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Agricultural Planning And Development

It has been previously stated that in implementing rural development project in developing countries, a good starting point is to develop the agriculture in the area. In this section, we shall survey the pre-requisites for such a development and then study the factors of importance to be taken into consideration when agricultural development is initiated in an area, a region or in a country.

In developing countries, a large part of the total population still lives on the land and depends on it for their livelihood. In many developing countries, present estimates indicates that two-thirds of the national income and four-fifths of the exports come from agriculture and, traditionally, on little changed systems of crop and animal production. Under such conditions people generally are poor and average incomes barley exceed USD 100 per head per year. In the some of the developing countries, the average increase of the gross national product, over a specific period of time, was just over five percent per year, but between two-to-three percent of this national growth was used by the added population, thus making the rate of growth too slow and too small to have any political, social, economical impact on the population.

Generally speaking, in developing countries, agriculture is the main source of income, its supports the bulk of population, and is the largest potential market and has the greatest growth prospects. It can provide part of the capital for industrial development and can earn badly needed foreign exchange in order to develop other sector of the economy as well as health and social services. Agriculture also has to provide the raw material for other industries and use the manufactured goods of these industries. For example, if rural development is set so as to have industries. For example, if rural development is set so as to have industries and other non-agricultural development located in rural areas, then agriculture will cater for the needs for the rural community and thus it can be most effective. Such small scale rural and non-rural industries plus non-agricultural development will bring in such infrastructures as roads, bridges, electricity, water supply networks, irrigation systems, storage facilities, and established industries which produce or service essential agricultural inputs such as farm machinery and equipment, tools agrichemicals (insecticides, wee killers fungicides, etc), fertilizers, seeds, service and repair shops, etc. Moreover, rural inhabitants, peasants, small farmers small-holders and their  families can purchase agricultural products and manufactured outputs such as plastic goods, paper, textiles, shoes, clothing, food, drinks, tobacco, etc. In this way the market for local products is expanded and employment opportunities in rural areas are enhanced.

During the last four decades, due to rapidly growing populations and many other social and political factors, many developing countries have not been able to accumulate capital for agricultural and rural development rapidly enough.

To start with, traditional farmers of developing countries can accumulate and invest a modest capital if they are not restricted by high rents or interest rates, and are organized into sound and efficient cooperatives. However, in general, the amount of capital saved is small. So the capital for exports is obtained through taxation and marketing boards. Under such conditions a considerable amount of capital for development is obtained by using freely available local materials, self-help projects and party or totally available labor, if national, and local motivations are strong and local labor forces are seasonally under employed. China and Israel are two examples where major capital works have been constructed from freely given labor, and  rural people have volunteered to build roads, drains, bridges farm buildings, public baths, houses, village halls, community schools, etc.

In recent years, due to self sufficiency of developed countries which are the major buyers of raw agricultural materials, and the introduction of synthetic substitutes, the developing nations have been competing severally among themselves. Attempts to regulate this competition through community agreements have not been satisfactory. The result has been lower exchange earning in the face of cut-price competition by other developing nations offering the same commodities. This was the case with cotton export

It is possible for developing countries to improve agricultural production technology, decrease the cost per unit of production, increase export prices without diminishing profits, and making better use of foreign exchange, which at present, may frequently be spent on food and  other agricultural commodities, most of which could easily be produced locally. But many of the poorer developing countries have not been able to alleviate their trading situation by greater exports of agricultural products and thus have turned top the developed countries for investment and capital. In reality, although some of the developing countries may be politically independent, they have to look a board for a considerable part of their capital needs. In recent years there have been substantial foreign developing countries. Where the political situation has been unfavorable, both native private investment and foreign investment has declined. International provision of capital and aid to governments and their subsides have also dimensioned.

Assuming the major step in implementing rural development is to secure increased productivity of the agricultural sector of the national economy, we now proceed to examine how to plan agricultural development at the national level.

