Importance Of Improving Agriculture In Developing Countires Economics Essay

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Why is improving agriculture important especially in developing countries - how can agriculture assist in alleviating poverty and hunger

Explain the difference in farming between Latin America, Asia and Africa and the various problems faced - you are required to provide current real life examples.

Critically discuss the various policies and initiatives that can be used to improve agriculture in developing countries. Provide recommendations of policies that should be implemented and recent examples of how these policies/ initiatives have succeeded.







Why is improving agriculture important especially in developing countries - how can agriculture assist in alleviating poverty and hunger?

Agriculture always plays an essential role in the economy of every country. Not only because of it tends to provide foods for the entire population of a country but agriculture helps to connects and interacts with all the related industries of that country. A country is usually believed to be a social, political and economically stable nation if the agricultural sector is very stable. However, people in developing countries who are depend on agriculture for their living are always much poorer than those who work in other sectors of the economy. And generally those who involve in agriculture sector are always represents a significant share of the total number of poor people in the countries where they live. Hence, there is a need to improve agriculture industry.

It is important to improve agriculture sector because it create job opportunities for its citizens. Agriculture is known as the backbone of the developing countries. It accounts for between 30 to 60 percent of the total GDP and employs about 70 percent of the total workers. Apparently, this are a huge amount of peoples involves in agriculture industry if compared to any other sectors in developing countries. In other words, agricultural sector is the major source of employment in most of the developing countries. This is because the owner of the farm usually found that it is necessary to hire additional hands for the purpose to cultivate the lands successfully and to look after the livestock. However, the increase of job opportunities is not only on farms but also in processing, advertising and packaging the agriculture product. Thus, if the agriculture sector is improving, it will definitely benefit the developing countries by decreasing its unemployment rate.

Not only that, agriculture sector helps to fully utilize the unused land in developing countries. The expansion of agriculture output caused abundant supply of unused land to be brought under cultivation. However, in most of the African countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, there are only 12 percent of arable land is actually been cultivated. The African Union (AU) [1] has appealed to the governments to allocate 10 percent of their total spending to agriculture, but unfortunately only four or five countries have successfully reach that target. Obviously, developing countries do not have enough money to develop the unused land. It is a waste for just leave a huge area of arable land empty without any plantation. Thus, the offer by foreign investors to develop agricultural land is very attractive to developing countries.

Based on the standard of the "one-dollar-a-day threshold", there are 1.2 billion poor people in developing countries. And among these peoples, there are 780 million of them facing chronic hunger, which means that their daily intake of calories is not enough for them to live healthy and productive lives. Besides, there are millions more suffer from specific nutritional insufficiency of one form or another. Most of the world's hungry live in countries which are categorized as low-income and food-deficit nation. They are located mainly in the developing world and more than half of them are in Africa. These countries do not produce enough food to meet the demand of the citizens and they may not have enough foreign exchange to replace the shortfall by purchasing foods on the international market. This kind of situation getting serious especially when they are facing with loss of crops and livestock that caused by natural disaster or extremely high food prices on the international market. In order to feed people better, agriculture must strengthen its conservation goals by adding assortment to the food chain and by restoring the ecosystems.

Agriculture sector can reduce hunger as it ensures the food security of developing countries. The drive toward food security has seems to be slowed in recent years. The growth rate of agricultural production is declining, the world grain reserves have shrink to record lows, the commitments of aid to agricultural development have decreased as well and thus it boosting the demand for imported grain. This obviously opposed to the current situation of developing countries because their population is expanding. Food production is directly related to the daily life of human being. Food security is an immediate and future main concern for all developing countries. A stable agricultural industry plays an important role to ensure the food security of a country. Food security is considered as one of the basic requirements of any nation. None of the nation that consists of huge amount of hungry people can grow efficiently with a stable agricultural base because hungry people can do nothing towards helping to develop their country. Food security prevents starvation which often been considered as one of the serious problems that being faced by the small developing countries.

