Rural underdevelopment is the absence of a series of quantitative and qualitative changes in a rural population that would effectively converge in raising the standard of living and improving the way of life of the people concerned. The most striking features may be: limited technical knowledge as characterized by relative technological stagnation, which is at the same time the cause and consequence of wrong land utilization; under-employment of the available rural manpower; a relatively low per capita income, and hence a chronic shortage of capital for financing further development; weak or inadequate socio-economic infrastructures for rural producers; and failing rural institutions, particularly the inadequate organization of the domestic market, resulting in a marked tendency to develop export crops (in fact, export monoculture) which are often the only profitable ones. The small peasant farmers, the share-croppers and the landless labourers continue to live in poverty using the same subsistence farming techniques as they have for centuries, and never receive the benefits of any food production techniques developed or profit realized from exported produce.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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