Wiebe Draijer, Extension Manager at Cocoa Abrabopa in Ghana. "I lead the Extension Team, which supports Cocoa Abrabopa's farmers and trains them to use natural pest control agents and fertiliser correctly. This resulted in a doubling of the harvest in the first year alone, later rising to an increase of 400%!"
Rural Development and Innovation
Finding answers - and communicating them
Despite impressive reductions in poverty globally, progress has been uneven. Inequality is increasing between urban and rural areas and in rural areas in the developed and developing world. Each rural area has its own dynamics, opportunities and problems. In some countries, people are moving to the cities, causing depopulation of the countryside. What will be the effect on the liveability in villages, the effect for the rural youth? For an Eastern European family farm globalization (including EU regulations) may force them to stop farming or diversify their income, e.g. to earn additional income from West-European tourists. Or can an African farming family survive when members are becoming a victim of HIV/AIDS?
Students learn to analyse the reasons why inequality is so persistent and learn how to facilitate development that is pro-poor, which may lead to empowerment of vulnerable and marginalised rural communities. This intensive programme provides a practical introduction to the opportunities and threats affecting life in rural areas all over the world - a world that could soon become your own workspace.
In the second year, you will do a 10-week internship placement, for instance in an eco-village, a multifunctional farm or work in the rural area as a leader of a group of youngsters. Most often these internships are undertaken in the Netherlands, Europe, US or Canada, sometimes in a developing country.
In the third year you will do a 20-week internship placement. This is often in an organisation for regional/rural development. Examples of internships in foreign countries are India, the US, Ghana, Benin, Argentina and Uganda.
Both internships will help you to discover more about the area of work, about communication, cultures, teamwork, working independently and it will simultaneously challenge you personally.
As a rural developer and facilitator, you will pick up new ideas and trends, and use them in policy making and concrete activities. This way you can help people in the field to make a difference. Whether you work in your own or in another country, you will be a mediator between groups within organisations for a better collaboration.
Your flexibility will be as broad as your knowledge of the field. You may find yourself working in a government institution, consultancy firm, in a service centre or innovation group with rural entrepreneurs. You will be perfectly equipped for positions with development organisations such as CMC, VSO, or in companies and private organisations that carry out projects around the world.