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Rural Development Plans

Rural development project as part of the national plan aimed at reducing poverty and raising the standard of living of small-holders and low-income rural groups usually have a heavy emphasis on increased agricultural production and other sectors, such as health or education, may be neglected. It is, however, possible to design programmes which meet the requirements of the main groups and also provide benefits of development to other sectors of the economy. When designing such a program, care should be taken that applied or implied elements of the project do not meet with opposition by community leaders. To avoid this, the project should be of general interest to the community leaders; it should benefit the poor and needy, take into account existing social systems, traditions, customs, religious beliefs and the culture of the rural people. It should also reflect the particular needs and conditions of the area or region. It is important to remember that most of the experience with rural development stems from various ad hoc or piecemeal approaches and not from implementation of an overall rural development plan.

Rural development programmes, projects and plans may be categorized as follows:

  1. Those providing a package of minimum requirements for a large rural population group and depend for their success on the resources available.
  2. Programmes which include a much wider range of social services and production elements. These, which require large-scale human and financial resources, are termed comprehensive programmes. They relate mainly to specific area or regional schemes such as settlement programmers rather than to nationwide programmers.
  3. Supporting programmers. These are mainly aimed at providing work and benefits to the rural jobless and poor and should be integrated with a broader programmer for good results. Examples of supporting programmers are the establishment of national credit programmers for small holders, and projects for rural feeder roads and other rural works programmers to help the jobless and landless in rural areas. Most projects and programmers in different sectors of the national economy and services are in this group and are referred to as sector projects or sector programmers. Examples of sector programmers are special projects in transport, drainage, education, health, etc.

A brief description of each system of planning follows:

This approach is based on providing a wide range of broad-based general improvements in standards of living through an increase in agricultural production. In this type of programmer, emphasis is placed on a sequence of development needs, and the requirements of target groups are complemented by a minimum amount of finance, staffing and organization. The main advantage of this approach is its emphasis on broad based productivity with the least amount of institutional development and high participation by rural people. As an example of minimum package programmer (MMP) one may cite, a programmer in Ethiopia, established in 1971 and aimed at small farmers. Here, the MPP provides agricultural production credit, extension service, cooperative development and construction of feeder roads in 10,000 family blocks or units. Another example is the seed improvement project by the World Bank in the republic of Korea where over 500,000farmers are served by a programmer offering them improved varieties of wheat, barley, paddy rice, potato and soybeans. In this program research is being undertaken to improve crop seeds, which are then distributed through cooperatives plus credit and extension guidance to individual farmers. Under adverse conditions, rural poor do not benefit from Minimum package programmers. They may benefit indirectly when they are hired as landless lab our by small farmers who have recently become more prosperous.

In this approach, consideration is given to rural   development programmes directed at a much wider spectrum of the rural population. Comprehensive programmers carried out by some of the developing countries are characterized by a careful definition of the needs and resources of the target rural population, detailed planning of preparation and implementation, phasing of multi sect oral components and adjustment, or, restructuring the existing related institutions. Examples of the comprehensive approach are the rural development plans of the republic of china, Korea and Japan. In the republic of china (Taiwan) over a period of 20 years (1950 to 1970), agricultural output grew by 5 per cent annually especially where 890,000 farms of less then 1 hectare in size (2.47 acres and includes one-third of the cultivated area of the country) showed the greatest growth. The farm income of this group exceeded US$300per capita in 1970.  The success of the Taiwanese projects is attributed to the organization of farmers in to farmers’ association, which are multipurpose in character. This three level system of association consists of agricultural units made up several families, families, followed by township farmers association, then district or country associations and finally the top managerial organization. The multi purpose farmers’ associations have become a major source of institutional credit and a great factor in increased agriculture productivity. This increased agricultural production resulted from higher crop yields and was mainly due to the use of better inputs,(seeds, fertilizers, insecticides, machinery, etc.), and the adoption of new technology by a great many small farmers..

Another example of a comprehensive rural development plan is the Mexican integrated rural development project (PIDER). It has detailed planning and considerable institutional adjustment had to be made in it. Its primary objective is to provide resources and services in selected rural areas, to increase employment, introduce direct productive activities, improve the basic social infrastructures and production services. Selection of the region for development, introduce direct productive activities, improve the basic social infrastructures and production services. Selection of the region for development was based on a high percentage of unemployment and underemployment of the rural people, economically depressed rural areas but with potential for agricultural expansion, for mining or for industrial production with at least one growth sector for development.   

In many developing countries, area agricultural and rural development programs aimed at specific complex target groups are locally prepared to meet the special needs of a specific rural area. Because of the technical nature and consideration of agricultural improvements, which require a large number of inputs such as fertilizers, equipments, credit, machinery, storage, processing, marketing, energy and price incentives to be bought together by public and private organizations, such agricultural projects are handled as area development programs examples of specific crop development projects in particular areas are ‘’single product projects” such as ground nut and tobacco promotion in Tanzania , tea in Kenya, cotton in Mali and Tanzania, and coffee in Papua  new Guinea. These schemes operate through a well- funded and well- staffed authority, often with little community or local participation.