The process of decision making by governments for the agricultural development policies and implementation of such policies over a certain period of time is generally termed national planning for agricultural development. In preparing a plan of policies and action for agricultural development, whether in developed or developing countries, we must consider the following points.

  1. What are the present needs of agriculture in different regions of the country?
  2. What steps must be taken to meet these needs now and in the foreseeable future?
  3. What are the nature and amount if natural, physical, financial and manpower resources available to present, or they can be mobilized in the near future meet the requirements of agricultural development? Agricultural needs must be worked out and available for planning
  4. Identification definition of priorities and decision making  n such priorities in the agricultural development sector in order to use available resources efficiently
  5. The national plan for agricultural development must be flexible and continuous. This is to allow for changing priorities of agriculture, and changes in national policies and different  related sectors of the economy
  6. Technical knowledge and competence of those responsible for agricultural plans as well as general fields and industries is essential for sound planning, if the programs are to be effective and operative.

In planning for agricultural development at the national level for a developing country, the following points deserve especial attention

  1.  In a national planning program for agriculture, development or crop and animal production, marketing, local availability inputs, introduction of new technology, incentives to farm operators, and transportation should be given top priority. Unless these are present and working properly, other programs of agriculture will not show the expected and desired results
  2. parallel to development of the top priorities mentioned programs which encourage and accelerate agricultural development such as credit, education  of farm and rural people and improvement of agricultural land and other related fields should be planned and undertaken
  3. Agricultural planning at the national level can never be complete. In the same way as other partial governmental programs can be planned, because actual production of crops and other farm products cannot be planned in the same manner as for rural health or road building programs. In the final analysis, for greater productivity, many decision must be left to farmers, in the  light of the conditions prevailing the country or region at the time
  4. National agricultural plans must consist of separate regional agricultural plans. Actions taken to increase agricultural productivity vary enormously from one region to another in the same country. Regions with similar potential agricultural advancement will not have the same productivity under given conditions. Normally, the more advanced region will have a different priority, plan of development greater and faster increase in production, compared with less advanced regions.
  5. For the poorer rural people with low-fertility agricultural development must be made in order to prepare them for more advanced development plans. Here, implementation of farming systems research and extension training and service command special attention.
  6. Production of crops and animal products and also markets must be developed simultaneously. Farm products produced in a region and profitably sold, determine the agricultural potential of that region. Therefore, in planning for the national or regional development of agriculture, estimates of probable internal or foreign demand for selected farm products over the next few years should be made. Foods such as milk, mea, eggs, fruit and vegetables are consumed at a greatest rare than wheat, corn (Maize) and bean. Also the demand for these foods increases rapidly with industrial and urban development. Demand projections should be made for those farm products which give the greatest and fastest increase and return, if the necessary technology and facilities are available.
  7. Increased profitability of farming

At national or regional level, increasing the production particular farm crop or animal product over cast for the securing the maximum margin of returns over cast for the business of farming as a whole. Farmers use different types of crops, farm equipment, fertilizers, manures, insecticides etc, depending on which combination of inputs yields them the highest net return. Thus, in planning agriculture at national or regional levels, care should be taken not to use the total acreage under crops or the total number of livestock as the main criteria for judging success. It is the net return of an immense number of farm business and enterprises of different sizes and types which produce different products that contribute to the national agricultural economy. It is arriving at the correct combination of these various types by planning that makes each of these small farms profitable, and it is this experience of a good margin of profit that means that the planning at all levels has been successful.

