How to fight rural poverty

LAND shortage is a real issue, but the biggest problem is a lack of farming skills. Giving communities land is not a solution to rural poverty but the beginning of the solution.

LAND shortage is a real issue, but the biggest problem is a lack of farming skills. Giving communities land is not a solution to rural poverty but the beginning of the solution.

Successful rural development requires a thriving agricultural sector. The problems of rural poverty and retaining rural populations can almost never be solved by agriculture alone, no matter how successful development might be. People need to be engaged in enterprising and business skills.

Most rural incomes come directly or indirectly from agriculture, including forestry and fisheries. So successful agricultural development is a precondition for successful rural development.

But given the rapid growth of rural populations, land scarcity and mounting environmental pressures, off-farm and non-farming incomes need to be promoted as an integral component of rural development.

This implies the promotion of investment in micro enterprises, that will add value to agricultural and forestry products, produce non-tradeable goods and services demanded by agriculture as inputs (backward linkages), or in response to the expenditure of agricultural incomes (final demand linkages) and produce goods through decentralisation of industry.

These micro enterprises will be part of a labour intensive informal sector, complementary to the modem sector; the promotion of skills and the quality of human capital for the successful participation in the labour market and also seasonal migration.

Tshepo Diale, GaRankuwa

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