The International Workshop on Post-Cold War Rural Development and Agrarian Reform Strategies, held at the University of Agricultural Sciences at Gödöllö, Hungary, from 9 to 13 April 1996, was organized by the Department of Rural Sociology of the University, with technical and financial assistance provided by FAO.
The main objective of the workshop was to identify new development strategies that recognise the common experiences of countries, with special attention to developing countries and countries in transition. It was intended to bring out the perceptions of the participants on the changing role of governments and the functional distinctions between private and public sectors and civil society.
The workshop also aimed at establishing and strengthening relations in the spirit of FAO's schemes of Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) and Technical Cooperation between Countries in Transition (TCCT). Discussions on possibilities for future collaboration among participants took place throughout the workshop, usually outside the regular meetings, with several participants expressing concrete proposals for future cooperation with other participants.
The majority of the participants were researchers and rural development specialists under the age of 40 and were nationals of countries non-represented or under-represented in FAO. One third were women. There were 42 international participants from 25 countries, including six researchers, four observers from Hungary and four FAO staff members.
The workshop was conceived by Mr. G. Gordillo de Anda, Director, Rural Development Division of FAO, who provided the overall guidance for its realization. FAO invited 12 resource persons to prepare case studies on post-cold war strategies in different parts of the world.
Three non-commissioned studies were also presented. The meeting was conducted in English and French with simultaneous interpretation.
The Rector of the Agricultural University, Prof. K. Kocsics, welcomed the participants. The representative of the FAO Sub-regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe, Mr. M. Zjalic, addressed the meeting on behalf of the Director-General of FAO and informed the participants of recent trends in agrarian reform and rural development in Central and Eastern Europe and of FAO's activities in this region.
During the workshop's morning plenary sessions, 15 resource persons presented case studies on rural development and agrarian reform strategies in their specific countries and regions including Hungary, Slovenia, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa, Niger, Eastern and Central Africa, the Near East, Brazil, Latin America and the Caribbean, Haiti, the Pacific, Monsoon Asia, Laos, Mongolia and India. The participants reviewed and discussed the findings of these papers, provided their comments and elaborated on them in the light of the experience in their own countries.
During the afternoon sessions, the workshop broke into three round tables that dealt with three main topics identified by FAO: Managing Access to Natural Resources, Managing Institutions and Managing Anti-Poverty Programmes. For each day's session, each group selected one of its members to serve as facilitator and coordinate the discussions, and one member to report the day's findings to plenary.
On the fourth day of the workshop, the conclusions, plus proposals for future action, were presented for discussion by representatives of each round table. Summaries of the round table discussions as well as the conclusions formulated by the participants have been included.
On the basis of the plenary discussions and the round tables, the technical coordinator of the workshop prepared a summary of the main views and concepts expressed during the preceding four days. He pointed out that it was not the intention of the workshop to look for solutions to fit all situations, but rather to arrive at some conceptual conclusions which could be adjusted for prevailing local situations. Some participants commented on the summary and their comments have been incorporated to the extent possible in the final text.
The workshop and the topics under review received the attention of the Hungarian press. Several participants were interviewed during the workshop by journalists from newspapers, radio and television on recent trends and problems of rural development in their respective countries. In order to specify their own perceptions of the term rural development and its implications, the participants were asked to provide their views and definitions.
During the last day of the meeting the participants visited Hollökö village and the small town of Paszto in the countryside near Gödöllö, where they got first hand information on post-cold war rural development in Hungary at the local level.
It is hoped that the publication of these proceedings will constitute a positive contribution to the ongoing discussion aimed at finding new paradigms and models which will allow the rural poor to become full participants and beneficiaries in the process of development under the new trend of economic and political liberalization.