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Asian agriculture, crop diversification, sustainable agriculture


Agricultural "diversification" is a prominent theme in ASEAN-4 (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand) today. Since formulation of Indonesia's First 5-Year Development Plan in 1969, the four primary concepts guiding the country's development have been intensification, extensification, rehabilitation, and diversification. In the Fifth Plan (1989-94), diversification was shifted up to top priority (Kasryno, et al., 1992, 1; Saroso, 1991, 184). Malaysia's policies for export diversification have resulted in the value added from tin and rubber relative to the total value of primary exports decreasing from 63% in 1970 to 15% in 1990 (Yaacob, 1992, 4). Within agriculture, Malaysia has adopted policies to rely on its eight major large-scale irrigation schemes ("granary areas") for the vast majority of its rice production and to convert "non-granary" irrigated areas from rice to diversified crops. The country's paddy sector is being diversified through value-added production alternatives and vertical movement into processing and other forms of agroindustry (Mat and Chen, 1992, 167-169; Zulkifly, 1985, 105- 110). In the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture has adopted crop diversification as a strategy to increase agricultural production and farm income (Nilo, 1993, 19). The focus on diversification in the Philippines extends beyond crops to sustainable agroindustrial development in which possibilities for joint agricultural and industrial development are being actively pursued (Adriano, 1993, 14).Since the mid-1980s, the Thai government has given a strong mandate to its Department of Agricultural Extension to promote agricultural diversification (Siamwalla, et al., 1992a, 211). Thailand's Sixth National Economic and Social Plan (1987-91) gives priority to agricultural diversification through farmers being encouraged to generate income from a greater variety of products and activities (Phattakun, 1991, 410; Siamwalla, et al., 1992b, 4). In this article, brief attention is given to defining diversification and conveying a flavor of recent trends in agricultural diversification in ASEAN-4. The main focus of the article is on the rationale for and constraints to achieving diversification. In the concluding section, I indicate my judgment on future prospects for diversification in ASEAN-4.


Department of Economics, South Dakota State University

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