Understanding the Role of Integrated Agriculture

Both rural development and agricultural transformation are part of the process of structural transformation. The concepts are implemented for the purpose of making an economy more integrated through greater specialization, increased exchange and attraction of economies of scale. The processes of change are arrived at after a series of qualitative and quantitative analyses. For both concepts to succeed after implementation, the policymakers must consider factors that will make them sustainable and self-sustaining. Integrated rural development and agricultural transformation are connected with development in other sectors of the economy nationally, regionally and globally. They are essential in solving problems like poverty, low productivity, low income, poor infrastructure and disparity between rural and urban areas to bring economic growth. The government of Malaysia, for example, invested in these processes for the purpose of improving the living condition and ensuring food supply at prices that consumers can afford (Arshad & Shamsudin, 1997).

Integrated rural development focuses on making living conditions better for the rural population while agricultural transformation considers both urban and rural populations. Rural development covers all sectors of the local economy while agricultural transformation is specific to the agricultural sector. Malaysia’s rural development program for example concentrates on betterment of rural population through continuous changes that aim to solve rural problems. Led by the state, the process incorporates planning, implementation, monitoring and involvement of multidisciplinary player like state agencies, private sector, NGOs and public. Driven by the goal of becoming a developed economy by 2020, Malaysia’s government has come up with National Agricultural Policies to ensure sustainable transformation in agricultural sector (Arshad & Shamsudin, 1997). This is basically meant to solve problems like labor shortage, increased cost of production and poor quality of agricultural produce.

Agricultural Sector as a Government’s tool for Economic Development

The developing countries’ governments should focus on reducing idle land by putting more land under cultivation. There should also be changes in the output mix and adoption of new technology (Debermann & Nelson, 2013). Apart from expanding agricultural land, the developed nations,are continuously concentrating on mixing output and improving technology. They, for example incorporate off-farm practices like input production and output processing which enable them to provide low food prices to the consumers.

Agricultural policies should provide and permit farmers to access appropriate incentives. The developing economies of Latin-America, Asia,high-income-elastic and Africa need to work together to establish macro-economic policies that allow trade in agricultural products as well as supply of the products to the domestic markets. They should also create on institutional and physical infrastructure, for example access to land, rural finance, technical knowledge, communications and transport, to support this goal.

With a focus on rural areas, the government should ensure shift from small-scale staple food production to large-scale production with a mix of cash crop farming (Debermann & Nelson, 2013). This policy will ensure that the agricultural sector becomes dynamic and flexible. It will therefore encourage economic growth by increasing demand for labour and production of high-income-elastic output such as vegetables, fruit and livestock products.

The government should establish connection between agricultural and non-agricultural sectors to ensure that development is not concentrated in some parts of the economy or regions, leaving others out. Economic growth and poverty reduction requires agricultural development to cover the entire economy, including the small and medium-scale rural industries (Debermann & Nelson, 2013). The government should therefore develop effective industrial policy that will improve rural infrastructure and institutions.