Agriculture and the Economic Transformation is a replacement for my first book The Economics of Agricultural Development. That book, published 50 years ago, was the seminal text in a rapidly growing field. It drew from and built upon award winning papers by Bruce Johnston, at Stamford University, and myself in the American Economic Review and the Journal of Economic Literature. Ten years after publication it won the American Agricultural Economics Association award for research of lasting value. It is time for a complete rewrite. What has most changed is copious research on every facet of the subject and an extraordinary diversity of experience.
That the explosion in knowledge has been little used is unfortunate. Had it been fully applied there would be one billion fewer people under the poverty line. All that accumulated knowledge and experience does provide the basis for a detailed, integrated, quantified picture of just how agriculture plays its role, the essence of the traditional agriculture from which modernization commences, and the basic processes for modernization of agriculture.
The book has three parts: I The Economic Transformation in which the dominant role of agriculture in low-income countries in both growth and poverty reduction is quantified as is a dominant role in poverty reduction in middle-income countries; II The Nature of Traditional Agriculture analyzes characteristics of the labor and land markets to provide understanding of the requirements and implications of modernization; and III Modernization of Agriculture in which all the elements required for achieving rapid agricultural growth are discussed and prioritized. The book demonstrates the critical role of government planning and institutions for achieving rapid agricultural growth.