The Neoliberal Agricultural Modernization Model: A Fundamental Cause for Large-Scale Land Acquisition and Counter Land Reform Policies in the Mekong Region | Land Portal | Securing Land Rights Through Open Data

Resource information

Date of publication: 
May 2015
Resource Language: 
Pages: 
11
License of the resource: 

This conference paper examines how the ideology and programmatic set of policies coined in the term ‘neoliberal modernization’ applies to agriculture and practices in the Mekong region.

The authors suggest post-war/post-socialist authoritarian states in the Mekong Region have opportunistically embraced a neoliberal approach to agricultural modernization, and argue that, to varying extents, it has failed to deliver what it promises. Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar are engaged in “counter agrarian reforms” whereby a large-scale and transnational agricultural modernization model is being promoted at the expense of smallholder family farming model (as opposed to their past agrarian reforms). Whereas Vietnam has followed a different trajectory, initially adopting protective policies but that have progressively become more modernist in orientation, leading to greater land concentration and marginalization of the peasantry.

The chapter present five main assumptions on which this modernist agricultural project is based and what it promises to deliver: i) foreign direct investment in agriculture is essential for development; ii) large-scale is more efficient than small scale farmers; iii) privatization of land facilitates investment and increases productivity; iv) household farming is locked in subsistence-oriented practices that are backward and environmental destructive; and v) the development of a modern non-farm economy will absorb the agrarian work force “freed” by labor-saving agricultural modernization projects. The author then confront these ideological prototypes by comparing theoretical premises against actual realities of agricultural sector development in the four Mekong countries.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 
Christian Castellanet Jean‐Christophe Diepart
Publisher(s): 

The Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI) is a network of the research programme of Political Economy of Resources, Environment and Population (PER) of the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, Part of Erasmus University Rotterdam.

The aim of LDPI is for a broad framework encompassing the political economy, political ecology and political sociology of land deals.

Our general framework is based on answering 6 key questions:

The Mekong Land Research Forum seeks to bring research and policy a bit closer together. It does this in part by making the research more accessible and in part by helping to distill the key messages and points of debate so that information overload does not overwhelm policy makers and other advocates for progressive policy reform.

The Transnational Institute (TNI) is an international research and advocacy institute committed to building a just, democratic and sustainable world. For more than 40 years, TNI has served as a unique nexus between social movements, engaged scholars and policy makers.

The Transnational Institute (TNI) is an international research and advocacy institute committed to building a just, democratic and sustainable world.

Founded in 1974 as a network of ‘activist scholars’, TNI continues to be a unique nexus between social movements, engaged scholars and policy makers.

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Project Description
Land governance is at the center of development challenges in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Governments are revising land policies and practices in order to face these challenges. The project aims to (i) assist the emergence of more favorable policies and practices for securing the rights and access of family farmers to land and natural resources; and (ii) to strengthen the effectiveness of concerned stakeholders through learning, alliance building and regional cooperation.

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