UN urges to strengthen rural economy in developing nations

16 October 2018 | Mitigation

Strengthening the development of the rural economy in developing countries should be a priority for those concerned with international migration, a new UN report says.

Agriculture, the main focus of rural development, receives inadequate resources and attention, the report says. Modernising agriculture in poor areas could yield substantial benefits, it says, raising productivity and providing the pull needed to keep young people on the land instead of migrating to large cities.

The report says jobs in what it calls “agricultural value chains” can provide opportunities for rural people close to where they already live, which is attractive to many who do not want to have to move.

But while international aid donors often target development in poor countries as a way of stemming migration, some forms of development can lead to moreinternational migration, as people get enough money to cover their migration costs but not enough to encourage them to stay. In contrast, improving agriculture and the infrastructure and services – health, education and social – in rural areas can reduce migration to cities.

The State of Food and Agriculture 2018 report, from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), focuses on migration, agriculture and rural development. Its authors found that while migration fuels economic growth in many cases, it can also have negative impacts and sometimes is a symptom of failures to invest in and foster agricultural and food resources.

“Rural migration is closely linked not only with agriculture and rural development, but also with the overall development of societies,” said José Graziano da Silva, director general of the FAO, in a foreword to the report.

“It has accompanied the gradual process whereby labour is transferred from agriculture to more productive sectors in manufacturing and services that are often located in urban areas, thus contributing to rising incomes and economic, social and human development.

“In many high-income countries this process has reached the point where agriculture and rural areas are economically viable only to the extent that immigrant labour is available.”

There is far more migration within countries than internationally, but the subject receives far less attention. More than a billion people living in developing countries have moved internally, with 80% of those moves involving a rural area. Migration between developing countries is also slightly greater than migration from poor to rich nations.

People who have already moved within their own country are much more likely to become international migrants, according to the report’s data.

Farming can be perilous in developing countries, subject to shocks and crises from natural disasters or manmade problems. Too little is being done to shield families from these shocks and enable them to survive through lean times, the report says.

In addition, rural areas host large numbers of displaced populations during protracted crises, which according to the report leads to “further challenges and potentially negative effects”.

But there are ways to alleviate such burdens through policies focusing on providing economic opportunities for displaced migrants and encouraging their social integration.

The report stresses that policies should not attempt to stem migration but to maximise its potential and minimise the negative effects, with the objective of making it a choice rather than a necessity.



Source: The Guardian