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Institutional Buildup at Grassroots

Undoubtedly, the key factor behind the failure of public policy in reaching the small farmer so far is the tack or ineffectiveness of the administrative machinery at the grassroots level. One could not expect the small farmer anything more than to approach the institutions if established at his level for delivery of recommended inputs, for adoption of the new technology and marketing system and for availability of funds for financing all his new and relatively more costly inputs to obtain desired yields. The needs of the small farmer are obviously different from those of the big landlord. He needs smaller doses of modern inputs. He must be sure of the return expected from the inputs and must be ensured about the funding at reasonable effective costing of the inputs. Apparently, the cost of credit may not be high. On the contrary, in actual practice he is required to spend much more time and money in getting all that is recommended to modernise than what is announced on paper by the government.

The ideal administrative arrangement may be the one which treats the village as the basic unit of development or groups of contiguous and homogeneous villages might be treated as units of development. The task of establishing institutions at the grassroots level is rendered all the more difficult if the existing administration at a level higher than the local level is already entrusted with the task of performing all those functions relevant to meeting the demand of the small farmer. It has been seen that the existing line-departments, which perform the function of implementing the development programmes based on national priorities, are directly under the control of provincial administration, These have proved to be the biggest hurdle in meeting the local level needs and the national priorities. This situation most often results in a clash of interests between the provincial and the local levels and thereby hampers development in the desired direction. The task of creating right type of institutions may be hampered again by the existence of inequalities among members of the farming community. Strengthening of the local level administrative machinery is perhaps the key to resolving the basic issues underlying stagnation in production as well as in the ineffectiveness of social welfare policy.


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Source: Poverty Alleviation in Pakistan: Present Scenario and Future Strategy, Mohibul Haq Sahibzada. Republished with permission.