Agropolitan development: towards a new strategy for regional planning in Asia.

Friedmann J; Douglass M
In: Lo FC, Salih K, ed. Growth pole strategy and regional development policy: Asian experience and alternative approaches. Oxford, England, Pergamon, 1978. 163-92.

The contours of a possible new planning paradigm are beginning to emerge. Its primary objective is social development with focus on specific human needs. According to this paradigm, development must be fitted to ecological constraints. Priority attention in agrarian economies must be given to rural development, and planning for rural development must be decentralized, participatory, and deeply immersed in the particulars of local settings. Planning will have to be based on qualitative judgments as much as on quantitative techniques, and its style will have to be transactive. The intention here is to propose a spatial model for the emerging paradigm. In the 1st part of the discussion, the results of the strategy of accelerated industrialization in India, Indonesia, West Malaysia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, and Thailand are assessed. The 2nd section considers the question of a spatial policy for implementing the new strategy. Rising import prices, declining export markets, and deteriorating terms of trade combine to make strategy 1 inoperative as a guide to the future. One can look forward to a period when starvation will become general endemic, subsistence survival in the countryside will no longer be overshadowed by relatively better living conditions in the city, and when the economic environment, even in the metropolis, starts to deteriorate. For all these reasons, a case can be made for a reassessment of national development strategies. The following policy elements should be included on the agenda: limited and specific human needs should replace unlimited, generalized wants as the fundamental criterion of successful national development; agriculture should be regarded as a leading sector of the economy; attaing self sufficiency in domestic food production should be considered a high priority objective; existing inequalities in income and living conditions between social classes and between urban and rural areas should be reduced; facilitative measures to increase production of wage goods for domestic consumption should be given high priority; a policy of planned industrial dualism should be adopted whereby small scale production for the domestic market is protected against competition from large scale capital intensive enterprise. A strategy which incorporates these elements shall be called a strategy of accelerated development, or strategy 2. None of the 6 countries under study have as yet committed themselves to the strategy of accelerated rural development, and policy criteria will have to be invented in a vacuum of relevant experience. Statements regarding what a strategy of accelerated rural development would hope to achieve are outlined. The policy framework for agropolitan development envisions creating "cities in the fields" by embedding some of the key elements of urbanism in dense rural areas of limited size. The agropolitan district appears as the appropriate unit for devising a policy of spatial development through decentralized planning and decision making.

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