Although policy makers and the development community have widely used the phrase “rural development. The concept of rural development has changed significantly during the last 3 decades. Until the 1970s, rural development was synonymous with agricultural development and, hence, focused on increasing agricultural production. This focus seems to have been driven primarily by the interests of industrialization to extract surpluses from the agriculture sector to reinforce industrialization. With the focus on increasing agricultural production, the stated objective of most countries was to promote smallholder agriculture. Over time, this smallholder agriculture-centric concept of rural development underwent changes. By the early 1980s, according to Harris, the World Bank defined it as “…a strategy designed to improve the economic and social life of a specific group of people—the rural poor.” Four major factors appear to have influenced the change: increased concerns about the persistent and deepening of rural poverty; changing views on the meaning of the concept of development itself; emergence of a more diversified rural economy in which rural non-farm enterprises play an increasingly important role; and increased recognition of the importance of reducing the non-income dimensions of poverty to achieve sustainable improvements in the socio economic well-being of the poor. The establishment of the Millennium Development Goals has significantly reinforced the concerns about non income poverty. With the paradigm shifts in economic development from growth to broadly defined “development,” the concept of rural development has begun to be used in a broader sense. It is also more specific, as Harris noted “in the sense that it focuses (in its rhetoric and in principle) particularly on poverty and inequality.” In more recent years, increased concerns on the environmental aspects of... [continues]
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