The Rural Non-Farm Sector: Characteristics, Importance, Policies

Strategies to promote rural non-farm sector
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This presentation describes the characteristics and importance of the Rural Non-Farm (RNF) sector and the Rural Non-Farm Economy (RNFE). RNF activities relate to employment, income and livelihoods not directly derived from crop and livestock production.

The presentation states that focus on RNF sector leads to a more holistic view on rural development, and reflects the reality of growing economic diversification amongst rural households. RNF activities are:

  • Closely linked to agriculture, although the link diminishes with increasing diversification;
  • Positively correlated with higher income levels of rural families, higher potential for diversifying income and higher productivity in agricultural activities;
  • Usually market-based and trade driven;
  • Requires established links between sectors, where government has to play an enabling role.

Research indicates that the RNF sector is important for poverty alleviation, economic growth, rural development, sustainability of natural resources, gender, food security and prevention of rapid or excessive urbanization. Finally, future policies have to take broader strategic perspective, get away from the traditional sectoral approach and transcend the old paradigm, where agriculture was to feed people.

About this Publication

By Pfluger, W.