Rural Commercial Capital: Agricultural Markets in West Bengal

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Oxford University Press, 2008 - Business & Economics - 428 pages
Agricultural performance is influenced by agricultural commodity markets. However, the importance of these markets has largely been ignored by agricultural policymakers and mainstream economists. This pioneering study, covering both the pre- and the post-liberalization periods, and West Bengal's transformation from a seriously deficit to a surplus state, conceives of the post-harvest sector as a system of markets. It shows how, while West Bengal enjoyed the results of a reformed agrarian system, the market system remained unreformed until recently. The book sheds light on the role and importance of distribution and commodity markets in shaping and spreading the benefits of higher productivity across society. An original analysis of the regulation of markets by institutions of collective action and social identity, as well as by the state, the book discusses a regulatory policy that could be adopted by any government, irrespective of its ideology. Barbara Harriss-White'squarter-century of field work in West Bengal has yielded new insights into the political economy, where ethno-cultural networks and informal finance have led to a polarization of agro-commercial power on the one hand, and a proliferation of livelihoods for small traders in the post-harvest market system on the other. Challenging many of the claims of orthodox political economy, this well researched volume offers a new interpretation of rural development over three decades of communist rule.

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la Production of Rice in West Bengal by Districts
Analysing Markets
Figures Maps and Appendices

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About the author (2008)

Barbara Harriss-White is the outgoing Director of Queen Elizabeth House, Department of International Development, Oxford University; and is Professor of Development Studies, and Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford University.

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