SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Francks, Penelope Gillian (1978) The process of technical change in agriculture: The case of the Saga Plain area of Japan, 1868-1939. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
Download (10MB)


This thesis analyses the micro-economic process of technical change in one particularly successful agricultural area of Japan, the Saga Plain, between 1868 and 1939. It does so within a framework which relates the characteristics of the new techniques selected to the prevailing technical, economic and social environment, through the institutional mechanisms for the development of new technology. These characteristics themselves then influence the diffusion of new techniques and their effects. The Saga Plain differs from much of the rest of Japan in its natural environment. Hence the technology employed in paddy rice cultivation at the beginning of the period also differed, especially in methods of irrigation. Economic and social relationships between households centered on arrangements to meet the heavy labour and capital requirements of the irrigation technology and to ensure the subsistence of cultivators. The technical and economic system was disrupted by the rapid industrialisation of nearby areas after 1900. This raised the demand for marketed rice and caused a substantial outflow of small-scale cultivators. Shortage of hired labour forced larger cultivators to split up their holdings, and the proportion of middle-sized cultivators increased. Such farmers were under pressure to find ways of lessening the labour requirements for irrigation and raising output. The solution to their problems was developed by local government and extension officials, who assisted the manufacturers in the design of an electric pump. This innovation was rapidly diffused through communal purchase of the pumps by village organisations. It was the breakthrough which permitted the adoption of other new techniques, leading to substantial rises in yields and labour productivity. It intensified the trend towards increasing proportions of medium-scale family farms. The study suggests conclusions as to the institutional requirements for the development of appropriate techniques and the relationship between technical and structural change in agriculture.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:59

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item