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Major Characteristics of Rural Areas

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Despite the fact that rural areas have law population density, its also characterized by poor road networks, large dependence on agriculture, lack of portable water and electricity, poor communication facilities, absent of good markets, large number of old people then youth, minimal capital investment, large percentage illiterate e.t.c

1.    Poor Road Network

If you are from a rural area or if you have ever visited one, you would have observed that the road network cannot in anyway be compared with that of the urban area in terms of motorableness and other qualities. Both inter and intra-networks are bad. The gutters are not dug, the roads are not tarred and therefore predisposed to erosion. Most roads to the farms are mere foot paths. Bad road network in the area is one of the factors that increases cost of food production, hence, increase in prices of farm products.

2.    Large Dependence on Agriculture

Another characteristic of rural area is that, a large percentage of the adults are engaged in agriculture or other agriculture-related activities. The term “rural” can as well be defined as an area or settlement in which half or more of the adult male working population is engaged in farming. According to Imoudu (1986), while urban dwellers are generally non-agricultural, ruralites are essentially agricultural. Consequently, the word ‘rural’ can be equated to agriculture and other agriculture-related occupations carried on in the rural areas.

3.    Lack of Portable Water and Electricity

Not until recently that the government administrations and other international donor agencies began to give consideration to the provision of portable water and electricity, typical rural areas have been associated with the lack of them. In fact, lack of these and some other social amenities, have been the REASON WHY the youth often migrate to the urban areas in search for better living standard.

The absence of these necessary amenities is also the reason why cottage industries such as farm product processing facilities cannot be provided. So, while the rural areas produce the farm products the processing is mainly done in the urban areas.

4.    Poor Communication Facilities

Rural areas are also characterized by poor communication facilities. Rural areas lack postal services, telephones, fax and electronic mails (e-mail). Television and radio are scarcely used due to lack of electricity. Village criers normally convey information from the ruler to the subjects.

5.    Absence of Good Markets

Have you been to any market in the rural area? If you have, you would have observed that, the markets often don’t have lock-up shops but in the open and usually no standard of measurement but on the bargaining ability of the buyer. Farm products usually predominate rural markets.

6.    Larger Number of Old People than the Youth

Rural area usually has larger number of old people than the youth. This is because the youth often migrate to the urban areas in search of work, higher education, apprenticeship to a trade or other engagements for survival.

7.    Minimal Capital Investment

Rural area is also identified with minimal capital investment. The rhythm of poverty prevailing in rural settings does not afford the rural dwellers the opportunity for high capital investment. Their source of income is mainly from the savings from the sale of their farm products. Strict collateral security, often demanded by credit institutions, does not equally afford the rural dwellers the opportunity for leans as obtained in urban areas.

8.    Large Percentage of Illiterates

Have you ever noticed that a large percentage of people in the rural areas are illiterate? In the previous unit, you remember that it was mentioned that there are more elderly people than the youth? Yes, these elder people did not have the opportunity for western education and that is why a larger percentage of them are farmers, since they cannot do to other jobs which may demand some levels of literacy. The educated ones are found in the towns and cities striving for survival.

9.    Large Dependence on Local Farm Tools

Can you mention some local farm tools used in the rural areas? Yes, if you mention hoe, cutlass, knife then you are correct. The rural people cannot afford mechanized farming because of its need for high capital outlay. So, rural farmers are into subsistence farming.

10.    Dependence on Household Labor

Another characteristics of rural areas is that, the main source of their labor is by the household. Can you define a household? What is the difference between a household and a family? Labor supply for the various farming activities is from the household family mainly. Though hired labor or cooperative labor are also available, the unpaid and cheap labor force from the household family is most prevalent.

11.    Smallness of Farm Holdings

Earlier you have learnt that the rural settlers have minimal capital investment, they use local farm tools and depend mostly on household labour supply. All these are the factors militating against big farm enterprise resulting in the smallness of holdings among rural farmers. Olajide (1980) has earlier classified small farmers as people having less than two hectares of farm size. Not only that the farms are small they are equally scattered over distant areas.

12.    Settlement of Temporary Abode

Rural settlers often see themselves as living in a temporary abode. They believe that rural area dwellers have the bigger towns they belong to, where they celebrate Christian or Muslim or traditional festivals, where they contract marriages and where their dead are buried. So, it is a common to hear the rural dwellers to say we are going home anytime they are leaving for the town.

13.    Beliefs in Superstitions and Taboos

One other characteristic of rural dwellers is their strong belief in superstition. Almost throughout of Nigeria, superstition avails. Do you mean that you cannot define superstition? Let us take the definition by Ekong (1988). He defined the term as beliefs in regard to the supernatural, irrational fear of the unknown usually leading to misdirected reverence, while he defined taboos as, prohibitions on certain behaviors, objects or exchange to which some religious attributes are imputed.

Superstition and taboos are scarcely given consideration in the urban areas because of the erosion of such beliefs by western education, western religious activities, information technology and civilization generally, but still prevail dominantly in rural areas.

References

Ekong, E. E. (1988). An Introduction to Rural Sociology. Ibadan: Jumak Printers, pp. 426-430.

Olajide, S.O. (1980). Nigerian Small Farmers: Problems and Prospects in Integrated Rural Development. CARD, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, 19p.

Imoudu,P.B. (1986). The Role of Credit in Rural Development in Nigeria. A Paper Presented at Training Course in Administration of Rural Development Programme Organized by the Department of Farm Management and Extension, FUTA and Rural Development Agency of Ondo State, 6th – 9th December

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