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By Eric Clayton
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Additional info for Agriculture, Poverty and Freedom in Developing Countries
Basic needs" is the most dangerous development objective to be put forward so far because it claims that the worst aspects of underdevelopment - the ingredients of poverty can be eradicated, for all, in the relatively short period of 25 years. But the reduction of poverty in LDCs, the goal of all who are concerned with development, is made more difficult by excessive idealism and a disregard of overriding political and economic constraints, such as: High population growth rates These tend to consume gains made in food production and press on limited land resources.
This broadening of the debate which concentrates on unmeasured parameters and on socio-political rather than economic criteria, has had four consequences which have seriously reduced the value of development discussions and, to the extent these are influential, adversely influenced development policies in the LDCs. First, development discussions are no longer the preserve of professional economists. Once precision (yields, incomes, outputs, costs, can be more or less accurately measured) had been rejected in favour of imprecision (unemployment, income redistribution, equity, equality and basic needs), the debate was open to all - but in particular to the sociologists.
Secondly, unlike the redistributionist beliefs, the case is sustained by empirical evidence. Smallholder agriculture has shown itself, in so many cases, to be highly productive, capable of sustaining relatively high and fairly evenly distributed income and of generating employment opportunities. This can be seen, for example, in Kenya, Taiwan, South Korea, and many other LDCs. This is why the extension of uni-modal agriculture is so desirable in those countries where the concentration of land is such that it completely inhibits agricultural development and poverty alleviation.