Bereket Gebru 05-10-17
Speeding up rural development is vital for urban development. A stronger purchasing power for 85% of the population, farmers, creates a bigger market for small to large enterprises. As agriculture is a main source of raw materials for enterprises, its development ensures their abundance and reasonable price. Agriculture also feeds the whole population. That is why agriculture led development strategy is said to be the only way to develop.
On the other hand, urban and industrial developments contribute a lot to agricultural development. Farmers need local and export markets to sell their surplus product. Similarly, agricultural productivity grows with the presence of inputs (fertilizers, pesticides) made in the cities. Cities also produce the consumer goods and household furniture that gets more in demand with the income growth farmers experience in rural development.
Therefore, rural and urban development are interlinked with the former playing a leading role to achieve the latter. However, picking up the pace of rural development for a long period of time requires a matching pace in urban development.
Our rural development strategy stipulates that agricultural development should target the international market. That is expected to raise product standards to a higher quality providing farmers with a bigger market that motivates them to produce more. It also helps raise foreign currency. Different regions have their different strong sides when it comes to producing in demand products in the international market.
Depending on their agro-ecology, regions would benefit a lot from specializing in producing limited products. For instance, some regions in our country are favorable for producing coffee, while others are more suitable for wheat, cotton or sesame production. Specialization helps establish enterprises that support the marketing of specialized products. For instance, establishing coffee washing, coffee reproducing, coffee research centers, coffee quality controlling and marketing centers becomes easy. It also helps extension workers specialize in coffee.
Specialization entails focusing on the production of a product with comparative advantage. It does not, however, mean that other products should not be produced. It rather stipulates that other products that optimize land and labor usage should be cultivated to raise income. It would be better if these products are somewhat related to the specialized product. Accordingly, cultivating fruits in a coffee farm would help the coffee get the shed it needs while providing farmers with more income from the fruits harvested. Other trees that are required for apiculture would also increase the benefits of coffee farmers. In general, regional specialization entails diversification based on the product with comparative advantage.
Specialization makes designing agro-ecologically suitable development program possible. That in turn makes product related marketing and technological assistance easier. Therefore, the region can optimize its growth. The presence of fast growth in such regions ensures the creation of vast development zones. These zones would not be limited to rural areas as they also influence what goes on in nearby cities. The creation of a coffee zone, for instance, would set the formation of coffee washing, packaging, storage, transportation, marketing, etc small to large enterprises in surrounding cities. That makes development zones rural based vast regions of development that incorporate surrounding cities.
Cities in a development zone do not have the same roles to play. Considering the coffee example we used above once again, some surrounding cities might be marketing centers while other could be storage, transport, etc centers. Other smaller cities could also serve as centers that collect coffee from farmers and forward it to bigger centers. The other route of this transaction would also have these cities play distributive roles to inputs used in coffee production. Another consideration is that medium and large enterprises in coffee production would be established in bigger surrounding cities. Small and micro enterprises would, on the other hand, flourish in both rural and urban surrounding settings. The establishment of medium and large enterprises would attract the formation of other such enterprises working in other sectors; thus forming a cluster. In time, such cities become centers of trade, industry and service. The formation of such development centers is not only vital for rural development but also for the development of small and medium sized cities.
Identifying development zones and cities along with a clear idea of the roles they play and coming up with a plan of activities that could strengthen their roles speeds up both urban and rural developments. After cities and activities required for them to carry out the roles set by the plan are clearly identified, they need to be equipped with the infrastructure, land supply and skilled man power necessary to get the job done.
In general, we have designed rural and urban development strategies that complement each other and thus ensure the rapid development of the country. The success of our rural development efforts will be repeated in cities as we have managed to interlink the activities of rural areas with urban surroundings in a planned way. The concept of development zones and centers is unfolding itself proving the aptness of our strategy. The strategies have created suitable conditions for victory. What remains is struggling to implement them.
As to the progress made this far, it is now evident to the whole world that Ethiopia is doing something remarkable regarding its development. Bar the alarming problem of rural-urban migration, the economic development in the country seems to have spread into rural areas as well with the improved life and resistance capacity to drought standing out as the main proof of the achievements gained so far.