Furthermore, agriculture also ensures economic growth of developing countries. Agriculture is a fundamental source of income for developing nation that exists on this globe. Not only because of it provides food for our daily life, but mostly all the industries in the country depend on agriculture both directly and indirectly. The high rates of economic growth are basically linked with the rapid expansion of agricultural output. In fact, the economy of several West African countries is primarily maintained by agriculture sector. Most of them depend on agriculture for their export trade to boost the incomes of the country. Agricultural products are their main foreign exchange earner which contributes about 75 percent of their total export commodities. The exports of agriculture products create additional economic activity that ripples through the domestic economy. Besides, agriculture contributes between 40 to 60 percent of the total GDP of most of the African countries.

In conclusion, it is crucial to develop the agriculture sector not only in the developing countries but every country in the globe. A very low GDP and widespread chronic under nutrition are generally because of the underdeveloped of agriculture sector. Citizens cannot get enough their basic needs for their daily life. Therefore, economic progress in the agricultural industry is very important to boosting the incomes and increasing food supplies of the poor. Agricultural sector can only be further develop if and only if everyone in the society willing to take the responsibility to sustain a society that have sufficient food supply for our future generation. This is an issue that related to the whole society and efficient action must to be taken from now on.

Explain the differences in farming between Latin America, Asia and Africa and the various problems faced - you are required to provide current real life examples.

Differences in Farming between Latin America, Asia and Africa

Agriculture in Latin America is characterized as the dualistic latifundio-minifundio system whereby a small fraction of landowners own the great majority of cultivated land in the region. Under this system, latifundios are very large holdings where they are farms which are large enough to provide employment for more than 12 people. Whereas for minifundios, they are the smallest farms in which they are too small to provide employment for a single family (two workers) with the typical incomes, markets, and level of technology and capital prevailing in each country or region. According to FAO, 1.3% of landowners in Latin America hold 71.6% of the land under cultivation.

On the other hand, agriculture in Asia is characterized as too many people crowded onto too little land. In other words, there is land scarcity in Asia. An egregious example of the pressure of population on limited land that characterizes the Asian agrarian scene is the Central java in Indonesia. Besides, most of the landlord is an absentee owner who lives in the town and turns over the working of the land to sharecroppers and tenant farmers. In certain areas, there are some similarities between the Asia landlord and the Latin America patron in terms of the position of power in the economic, political and social structure of the rural community. Nevertheless, the difference is that the former is an absentee owner, whereas the latter often lives on his latifundio. In fact, sharecropping is widespread in Asia whereas in Africa, their farms are operated under tribal or communal tenure forms. For example, it has been estimated that of all tenanted land, some 84.5% is sharecropped in Asia while only 16.1% is sharecropped in Latin America and this institution is almost unknown in Africa.

While for the agriculture in Africa, it is characterized as low productivity subsistence farming and there is less land scarcity in Africa compared to Asia. Even though there is less land scarcity, only small areas of land is utilized by farm family at a time because it uses only traditional tools such as hoe, the axe and panga. In addition, their traditional farming practices must rely primarily on the application of human labor because in some countries the use of animals is impossible due to the notorious tsetse fly or lack of fodder in the long dry seasons. As a result, they are subject to rapid diminishing returns.

The Various Problems Faced

Latin America

The Total Factor Productivity is also twice as high on family farms as on latifundios. Family farms are farms that provide works for two to four people as compared to minifundios that could only provide work for fewer than two people. Hence family farms are said to utilize more efficient balance between labor and land while latifundios are under-utilized labor and minifundios are over-utilized labor relative to land. For instance, latifundios made up less than 7% of all farms but occupy 82% of land whereas for minifundios, they occupy only 17% of total land but made up 90% of all farms.

