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Agriculture and Rural Development

An update on Bhutan’s economy

Yoichiro Ishihara's picture
Accelerating the reform momentum after the 2018 elections is key to consolidating and furthering Bhutan’s development
Accelerating the reform momentum after the 2018 elections is key to consolidating and furthering Bhutan’s development. Credit: World Bank

Bhutan is one of the smallest, but fastest-growing economies in the world.
 
Its annual average economic growth of 7.6 percent between 2007 and 2017 far exceeds the average global growth rate of 3.2 percent.
 
This high growth has contributed to reducing poverty: Extreme poverty was mostly eradicated and dwindled from 8 percent in 2007 to 1.5 percent in 2017, based on the international poverty line of $1.90 a day (at purchasing power parity).
 
Access to basic services such as health, education and asset ownership has also improved significantly.
 
The country has a total of 32 hospitals and 208 basic health units, with each district hospital including almost always three doctors.
 
The current national literacy rate is 71 percent and the youth literacy rate is 93 percent.
 
The recent statistics on lending, inflation, exchange rates and international reserves (Sources: RMA, NSB) confirm that Bhutan maintained robust growth and macroeconomic stability in the first half of 2018.  

Gross foreign reserves have been increasing since 2012 when the country experienced an Indian rupee shortage.
 
Reserves exceeded $1.1 billion, equivalent to 11 months of imports of goods and services, which makes the country more resilient to potential shocks.
 
The nominal exchange rate has been depreciating since early 2018 (with ngultrum reaching Nu. 73 against the US dollar in early November).

Poor sanitation is stunting children in Pakistan

Ghazala Mansuri's picture
A nutrition assistant measures 1 year old Gullalay’s mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) at UNICEF supported nutrition center in Civil Dispensary Kaskoruna, Mardan District, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan.
With a stunting rate of 38 percent, Pakistan is still among the group of countries with the highest rates of stunting globally and the pace of decline remains slow and uneven. In Sindh, for example, things have worsened over time, with one in two children now stunted. Credit: UNICEF


More than one in every three children born in Pakistan today is stunted.

Child stunting, measured as low height for age, is associated with numerous health, cognition and productivity risks with potential intergenerational impacts.

With a stunting rate of 38 percent (Demographic & Health Survey 2018), Pakistan is still among the group of countries with the highest rates of stunting globally and the pace of decline remains slow and uneven.

In Sindh, for example, things have worsened over time, with one in two children now stunted!

The policy response to this enormous health crisis has been almost entirely centered on interventions at the household level—reducing open defecation (OD), improving household behaviors like child feeding and care practices and food intake.  

A recent World Bank report, which I co-authored, suggests that a major shift is this policy focus is required for significant progress on child stunting.

The report begins by showing that over the past 15 years Pakistan has made enormous progress in reducing extreme poverty, with the poverty rate falling from 64 percent to just under 25 percent in 2016.

This has improved dietary diversity, even among the poorest, and increased household investment in a range of assets, including toilets within the home.

This has, in turn, led to a major drop in OD, from 29 percent to just 13 percent. Curative care has also expanded, with the mainstreaming of basic health units and the lady health worker program.
 

In Africa, more not fewer people will work in agriculture

Luc Christiaensen's picture
Is the neglect of agriculture in job creation strategies and public investments premature? Photo:  Peter Kapuscinski / World Bank

Many people in Sub-Saharan Africa still work in agriculture; on average, over half of the labor force, and even more in poorer countries and localities. Yet the share of the labor force in agriculture is declining (as is normal in development), leading African leaders and economists to focus on job creation outside agriculture.

Planning for jobs of the future matters.  The 200 million young people (those ages 15-24 years old) either looking for jobs or constructing livelihoods now, will increase to 275 million each year by 2030, and 325 million by 2050. Is the neglect of agriculture in job creation strategies and public investments premature?

Making room for Africa's urban billion

Sebastian Kriticos's picture

By 2050, more than a billion people will be living in African cities and towns. As more and more of the continent’s population – 60 percent of whom live in the countryside – move to urban areas, pressures on land can only intensify. How should we make room for this massive urban expansion? How will city structures have to change to accommodate Africa’s urban billion? And could well-directed policy help spring African cities out of the low-development trap? These questions were at the core of discussions at the World Bank’s 5th  Urbanisation and Poverty Reduction research conference on September 6th 2018.

Five takeaways for better nutrition in South Asia—and beyond

Felipe F. Dizon's picture
In many developing countries, governments and health authorities face the dilemma of how to feed their growing population while ensuring their food is nutritious. Credit: World Bank

Together with more than 1,500 academics, scientists, and policymakers, we participated last week in the Rice Olympics.
 
