scarce (hence expensive) factors. The
constraints imposed on agricultural development by an inelastic supply
of land may be offset by advances in biological or biological and chemical
technology (as in Japan). The constraints imposed by an inelastic supply
of labor may be offset by advances in mechanical technology (as in the
Failure to invest in the experiment station capacity necessary to
effectively loosen the constraints imposed by resource endowments can
effectively limit a region's capacity to respond to new economic oppor-
tunities. The effect of such failure during the initial stages of
development is that the agricultural sector fails to become a source of
the new income streams needed to generate growth in rural communities
- 15 -
and in the regional economy. The effect of such failure during the
later stages of development is a widening gap between economic well-being
among rural areas and between urban and rural areas. The result is
the emergence of stranded populations -- people left behind -- in the
Appalachias, the Mezzogiorono, Northeast Brazil, the Deccan Plateau,
and other lagging regions.
- 16 -
Models of Institutional Innovation
The stress in the last two sections on the role of inter-sector
factor and product markets, and the role of technical change induced
by market forces which reflect regional resource endowments, should
not be taken to imply that rural development can be left to an
"invisible hand" that directs either technical or institutional change
along an "efficient path".
Improvements in the welfare of rural people in poor countries,
and in poor regions, will require institutional innovations which
effectively link urban and rural areas through a series of non-market,
as well as market, relationships. These non-market relationships
focus primarily on (a) the investment in rural people and in the
amenities that are necessary to improve both productivity and the
quality of life in poor communities -- particularly in .the areas of
education and health, and (b) modifications in the institutional
infrastructure necessary to enable rural people to mobilize both the
economic and political resources that are potentially available to
The returns to investment in the capacity of rural people is shaped
by development.24 Almost all rural people in poor countries enter the