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For OECS, a New Definition of “Rural”

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States is placing the challenges of the region’s rural poor on the front burner, according to Darrel Montrope, head of the OECS’ Social Policy Unit, partly as the meaning of what it means to be rural evolves.

Montrope said a new definition of “rural” must be established given new patterns in transportation, communication and physical planning; those factors should influence the way rural development policy is envisioned, he said.

“You think of rural and then you think of agriculture, and you think of agriculture, then you think of farming,” he said. “When you think of farming, people tend to think so narrowly of bananas. But that is not the case. It is a lot more than that.”

Montrope said some OECS territories were visibly taking the evolution of rural communities into consideration at the policy level.

“If you look at rural communities, they might have agricultural issues, but not everyone living in a rural community in a farmer; there are fishers too, and we need to recognize these distinctions,” he said. “There is recognition by the authorities that work needs to be done. At least we are comforted by that.”

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