The share of the Asia and Pacific Region (APR) in the global GDP has risen from 18.1 per cent in 1980 to 27.8 per cent in 2013, and the credit for this nearly 10 per cent growth goes to India and China, a latest report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) reveals.
The APR region has witnessed growth in GDP averaging an annual 4.5 per cent in 1980-2000 and 4.4 per cent in 2000-2013, compared with 2.6 per cent and 2.0 per cent for the rest of world over these periods. This rapid growth lifted the region’s share of global GDP to 27.8 per cent in 2013.
“Such performance was driven by China and India, the region’s two largest developing economies, which achieved together annual growth of 7.4 per cent in 2011-2015,” the “Rural Development Report 2016: Fostering Inclusive Rural Transformation” released by IFAD says.
Countries like Afghanistan, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste also grew at above 7 per cent a year, while Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan and Thailand grew at below 5 per cent.
However, IFAD says that economic growth is not alone enough to eliminate poverty, which is “largely a rural phenomenon”. Governments need targeted policies and investments that focus on agricultural development that is sustainable, raises wages and creates off-farm jobs in rural areas, it says.
“The rapid economic growth in the region has come at a cost. Urbanization has led to a wide income gap between rural and urban areas. In a number of countries malnutrition remains an area of great concern while agricultural production has weighed heavily on existing natural resources,” says IFAD Associate Vice-President Perin Saint Ange,
The report provides insight into the Asia and Pacific regional and country-specific challenges and the varied pace of development in the region, and highlights the centrality of rural and agricultural development to overall economic growth.
It says that countries that have achieved fast structural and rural transformation have also dramatically reduced poverty, which across the region fell from 71 per cent in 1981 to 15 per cent in 2011. But slow transformers have not witnessed the same reductions as faster transformers; 560 million people or 13.6 per cent of the population of the region were still living on less than US$1.25 a day in 2011.
The cases of China, India, the Philippines and Vietnam show that policies, institutions and investments are key to determining the speed and inclusiveness of rural transformation. In each country, land reform, basic investments in rural areas and other sectoral policies have been decisive factors, the IFAD report says.
The report also points out that driven mainly by rising income and urbanization, food-consumption patterns have been changing, shifting from starchy staples and rice towards fruit and vegetables, livestock and dairy products, fish, sugar and oils.
The growing demand for livestock products and the rising costs of fossil fuels, combined with concerns about the environment and energy self-sufficiency, have spurred production of crops for animal feed and bio-fuels.
The report quotes case studies of China, India, the Philippines and Vietnam to “confirm” that policies, institutions and investments are fundamental to the speed and inclusiveness of rural transformation. “The design and implementation of institutions, policies and investments in each of these countries have influenced the path and speed of rural transformation and their outcomes for inclusion and poverty reduction. In all four countries, land reform, rural investments and sectoral policies have been decisive,” it says.
Around 3.8 billion people inhabit the 29 countries of the APR region covered by this chapter, with populations ranging from 0.1 million to 1,360 million, and national population densities from as low as two people per sq. km of land to as high as 1,200.
China and India together account for more than 60 per cent of the region’s population. More than half the region’s population live in rural areas, most of whom are still engaged in agriculture.
Source: The Indian Awaaz