Furthermore, there are some economists have assumed that large farms utilize productive resources more efficiently than small farms. However, latifundios are said to be less efficient than minifundios because small farms (minifundios) produced lower cost of most agricultural commodities. For instance, minifundios in Argentina, Brazil and Chile yield more than twice the value of output per hectare under cultivation than latifundios and more than 10 times the value per hectare of total farmland. This shows that there is a poor utilization of productive farm resources in developing nations especially land resources on latifundios on Latin America. Besides, the transaction costs of latifundios are also higher than those minifundios as small farms only utilize family labor which has low effective cost compared to large farms with much higher cost of supervising hired labor.


There is a rise of moneylenders in Asian agriculture. For instance, land is a negotiable asset and peasants usually offered their land as security for loans. In other words, land plays the role of collateral. When farmers are unable to pay the moneylender, their land will be transferred to the moneylender. In addition, the role of moneylender changed drastically with the transition from substitute to commercial production. For example, in the subsistence economy the moneylenders' role is restricted to supply farmers over crop failure or to cover extraordinary ceremonial expenditures like wedding or funerals. However in the commercial farming, money was needed for seeds, fertilizer and other inputs. If the farmers shifted to the production of cash crops, then money was needed to cover their food requirements.

Furthermore, due to high interest rates, the default of loans forces farmers to sell their land and become tenants with large debts. Due to land scarcity, they are forced to pay high rents and because there is abundant of labor, their wages are extremely low. And if they are sharecroppers, they usually have to give the land lord 50% to 80% of their crops. Hence, peasants get trapped in chronic poverty.


Due to limited labor supply, peasants usually apply shifting cultivation [2] as this is the most economic method where planting and weeding is repeated, and manure and fertilizers are unnecessary. In other words, their lands are intensively cultivated. During the growing season, planting and weeding times there is also a labor scarcity while at the other tines, much of the labor is underemployed. This phenomenon happens because Africa experiences only one extended rainy season.

Due to the increase in population, production has been shifting towards small owner-occupied plots as opposed to communal shifting cultivation. As a result, the demand for human labor decreases as the need for non-human productive inputs and new technologies grows.

Besides, Africa has also suffered the most from its inability to expand food production at a sufficient pace to keep up with its rapid population growth. This has caused the African per capita food consumption fell drastically during the 1980s and 1990s whereas on the other hand, the dependency on imports especially wheat and rice increased.

Critically discuss the various policies and initiatives that can be used to improve agriculture in developing countries. Provide recommendations of policies that should be implemented and recent examples of how these policies/ initiatives have succeeded.

Agriculture is an important sector for developing countries. As we can see from the example in United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been allocating between $10 billion and $30 billion in cash subsidies to farmers and owners of farmland annually. [3] This shows that the agriculture sector is very important to a country even though the country is already known as a developed country. However, it happens often that the growth strategies pursued by most of the developing countries considerably neglect the agricultural sector. Therefore, we will discuss on policies and initiatives that should be taken to improve agriculture in developing countries.

The first policy will be land reform. In fact, farm structures and land tenure patterns must be adapted so that they are conformed to the objectives of increasing food production and promoting a wider distribution of the benefits of agrarian progress. Hence, agriculture and rural development that benefits the masses of people will only succeed through a joint effort by the government and all farmers instead of just larger farmers. This will be best suit especially in the case of Latin America and Asia. The first step towards land reformation is the provision of secured tenure rights to the individual farmer. This is to enable the transfer of land ownership or control directly or indirectly to the people who actually work the land. When it happens to be land is unevenly distributed, rural peasants have little hope for economic advancement. There are many forms of land reforms, such as transfer of ownership to tenants who already work on the land to create family farms in Japan, South Korean and Taiwan, transfer of land from large estates to small farms in Peru and the appropriation of large estates for new settlement in Kenya. Moreover, there is widespread agreement by economists and development specialist on the need for land reform. The Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA) has stated that land reform is a necessary precondition for agricultural and rural progress.

