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Economic Transformation of Agriculture in Asia: Past Performance and Future Prospects

As an economy develops, agriculture faces distinctly different problems: food insecurity, sectoral income inequality, and food trade deficits associated with declining comparative advantage. Fear of widespread famine was Asia's major agricultural problem in the 1960s, which was subsequently solved by the Green Revolution. As nonfarm sectors of the economy grew more rapidly than agriculture, an income gap appeared between farm and the nonfarm sectors; this gap has been reduced primarily by increasing nonfarm income of farm households and migration to urban areas. Advanced countries in Asia (i.e., Japan, Taiwan, and Korea) now face a third problem— trade deficits in agriculture, as reflected by the rapidly declining food self-sufficiency ratio. This foreshadows the problem facing other rapidly growing Asian countries in the future. Massive imports of food grains to Asia, if they occur, will aggravate the world food shortage and would have significant implications on climate change.

Vol. 9 No. 1, June 2012

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