Over half of the developing world's population - 3.1 billion people, or 45 percent of all humanity – live in rural areas. Of them, roughly 2.5 billion derive their livelihoods from agriculture. According to the World Bank, growth in the agricultural sector can be up to 3.2 times more effective at reducing poverty than growth in other sectors.
Rural community development is essential and something Agroforestry Group supports. Our business is reliant on the hard work, on the ground knowledge and distribution networks within the local communities we operate in. Rural development aims at improving the livelihoods of rural populations and their communities in an equitable and sustainable manner, both socially and environmentally, through better access to assets (natural, physical, human, technological and social capital), and services, and control over productive capital (in its financial or economic and political forms) that enable them to improve their livelihoods.
The basic objectives of rural development are to alleviate a range of issues such as hunger, poverty and unemployment through creation of basic social and economic infrastructure, provision of training to rural unemployed youth and providing employment to discourage seasonal and permanent migration to urban areas.
Reducing World Hunger
Rural areas find themselves in a state of crisis marked by a deepening cycle of hunger and malnutrition, persistent poverty, limited economic opportunities and environmental degradation. Despite growing food many growers themselves don’t have access to sufficient amounts of it to feed themselves and generate income.
More rural employment opportunities are required for communities to grow out of poverty and reduce rural hunger. In addition to creating more opportunities, hunger can also be alleviated through improvement of existing resources and the empowerment of women. The FAO additionally suggests that empowering women and providing them to the same resources men have access to could raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5–4 percent, which could in turn reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12–17 percent.
Female Gender Gap Reduction
Women comprise, on average, 43 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, ranging from20 percent in Latin America to 50 percent in Eastern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. A gender gap is found for many assets, inputs and services – land, livestock, labour, education, extension and financial services, and technology – and it imposes costs on the agriculture sector, the broader economy and society as well as on women themselves.
Women make significant contributions to the rural economy yet consistently have less access than men to the resources and opportunities they need to be more productive. Closing the gender gap in agricultural inputs alone could lift 100–150 million people out of hunger. If women have access to the same productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20–30 percent.
Improving Economic Well-being
For people to become self-reliant, they must have access to safe, reliable and consistent jobs. More rural employment opportunities that pay sustainable wages are required for communities to grow out of poverty. In spite of rising agricultural trade and labour productivity worldwide, rural populations are still living in poverty in most countries around the world. This is even surprisingly true in the United States, where 95 percent of persistent poverty is fund in rural communities.
Agricultural wage workers, spend as much as 70 per cent of their income for food, despite growing the produce. Their lack of income has hindered communal growth in terms of infrastructure, healthcare, education, and higher value job opportunities. Out of more than 1 billion people in the world that lack access to electricity, 90% live in rural areas. Without electricity, an entire segment of the human population is cut-off from the knowledge, resources and opportunities shared by the connected world.
Healthy environments provide the food the world needs to survive, but they do so much more than that. Fully-functioning ecosystems purify our air and water, provide a source of energy, hold our waste, regulate the earth’s temperature and produce the oxygen we breath. Agricultural innovations including water harvesting and precision farming, can help grow the food people need where they need it in more environmentally-friendly ways.