Good rural governance is key to realising rights, leaving no-one behind and achieving sustainability of rural development programmes. Yet, it does not receive the attention it requires. In a world that is likely to miss the Sustainable Development Goals in eleven years from now, a discussion on rural governance is an urgent necessity.
The cooperative model has been sidelined in development cooperation for many years – for various reasons. On the one hand, cooperatives have been completely overestimated as an instrument and expected to solve a whole bunch of problems at one stroke. On the other hand, they were long misused for state purposes and have therefore been regarded with mistrust. The fact that the United Nations has declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives is a good opportunity to take a closer look at this special form of enterprise. We wish to give you an idea of the range of manifestations that the cooperative model has taken worldwide and of the role that cooperatives can play in overcoming rural poverty.
2014 is the International Year of Family Farming. What makes family farms so important is that they are the main producers of food consumed locally in both developed and developing countries. There are around 525 million family farmers, and they account for well over half of all agricultural production. Thus they play a crucial role in maintaining global food security. To raise awareness of this significance, but also to show governments and society what they have to do to support family farms in performing this important role is the notion behind the United Nations’ proclaiming the International Year of Family Farming.
It’s easy to find arguments in favour of raising the degree of farm mechanisation. It’s just as easy to find examples of ambitious mechanisation concepts that failed miserably. Our authors show why and how the individual regions throughout the world have developed differently in terms of mechanisation and present examples of concepts that are really forward-looking, i.e. sustainable with a view to climate change and scarce natural resources, and that are above all also suitable for smallholders.