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Additional info for Agricultural Development Policy: Concepts and Experiences
It is designed to promote the achievement of societal aims that are not exclusively economic in character. Therefore, the basis of a strategy, or set of policies, should be the enunciation of broad social, or societal, goals for agricultural and the rural sector. Fundamentally, they should be related to the promotion of human development. Speciﬁc objectives for the agricultural sector can be derived from this overarching goal. In most economies, the ways in which agriculture can most effectively support human development are (a) ensuring that nutrition and other basic material needs are met in rural areas, and (b) contributing indirectly to the satisfaction of those needs in urban areas.
Sometimes, it is asked why an agricultural policy is needed – what sets agriculture apart from other sectors of the economy? A traditional justiﬁcation for an agricultural strategy is the size of the sector. In most developing countries, it is the largest employer of labor and the largest single earner of foreign exchange, and it is usually larger than the manufacturing sector alone. It also places major demands on a country’s natural resource base, especially water and soils. A more fundamental justiﬁcation for an agricultural policy is that transfers of rural labor out of agriculture represent essentially irreversible ﬂows of resources in the economy, and hence neglect of agriculture can give rise to permanent and not necessarily desirable structural changes in the economy.
It is a government that supports development intelligently, by diagnosing accurately and continuously problems that emerge and playing a facilitating or enabling role for the sector’s growth. It is a government whose institutions are strong and have developed out of a country’s own historical experience and social context. While most governments provide infrastructure, agricultural research services and other public goods as indicated by Gale Johnson, the legitimate role of government in promoting development may be framed in a broader way.