Secondly, supportive policy is an important initiative that government of all developing countries should look into. The full benefits of small-scale agricultural development cannot be realized unless government support systems are created to provide the necessary incentives, economic opportunities, access to needed credit and inputs to enable small cultivators to expand their output and raise their productivity. Examples of supportive policies are technical and educational extension services, public credit agencies, storage and marketing facilities, rural transport and feeder roads.

Thirdly, integrated development objective is another policy that should be implemented by all developing countries to improve their agricultural sector. Rural development heavily depends on small-farmer agriculture progress. Efforts of rural development comprises raising both farm and non-farm rural income such as creating job opportunities, industrialization, improve education, health etc., decreasing the rate of inequality in the distribution of rural incomes and reducing the urban-rural imbalances in both incomes and economic opportunities. Integrated development also targets at assisting the rural sector to sustain and accelerate the pace of improvements overtime.

Next, we recommend the use of biotechnology on hybrid agricultural products. The biotechnology industry is expanding and it offers the market potential for greatly attractive products that have both economic and environmental benefits. Thus, genetic engineering [4] has been widely recognized and many reseaches have been done by the Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute, MARDI [5] , to improve the products of agriculture. For example, rice has been modified successfully by MARDI to resist the tungo virus, and papayas to resist ring-spot virus infection and to have a longer lifespan. Besides, pineapples have been genetically modified to resist "black heart", bananas and papayas for delayed ripening and chilies for resisting virus. In addition, Malaysia is developing genetically modified oil palm with interest on increasing value-added products from the palms, such as high oleate and high strearate oil, nutraceuticals (vitamin A and E), biodiesel and bioplastics. The efforts done by MARDI should be recognized and appreciated. Research and development should be further emphasised and encouraged in order to produce more successful outcome and benefits the agriculture sector.

Other than that, extension services should be provided. Farmers are lack of information about the existence of new and more productive technologies and knowledge about proper implementation techniques. In reality, the involvement of private sector in agriculture still remains low. Private-public partnership and partial-partnership should be introduced and encouraged by the government. The result could be better of by privatizing the extension services as it will increase accountibility, quality of service provision, lessen the financial burden of public sector and create a more financially sustainable service. In this context, ICT,Information and communication Technologies, plays an important role to make the technology more accessible to farmers. For instance, in Phillipines, in the Bulacan province, farmers enjoy the benefits of ICT in agriculture following the launching of first Pinoy Farmers' Internet Kiosk for the location-specific technology development (LSTD) [6] project. Ronilo A. Beronio, the executive director of PhilRice [7] said, "With this kiosks, farmers, and other rice stakeholders in Bulacan will have easier and improved access to farming knowledge and technologies that will enhance their productivity."

Besides, zero tillage [8] is recommended because it minimizes plowing of the land and keeping crop residues as ground cover. The advantage of zero tillage is that it saves on labor and energy required to overturn the soil, conserves fertility, increases tolerance to drought, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, the disadvantage is it requires more weeding and the occasional use of pesticides. For example, zero tillage has been adopted in South Asia in the Indo-Gangetic plain, which covers from northen Pakistan across India to Bangladesh, and which is fed by several rivers with headwaters in the Himalayas. It is applied in this region in a rice-and-wheat combination. Wheat is planted directly after rice, without tillage, the weed seedling survive using the residual moisture from the previous rice crop instead of irrigation. This system saves water and reduces production costs and while the rates of return are reported to be very high-as much as 50% or more.(World Bank,2008)

The next recommendation is shifting from primary grain such as rice, wheat, sorghum to secondary food crops such as livestock, tree crops, horticulture and fishing. This shift happends in line with changes in comparative positive effects in prices and profits, which will encourage the diversification of agriculture. Combination of better technology and advances in crossbreeding, scientific advances and genetic engineering have resulted in higher prductivity in secondary food crops, aquaculture, livestock nutrition and horticulture together with higher tree crop yields.

In conclusion, by determining the issues in agriculture sector is crucial to find solutions and the most appropriate policies and initiatives to improve the agriculture sector in developing countries.