Integrated Development with Diversification of Employment
On the basis of experience in Cyprus on rural development projects, undertaken in cooperation with FAO Cooperation Programme and the Word Bank, the formerly fashionable INTEGRATED RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS IN THE 1970, AND 1980’S present the best approach, because they provide for rural areas needs in access to essential services (health, education, extension serves, research etc), but should be broader to diversity employment, and include agriculture within the concept, not only in production, but marketing, research and development also. When work began in Cyprus on the successful Pitsilia Intergrated Rural Development Project, the analysis showed that very little agricultural research and innovation was focused on the low income mountain areas. In addition agriculture and nutrition were not integrated into the education system, which of course was under a different ministry, that of education with different priorities.
Later on within an EU project called LIFE a group of specialists from several disciplines was asked to develop a model for development of rural areas. The model presented was relevant to the Mediterranean region,where strong village communities often undertake initiatives. The basic idea is to link agricultural production with marketing, product research, and treat the village or the area/region as a brand. This requires the following:
- Quality control of the quality of both agricultural products and agro-industry products.
- Identification of unique products of the region and marketing them i.e. bottled quality water, Pissour halloumi which is halloumi cheese with the addition of mint.
- Identify areas for research on new products, to diversity what is offered. For example GLUTEN FREE products are now fashionable both for medical reasons, but also because they are considered better for digestion etc. Quinoa has developed as a product in this respect, but are conditions suitable for it and how can it be marketed?
- In schools at all levels nutrition should be taught and practiced, that needs coordination.
- Agriculture should also be taught and practiced in the schools.
- Communications and roads need to be developed both between villages and towns but also to the fields, facilitating mechanization and reducing costs and opening up new opportunities, such as rural tourism.
- In short an intergrated approach that improves peoples lives, allows greater security of income through diversification, and links social services, agriculture, agro-industries, marketing and research.
Costas Apostolides, Cyprus