The advantages of all inclusive area development projects are in the concerted and directed efforts of its implementers to meet the needs of rural poor, settlers, low income farmers, through diversified crops or, only one or two major crops and integrated farming systems. This type of project also provides services such as credit, technical information, marketing arrangements for sale of the products. Ii is also association with close control of farm operations and supervision of credit. Later this can be linked with other rural projects such as the provision of schools, medical facilities, water supply, etc. when the approach does not include much consideration for wider programmes of development rather than higher productivity of a single crop some settlement projects are of special interest.

The advantage of settlement projects are that they provide opportunities to break through the local customs and cultural barriers of closely integrated inward-looking, traditional rural communities. They also diminish the strength of power in the hands of few land lords who have a source of cheap labor. Examples of such settlement schemes are the Gezeira settlement scheme in Sudan, which begin in 1920 and by 1970 covered nearly 834,000 hectares (2,059,980 acres) of irrigated land. Another example is the Comilla project in Bangladesh, which is a series of pilot projects, designed by the Pakistan academy of rural development. From 1958 to 1971, these projects covered long established settlements.

The Comilla projects covered long established settlements. The Comilla project demonstrated the potential for substantially raising the incomes of small farmers in a period of ten years in a limited but relatively large area. In this program a large number of villagers, local rural people were trained in cooperative organization, pump irrigation and other related fields of interest to villagers. Comilla rural development plan stimulated rural public work programs for road construction, canal excavation and construction of flood embankments for about 1,916,666 hectares (4,734,165 acres) .placement of 32,900 low lift –water pumps tube wells to irrigate an estimated 541.000 hectares (1.336.270 acres) and fourfold use of fertilizer in the area with a resultant two-fold increase in the incomes of farmers included in the program.

The Comilla project’s success was use to strong innovative and imaginative local leadership, careful phasing  of program development, experiences gained and used under pilot and preset small trials and flexibility  allowed for in the plan as  new experiences was gained, and as operations advanced (209a).

The pueblo project in Mexico, which began in 1967, deals with a homogenous area of 50,000 small farmers. It is more voluntary in inspiration than Gezira and is primarily agriculturally oriented by providing new technical packages based in local adaptive research on corn (maize) production for small farmers. The initial work involved identifying problems and providing technical information on soil, seeds, pests and disease, crop culture practices and training for technicians to work on small farm development. The project also included provision of credit and marketing facilities. From 1968 to 1972 there was an annual increase in the yield of corn (maize) of the order of 9.5 percent and a rise in farm family income of US110. The Puelblo project has not been very successful in integrating its d activities in to the fabric f regular government services, the bank must still be prodded to lend to small farmers, its research and extension functions are largely outside government channels, and organizations which articulate local farmer’s opinions and concerns have not emerged, and are therefore not tied in to the higher levels of the service system.

A similar program, but operating in a different context is the Lilongwe Land development program (LLDP) in Malawi. This project began in 1967 and covers an area of about 480.000 hectares (1,185.600 acres ) and a population of 550.000 people mostly small farmers. It is a large scale land development program in terms of rural transformation. It utilizes close cooperation and coordination among different government departments including staff specially seconded to the program and involves different functions, activities and services, such as sub-regional centers for markets and services provision of regional infrastructures such as roads health clinics, water suppliers bridges and service buildings. Consolidation of landholdings community organizations and village committees for local participation in decision making and planning, and credit schemes and agricultural extension and training of extension workers were implemented.

Normally there are three major potential dangers with such rural area development plans.

  1. The scheme may concentrate a disproportionate share of resources on providing benefits to a relatively small group in relation to the overall size of the national target group
  2. The scheme’s planning is too complex and ambitious calling for a sustained exceptional leadership which is hard to get both inside the country and from abroad
  3. They may distort  priorities in the allocation of resources among sectors

These activities are usually organized by the government department responsible for central planning on a national basis. These programs may or not meet the specific needs of the rural poor and he low income groups in a particular region. They generally do not by themselves provide a basis for self-sustaining increases in productivity, employment or income; rather, they are complementary or component parts of programs with his objective in mind. For example, when a road is built in rural areas, it is then used by everyone. Similarly, a school or medical clinic, when opened in a village can be used by all local children and rural inhabitants. Sector programs often reflect inappropriate standards and result in elaborate and costly service poorly structured in terms of overall priority needs of rural communities.

These are a type of sector and special programs which have been used to provide jobs for small farmers, rural poor and landless laborers in the off-peak seasons. Rural works programs can provide direct and timely income to those most in need of an income and create productive infrastructure development at the same time. It is to be noted that even in the best designed and well managed rural public works projects, the wages of the rural poor and unskilled labor will not be much above half the total expenditure and it is the secondary effects in the form of greater demand for labor that benefit the rural poor and unskilled. It’s important that rural public works should be part of a larger employment and rural development plan, and should be used in coordination with other programs, projects and activities to ensure full realization of their benefits. Moreover, rural public works programs should be coordinated with specific local development projects and thus they can afford an excellent opportunity for local level planning and the least degree of centralization.

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


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