Why not rural inequality?
from David Ruccio
The latest report from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is about rural poverty. It would have been a much better report if it had focused on rural inequality.
As a report on rural poverty, it offers the usual diagnosis and remedies—in other words, agricultural development as usual. It focuses, as expected, on the extent of rural poverty in the world today (e.g., the fact that 1.4 billion people continue to live in extreme poverty, struggling to survive on less than US$1.25 a day, and more than two thirds of them reside in rural areas of developing countries) and strategies to move rural people out of poverty (e.g., by managing risk, promoting access to markets, and investing in education).
What it only mentions in passing, and fails to investigate in any depth, is the extent of rural inequality. Thus, nowhere in the report will readers find any estimates of inequalities in the distribution of income and land ownership (although, on p. 89, IFAD does mention that “Peru now has greater disparities in land ownership than before the agrarian reform of the mid-1970s”). As a consequence, there is no attempt, in the policy proposals, to change the nature of that inequality—either by redistributing land or by encouraging new, more collective forms of rural production (in both farm and nonfarm economies) or by expanding the size and access to common assets.
That would be a real Green Revolution—one that sought not to create “productive, profitable, sustainable and resilient” forms of production but to challenge the power of large landowners and to foster the collective ability of rural workers to appropriate and distribute the surplus they produce.