Agriculture and Structural Transformation in Developing Asia: Review and Outlook

Publication | August 2013

This paper renews the focus on agriculture, showing that agriculture still matters in economic transformation, given that it is still the largest employer for many large developing economies in Asia.

Relative to other developing regions, developing Asia has experienced a slower decline in employment share in agriculture, compared to its output share; a rapid growth in labor and land productivity; and a shift from agricultural output from traditional to high-value products. The most successful Asian economies have pursued an agricultural development-led industrialization pathway. Nevertheless, agriculture remains the largest employer in many large Asian countries, hence future structural transformation must take into account agricultural transformation. Extrapolating from past trends, and taking to account emerging conditions, many countries of developing Asia will be expected to move on to the next phase of agricultural development; however even in the long term, agriculture's employment share will continue to be sizable relative with the output share. To expedite transformation, many Asian countries will still need to promote long-term productivity growth in agriculture and facilitate upgrading of their farms and agroenterprises within the global value chain.


  • Abstract
  • Executive Summary
  • Overview
  • Agricultural Transformation: The Asian Experience
  • Agriculture and Structural Transformation: A Framework
  • Future Patterns of Growth and Structural Change
  • Conclusion
  • References

Additional Details

  • Agriculture and natural resources
  • Economics
  • WPS135943
  • 1655-5252 (Print)

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