The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Agriculture and Economic Development

  • John W. Mellor
Reference work entry


Agriculture plays a vital role in economic development by facilitating the transition from a low-income subsistence to a high-income commercial economy. Agriculture promotes economic transformations by supplying food, foreign exchange, labour, and effective demand to the non-farm sectors, and is the dominant force in poverty reduction. A land constraint makes agricultural growth unusually dependent on technological change, while geographically dispersed production units favour a family-size labour force. These in turn lead to a special role for government in achieving rapid agricultural growth.


Agriculture and economic development Economic development Economic growth Employment growth Family Food and Agriculture Organizational (FAO) Foreign aid Government role Green Revolution International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Non-tradable commodities Poverty reduction Productivity Protection Research expenditure Rural non-farm sector Rural-urban income disparities Technological change 

JEL Classifications

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John W. Mellor
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