Rural Development, its importance. Possible constraints and potentialsof achieving this Development:
Development being the foremost concern of economists and social scientists has looked at the equity distribution and efficiency of application of natural resources so as to improve the wellbeing of the people. In most countries, the largest percentage of the population resides in rural areas were they survive on low agriculture and livestock productivity. In order to alleviate or mitigate the livelihood of the rural population, policy makers embarked on rural development, despite limited resources particularly money and manpower, as a program that would reach out to a large proportion of the low-income rural population.
Rural Development is regarded as an integral part of social planning in the broad sense, and as the economic guarantee of social development. The span of concern of those who work on Rural Development should be broader rather than narrower. Therefore, those concerned with the rural development should critically look at the economists view of relative resource endowments, substitutions, trade – offs as well as looking at a value system which includes a practical concern for human life and welfare and the equitable distribution of resources and services.
Therefore, the strategy of rural development will be an aggregation of economic aims and the means of implementing them. This strategy is usually made up of the following basic elements:-
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• The aims of economic development
o These are determined by objective needs of the society and by its socio – economic structure. For rural development, rural population will determine the most pressing need in the society by ensuring that all major stages of developmental process are listed and considered, for instance, building up of feeder roads to enable them access the markets or building of a hospital or school or provision of clean water.
• The concepts of development
o This implies a system of views reflecting the level of knowledge about the objective laws of development of social production and the ideas about how to use these laws in practice.
• Economic policy
o This includes a whole series of measures taken e.g. (1) National policies i.e. land tenure systems, commodity pricing and marketing systems, wages etc, (2) Administrative systems –Centralization or decentralization i.e. the definition of relations between the authorities and various stake holders.
o Institutionalism – this is distribution of development responsibility or establishment of the authorities’ position on matters relating to rural development.
Thus, Rural Development programs are designed and implemented by mobilization and allocation of resources to low-income regions and classes like peasant farmers, women, children and the elderly. The development of appropriate skills and implementing capacity and the presence of local institutions to ensure the effective use of the existing resources for continued development of the rural area.
Determination of Rural development economic parameters will require different indicators in formulating tasks relating to the optimal location of production and control of parameters for the rural distribution of goods and services and resources. These include the following:
1. Political, economic and social influence of the rural population
2. Availability or possibility of obtaining ‘accompanying’ resources both locally and nationally
3. The outlined developmental programmes and adopted projects.
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Rural development can be defined as the socio –economic measures taken to improve the well being of the rural poor with an emphasis on the vulnerable groups like peasant farmers, women, children and the elderly. Rural development must be self sustainable by the community and socially acceptable.
Uma J. Lele, (1975), defines Rural Development as improving living standards of the mass of the low-income population residing in rural areas and enabling the rural population to sustain the process of development
FAO defines sustainable development as being the management and conservation of the rural resources base, and the orientation of technological and institutional change in such a manner as to ensure the attainment and continued satisfaction of human needs for present and future generations. Such sustainable development in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors conserves land, water, plant and animal genetic resources, is environmentally non-degrading, technically appropriate, economically viable and socially acceptable (FAO 1988).
From the above definitions, there is an increasing recognition that rural development is not just about the farming sector. Maintaining viable and sustainable rural community requires consideration of under questions of social and economic development and the need to take into account the distinct nature of rural life.
Therefore, the essence of rural development includes on:-
• A large nation’s population lives in the rural areas and mostly survive on a meagre annual per capita income based on largely on low productivity of Agriculture and livestock which is mostly subsistence.
• Self-reliance i.e. implying that each rural community relies primarily on it’s strength and resources in terms of members energies and it’s natural and cultural environment.
• Structural transformation i.e. implying that the rural community should be involved in decision making, sharing of values and the vision of it’s future..
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• Meeting the human needs both materially and non-materially. Rural development begins with the satisfaction of basic needs of the majority rural population coupled with the need for freedom of speech, creativity, equity and conviviality (socially) and to understand and master their destiny.
• Equitable access to natural resources by all members of the rural community as well as carefully, socially relevant technologies.
• Ecologically friendly, i.e. utilizing rationally the natural resources in full awareness of the potential of local ecosystems.
Thus, rural development challenges a nation to pursue a more self-reliant development model, utilizing its resources directly to the production of basic essential goods and services. Improving the living standards of the rural population is important as it is the only logical way of stimulating overall development as seen in the Developed Countries during the Industrial revolution which was sustained by the agricultural revolution. In the absence of rural development, inadequate effective market demand remains a major constraint to development of the manufacturing and service sectors.
Good Infrastructure may induce development but does not guarantee that development will take place. In rural areas, there is a marked correlation between the vulnerability to poverty and proximity to good infrastructure. Hence, rural development must concentrate infrastructural development on the needs of rural communities that are so prone vulnerable to poverty.
Infrastructural provision such as cail system tends to favour these based in urban areas while rural areas are generally neglected. This surplus produce from the majority of the rural areas cannot easily reach the market.
Agriculture storage harvest are inadequate, a state of affairs that demand, that the agriculture produce must be transported to safe centralised storage facilities before the on set of rain e.g. maize
Labour availability in Zambia is frequently a greater constraint to increasing agriculture productivity that is the availability of land. As a result, technological innovations, which require intense labour input, often may not result in the full realisation of potential production increase. Factors affecting labour usage include:-
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• Seasonality of labour (Agriculture)
o This is the most important element in labour constraint. In Agriculture, most work occurs during the wet season with peak labour requirements up to the time of harvesting. The dry season, is marked by little activity thereby requiring little labour force.
• Allotment of time between farm work, non farm activities and leisure.
o Allotment of time between various daily activities is however quite flexible and, therefore, amenable to change, provided appropriate interventions are introduced and adhered to. For example, for Agricultural activities, time should be allocated for activities like planting, weeding, harvesting and off-farm activities like social obligations, domestic chores etc.
