ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Setting the Record Straight on Land Reform

Land Reform in Developing Countries: Property Rights and Property Wrongs by Michael Lipton; Routledge (Priorities for Development Economics series), 2009; pp 456 (£95.00 hardback ), (£23.50 paperback).

Land reform has always been a contentious subject. Yet to many of the actors involved in water and irrigation what does and does not constitute land reform remains unclear. For example (when) is land consolidation considered to be land reform? Michael Lipton’s book sets the record straight, explicitly debating what does and does not count as land reform, and reviewing differing experiences from across the globe spanning the past century. The most important points made in this book, in my opinion, are that smaller, redistributed landholdings are most o­ften more productive than larger, un­equally distributed landholdings (a fact that is counter-intuitive to the layperson). Second, that land reform needs to be integrated with water reform, or vice versa (a point rarely mentioned by scholars discussing water reforms). Third, that besides decreasing poverty, and increasing productivity, land reform can improve water use efficiency (a consideration conspicuously absent in recent global assessments of the water resource). Fourth, in rain-fed or agriculturally stagnant areas land ­reform may be a precondition for green revolution growth, because restructured systems of farm ownership or operation are required for the spread of “green revolution” techno­logies (irrigation, inputs, credit).

Raising the Poor’s Income

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