A Sustainable Solution For Rural Development
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Sustainable development has three main components; economic, social and environmental. The economic component ensures that financial benefits endure, the social component enables the existence of conditions to retain people in an area and the environmental component supports methods that do not damage the land.

Farming developed from subsistence farming to a stratified society where it passed through two further production methods of secondary to tertiary production. A disadvantage to farmers in this cycle resulted in an increasingly reduced demand for farm produce in comparison to a rising demand for non-farming products.


Exogenous approaches to development are characterized by a focus on increased profitability by accommodating external market demands. This approach seeks to maximize efficiency for the attainment of that end. Consequences of this approach are a reduced labor force through mechanization leading to local depopulation and a reduction in the number of producers due to competition and a reduction of diversification in farming methods as the remaining producers invest in single lines of production. Exogenous approaches can also involve industrial investment in rural areas drawing on a labor supply already facing depletion from the rural decline described above.

The uptake of new technologies means that costs are shifted from labor to capital with farms paying interest on loans for new technologies, rather than paying wages to farm workers. There are two aspects of exogenous development in rural areas. The first relates to the rationalization of farming under the earlier CAP measures. The second relates to the introduction of external industrial investment into rural areas initially intended to redress rural decline.

The exogenous approach can lead to the withdrawal of such enterprises when difficulties arise, such as a decrease in profitability or competitive labor conditions elsewhere. Even where profitability is not a problem, economic success in such enterprises can bring its own difficulties, which cause long-term problems for the area in which such an enterprise is situated. An example of the failure of the exogenous method can be found in Calhoun County, Alabama where in a place called Anniston , a chemical corporation called Monsanto produced a product with methods which released cancer causing agents into the local water table. In typical exogenous fashion the corporation provided considerable employment for local people. However, these difficulties led to the eventual closure of the plant, The inherent disadvantages of exogenous methods led to the collapse of farming and rural communities resulting in pressures in urban areas, which forced the search for other methods.


Endogenous approaches however involve a reversal of the above approaches drawing on the internal resources of an area in a sustainable manner for the benefits of the inhabitants of that area. Identifying and developing resources within an area achieve this. Co-operative enterprises of various kinds initiated by local community groups often engage in this kind of development although conventional businesses of a small or medium type size are also relevant in such capacity building. There are many state supported schemes assisting such activity, examples of which are the Leader companies and County Enterprise Boards and Leader Companies, Endogenous development can be described as the utilization of resources within a locality for the sustenance of its inhabitants.

Rural development thinking evolved in recent times through the various CAP measures, which sought to revitalize rural communities through the creation of endogenous measures, which revitalized local economies from within. The reversal of social exclusion, which contributed to rural poverty, was seen as a critical element in this trend. This was dealt with by capacity building, training and social employment measures through social enterprises. Infrastructure measures such as road building are another measure of capacity building necessary to kick-start a local economy Examples of endogenous enterprises on the ground are where small producers jointly brand and market their produce.

Many co-operatives started in this way and while some of these enterprises became victims of their own success in that they grew into the monsters they were originally set up to replace as they were forced to rational their resources to maintain growth in an increasingly competitive market, e.g GlanBia. This produced a new generation of small producers who took the form of farmers markets where farmers brought their produce to local areas where they sold directly to the public. The costs of such ventures which were not beset by the overheads of more conventional competitors resulted in increased profits for the producer and revitalized a social atmosphere in which was hitherto a fading memory in rural areas.

Official European Union support for such endogenous development is reflected in a speech delivered by the EU Food Commissioner David Byrne to a group of Small Food Producers in Maynooth in November 2003; “…. the success of rural economies into the future will not depend on the success of Agriculture or farming on their own. Greater wealth and consumer interest will fuel demand for all sorts of diversification in rural economies. To meet such demand we must ensure that rural communities are equipped to take advantage of the opportunities of the changing consumer led landscape.

Diversification within, and most significantly beyond, the agricultural sector will become essential for rural economies to compete. If rural economies cannot compete then they will lose out, decline and die. Therefore policy going forward has to adapt to this new imperative.”


It is thus demonstrated that the endogenous approach to development is more likely to contribute to rural viability. Farmers themselves were forced to use exogenous methods as they were strove to remain competitive. This involved increasing the size of their holdings, reducing and intensifying types of farming and replacing labour resources with mechanization. This led to a reduction in the number of farmers as well as a reduction in the local labour force. A collapse of rural communities followed.

A vacuum was thus created for inward investment by multi national companies in provincial rural areas. These multinational companies eventually withdrew to cheaper labor markets in other parts of the world. Both exogenous farming and industrialization also created environmental damage to their areas of operations.. The disadvantages of exogenous farming and exogenous industrialization in rural areas and the undesirable pressures this placed on urban areas forced the search for endogenous development in rural areas. This involved stimulating enterprise growth by communities with state assistance. The overall effects of this approach have been a reversal of the problems of rural decline with population growth, a reversal of emigration and job creation in rural areas.

This has been complemented by the national spatial strategy which seeks to spread economic growth evenly throughout the country by creating growth hubs and orbital road corridors in various areas. Overall the endogenous approach has beneficial effects for the revitalization of rural viability.

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