During conversations in some countries on agricultural production, the expression of “the people have being deserting the villages” is used. In fact, this is a signal that we will in future be experiencing some problems in food production. The decreases in the rural populations in the countries, where the smallholder farmers are predominant mean the decreases in the numbers of agricultural entrepreneurs and agricultural workers, lead to decreases in agricultural production. However, the world expects 70% more production in the 2050s. In order to sustain the agricultural production due to the increasing population and the rising quality of life , we must ensure that the non-agricultural lands be transformed into medium and large enterprises, or a series of socioeconomic models developed to keep the farmers to live in the countryside.
If we set off from the second option, we can start by revitalizing the countryside and exploring all aspects for making it a good place to live for the present and future generations. The main reasons for escaping from the countryside, we cannot be solely economic. Increasing input prices have really intimidated the peasants owing to the changes in social life due to the disappearance of the old customs and traditions, difficulties in marriage, the shrinking land due to inheritance, the inability to possess any modern agricultural equipment and the marketing difficulties due to not being cooperative members.
So, how can we make the countryside more attractive?
At the beginning of 2019, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) published a report on rural population movements. According to the report, 43% of the world’s population is in the countryside and 17% of them are below the hunger limit. This limit is 7% in the cities.
The report says that the crisis in rural areas threatens to achieve food security and the following issues are addressed:
• There is a crisis in the world rural areas and this crisis can be solved by the revitalization of the rural;
• It can be found a little utopic to revitalize rural areas and make them good places for the present and future generations. However, taking appropriate steps to address all aspects of the event will be successful.
• One of the most serious challenges facing rural areas is the lack of adequate employment opportunities;
• Revitalizing the world’s rural areas through a rur¬banomics approach holds the key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring that every¬one can contribute to and benefit from the economic growth and development
• Adopting rurbanomics as an approach for strengthening the rural–urban linkages to promote rural transformation. Strengthening rural–urban linkages, from farms to small towns to megacities, can benefit rural labor, production, distribution, markets, services, consumption, and envi¬ronmental sustainability.
• Rural areas can still create options for strengthening rural economies, such as the introduction of small food systems (pickle mills, etc.), post-harvest activities (tomato drying, etc.) and new dietary products;
• Diversifying and improving vocational training will create a potential for a productive rural workforce.
In 1990’s a Rurban Project (KöykenteProjesi; village-township) has been started in Turkey’s Mesudiye District of Ordu. Within the context of Köykent Project, 9 villages were interconnected. Within the scope of the project, a lumber factory was established within the framework of the Build-Operate-Transfer model. Electricity, water and telephone services were brought to the villages. Health and Cultural Centers were established. Football – basketball courts, children’s playgrounds and schools were built. Many of the peasants who had left their villages to find work have returned. However in the 2004s, new governments stopped the project in the way in which the Village Institutes (KöyEnstitüleri) ended.
Farmers in many countries as well as those in Turkey are quite aged. Despite the government’s policy of support the young farmers continue to move away from the agricultural sector. In some regions you cannot find any farmers younger than 40 years of age. The most important reason for this is the lack of social life in the villages. Today, the decline in farmers’ income is due to price instability, rising costs and extreme climatic events.
Therefore, in the future, with the exception of greenhouse cultivation and some special cases, the chances for small holder farmers to survive can only continue at the level of hobby gardens. The fact that the producer is alone in agricultural activities is the main factor in the orientation of the young people towards other ways of life. Could any attempt be made to help to revitalize such hopeless villages? A striking example of revitalization: Yozgat Kabalı Village Project carried out with the cooperation of public-private sector-citizens .
In 2009, an extraordinary Public Private Community Partnership (PPCP) was formed in Yozgat, Turkey.
The partnership aimed at keeping the young farmers in production and integrating small (due to heritage) and abandoned agricultural lands.
The project was financed by a public coalition including the Village Service Association, the Chamber of Agriculture and the Irrigation Cooperative. In phase 1 of the project, 1680 parcels that belonged to 468 farmers, have been combined into a single piece and cherries, apples, pears, and peaches have been planted in 564 Ha land.
Since then, the project has been rented to a private company where 70 farmers are employed full-time. The number of workers during the harvest season goes up to 900; and the number of tractors in the village has decreased from 200 to 15. As of 2018, the Ministry of Agriculture has decided to expand the scope of the project to 250 additional villages.
According to the above-mentioned IFPRI report, the EU is quite active in the revitalization of the countryside. While the annual per capita income in cities was 121% of the general average and this value remained at 72% in the countryside. Due to the fact that only 21% of the farmer population was under the age of 44, the EU allocated € 100 billion to be used in this field for the period of 2014-2020.
Note: This blog has been summarized from a Turkish paper published in https://nazimiacikgoz.wordpress.com/2019/04/04/kirsali-nasil-yasanir-kilabiliriz/Nacikgoz