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Natural Resource Governance around the World

New Opportunities for Community Driven Rural Development

Issue Paper # 3. International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD)

Written by: Ignacy Sachs, (Ecole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales de Paris - EHESS)

Writing date: February 2006

Organizations: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Type of document: Research Paper

Summary

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Rural development is still an essential component of sustainable development strategies for three reasons:

1) As a social imperative, through social inclusion by ‘decent work’: Since we have entered the age of de-industrialization, where hi-tech industries create few jobs, rural areas will continue to provide crucial opportunities for ‘decent work ‘(i.e. work with reasonable pay and acceptable work conditions) to the billions of rural people who will not be able to be absorbed by urbanization (the latter concept being understood as applying only to those who have a decent work, a decent shelter and conditions to participate in civic and community life)

Opportunities for rural employment should be sought in both the farm and non-farm sector (which currently accounts for 40 to 60% of rural income in developing countries), following employment-led development strategies which combine the multifunctionality of rural economy and pluriactivity of rural folks. Such opportunities include:

  • The upgrading of existing agricultural practices, both in terms of productivity and working conditions;

  • The modernization of subsistence activities, so as to release time for new market-oriented and/or non-economic activities (especially for women);

  • The Diversification of agricultural production by adding new niches with preference for products which require high inputs of labour;

  • Whenever possible, the starting of local small scale agro-processing industries;

  • The exploration of new forms of market organization, in particular through collective entrepreneurship;

  • The identification of off-farm employment opportunities;

  • The promotion of small scale non-agricultural businesses.

2) As en environmental imperative, through the promotion of the ‘making good use of nature’ by peasant societies: At times of high oil costs and risks caused by climate change, some of the most promising avenues to achieve this relate the coming-of- age of agroenergy and other opportunities offered by markets for environmental services.

3) As a sector with significant multiplier effect on the rest of the economy: This should be achieved through the expansion of ‘internal markets’, which are key elements of the strengthening of the competitiveness of national economies. As such they can be considered as essential elements of ‘development from inside’, considered by many as an essential engine of growth in developing countries. Three elements will be important to pro-rural and pro-poor development strategies:

A) Pro-active (neo) developmental States, with the particularly important functions of regulating and re-governing markets; which is more likely to ensure for patterns of virtuous growth which are both socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable;

B) Participatory and negotiated territorial development, as a basis for local development along the following principles:

  • Actor based

  • Territory-based;

  • Dynamic;

  • Systemic;

  • Multi-sectoral;

  • Multi-level, and ;

  • Participatory and negotiated.

C) The invention of a modern biomass-based civilization; which goes much beyond the production of food alone, as it encompasses food and animal feed, green fertilizers, biofuels, industrial feedstock, construction materials, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. The elements presented above should form the basis of an innovative world-plan aimed at small-scale farmer, and should coordinated by FAO. It would concern both:

  • the eradication of hunger, primarily through the expansion environmentally-friendly and collective farming enterprises, and ;

  • the promotion of agro-energy, compatible with the sustainable management of life systems.

The compatibility between these two components should be ensured through ascertaining the potentials of life supporting systems.Research priorities to support the implementation of such world plan should concern biotechnologies, integrated food-energy production systems and novel use of agricultural and forest waste, scope and limits of genetic, improved access to technological innovations and modern communication means.Other elements of such plan would include:

  • Promotion of non agricultural employment would constitute another, starting with a stock-taking of pertinent experience;

  • Time-and target-bound agrarian reforms, with means to regularly and efficiently review progress

  • Participatory and negotiated territorial development.

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