History Of Agrarian Reform

April 21, 2010Agrarian Reformby EconomyWatch


Agrarian reform is referred to as the re distribution of land along with the other resources pertaining to agriculture. Even though agrarian reform may lead to low agricultural output (in the event of collectivization), productivity of land may increase if land is transfered to the cultivator .

History of agrarian reform dates back to the era of the Romans and Greeks. During this period, there was a lot of unrest between the landless as well as the landowners. Land reform occupied a vital place in the Gracchian agrarian laws. There are instances in history when there was wide unrest among the peasants, who demanded reforms in land. The Peasants' Revolt in 1381 and German Peasants' War in 1524 to 1526 are examples of the same.

  • History of agrarian reform in Russia:

    With the Russian Revolution in 20th century, a new dimension was added to the agrarian reform. It followed socialized agriculture. In Socialized agriculture land is collectively owned, partially by state farming but primarily by collective farming under the jurisdiction of the state Once in power, Lenin, assigned all land under state property. This was in the year 1917. Peasants took over several landed property. Voluntary collectivization promoted by Lenin failed miserably. Communist rule prevailed in the Eastern European countries after the Second World War. When Communist rule fell in Eastern part of Europe during the period 1989 to 1990 and after Soviet Union disintegrated in the year 1991, efforts were being made to privatize the agricultural sector .

  • History of agrarian reform in China:

    Due to Communist Revolution in the year 1949, small peasant cooperative bodies joined to form large communicates. All land was transferred to the peasants. These large communicates were abolished as they proved to be inefficient and stagnated agricultural production. By the year 1980, China returned land to individuals. This in turn promoted agriculture, which was market oriented.

  • History of agrarian reform in other spheres of the globe:

    In the densely populated Indian subcontinent, there has been marked unrest among the laborers for several reasons pertaining to land. The primary reasons for the turmoil were:

    • Security of tenure: This is a term used to denote a kind of legal assurance given to an individual that he would not be removed from office unless there are dire reasons to do so. If security of tenure is not granted to the individual, it would constantly trouble him and make him feel insecure about holding his land.
    • Redistribution of land among the landless: The fear that there would be unequal distribution of land troubled the agricultural workers.
    • Rents, which were tyrannical: There were landlords who demanded rent from the tenants or the peasants without considering their financial status. Majority of the landlords exercised their monopoly and dominated the poor agricultural workers.
    • Interests charged by the Usury: Usury is the financial assistance extended to the peasants in matters related to agriculture. For instance, if an agricultural worker wishes to buy an agricultural equipment or machinery or intends to improve land by application of fertilizers, pesticides or acquires a land, he can do so by borrowing money. There was unrest among the poor farmers because the more powerful creditors asked for abnormal rates of interest. An end to this practice was the need of the hour.
  • History of agrarian reform in Japan:

    In Japan, agrarian reform struck roots during Meiji Restoration between 1868 to 1912. Supervision of land reform was done by the U.S Occupation Forces after the World War II. Due to this, approximately 80% of the land (tenanted) was handed over to the tenant cultivators from the landlords.

    • In the initial stages, Pakistan as well as India tried to imbibe agrarian reform but the people failed to understand the importance of agrarian reform then. However, in due course, agrarian reform gradually won acceptance from all quarters in India and Pakistan.
  • History of agrarian reform in South Africa:

    There was a lot of racial discrimination pertaining to land reform policies in South Africa. This discrimination was more pronounced in places like Namibia, Zimbabwe. A general trend observed in South Africa was that even though agrarian reform gained ground pretty late, that did not decrease the agricultural output. But it definitely led to frustration and agony on the part of agricultural workers.

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