|The Crisis in African Agriculture - Studies in African Political Economy (UNU, 1987, 99 pages)|
|7: The alternative and its prerequisites|
The strategy for the urban areas will be closely related to the rural development strategy, so that the two strategies are mutually reinforcing for a harmonious and balanced development.
To date, industrialization has affected only the urban centres in most countries. That encourages the rural exodus, even though the supply of industrial jobs is low and in no way corresponds to the numbers involved in the exodus. That is due to the policies which are currently being pursued and which manifestly lack imagination.
What is needed in most cases is to devise the conditions for a movement in the opposite direction. What is needed is to initiate and encourage an urban exodus so as to reduce considerably the population of the towns. A well thought out policy with a variety of axes might make it possible to attain that objective. A complete decentralization of the industries currently concentrated in the towns, sometimes even in the capital alone, could be a major axis.
The goal of industrial production must be twofold. First, the production of agricultural inputs through a host of small local industries scattered all over the country. Second, the processing of the raw materials which an expanding agriculture supported in that way could produce to ensure that these industries run at full capacity.
Without going into too much detail, it is reasonable to think that the small production industries could, for technical matters and management, come under the basic structures while the relatively heavier processing industries could mainly come under the central government. Thus, processing industries, like mining industries, would be nationally owned, whereas small industries which will initially include a not insignificant amount of crafts, would be owned by the basic structures.
The creation in the rural communities, of vital infrastructure (in education, health, sport, etc.), linked to the development of small rural industries might halt and even reverse the rural exodus. The great mass of the urban unemployed of rural origin, who suffer from malnutrition and poor health, would surely return to the countryside where they would henceforth be guaranteed a job and all the material and psychological conditions that provide a family with security. In addition, the costs of building this rural infrastructure would be very low, far less than the costs of the excessive luxury that marks some sectors in most of our cities.
The marginalized urban craft sectors could be grouped together and properly structured in order to meet urban demand efficiently, and so greatly reduce imports. We are thinking, among others, of the construction sector, furniture manufacture, etc. They could thus constitute a real industry and guarantee regular work to those working there.
The central authorities have an important role to play in the reorganization of these sectors and in facilitating the acquisition of some machinery.
The activities of countless petty traders which often conceal hidden unemployment must be rethought. Increasing the number of people's shops in the towns catering for all everyday consumer products might make it possible to recycle a good proportion of these semi-employed people.
The administration should be as decentralized as possible. In addition, to avoid the plethora of officials barricaded in their offices in towns, the teaching profession must be entirely reformed, eliminating all the sequels of the colonial period so as to adapt it to the new economic and social realities.
The training of cadres at all levels cannot remain unorganized. It must be strictly planned so as to respond to the needs of the rural and urban economies and the services essential to them. Thus, teaching and training will be mainly directed towards the productive system.