1) Assess the role of political factors encouraging agricultural change.
Political factors in many countries have a significant impact on agricultural change. The main political factor would be in the form of subsidies, reforms and policies.
Many countries like the USA are granting large subsidies to their agricultural sector. The USA and other developed nations have a plan to produce more and export more. By doing this, the countries are establishing themselves in the international market. These countries can recover the subsidy costs through export taxation, and increasing the foreign currency reserves. This would ideally result in a ‘win-win’ situation.
The agricultural policy in India used to be such that farmers were given small plots of land to be cultivated which were, most of the time, owned by wealthy zamindars. Therefore farmers had no real ownership of land and even if they did, the plot of land would be very small. It is for this reason that the government introduced land reforms to abolish the zamindari system and allow farmers to own land. This reform was not much of a success as the farmers were so deeply indebted to the zamindars that there was no way to escape.
The government also introduced a land ceiling reform, which put a limit to the amount of land a person could own. This meant that wealthy landowners had to give up portions of their land. The government’s plan was to distribute the excess land among marginal farmers. But due to the laws of inheritance, the already small piece of land became smaller and smaller as it was divided among children. This reform was also not much of a success as it resulted in low productivity.
Another major political factor that changed agriculture in India was the technological reform brought in by the government in the 1960s, also known as the Green Revolution. The green revolution introduced artificial fertilizers and pesticides and high yielding varieties of seeds (HYVs). These fertilizers and pesticides were subsidized and farmers were encouraged to use them to increase the agricultural productivity of their land. Punjab was the state, which took lead in food production and helped make India a self-sufficient country in terms of food. Although this reform did live up to serve its purpose, it did cause major environmental problems in the long run.
Most agricultural reforms in India, which are brought on by the government, don’t really pan out and are usually hindered by some underlying issues, which have become a part of our culture and ways. Although some reforms were successful, there were many more failures that had to be looked at.