The event—formally known as the International Rice Congress (IRC)—provides a unique window on the latest innovations and policies about the globe’s most important staple crop.
 
For many, rice may not seem worth the cost of a conference trip. Yet, half of the world’s population depend on it as their main supply of nutrients and energy.  
 
Rice isn’t just a crop,” said Rajan Garjaria, Executive Vice President for Business Platforms at Corteva Agriscience. “It’s a way of life. A place can be made or broken, based on their rice crop.
 
The Congress discussed a breadth of topics, but what stood out the most is that rice can be instrumental in making people healthier and in sustaining the planet.
 
The South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (SAFANSI), a World Bank partnership that aims to improve food and nutrition security across the region, participated in the Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems and Diets and presented its latest research on linkages among food prices, diet quality, and nutrition security.  
 
Overall, the event underscored how governments and health authorities in many developing countries face the dilemma of how to feed their growing population while ensuring their food is nutritious and discussed relevant strategies to transform nutrition security challenges into opportunities.

What’s the latest in development economics research? Microsummaries of 150+ papers from NEUDC 2018

David Evans's picture



Last weekend, the North East Universities Development Consortium held its annual conference, with more than 160 papers on a wide range of development topics and from a broad array of low- and middle-income countries. We’ve provided bite-sized, accessible (we hope!) summaries of every one of those papers that we could find on-line. Check out this collection of exciting new development economics research!

The papers are sorted by topic, but obviously many papers fit with multiple topics. There are agriculture papers in the behavioral section and trade papers in the conflict section. You should probably just read the whole post.

If you want to jump to a topic of interest, here they are: agriculture, behavioral, climate change, conflict, early child development, education, energy, finance, firms and taxes, food security, gender, health and nutrition, households, institutions and political economy, labor and migration, macroeconomics, poverty and inequality, risk management, social networks, trade, urban, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).

A warming world means it’s high time to rethink the composition of agricultural support

Martien van Nieuwkoop's picture
Also available in: Français 
Photo Credit: Flore de Preneuf/World Bank

From the Old Farmer’s Almanac to cutting edge satellite systems, farmers have always been in the market for weather forecasts that help them decide when to plant and harvest to mitigate climate risks. Earlier this month, the 48th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change delivered sobering news: the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR1.5) concluded that climate impacts are already occurring and will be much worse at 2°C than previously projected.

Budding entrepreneurs in rural Bihar

Vinay Kumar Vutukuru's picture

Agricultural entrepreneurship

Rahul Kumar is a 25-year-old community extension worker at Jeevika in the eastern Indian state of Bihar. He set up an agri-business enterprise six months ago and it’s turned out to be quite a success. Kumar earned more than INR 180,000 ($2,700) in barely one month during the rainy season crop cycle, also known as Kharif crop in India. What’s more, he sold quality seeds and other agriculture inputs to more than 150 farmers during that period, helping them save over INR 50,000. “Whatever I could earn as a Village Resource Person (VRP) over a period of one year, I managed to earn that much as an agri-entrepreneur in just one month,” said Kumar.
 
A three-way partnership between JEEViKA (a Government of Bihar supported program for economic empowerment), Syngenta Foundation India (a civil society organization working towards enhancing farmers’ incomes) and the National Institute of Rural development & Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR), an academic institution helped Kumar and his farmer friends achieve a remarkable turnaround in their fortunes.
 
In this partnership, NIRDPR provided training to the budding entrepreneurs under the overall technical support of SFI, who provided on-the-ground hand-holding and mentoring support. JEEViKA provided the institutional platform from where promising local youths were identified, selected and incubated to work as entrepreneurs. The community organizations, in many cases, also provided the initial credit for seed capital to these entrepreneurs to start their agri-business ventures. 

Pathal Ram, a small farmer from the same village said, “If I could get good quality seeds and other inputs at my home, what is the point of going to the market? It saves my time and money. I could use this time in my field for better cultivation.”

The green growth crossroads: changing course to fight climate change in Lao PDR

Stephen Danyo's picture

Small, landlocked, and resource-rich Lao PDR has been quietly maintaining its place as one of East Asia and Pacific’s fastest growing economies for nearly 20 years. Since 2000, the average economic growth rate of the country has been nearly 8 percent. This growth has propelled Lao PDR through many positive milestones, including meeting the criteria of Least Developed Country graduation for the first time this year. Meanwhile, poverty declined from 34 percent in 2003, to 23 percent according to most recent data, and incomes for many have risen.


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