Small Scale Farmers Agricultural Contribution

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Developing or third world countries, as they are known, are said to all have one common characteristic. They are known to be characterised by agrarian based economies. This is a common trend amongst them although others have almost left this trend and are being referred to by various terms such as ‘newly industrializing countries’ and so on. Developing countries are also said to have a population mainly consisting of people in the rural areas. The aim of this essay is to highlight the role that the agricultural and rural sectors play in the development process of developing countries. To achieve this, it shall begin by defining the main concepts. It shall then go into the main discussion, bringing to light the role that is played by small scale farmers as well as the conditions required for the development of the agricultural sector. Finally, a conclusion shall be drawn based on the discussion. Perhaps one major concept to begin with is that of development. According to Todaro (2003:826) development is defined as the process of improving the quality of all human lives encompassing three important aspects, namely: raising peoples living levels which includes basic needs such as food, income, medical services and education; creating conditions conducive to the growth of peoples self esteem; and increasing peoples freedom by enlarging the range of their choice of consumer goods and services. Development must basically aimed at satisfying human needs by improving the quality if people’s lives as can be drawn from this definition. The agricultural and rural sectors of LDCs through various techniques are meant to contribute to the development process. The agricultural sector is of great dominance in both the social and economic spheres of the third world. As with regards to the rural sector, the majority of the population of the third world live in the rural areas. According to Todaro (2003:452) people living in the country side (rural areas) comprise considerably more than half the population of diverse Latin American and Asian nations. In Africa, there are even much higher ratios with most countries having rural dwellers in excess of three-quarters of the total population (ibid). The people of these rural areas are highly dependent on agriculture. This includes farming in crops, animals and poultry at subsistence level. In Zambia particularly, it is approximated that over 56% of the population are rural dwellers. Over 90% of these are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. Of the total population of the country, the percentages of those living below the poverty line are 80% and 34% in rural and urban areas respectively. The representation in terms of employment is 79% in the agricultural sector and in the case of exports, the agricultural sectors caters for 39% contributing 20% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). There is therefore need to look at ways of developing these sectors so that they are able to contribute much more to the well being of LDCs, hence the concepts of agricultural and rural development. Todaro (op.cit) advances that if development is to take place and become self- sustaining, it will have to require the rural areas in general and the agricultural sector in particular. In order to determine the role that the agricultural and rural sectors play in the development process of the third world, it must be found out as to how agriculture contributes to economic growth, and especially to pro-poor growth (Meijerink, 2007:2). The focus on pro-poor growth is because the rural areas, where agricultural activity is most significant, are where the poorest of the poor are said to be found. Figures have shown that in LDCs there are relatively more poor people in rural areas than in urban areas (ibid). These include women and children and women are said to be the most vulnerable. It is important that these people feel the impact of economic and socio-cultural growth by improving their lives in all aspects. This...
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