Migration, Agriculture and Rural Development

Migration is a historic and multi-faceted phenomenon, involving humanitarian, human rights and demographic issues. It has deep economic, environmental and political implications. It generates many different legitimate and strongly held opinions. Not always the strongly held are legitimate. Not always the legitimate are strongly held. – Antonio Guterres (Secretary-General of the United Nations)

Internal migration is a precursor international migration in developing countries. Most migration occurs from one developing country to another developing country and within a developing country (rural-rural migration and rural-urban migration). Migration policies should be coherent with agriculture policies and rural development policies. Migration is part of SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) 10, Target 10.7 and is seen as a path to reduce in inequality within and between nations.

The general perception of migration must change. People must be educated on the importance of migration to development. The wrong perception can flood other countries and create issues there. Migration should be incorporated into development policy. Livelihoods and resilience of the agriculture-reliant populations must be strengthened. Only then can benefits of their displacement be fully realized. The most sustainable solutions to problems arising from internal and international displacement are political and they involve collective, diplomatic and political leadership. They involve international cooperation. It has to be understood that the real problem is in the approach taken towards migration governance and not the occurrence of migration itself. Government policies should aim to maximise benefits for citizens and migrants, not to reduce or accelerate migration.

90% of developing countries house refugees. Migration encourages development and migrants complement the labour market. Migration is here to stay and it will continue to be a part of our lives. It is projected that about 150 million people could be displaced to the effects of climate change. The focus is presently on distress-driven migration. People will search for alternative livelihoods if food, water and energy security is absent; if there is no timely rural development. Policy-makers should explore ways (cost-benefit analysis of migration) of managing more mobility for sustainable development (eg. the substitution of cash transfers with cash-for-work programmes). They should anticipate situations and design policies accordingly.

This report is especially applicable to ASEAN, where the majority of states are agriculture-reliant and where intra-regional migration has increased significantly.


Leave a Reply