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Rural Transformation in the Philippines: A Development Agenda


  • Karen Q. Custodio
  • Mercedita A. Sombilla


Poverty incidence is typically characterized as predominantly agriculture- and rural-based in most developing countries (IFAD 2018). In the Philippines, the proportion of the poor in rural areas, including farmers and fisherfolk, reached 25.7 percent, whereas urban poverty incidence was 11.6 percent only (PSA 2023a). As of 2021, around 2.7 million farmers and fisherfolk, or 30 percent of their population, live below the national poverty threshold (PSA 2023a). Since poverty is primarily concentrated in rural areas, ramping up agricultural and rural development has been a continued focus as a key poverty reduction strategy not only in the Philippines but in developing Asia as a whole. Evidence shows that strengthening rural economies by promoting economic activities rooted in rural areas and enhancing agricultural productivity can significantly reduce poverty and promote inclusive growth (Wickramasinghe 2018). Rural development has been recognized as one of the most powerful and reliable strategies for reducing poverty and effecting inclusive growth in developing countries (IFAD 2016). It primarily involves the intertwined subprocesses of structural transformation and rural transformation, where the latter is embedded within the structural transformation process (Timmer and Akkus 2008).Â

Suggested Citation

  • Karen Q. Custodio & Mercedita A. Sombilla, 2023. "Rural Transformation in the Philippines: A Development Agenda," Policy Paper 2023-1, Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
  • Handle: RePEc:sag:seappr:2023:565

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    Philippines; rural transformation; agricultural and rural development;
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