Agriculture and Rural-Urban migrations in Developing Countries: Facts and Policy Implications Larissa Paschyn - 2010280348
World wide Rural Exodus Since 1950
Urbanization – what is it, and why it is important
Urbanization (%) and urban growth (absolute numbers) have different causes
More than half the world’s population live in areas classed as urban since 2008
But there are wide regional variations
The fastest urbanizing regions to 2050 will be Africa and Asia
Most of the growth of the world’s total population and urban population will be in these regions
But not necessarily in the large cities
What drives urbanization? Changes in the % of GDP from industry and services, employment sectors and population in urban areas, 1950-2005 all low and middle income nations. ( Source: Satterthwaite 2007)
Challenge of Slums
Nearly 800 million people have moved from the countryside to the cities between 1950 and 2000. No sign of deceleration.
Premature or exessive migration to towns can exceed their absorptive capacity.
2003 UN-Habitat Global report on Human settlements - “The Challenge of slums” estimates at 928 million people worldwide the number living in such conditions. This figure will grow at an accelerated rate is no policy action is taken now.
Agriculture development can moderate the migrations from the countryside to the cities and contribute important benefits to society as a whole. Neglect of agriculture can accelerate out-migration and inflict important costs on society.
The Role of Agriculture
The anti-poverty role of agriculture
The size of agriculture
Rural-to-rural migration (seasonal or permanent)
Agriculture and rural development
Economic determinants, i.e. poverty, are the major movers of population; poverty is predominantly rural – 70% of the world’s poor live in rural areas.
Agricultural growth is the best instrument against poverty - rural poverty andbut also urban poverty.
Ex.: Mexico - despite a very developed urban economy, an intermediate level of income, and important social programmes (PROCAMPO) that aim to provide safety net in the rural areas. Yet in the wake of the peso crisis the agricultural growth has been the main point of solidity.
Temporaty shocks can provoke migrations that are then becoming definitive (examples of droughts in Morocco.
Agriculture is more resilient to economic shocks of a systemic nature.
Ex: Mexico in 1994, Indonesia and Asian crisis in 1997, structural adjustments crises in the 1980’s, or transition crises in the 1990s.
However the anti-poverty effect of agricultural growth works when the distribution of assets is not too unequal – otherwise only the better-off derive benefit from it, as has been seen in several countries over the past decades, e.g. in Latin America.
Agriculture in the Rural Economy
Agriculture terms of trade
Profitable labour intensive agriculture
What Agriculture Can Do
Main role for agriculture is to maintain a sound system of incentives – relative prices within the sector and between agriculture and the other sectors.
What truly matters for migrations is not agriculture output, but employment and income: in this respect agricultural sub-sectors can offer different prospects.
An often quoted cause of migration is the difficulty at modernising agriculture (Mali, Ghana, Ethiopia, Indonesia) – because of lack of capital and poor functioning rural finance.
i.e. - land titling and security of tenure, without which it is difficult to access to medium and long term credit for modernisation and investment.
Problems and Curbing Migration
Agriculture is subject to particular forms of individual and sectoral insecurity
– climatic insecurity; diseases and plagues that can hit individuals or entire zones; and economic insecurity because of price fluctuations and downwards price trends.
This results in push factors: policies to reduce such insecurity (e.g. through water control, better infrastructure for access to markets facilitating diversification, etc.) which are mitigating the propensity to migrate.
Three main aspects within agriculture development make a difference in migrations:
Local agricultural development (projects)
in Chile, export oriented, labour intensive agriculture (horticulture) has slowed migration in the regions where it developed; conversely forestry development (at the expense of more labour intensive land use) has accelerated migration
in Ghana, the cocoa boom has stimulated important movements of population, form the northern regions to the southern cocoa belt, and also from the towns, and vive-versa when cocoa was falling back.
In South Africa, three rural sectors have emerged: commercial agriculture, traditional agriculture, and new rural.
They entail very different prospects as to rural society viability.
Population shifts from traditional to new rural, favoured by a policy of basic living infrastructure in rural areas.
Example of Cocoa in Ghana
In Morocco the large irrigation schemes have triggered movements of population, and development of regional economy and medium towns
In Mali the Office du Niger and the Cotton zone have been areas of development including of rural towns.
Both Ghana and Mali illustrate that higher development in some regions was accompagnied by stagnation or regression in others.
Agriculture and Rural development
The entire rural economy matters for migrations
Rural infrastructures and services
Agricultural links with the non-farm economy
How to maintain the social fabric in rural areas?
Management and Sustainment Plan
Research on facts and significance of agricultural lands and the impacts of progressive loss of the areas.
A regular presentation has to be scheduled with the community participation.
Devise and implement a program to address soil erosion such as improvement of farming practices and tree planting with community participation.
Collaborate with government to devise a plan to provide attractive incentives to farmers and improve agricultural revenues and provide adequate and economically viable options of more profitable occupations in the rural area.
Challenges of Management and Sustainment Plan
Loss of agricultural land to urban development.
Selling agricultural land becomes more profitable than farming.
Depreciating revenue from agricultural lands.
Farming has become less profitable. Growing migration of people from rural area to urban areas.
Social changes made city life more attractive.
Challenges of Management and Sustainment Plan
In coordination with government, the following strategies needs to be implemented:
Strengthen land use policies that encourage farmland preservation.
Discourage rural development within the Agricultural Wedge.
Limit non-agricultural uses of farm land areas.
Strengthen the function of rural centers as the focus of activity for the countryside around.
Continue by all means the agriculture as the preferred use in the Agricultural Wedge.
Urbanization, climate change and rural livelihoods
The impacts of climate change contribute to mobility, but are not the only reason for it
Mobility, migration and income diversification are a key element of rural poverty reduction and adaptation to CC – and often revolve around urban centres
Urbanization is good for farmers, as demand for high value food increases (and is more stable than int’l markets)
Remittances and non-farm incomes encourage farmers’ innovation through cash investment
Implications for Policy
A regional (rural-urban) approach rather than a sectoral approach
Urbanization is not the cause of growing urban poverty – this is the consequence of the failure to plan for and manage urban growth
Local governments have a key role to play – they need support from national governments and donors for this, but it is important to keep in mind that it takes time for decentralisation to succeed
Migration (not only rural-urban) will increase as a result of climate change, but this is a positive adaptation and not necessarily a problem
Al-Kaisi,M.(July 24,2000) Soil erosion:an agricultural production challenge . Integrated Crop Management. Retrieved July 24,2008 from http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/icm/2000/7-24-2000/erosion.html
Maine State Planning Office. Agricultural Land Loss. Retrieved July 24,2008 from