Manufacturing Agrarian Change: agricultural production, inter-sectoral learning and technological capabilitie

Antonio Andreoni
DRUID Working Paper Series

The aim of this paper is to investigate how industrial development, manufacturing in particular, has been contributing to agrarian change. In order to address this issue, it analyzes the technical bases and structural specificities – i.e. time and scale constraints – of agricultural production. Technical change in agriculture involves both improvements in organic transformation processes – i.e. biological production – and in the mechanical functions that have to be performed for obtaining a certain output – i.e. agricultural work. The paper shows how in-farm technological capabilities building as well as inter-sectoral learning are necessary in order to acquire and adapt biological-chemical innovations and mechanical technologies. The analysis of agrarian technical change – both in-farm learning and inter-sectoral learning – is developed by integrating peasant studies with evolutionary approaches to economic development. The relationship between agrarian change and manufacturing development is highly context specific, thus comparative historical analysis is adopted in order to shed light on the abovementioned processes of learning. Building on the analysis of technological change in agriculture, the last part of the paper will focus on those transformative policies such as innovative ‘extension services’ which facilitate inter-sectoral learning and, in turn, allow the emergence of inter-sectoral commons. This concept identifies that specific bundle of technological capabilities which concentrate in certain areas of strong inter-sectoral interdependence as a result of inter- sectoral learning.