Development and institutional change in Chinese agriculture: A case study of Kiangsu Province, 1946-1957
Before 1949 tenancy existed in various forms and degrees in Kiangsu. Although such relationships were eliminated by the land reform of 1950-52 and despite the sacrifice of social gains in the interest of economic advance, the economic impact of this first stage of agrarian reform was minimal. The Mutual Aid Team Movement was the first attempt to achieve greater co-operation in agriculture. However, because of its inherent limitations its appeal was confined to the poorer peasants and it failed
... o attract those whose potential contribution to agricultural growth was greatest. A more radical change was the creation of agricultural producers' co-operatives. Until 1955 these existed in relatively small numbers, but between mid-1955 and mid-1956 an extraordinary upsurge of activity occurred which led not merely to the rapid semi-socialist co-operativization of agriculture but indeed to its fully-socialist collectivization. An examination of quantitative indicators of agriculture's performance in Kiangsu during these years suggests that institutional change failed to generate the growth that had been hoped for. The rate of growth of output of the most important crops during the 1950's (especially the First Five Year Plan period) was extremely disappointing. Productivity levels remained low and there continued to exist alarming gaps in both production and consumption between different parts of the province. At the most general level there was a clear economic dichotomy between the relatively prosperous areas of south Kiangsu and the more backward and depressed regions of the north. More surprising is the evidence of declining production over the longer run. Output of a number of major crops, particularly when viewed in per capita terms, was lower in the 1950's than in the 1930's. In this case there were however two successes to be set against the failures; a more rational cropping pattern was introduced throughout the province and the production of rice, the most important food crop, showed an upward trend.