By Dr B K Mukhopadhyay
As rural innovation becomes increasingly viewed as a complex process that defies simple solutions, it has become more and more difficult to identify the types of investment and policy interventions needed to make developing economies’ rural regions to be more responsive, dymic, and competitive. So, the requirement is there to identify where the most binding constraints to rural innovation are existing and how better to target interventions to remove such constraints.
The stern reality
More than half of the global population already resides in cities. This number is projected to increase, with 60 percent of the population living in urban areas by 2030. Very recently the U N rightly warned that half of the world’s increase in urban land will occur in Asia over the next 20 years and two of the region’s largest economies, Chi and India, will see the most extensive changes. In India, the loss of agricultural land to urbanization, aided by insufficient planning for food supply lines, will place a severe constraint on the country’s future food security for its growing population, the United tions Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) opined in its The Cities and Biodiversity Outlook report.
With the total urban area in the world expected to triple between 2000 and 2030 and urban populations expected to double to around 4.9 billion in the same period, urban expansion, the report observed in its assessment, will put stress on water and other tural resources, and consume prime agricultural land. This report makes a strong argument for greater attention to be paid by urban planners and magers to the ture-based assets within city boundaries. Sustaible urban development that supports valuable ecosystems presents a major opportunity for improving lives and livelihoods, and accelerating the transition to an inclusive green economy.
In fact, in this 21st century the rural regions are facing major challenges which arise mainly from globalisation, demographic change and the rural migration of young, well-trained people? Policies for rural areas desperately call for recognising and making use of strengths and opportunities.
Whither Innovative Approach?
An innovative approach has to be there in as much as tinkering around the existing practises could not eble an economy to reach at higher level of equilibrium. Rural diversification, one way of looking at this, in turn, refers to the process aimed at reducing the risks of farming and is a logical consequence of the policy shift away from direct agricultural price support - a synergy approach to rural development, incorporating both traditiol network and institutiol alysis, focussing on working mechanisms and processes. This, no doubt, paves the way for fostering co-operation between public and private actors to achieve sustaible development. Planning is a continuous and spontaneous process indeed.
So far land use planning is concerned – the most important factor to invite innovations - traditiol notions still domite Crop competition, demand from other sectors and the like have put the overall situation in a confusing state and the resultant effect is poor utilization of productive land in the region.
In particular, agricultural lands require lop attention in as much as sectoral competition may lead to diminution of farm land steadily in the absence of proper land use planning. It will be pertinent to refer here some global happenings. This is particularly serious in Egypt, where only 3 percent of the total area of that country is of any use for agriculture, the rest being largely desert. It appears that every year, that country now loses 0.5 percent of what remains of its agricultural land—a trend that cannot go on forever. The situation is similar in Chi. Indeed, since that country started industrializing it has already lost some 10 percent of its agricultural land. In Chi urban areas are increasingly encroaching on protected areas of the country. In the Latin American and Caribbean regions, where the number of cities has grown six-fold in the last 50 years, housing for low-income residents often occurs in important areas for biodiversity and ecosystem services such as the wetlands or floodplains. These are mistakenly considered to be of margil value by planners.
Next, due to interplay of a number of factors the incidence of regiol disparity Galore It is definitely a matter of grave concern in as much as not only between the districts, but within the blocks also differences galore – in case of any indicator on this score – irrigation, fertilizer use, water use, productivity, cropping intensity and the like. The trend is to be mitigated.
Further innovations inclusive of drive for optimizing productivity, subject to environment constraint, is the crying need to push the integrated farming system almost to perfection.
Filly, what about access to services and infrastructure that should be available throughout the economy (drinking water supply, sewage treatment, mail, telecommunications, transport, access to broadband in the field of IT and telecommunications)? The quality of these services, however, differs from region to region. One field which urgently needs improvement is sewage treatment where, for economic reasons, the number of decentralised systems is growing. Furthermore, employment opportunities are not at all sufficiently available in rural regions – where are various long lasting assets generating measures to improve the situation?
Green Economy and Rural Development
The alysis will be incomplete if the ongoing trends lose sight of. The ‘green economy’ is: “An economy that results in improved human well-being and reduced inequalities over the long term, while not exposing future generations to significant environmental risks and ecological scarcities,” according to United tions Environment Programme (UNEP), 2012. There is no single model of the ‘green economy’, but multiple forms of locally specific green-economy activity. The key principle is that the ‘green economy’ is about seeking economic opportunities from socially and environmentally sustaible practices and vice versa. Of course, making the transition to the green economy in rural areas requires political will, technological developments and encouragement from market pressures. In practice, the transition is likely to take place through a sequence of progressive steps.
That is to say: the Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) can be an important vehicle for ebling the transition to a green economy in rural areas - the range includes support for business activities that have ‘green’ credentials and support to improve the environmental performance of farmers and foresters. Obvious enough: nearly every measure in the RDPs can be used to promote a wide mix of economic, environmental and social benefits that lie at the heart of the green economy. This can make the RDPs, if properly implemented, a very versatile instrument for promoting a transition to a green economy: efficiency in water and energy use; the supply and use of renewable sources of energy, by-products, wastes and residues; reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and fostering carbon conservation and sequestration in rural areas.
It is crystal clear that cooperation has particular potential to support the transition to the green economy responding to the need to balance multiple interests and objectives. In other words - overcoming any potential or perceived conflicts between different fields of activity can be achieved by bringing stakeholders together in a common cause. Effective use of the Cooperation Measure can therefore be an important element of a shift in rural areas towards greener and more sustaible economies [development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs] helping individuals to achieve more by working together and through these activities developing a greater sense of community and identity.
Dr Mukhopadhyay, a noted Magement Economist and an Intertiol Commentator on Business and Economic Affairs, can be located at email@example.com