Thank you for the timely topic of rural migration, agriculture and rural development.
I have read the outline and suggest the following issues to enrich discussions towards the 2018 SOFA report.
1. The nature and type of educational curricular and how they prepare students to vacate or stay and invest in rural areas (Section 1.3). Do educational institutions prepare students for office jobs, thus making agriculture (rural life) be perceived as a lifestyle to fall back to only when everything else has failed?
2. What is the central focus of national and international policies on rural, and subsequently agricultural development? (Section 1.5) Related to 1 above, to what extent the policies pull or push people out of rural areas through their focus on large scale agricultural development at the expense of family farms? The result in many areas being that those who cannot produce enough for the market consider their land-based activities as a failure, they pack and move to urban areas. What would happen if agricultural and other rural development policies put emphasis on agricultural production for household food security/rural development, not always as a business?
3. Prices for agricultural commodities at urban, national and international markets. Hard to discuss push and pull factors in rural migration without emphasis on what keeps many rural dwellers in poverty, yet they cultivate crops every growing season. The discussion will also focus on issues of the price of agricultural inputs Vs the price of agricultural produce, thus, what are the chances of us achieving rural development if the price of farm produce is way below the expensive farm inputs?
4. The current issue of international migrants as farm workers from the Global South to large scale farms in the Global North (Chapter 6). What policies are in place to enable rural immigrants to return, rather than making them permanent farm workers for industry. Case studies and discussions can focus on labour drain, household set-up and strategic decision-making in rural households. If those with an education migrate, what are the chances that the uneducated left behind will be equipped to negotiate well with middlemen and international investors on price for their agricultural produce, crops to cultivate, etc.
5. Uniformity required in the definition of the main concepts in the report. For example, section 1.2, does the use of city imply urban areas? Use urban which encompasses cities, towns and other urban centers.
6. What length of time qualifies one as a migrant? In many countries of the Global South, individuals are known to travel to a residence in urban areas on Monday morning, work in an office and travel back on Friday evening. They tend to their rural farm endeavours before they travel to town on Monday. Where will such individuals fall in the rural-urban divide of migrants?
7. Will be interesting to include findings from qualitative studies. For example, what factors attract and retain people in urban areas/slums where they lack necessities and infrastructure? What factors make people to leave behind land and some clean air in rural areas for urban areas where they lack the bare minimum?
Thank you. I look forward to read future drafts for further input.