  1. In planning for regional development of agriculture, it should be noted that certain types of investment take several years to become fully effective. Agricultural land expansion, water resource development, agricultural research, changing the attitudes of farmers to trust, respect and accept innovations, extension agents and service, all take time. Therefore, plans must  have continuity and be devised well in advance, for the  profitable and successful implementation of each sector on time
  2. Attention should also be given top the quality of production in many developing countries, large, schemes of rural education, credit  and health services are initiated without due attention to upgrading the skill and experience of those operating the schemes of working for them over the years. Therefore, allocations of funds to different sectors of agricultural development should be made wisely after careful review of the plans for each activity and the availability of relatively skilled manpower.
  3. Local coordination of the main activities essential to higher farm production, the availability of extension service, farm  supplies and equipment, as well as the local testing of some of these inputs  to convince farmers and gain their confidence, is quite important. Therefore, in preparing a national plan for agricultural development, coordination of these activities is not only necessary at national and regional levels, but also at the district, country and local levels, where farmers and rural people are involved.
  4. Experience wise judgment, reliable data and surveys in preparation for agricultural development should be used. Expenditure on in0service training for extension agents, their refresher courses, or establishment of a crop and animal research station will, indirectly, increase agricultural productivity over a period of several years. In planning to collect figures, census data, and statistics, it should be remembered that dependable and reliable answers to certain sections of the national agricultural plan can be given by correct data, but coordination of all parts of such a national plan requires quantitative judgment by experienced planners who possess a through understanding of agriculture and rural development activities in the area in a region or the country.
  5. Opinions expressed by farmers should be considered. Plans for agricultural development should be drawn up, based on adequate knowledge and information as to the needs of farmers, their problems and their preferences.
  6. Preparation of a joint plan for agriculture and industrial development. Generally, industrialization increases the number of wage earners and indirectly increases the demand for farm products, or, conversely, consumer goods produced by industry and made available in rural markets encourage farmers to produce more and sell more, in order to buy more consumer goods. Domestic industry aimed at producing farm equipment and supplies, lowers the cost of farm products produced. Therefore, any plans for agricultural development should also involve industrialization and should be related to it. In some countries, national agricultural plans complement or supplement rural development plans and rural small industries.
  7. In national plans, all that has been accomplished up to date should be included. Before, planning a new program, allocating finances, budgets, and physical and human resources careful assessment of what  has already been accomplished must be made.
  8. National plans for agricultural productivity should be continuous and reviewed as deemed necessary. The program of agricultural development may change from time to time in different developing countries and in different regions of the same country, to ensure a high level of productivity. Other governmental policies related to and affecting agriculture should also be reviewed continuously. Therefore, no policy should be regarded as permanent. For example, land reform policy introduced into a country to break up large estates and changes in agricultural technology and increasing rural employment opportunities. As a result, national agricultural plans should be made sufficiently flexible and continuous to accommodate such an important reform and he profound political and social changes that can be involved.

 Mosser (177,178) considers a series of eleven steps or principles that are most necessary for agricultural development in a region or country where already a moderately thriving agriculture is underway. Under such conditions, the considers a production. Some of the principles he proposes have already been mentioned, but they are indicated here for the sake f completeness.

