In this paper, we seek a possible route for accelerating the agricultural growth in tropical monsoon Asia in the face of increasing population pressure on limited land resources. According to a postulate of classical economists like Ricardo [18], population pressure on limited land resources will result eventually in agricultural and economic stagnation characterized by high food prices and low real wage rates that are barely sufficient for subsistence. The classical view has been challenged by Boserup [3] and Clark and Haswell [4], who argue that the population pressure will induce changes in both agricultural technology and agrarian structure so as to increase the intensity of land utilization. Hayami and Ruttan have provided another perspective, showing how countries like Japan, unfavorably endowed with land resources, could achieve rates of growth in agricultural output as high as those favorably endowed, like the United States, by developing technology appropriate to their resources [8]. The question here is whether the mechanism for inducing institutional and technological changes in response to population pressure for increased land utilization is, in fact, operating in countries in tropical monsoon Asia today. If so, what policies would be appropriate to facilitate those changes, given the specific environmental and economic conditions in those countries? We attempt to answer such questions by studying agricultural development in the Philippines during the past two decades. A major change in the agricultural growth pattern in the Philippines is identified: a shift from area expansion, continually opening new land for cultivation, to expansion through intensified land utilization. We try also to show that the factors underlying this basic shift are changes in the relative costs of those alternatives for increasing agricultural output. It has to be emphasized that this paper is designed to suggest a broad hypothesis rather than to provide conclusive evidence. Our analysis is bound to be highly conjectural because of the stringent limitations of data available in the Philippines.

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Australian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 20, 3
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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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