Chapter 6

Chapter 6 - Chapter 6 Agrarian reform and the politics of...

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Chapter 6: Agrarian reform and the politics of rural change Despite much of the urbanization we’ve been talking about this semester, most of the developing world’s population is rural. The people of Africa and Asia are mostly peasants, poor farmers living in a traditional culture. One estimate shows that close to one half of all the families in Third World countries earn their livelihood from agriculture. It’s in the country sides where some of the worst aspects of political and economic underdevelopment can be seen. For example, in China and Mexico rural annual incomes are only 20 to 25% as high as urban incomes. there are huge urban—rural gaps in illiteracy, malnutrition, and high rates of infant mortality. The poorest nations, including Malawi, Rwanda, Congo, Bangladesh, and Haiti, the percentage of rural inhabitants living in absolute poverty is higher than 80%. Because of the size of the agricultural sector in the developing countries, it contributes to a larger share of gross domestic product. Toward the end of the 20 th century, agriculture constituted 35% of the GDP in the poorest Third World nations, 22% in middle level LDCs, and 10% in more advanced developing countries. It averages only 3% and highly industrialized countries. But in spite of this the farm populations per capita output is far lower than the urban sectors. In the developing world, political and economic power is centered in the cities. So government policy as an obvious urban bias. Modernization theory argues that as countries develop modern values and institutions will spread from the cities to the countryside and the gap between the two will narrow. Dependency theorists maintain that the links between urban and rural areas, mirror the exploitative international relationship between the first world and the LDCs. So one of the major challenges facing developing nations is to resolve the political and economic tensions between urban and rural areas, as well as reducing the inequalities within the countryside. Rural class structures Within the countryside, there are often substantial disparities in access to and ownership of farmland. Especially in Latin America in parts of South Asia, agricultural property is concentrated in a relatively few hands. These inequalities have resulted in rural poverty and rigid class systems in countries such as El Salvador, Columbia, the Philippines, and parts of India. African countries, with the exception of South Africa, Morocco, in Kenya, have more equitable pattern of land distribution, but still suffer from sharp, urban – rural gaps and intense rural poverty. Farmland is most equitably divided in East Asia, excepting the Philippines.
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At the top of a world-class system are the powerful landowners, sometimes known as the oligarchy. These include Filipino sugar growers, Argentine cattle barons, coffee producers in El Salvador. Land concentration has been the most intense in Latin America, where there is a long tradition of the largest estates that date back to his Spanish colonial era and early independence. Since the middle of the 20
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Chapter 6 - Chapter 6 Agrarian reform and the politics of...

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