Monday, November 19, 2007

Rural development and Agrarian Reforms

"Market-led agrarian reform (mlar) has gained prominence worldwide since the early 1990s as an alternative to the state-led approaches widely implemented over the course of the 20th century. This neoliberal policy framework advocates voluntary transactions between 'willing sellers' and 'willing buyers' and the removal of various 'distortions' from land and agricultural markets. Related policies aim to secure and formalise private property rights.

Emerging evidence from across the developing world suggests that such policies are incapable of challenging the political and economic power of large landowners and are unlikely to meet the land needs of the rural poor and landless. In key areas such as land transfer, farmer development and programme financing, mlar is shown to be falling far short of its objectives. Meanwhile, it is being actively challenged by national and international peasant movements that are calling for more direct intervention by the state in order to restructure patterns of landholding and provide the necessary support for small-scale farmers, many of whom produce primarily for their own consumption.

The future of agrarian reform, it is argued, lies not in a return to the top-down, statist models of the past but in new forms of partnerships between progressive political forces and peasant movements that go beyond the confines of the market to redistribute land and create sustainable livelihood opportunities for the rural poor and landless."

Read this excellent article from Third World Quarterly. The people who drafted the very classical rural development plan to address illicit crops in the Bekaa should read a little more.


bech said...

very interesting. I wonder how such policies can fare in a confessional system? Isn't large-scale land owning a by-product of the confessional political system in place?

Is it probably the very redistribution of land, its breaking up, that can be the biggest threat to the partitioning of the country in confessional/feudal economic enclaves?

So how do you think this can work in practice in Lebanon?

Rami Zurayk said...

i don't think large land ownership is just related to the confessional system in place. I think it is a remnant of the simili-feudal system (the muqata'a)which operated under the Ottomans, and that the land registration system initiated by the French mandate screwed up completely, because they basically registered vast expanse of land in the names of the French speaking elite, while poor share-croppers were left behind.

Does anything work in practice in Lebanon?

bech said...

ok agreed, let me reformulate. probably the persistence of the large land owning system is due to the confessional etc. system.

So breaking it up will actually endanger the influence of confessional leaders in a sense. no?