Chapter 9: The rural challenge
Expanded urbanization has altered rural environments. Growing cities sprawl into rural areas. Rural residents move to cities seeking employment. Demand shifts to cities, and rural environments must adapt accordingly. Societies that were once primarily agrarian have substantially modernized, altering the context of rural communities. Many small farmers could improve production and marketing in this context, but they often lack access to the technology and resources to strengthen their capacity. The Millennium Summit and its resulting MDGs thrust poverty reduction as a principal development goal of our century. Mass poverty is not only a problem for the poor themselves – it translates into economic loss (underutilized talent and resources), threatens social stability and civil order, and acts a festering ground for communicable diseases in impoverished areas, to name a few. As the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) indicated, “Nobody, rich or poor, can remain immune from the consequences.” If the world is to halve the proportion of people suffering from extreme poverty and hunger between 1990 and 2015, as MDG 1 suggests, then we must understand poverty’s many facets. One of the most glaring aspects of poverty, though perhaps not always appreciated by the general public, is that it remains heavily rural. According to the World Bank, 75 percent of the developing world’s poor live in rural areas, when only 58 percent of its population is rural. In these rural areas, agriculture is the primary mode of making a living, and agricultural growth has been cited to generate the greatest improvements for the poorest.
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