3c) Area development as example of integrated rural development

The process of development in all countries is structured by national development planning. The national-usually five year-plans stipulate macro-economic goals as a kind of target planning, and usually include a sector split-up. Within this overall framework, regional and area development plans must be integrated. These area plans are of the utmost importance for the integrated rural development. While its goals have to fit into the national development plans, practical implementation takes- place within the regional
plans. A number of experiences are imperative for the importance of areas as units for the implementation of integrated rural development:

  • Only at the area system level is it possible to work out operationally feasible programmes based on the analysis of the area resource potential and the interrelationship of its elements.
  • Technical and administrative capacity for implementation is usually located at the regional level and can best be mobilized there.
  • Economics of scale and the system of interrelated elements in the integrated rural development project require a minimum geographic area and population with a certain development potential.
  • At the area level, mobilization and participation of various groups can best be organized.
  • The area level provides best chances for integrating subsistence agriculture, and modern agriculture with non-agricultural activities, and for creating the new forms of social organization and production required.
  • The concept of regional planning emphasized the system approach. The regional system is located below the national and international system and above the local farm/enterprise system. Any change in one system will have implications for the other, and changes in one element of the system has consequences for the others.

    To illustrate this, let us assume an increase infertilizer price. This will reduce its application, and the consequence will be lower yields and, possibly, higher prices for agricultural products, or more imports with repercussions on the balance of payments. A reduced income in agriculture will result in less demand for non-agricultural products, etc. On the other hand, the increase in fertilizer price may cause a shift to crops which depend less on fertilizer, and change farm organization. This illustration might suffice to show the interrelation of elements in a system.