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Decentralized Development in Agriculture. An Overview. EASYPol Series 012

Issue Paper

This issue paper provides an overview of “Decentralized development in agriculture”. It explains what decentralization is about, including who is involved and the various forms and dimensions of the process. There are various practical expressions of decentralization in agricultural and rural development, including country efforts at: reform of agricultural services; natural resource and environmental management; and development or refinement of planning and management processes.

This paper next examines the potential benefits of decentralization, possible drawbacks and risks associated. Conceptual and practical issues that have an important bearing on policy decisions on decentralization are discussed. This focuses on the changing roles and relationships, posing important questions on whether there is need for government interventions, and if so in which aspect of service provision. We also highlight the importance of organizational and political factors.

Decentralization is by and large a highly empirical exercise, and ensuring the right mix of conditions is essential for successful implementation. We next outline key principles and some basic conditions to serve as a general guide for decentralization decisions. International experience and FAO’s contribution to advancement of decentralized approaches to development are then briefly reviewed.

This paper is part of a FAO Policy series: EASYPol-Resources for policy making (in agriculture, rural development and food security). To find other EASYPol series' resources, go to the Policy Support and Governance website>Resources and type "EASYPol" in the free text search.

Published: 2005
Publisher: Cistulli, V., Lai, K.C.
Geography: Global