• Division of labour between sexes
o In traditional African culture, division of labour between men and women is one of the major factors that influence availability. Cash crops and heavy works such as plowing have tended to be a man’s responsibility where as food crops and light work like weeding are more of a woman’s responsibility. Domestic work like food preparation, wood and water gathering has been largely a woman’s responsibility.
• Urban migration
o Labour availability can be influenced by demographic patterns and intra-rural migration. Surplus and underemployed labour may be attracted to areas with high productivity. An influx of population to such areas may lead to a rapid rise in population and employment opportunities. Conversely, areas with low productivity and unattractive income and employment opportunities may experience population migration creating labour shortages. For instance on the copperbelt during the setting up of the mining sector, it experienced an influx of migrants from rural areas.
o The impoverishment of the rural community has led to increased urban migration and this has put pressure on social services such as education and health.
Labour problems largely are allocative problem. New incentive techniques can facilitate reallocation and more efficient use of labour, provided such interventions are based on an adequate understanding of the complex economic, socio-cultural and physiological factors that determine labour utilization.
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Labour availability is clearly related to the desire of ensuring availability of domestic food. The food constraint is mainly attributed by the
o General high risk and low profitability of food technology which ties up a substantial amount of labour in food crop production
o Fragmented and poor market systems for food groups which necessitate priority on food production to ensure a stable supply for domestic consumption.
Hence an increase in food crop production with adequate storage facilities and good road infrastructure ensures food availability for the rural community as well as for the urban areas.
Trained skilled Manpower
To improve the quality of life in rural areas where the majority of people live, there is need to redress the imbalance between the urban and rural services. The Western mode of education only serves to prepare the students for secondary school. Those who fail in secondary school do not wish to do manual work. The problem of school versus rural development (agriculture) still persists to day.
This has caused many people to migrate to the urban areas partly because of the particular enclave nature of industrial development in urban areas.
Land can be the basis not only for raising incomes and domestic demand, and reducing poverty, in countries with a predominantly rural population, but also a basis for expanding exports
The way land is owned has a huge significance on the development of the rural area. If not managed properly, it can stifle rural economic growth. Land reform which distributes land to the rural population is a prerequisite to accelerated rural development.
If land is effectively in the hands of few, this can be source a huge local economic and political power.
To attain rural development as required, the most relevant contributions are supportive services like agricultural extension services, credit facility and information. The most important task is to promote critical and informed rural community on the present situation and the possible future.
• Agricultural extension services
o The Agriculture and Veterinary Department, e.g. in Zambia, is the major institution that is responsible for extension services on crop and livestock production.
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• Credit facility
o For rural development especially in terms of Agricultural development, generally Credit facility is still encouraged as the key element in the modernisation of agriculture and other rural sector investments and operations. The way credit is administered can pose as a constraint to rural development. Credit facilities should be extended to construction of water tanks, acquisition of water pumps and for other purposes.
o The availability of the agricultural inputs at the right time with credit facility enables rural community to procure modern inputs and raise productivity.
o The general issue concerned with credit facility is the availability of finances for investment in rural development as well as the viability of the project.
Issuing of credit facilities should not be regarded as the solution for rural development but rather self- sustaining rural development programme by the rural people should be encouraged and emphasized.
o In Agricultural development, the extension workers provide a link between the department of Agriculture and the rural community. They are responsible for giving advice to farmers on agricultural practices, giving them information on new crops and input and other services.
o The extension workers need more support if they are to adequately perform their duties. Lack of support and training will hamper effectiveness of their work in the community.
Education and training
Education and Training is central to the whole rural development programmes if success is to be seen. There is need to change the purpose of education and to widen its scope to encompass all types of rural needs.
Development of economic potential in the rural areas is determined by the basic requirement of satisfaction of the needs of the rural population. This potential is further determined by the available reserves of natural wealth, manpower resources, production capacities and other basic resources. A sustainable process of rural development in utilising, distributing and creating conditions for accessing the resources by everyone should be implemented and adhered to.
• Rural development fosters linkages in the economy and merges into externalities such as administrative skills learned. It is assumed that an increase in development leads to a greater participation.
• Effective attracting and using Foreign Direct investment in rural development programmes can ensure development transition towards orientation of industrialisation and modernisation, e.g. sectors that will attract Direct Foreign Investment will include the following:-
o Cultivation and Agricultural product processing
o Livestock and livestock product processing
o Forest planting and wood processing
• Increases productivity in rural areas through the provision of various inputs that increases productivity.
• Rural development may lead to a favourable BOP of LDC’s, increased exports and a reduction in imports
• Rural tourism – like agriculture, rural tourism has been widely promoted in Africa especially in Zambia. Tourism is seen as having positive impacts on the wider rural economy, creating employment opportunities in related fields such as recreation and leisure. In countries like Britain, rural tourism has overtaken Agriculture in terms of number of jobs and contribution to GDP.
The objective of rural development is not only to reach a mass of low-income rural population but also to make the process of their development viable in the long run. If the objective of participation of the lowest-income group is to be ensured, examination of the existing government’s economic policies and plans as well as of the indigenous (bureaucratic) institutions available for rural development has to be oriented explicitly toward assessing the extent to which these effectively reach the lowest income groups in rural communities.
In designing rural development programmes, it is important to be clear about the objectives such as
• Creating a more positive attitude to technological innovation
• Building up Administrative capabilities of the local communities so that they can sustain their development
• Improving the quality of life through expanded cultural and social activities
Monitoring and Evaluation of the programme should be carried on either periodically or continuously and changes can be made as the programme is being implemented.