Principles of Agricultural Economics

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Cambridge University Press
Economists emphasise the importance of the agricultural sector in the development process and there is wide agreement that a necessary condition for economic growth is an agricultural transformation which ensures a large and increasing domestic agricultural surplus. However, it has not always been the case that agriculture has been seen to play such a significant role. In the 1950s the emphasis in development policy was placed on urban industrial growth, with the agricultural sector being regarded as a residual source of inputs (mainly labour) for the manufacturing sector. There was a shift of emphasis in the 1960s when the importance of' balanced growth' was stressed, which entailed recognition of the need for a certain pattern of agricultural growth to complement that of other sectors. It was also at this time that the contributions of agriculture to the development process were more sharply identified in the work of Kuznets (1961), Mellor (1966) and others, and the positive role of agriculture as an engine of development became accepted. Subsequent events in the 1970s and 1980s have reinforced the need for more attention to be paid to agricultural development policy. The series of 'oil shocks' which raised oil prices had serious consequences for the trade balances of non-oil exporting countries and caused them to focus attention on their trading accounts in agricultural products. This necessity was intensified by a growing tendency in some Less Developed Countries (LDCs) to increase food imports as demand growth outstripped that of supply.