FSN Forum
FSN Forum

ACTIVITY No. 143   •   FSN Forum digest No. 1316

Rural migration, agriculture and rural development

until 12 October 2017

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Dear Members,

Please find below the new contributions received to the online consultation Rural migration, agriculture and rural development, and feedback from Andrea Cattaneo, the facilitator of the consultation.

Andrea points to the richness and the variety of the contributions received so far, recognizing that they will be very helpful in preparing the 2018 edition of The State of Food and Agriculture.

Furthermore, he encourages you in particular to submit information on concrete country cases that could inform the report.

For more information on the consultation, please visit the webpage in English, French or Spanish, where you can also download the outline of the report.

You can post your comments online upon registration, or send them to FSN-moderator@fao.org.

We look forward to keep receiving your valuable input!

Your FSN Forum team

Andrea Cattaneo, facilitator of the consultation

Dear all, 

I want to thank all the contributors for the thoughtful and constructive interventions so far. They will certainly be of great help to us in preparing a better report.

It is difficult to summarize and cover the richness and variety of the interventions received. I would like to just mention a few significant areas. Several contributions highlight the challenges involved in defining and empirically assessing rural migration due to heterogeneity in definitions and measurements. Others highlight the complexity of impacts of migration both on rural labour markets and livelihoods. Important insights were also presented concerning the challenge of structural transformation, in particular in relation to dwindling farm sizes and poor agricultural labour productivity resulting from demographic pressures in rural areas. Gender issues were also prominent, as well as reminders to go beyond mere economic impacts of migration and include broader social impacts.

I would also like to thank those who have made specific suggestions for improvements to the contents and outline of our report, as well as those who have provided specific references to literature and ongoing work or concrete country examples from your own experience examples. We are very much interested in concrete country cases, and I would like to encourage further contributions in this direction.

I look forward to the continuation of an interesting discussion.



iconLal Manavado, University of Oslo affiliate, Norway

Lal provides comments on every chapter of the report’s outline. For instance, in his comments on the first chapter that describes migration, he argues that the proposed format focuses too much on the characterization of migration. In addition, he believes that while remittances from migrants may improve certain aspects of life of those left behind and benefit some sectors of the local economy, their impact on food production is negligible.  

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iconEileen Omosa, We Grow Ideas, Canada

Eileen introduces several aspects the report should include. Referring to chapter 6 of the outline, which deals with policy implications, she discusses the current issue of international migrants, some of which are farm workers in the Global South and migrate to large scale farms in the Global North. She asks what policies are in place to enable rural immigrants to return rather than making them permanent farm workers for industry.

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iconEmile Houngbo, National University of Agriculture, Porto-Novo, Benin

According to Emile, the report should pay attention to the fact that rural migration is almost always a manifestation of the failure of national agricultural policy. Creating a favorable environment, which involves the mitigation of risks incurred by farmers and enabling each agricultural region to develop its basic crops, is crucial for addressing migration issues.  

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iconStanley Weeraratna, Rain Water Harvesting Forum, Sri Lanka

Stanley’s comments focus on chapter 4 of the outline of the report, which deals with the impacts of migration on rural communities and agricultural development. For instance, he points out that the report should include the effects of migration (and remittances) on rural people whose work is indirectly related to crop production, and on people employed in other sectors, such as carpentry and masonry. In addition, Stanley discusses various positive and negative effects of migration on agriculture and development.

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iconPhilipp Aerni, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Philipp agrees with David Michael, who contributed earlier to this consultation, and argues that the report would benefit from more urbanization experts with a background in the history of rural-urban linkages. Furthermore, Philipp points out that many rural development experts tend to ignore the fact that in LDCs, average farm sizes are currently shrinking rather than increasing, and elaborates on the reasons and consequences of this phenomenon while relating it to migration. He also shares a paper he wrote on migration-induced urban growth.

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iconSimeon Onya, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Nigeria

Simeon proposes to include “human capital development” in section 1.4 of the report, which addresses rural migration in the context of economic development.

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iconAlexander Sagaydak, State University of Land Use Planning, Russian Federation

Alexander elaborates on trends and issues related to the agricultural sector that affect migration from rural to urban areas. For instance, he refers to land consolidation in agriculture, which has positive and negative consequences: it improves the efficiency of agricultural production, but reduces the demand for labor, which consequently leads to migration and the degradation of social infrastructure in rural areas.

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iconJeeyon Janet Kim, Tufts University, United States of America

Jeeyon shares general comments as well as suggestions on specific sections of the document. In the first section of the report, she believes that the term and scope of “food security” should be defined, and it should include an overview of the conceptual and empirical linkages between migration and the different levels at which food security exists (globally, nationally, or at the household or individual level), time frames, and the different domains of food security. Generally, Jeeyon thinks that gender- and age-specific issues should be part of the report, and that the discussion on non-economic effects of migration should be strengthened.

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iconVethaiya Balasubramanian, Freelance consultant, India

Vethaiya argues that in order to address issues related to rural migration, a paradigm shift is needed in national development. This will entail building “smart villages” rather than “smart cities”, and developing agriculture and related processing and value addition industries in rural areas to stimulate the rural economy.

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iconAndrea Magarini, Milan Municipality, Italy

In his contribution titled “Managing the root causes of migrations from Africa through the cohesion of city-region food systems", Andrea describes the nexus between climate change, food security, urban growth and migration, and points out how African cities can and do take action on city-region food systems. Andrea argues that one could test activities that aim at increasing territorial cohesion through linking rural-urban areas, rural areas, secondary cities and major cities, while creating opportunities for local development within the frame of a wider strategy.

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iconAmanullah, The University of Agriculture Peshawar, Pakistan

Amanullah points to the lack of policy attention for rural people and shares an example from his region, which is well known for its peach production. He stresses that the rural people migrate to cities due to the fact that the peach farmers receive very low prices for their produce.

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