The Role of Agriculture in the Development Process

The Role of Agriculture in the Development Process

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3059-6.ch001

Abstract

Agriculture plays the role of providing employment, income, food, raw materials, and foreign exchange earnings for people. The ability and the inability of agriculture in playing the provisioning roles, in varying degrees, define the poverty status of those engaged in it. It is a paradox that a majority of those who are engaged in agriculture, especially in developing countries, tend to be associated with such poverty-linked characteristics as low income, hunger, deprivation, and vulnerabilities. There is therefore the need to refocus on defining the concept of agriculture with a view to bringing out its role in the development process and how the roles can be effectively achieved by the majority of those engaged in it. The objectives of the chapter include describing the expected roles of agriculture in the development process; highlighting the performance of the agriculture sector; describing the role of agricultural credit in agricultural development; defining the concept of extreme poverty; highlighting some of the strength and weaknesses of incometrics, highlighting vulnerability views of poverty; discussing measurement of extreme poverty; and highlighting feminization of formal agricultural finance. The chapter concludes with recommendations. The methodology is based on systematic reviews of relevant literature. The findings include how agriculture can play the roles expected of it and effectively empower those who are engaged in it. The chapter shares the view that majority of those engaged in agriculture in most developing countries are women, and that poverty has a feminine face and so advances the feminization of formal agricultural finance interventions. The chapter is concluded with relevant recommendations.
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The Concepts Of Development And Economic Development

Development is a process of improving the conditions in which human beings live (Ibeanu, 2007). According to Rodney (1982), development as a process first involves improving man’s understanding of nature(science); second applying this understanding to creation of tools and other implements that improve man’s working conditions and living environment (technology); and third, equitable organization of work and rewards (social relations of production).

The more commonly occurring term among development practitioners, economic development, refers to the process whereby a nation’s real per capita gross national product, GNP, or income increases over a sustained of time through continuing increases in per capita productivity (Salvatore and Dowling, 1977). However, per capita GNP data neither sheds any light on the income distribution within the nation nor on the level of general well being.

In an attempt to define economic development by first defining economic growth, Alimi (2012) conceptualized economic growth as an increase in the value of overall economic activities (measured by GNP) of a nation. According to Alimi (2012), economic development is economic growth plus positive change in socio-economic characteristics of health, education, living conditions, security and expanded range of opportunities for the citizenry. It is argued that the prerequisite for economic development is economic growth to generate the purchasing power for economic development. For economic growth and development to occur, there must be improvement in agriculture which is the main income source for majority of people in such economies as that of Nigeria; that is, there must be agricultural development.

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