  1. Modern agriculture cannot be commodity specific. As an agricultural economy changes for the better, the range of crops with time. People consume more of some foods as they earn more. Such as vegetables, fruit, milk, meat and eggs, and less of others, such as potatoes, wheat and rice. Thus the cropping pattern of a region changes s that the farm product can remain profitable. The establishment of agricultural support services such as the provision of fertilizers, insecticides, machinery service and repairs, etc, will aid patterns of land development that can be used flexibly to produce crops and animal products most profitable at different periods in the future.
  2. Careful planning from the present set up. To bring about higher agricultural productivity, a number of different facilities and services must be established in a large number of places in a yearly basis with a reasonable period of time. To plan for future development of agriculture, a careful inventory of present farming practices and agri-support activities must be available.
  3. It is important to recognize and give active support for food production in farming areas. Services to support agricultural production must be easily accessible to farmers. Those most immediately needed in farm production include sources of farm suppliers and equipment, markets for farm productions, local verification trials, sources of credit and extension services and good feeder roads to the highways connecting larger centers of consumption.
  4. Farming districts are the basic units for expanding and developing a progressive rural structure for greater agricultural productivity. District units made up of several farming localities are needed for efficient services, etc. The farming district is the smallest unit of the total rural complex of public and private agri-support services on which modern and growing agricultural production depends.
  5. Local verification trials. A favorable crop or livestock response in one location does not mean equal profitability of the same practice in each farm locality. Thus, before a new set f practices is recommended to farmers, local verification trials are needed to establish the merit of each practice. Later modifications to the trials will be needed to make them even more profitable in the local conditions.
  6. Development of rural structure for different growth potential regions. A minimum skeleton network of road is needed to give support to provision of agri-support services, social and community services, and wherever there is a possibility of increasing agricultural production, for example, areas designated as having areas will be the only areas where commodity oriented projects will be successful. Therefore, they deserve the highest priority for the creation of a progressive rural structure with sufficient number of fully equipped farming districts and localities to serve all farms.
  7. Agricultural growth and rural welfare are interdependent. Generally speaking, increasing rural welfare companies agricultural growth. The agricultural growth and the non-economic aspects of rural welfare are mutually interdependent and each has a role to play serving the broader goals of national integration, economic justice and social well-being.
  8. Commodity oriented projects increase production of specific farm products and serve in securing coordinated co-operation among various agri-support facilities and services. It is the support activities that can accomplish the success of the commodity oriented projects in areas with immediate agricultural growth potential, where economic production increases can be secured in a relatively short period of time.
  9. Intensity of rural programs should fit regional potential for agricultural growth. Different regions of developing countries have the following agricultural potentials for growth.
    1. farms and lands  where there is immediate growth potential  for agriculture
    2. Lands  of low  agricultural growth potential, but which are frequently used for  crop production
    3. Non-agricultural rural  lands such as deserts, mountains and other lands out suitable for cultivation

Each type of growth potential, according to Mosher (177,178) requires a rural welfare program and especial agricultural growth programs to suit the potential fertility and production capability of each area

  1. Initiatives in planning should be encouraged with respect to progressive rural structure. Local initiative provides first- hand knowledge of local conditions, leads to greater participation by rural people, while national planning for agriculture growth may provide the complementary elements of a progressive rural structure. All contribute to increased and enhanced agricultural development.
  2. Establishment f a set of procedural steps to give effect to these general principles. In creating a progressive rural structure, it must be decided what is to be done, in what order, in which place, over what period of time and how much it is going to cost. A procedural step in a progressive rural structure varies for each place and depends on sound information for the area already having been obtained. Generally speaking, in developing countries, agriculture is the main source of income, its supports the bulk of population, and is the largest potential market and has the greatest growth prospects.

During the last four decades, due to rapidly growing populations and many other social and political factors, many developing countries have not been able to accumulate capital for agricultural and rural development rapidly enough.

China and Israel are two examples where major capital works have been constructed from freely given labor, and  rural people have volunteered to build roads, drains, bridges farm buildings, public baths, houses, village halls, community schools, etc.

The national plan for agricultural development must be flexible and continuous. This is to allow for changing priorities of agriculture, and changes in national policies and different related sectors of the economy.

Agricultural land expansion, water resource development, agricultural research, changing the attitudes of farmers to trust, respect and accept innovations, extension agents and service, all take time. Therefore, plans must have continuity and be devised well in advance, for the profitable and successful implementation of each sector on time.

Experience wise judgment, reliable data and surveys in preparation for agricultural development should be used. Expenditure on in0service training for extension agents, their refresher courses, or establishment of a crop and animal research station will, indirectly, increase agricultural productivity over a period of several years.

Generally, industrialization increases the number of wage earners and indirectly increases the demand for farm products, or, conversely, consumer goods produced by industry and made available in rural markets encourage farmers to produce more and sell more, in order to buy more consumer goods.

To bring about higher agricultural productivity, a number of different facilities and services must be established in a large number of places in a yearly basis with a reasonable period of time. To plan for future development of agriculture, a careful inventory of present farming practices and agri-support activities must be available.

Local initiative provides first- hand knowledge of local conditions, leads to greater participation by rural people, while national planning for agriculture growth may provide the complementary elements of a progressive rural structure. All contribute to increased and enhanced agricultural development.

~~ These are the notes from my Rural Development class @ UoM ~~

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