The concept of RDF is based on Integrated Rural Development Programme which was conceived, planned and implemented by Dr. M. Sadiq Malik in 1967 while serving West Pakistan Agriculture Development Corporation (WPADC) as Director of Projects and Coordination.
The basic tenet of his research was that Rural and agricultural development constitutes an integrated process and it forms a cyclic pattern of development. All aspects of rural life are interrelated and no lasting results can be achieved if individual aspects are dealt with in isolation. In order to bring economic and social change in the rural community, joint efforts by the government, farmers and private sector institutions are simultaneously required.
Efficacy of the concept was practically demonstrated through a pilot project which was launched near Lahore with the name of “Shadab Pilot Project”. The project was implemented near Lahore in 10 Union Councils comprising of 150-200 villages. Shadab was an integration and combination of several services in a united programme to provide all the necessary assistance to the villagers as a package deal through a focal point called “MARKAZ”. Markaz was the real hub of integration activities. The refined concept of SHADAB was:
“To select a production area comprising 50-60 villages with a view to improve the socio-economic status of the target group through intensive rural development programme. The initial thrust shall be to increase agricultural production and productivity by intensification, diversification and commercialization of agriculture based on sound physical organizational and institutional infrastructure. This require upgrading of skills through appropriate technology, provision of supervised credit, inputs, machinery, tools, storage, marketing, health, education, etc. as a package deal from a focal point (growth centre called MARKIZ)”
(The graphical representation of Markaz concept)
Development Assistant is incharge of each of the Union Council consisting of 3-4 villages. He is responsible to carry out in-depth survey of villages and prepare and formulate projects in consultation with Village Development Committee, particularly their needs for pre and post harvest inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, machinery, tractors and thrashers, etc. They consolidate demand from the villagers and forward it to the Project Manager, who after receiving such reports from all the Development Assistants, submits it to the district governments.
The Markaz is selected very carefully which has the potential to develop into Township OR Agrovill. Apart from agricultural inputs, the Markaz Manager is responsible for proper storage and marketing of their produce. The Markaz also has the facilities to process their produce such as rice husking mills, flour mills, cotton ginning etc. so that the added value goes to the small farmers. Markaz also had the suitable facilities for health, education and training of farmers.
After two years, SHADAB project was formally evaluated by experts from Agriculture University Layllpur (now Faisalabad) and 10% increase in productivity was witnessed. Success of Shadab was in large part was due to well guided input of human resources devoted to organizational, management and technical assistance as farmers were provided training, model demonstration and all the extension services required by them.
Impressed by the success of Shadab Project, The Federal Government under the leadership of Prime Minister of Pakistan launched this programme in 1972 with full force and political commitment in the four provinces of the country.
On 1st July, 1972, on the launching ceremony of IRDP, Mr. Z.A. Bhutto (then Prime Minister) expressed his views as follows,
“The IRDP programme is probably our last hope to improve the economic position of our vast majority of small farmers and this will improve the quality of life of the villagers, afford employment opportunities, reduce gap between urban and rural areas, so that the people living in the villages may participate with their colleagues in the cities with pride in political, social, and economic life of the country.”
In a short span of time, IRDP started showing positive results. In July, 1973, when IRDP completed one year of its operation 65 Markaz have been established in the four provinces. Here is a map showing 65 growth centres
(IRDP Projects in Pakistan on July 1973)
The programme was fully supported by international agencies and World Bank and it continued from 1972-1977. This concept was debated and discussed threadbare in a series of seminars and discussions and was greatly acclaimed both by national and international experts.
In an international seminar on 3-10 November 1973, where more than 100 experts from all over the world participated, a Sr. FAO Consultant Mr. Lawrence .I. Hewes, expressed his views as
“The Pakistani concept of IRDP is not only suitable for Pakistan but also for the rural development of third world countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia”.
Mr. Lawrence Hews really liked the Shadab project of Dr. Malik and admired it in these words,
“The Shadab has created an atmosphere wherein all the departmental rivalries have been sunk, duplication of efforts avoided and wastage of resources minimized. Now instead of multitude of departments, the farmer finds “SHADAB” a “single friend” willing and capable of offering services to him on the spot. No wonder Shadab has earned a unique acceptance with the farming community in a single year, which all the departments could not muster during the last century”.
Then there was a CENTO seminar on IRDP started on 27 January 1975 attended by participants from Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, and UK & USA. The seminar lasted for 7 days with concrete recommendations given by the participants regarding the implementation of IRDP nationwide.
The concept was further discussed in a meeting called by FAO in 1976 at Rome. Dr. Malik chaired this meeting and submitted his report to FAO as the chairman of the World Expert Consultation Group on IRDP.
The concept of IRDP which gained international fame and recognition was rolled up gradually due to political reasons. With the change of the government in 1977, the programme was discarded without realizing its significance. But yet the concept was instrumental in creating the following institutions:
- Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development
- National Centre for Rural Development (NCRD) Chakshehzad, Islamabad.
- National Council on Integrated Rural Development (NCIRDP) under Prime Minister
- Centre of Integrated Rural Development for Asia and Pacific (CIRDAP) by UN in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh)
- Establishment of 138 Marakaz (Growth Centers) as against 625 planned to cover entire Pakistan.
(Map: showing Marakaz locations in the country)
Poverty Alleviation through IRDP:
The ultimate aim of IRDP was to alleviate poverty for which following steps were taken under IRDP:
- 625 focal points (Marakiz) were selected in the four provinces and Azad Kashmir which had the potential to develop into townships (Agrovills).
- The Project Manager was made wholly responsible for the planning and development of 20-25 villages within his project area.
- Marakiz were to be linked with Local Body System at grass root level.
- Population of the Project area was given opportunity to establish small scale industries to increase their income by setting up of processing plants for the added value.
625 Marakiz were to be established after detailed survey of 45000 villages of Pakistan. The Project Areas were expected to develop gradually into townships (Agrovills) encouraging establishment of small industries. This would have solved the problem of rural unemployment. Small farmers would have been able to process the raw material, thus getting the value added to their produce. It would have been possible to reduce the income inequality gap between rural and urban areas, thus reducing the level of poverty. It would have arrested the rural migration to urban areas, reducing pressure on urban cities, thus avoiding many problems in the cities.
It is unfortunate that in Pakistan, the rural development programmes launched by one government are ended without any evaluation. IRDP met the same fate and was rolled back in 1978.
After the programme was put in the cold storage, Dr. Sadiq Malik realized the need of an organization that could carry forward his mission of rural development. So, it was in June 1978, when RDF was established to serve the same above purpose.