Back to rural, back to plural

IMG - Back to rural - 001

When analyzing the degree of development of a country or its economic potential, the agricultural sector and therefore rural sector usually fall on the negative side of the scale, when they are not in the queue of criteria and priorities. Rural is seen as backward or even without value in the scale of production when its role in the economy and development is crucial.

However, the hackneyed definition of rural as inferior is widespread, both North and South. This cliché is a biased vision, not only by the influence of clichés but also because it lacks from economic, social and environmental focus.

This perceived backwardness is based on the change from rural to urban life after the Industrial Revolution. The lack of culture and the primacy of tradition, religious fanaticism, illiteracy and poverty are associated with the rural mind. In purely economic terms, the low share of GDP (especially as for more developed countries) also does not favour a better perception of farming. The center-periphery divide becomes an abyss in the less developed countries, marginalizing and excluding much of the population.

Rural production also lacks mobility. By its own definition, its location is determined by the usable surface and weather and other “imponderables” such as pests. This dependence frames management around a few variables.

But new variants should be added to the analysis of rural areas, social, and environmental and economic. Not to be forgotten, in rural areas the social and power relations are different than in urban agglomerations. Also, those who wield power in the rural area (landlords) tend to have certain levels of power in the urban area, but the reverse is not that frequent

The nature of developing countries produces global environmental services, mentioning the example of Amazon as world “lung”. Moreover, rural areas host nature reserves of animals and plants, many still to be classified. Yet to be reviewed, some of these (unknown) plants can (or could) have healing effects.

In all its dimensions, food security, the first link in the chain of dependence, revolves around a rural sector developed and protected. Also, as a generator of raw materials and food, economic policies should be aimed at the protection, modernization, management and expansion of the sector.

Economic definitions shall include both the direct workforce involved in agriculture and other activities specific to the rural areas that create wealth too. In addition, as an activity that requires intensive labour, women play a prominent role in the rural economy. Unemployment among this population fosters migration to cities, and the reverse movement if it fails. Population movements can be reversed. Moreover, in countries with vast tracts of unused productive land, some investment shall be considered so as to ensure food security and social growth.

Rural dimension should find its place in public institutions, at least to an extent proportional to the population it represents. An essential step is an environmentally friendly diversification of activities, since the modernization of techniques not only is not sufficient by itself, but also may involve negative effects.

Summing up, this return to rural origins shall build on sustainable development concepts. It is not only about to preserve natural wealth, but also to find an integrated method to manage it.


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