Rural development remains a major challenge for governments of developing countries such as Pakistan. While a broad range of state and donor interventions impact the lives of poor farmers -who provide a significant proportion of the labour force - comprehensive consideration of these combined interactions remains inadequate. Focussing on Pakistan, this book discusses the political economy of agrarian poverty and underdevelopment in the region.
The book provides an in-depth exploration of the combined impact of state and donor interventions, as well as that of resistance attempts, to alter the status quo within Pakistan. It questions the relevance of state institutions and policies contending with the problems of farmers in Pakistan, and how donor-led policies and programmes also influence their lives. It draws on findings that have emerged from interviews of over 200 respondents including government officials, donor agency representatives and different categories of poor farmers, during eleven months of fieldwork in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab. This research reveals some divergences between state and donor policies, but it finds more prominent convergences, which in turn enable the landed rural elite to benefit from market-based and capital-intensive processes of agricultural growth, without offering substantial opportunities for poor farmers.
Reflecting the need to become less insular when discussing solutions to rural development, and demonstrating how state policies and institutions can interconnect with donor funded programmes, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of South Asian Politics and Development Studies.
Syed Mohammad Ali is a post-doctoral fellow at McGill University, Canada. He holds a PhD in development anthropology and has worked in the development sector in Pakistan for fifteen years. Besides academic writing, he has contributed a weekly op-ed column in Pakistani newspapers for the past ten years.