An Assessment of the Importance of Institutions and Institutional Framework in Development

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
This paper sots out to examine in the African context an hypothesis propounded by Coward and Schutjer (1971:473-483) In relation to the Green Revolution. It appears to the authors that” (l) significant technological changes can be initiated with little prior change in institutional patterns, but (2) This will have important influences on the pattern of participation in the development process and (3) will require subsequent institutional changes if the development process is to be maintained". Citing an impressive body of literature, the authors illustrate how in fact technological change has been initiated without adjustments in the institutional framework. The Green Revolution In South East Asia, Mexico and Latin America there have been matic changes in the agricultural production situation brought abo largely by the introduction of High Yielding Varieties combined with improvements in mechanization, in irrigation and in fertilize application. Countries which were till recently large-scale importers of basic foodstuffs are now self-sufficient, or even exporters. This has occurred within the pre-existing institutions framework, which was in general characterized by an inequitable landlord/tenant system, sharecropping, agricultural credit at exo bilart interest rates. This institutional framework has enabled tho moro favourably placed to make the most of the opportunities provided by the new technology. It is the more educated who can appreciate bow they can benefit from the new ideas: it is the law owner who can put the no:/ ideas into practice: it is the man with capital who can afford the new seeds, the new implements and the necessary fertilizer, Thus, whilst in the international sphere the Green Revolution has tended to narrow the gap between the more affluent and the loss affluent nations, internally it has dramatic¬ally widened tho gap between the rich and the poor (Mullich 1971: 59-61). From t1his rises the argument that although the Green Revolu¬tion has resulted in tension reduction by producing adequate supplies of food, it has been even more tension producing because it has increased existing inequalities end relative deprivations# If the gap i3 allowed to widen, eventually the concomitant social tensions will become so great as to bring production to a halt. Technological Advance in Africa When considering the situation in Africa a wider intorprotatic must be applied to the term ’’Green Revolution”, In the context of this paper it is taken to mean all the modem technological ad¬vances in boarable agriculture and livestock production which the impact of these changes in Africa has not only been socio¬economic, as in the cases cited above, but equally ecological. Not only has the relationship between man and man been thrown out of balance, but also even more important in some cases, the relationship between man and the land has been critically upset. In the case of arable agriculture, the advent of the ox-drawn plough - in use in Southern Africa by the indigenous cultivators for a century or more - enabled larger areas to be cultivated than was possible with the hoe. Where circumstances permitted, this meant that man instead of making better use of the small area of land, which he could cultivate by the hoe, sought to rectify decreasing yields by increased acreage of cultivation, exposing greater areas to the ravages of erosion.
Available in print form, East Africana Collection, Dr Wilbert Chagula Library, (EAF FOS F78.A8)
institutional patterns, Revolution, literature, Green Revolution
Fosbrooke, Henry A. (1972) An Assessment of the Importance of Institutions and Institutional Framework in Development