Impact of Industrialization & Urbanization on Farming Rural-urban Linkage

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Impact of Industrialization & Urbanization on Farming

  1. Rural-urban Linkage

  1. Types of flows and linkages between rural and urban areas

  1. population

  2. materials (agricultural products, farming machines, chemical fertilizers, etc.)

  3. information and cash (technology, market demand and etc.)

  1. Urban area as supply area

  1. cash / capital

  2. farming methods, technology

  3. machinery, chemical fertilizers, pesticide, seeds

  4. goods and services

  1. Urban areas as market areas

  1. food

  2. raw materials

  3. land

  4. other resources such as fresh water, recreational resource

  1. It is because there are goods and services of different orders. They have different market thresholds and ranges of goods, then, urban centres are arranged into different sizes or orders to provided different goods and services.

  2. In 19th Century, the direction of population flow is from rural to urban because of Industrial Revolution. Mechanization in farming led to excess labour in rural area. Industrialization in urban area demanded large number of workers. The employment opportunities and high living standard in urban created strong urban pull effect.

In 20th Century, the direction of population flow is from urban to rural because of suburbanization and counter-urbanization. The land use competition and the problems in urban area created strong push effect. The better living environment and improving transportation and facilities in rural area are great attraction to people living in urban.

II. Population Re-distribution and Impact on Agricultural Landscapes

  1. Differential migration (Selectivity of migration)

(1) Most migration groups consist of younger people because young people are more aggressive, ambitious and have better education. They can find jobs more easily in urban and can adapt to urban life more easily. Their opportunity cost of leaving rural area is lower because they do not own much in rural area.

(2) It is usual to find the better educated people leaving the rural areas because they can find jobs more easily in urban and can adapt to urban life more easily. They get more information about urban. The available jobs in rural are less suitable for them.

  1. Men are more migratory because they are more aggressive, ambitious and have better education. They can find jobs more easily in urban and can adapt to urban life more easily. They do not need to take up the duty of taking care of the aged and children.

Women are more migratory because their opportunity cost of leaving rural area is lower because they do not own much in rural area. Many industries in urban need cheap labour which suit female workers.

  1. Single people are more likely to migrate because they don’t have strong family tie and their opportunity cost of leaving is low.

(5) Attempts to improve the provision of social facilities in rural areas would result in

  • fewer out-migration from rural area because it will satisfy their demand for better living environment. Improvement works also provide employment opportunities to them.

  • more out-migration from rural area because more information from urban area encourages out-migration. Improvement works also stimulate greater expectation and higher demand of standard of living.

(6) From any one origin, the number of out-migrants to a specific destination shows a high correlation with distance between the origin and the destinations because of distance decay function. The information available becomes less as the friction of distance increases.

  1. Farming structure in regions of declining agricultural labour force

In the developed world, the declining agricultural labour force has led to

  1. change in farm size

  • the number of large farms will be more

  1. changes in farming methods

The large area of farm, shortage of labour and high labour cost in the advanced countries will influence the farmers' choice of farming methods

  • More extensive farming methods are adopted

  • They try to maximize outputs per capita and lower return per hectare

  • They will spend more on labour-saving machinery

  • More capital intensive farming will be practiced

  1. Re-organization of service centres

Rural depopulation will make the market threshold smaller over rural areas and the improvement in transportation will make range of goods longer. Then, the number of service centres over rural area will become less. Usually, smaller centres will most probably decline.

  1. Population Cycle of Rural Area in MDCs

1 - population growth because of decrease in death rate

2 - stability in population because of decrease in birth rate

3 - rural depopulation because of rural-urban migration

4 - increase in population due to counter-urbanization



Major cause of urbanization

Farm mechanization creates excess labour

Industrialization provide employment in urban and improve the living standard

Pseudo-urbanization because of rural poverty

Over-population and shortage of farmland, natural hazards forced rural population rushes into primate city

Population change in rural area

Rural depopulation

Absolute decrease in population

Shortage of labour

Decrease in population is relatively insignificant under rapid population growth and their marginal productivity tends to be zero because actually there is not enough farmland.

Economic development in urban area

Provision of labour helps industrial and economic development. Snowballing effect starts and associated development continues.

Unemployment and urban problems are common. Available of cheap labour discourages farm mechanization and hi-tech industrial development.

Changes in farming size

Farm consolidation and increase in farm size

Farm size remain small and farm fragmentation is great as usual

Changes in farming Methods

Extensive farming methods

Capital intensive


Large farm size and field size

No great change

Economic impact

For area far away from urban and with no anticipation of urban encroachment,

  • large scale commercial farming

  • export-oriented

  • regional specialization

In some case, flow back of urban cash improve the living standard

In some case, loss of productive adult lowers the productivity

Polarization in rural economies becomes serious

Social impact

Rural depopulation speeds up rural decay and abandoned land increase over area near to large urban centre

Rural decay

Family and social problems

Urbanization will bid up the land value around the urban fringe and because of the competition of industrialization, the labour cost is also higher. It means that the production cost under urbanization and industrialization becomes higher and higher. Therefore, the following farming characteristics can be found near to urban:

  • Percentage of total area in farmland is lower

  • Percentage of land in crops is higher

  • Percentage of land in fallow is lower

  • Percentage of land in multiple cropping is higher

  • Percentage of all farms that are horticulture is higher

  • Percentage of all farms that are dairying is higher

  • Percentage of all farms that are pigs and poultry is higher

  • Labour input per hectare is higher

  • Capital input per hectare is higher

  • Wage rate is higher

  • Total input per hectare is higher

  • Price of agricultural products are higher

  • Net income per hectare is higher

  • Percentage of small farms is higher

  • Percentage of farms that are tenanted is higher

  • Percentage of part-time farms is

  • Percentage of farms that are fragmented is higher

Variance in rainfall in Singapore

Variance in rainfall in Edmonton

Edmonton has greater fluctuation in rainfall.

  1. The general pattern of July rainfall in this area is uneven(a skewed distribution). With almost half of the years have no rainfall at all in July. Medium rainfall is 10 mm and average rainfall is 30 mm. As much as 150-200 mm have been recorded on rare occasions.

  2. Median precipitation

Average precipitation is distorted by rare instances of high rainfall and does not give a true impression of the generally arid conditions here.

(c) (i) insufficient rainfall leads to crop failure in approximately 2 out of 3 years

(ii) There is approximately a 1 in 3 chance of failure or being damaged because of too much rainfall.

(d) Flash flooding is likely to be the main environmental hazard because of the unusual occurrence of high rainfall.

This, in turn, may lead to erosion by landslip and flow etc.

Drought may be a hazard if a situation of no rainfall extends over a period of some months.

  1. The pattern of discharge in this river basin

Annual variation - one peak discharge and one low discharge. They are in regular rhythm.

Long term variation – sudden increase or decrease in discharge; less frequent

(b) (i) basin inundation in times of floods

build water storage tanks and barrages to store water for use in the low water season

build irrigation canal networks for areas further away from the river

  1. wet crop (e.g. rice) in period of annual flooding

dry crops(e.g. wheat) in period of low discharge

  1. field for wet crops sited near river

fields for dry crops sited further away from rivers or in higher ground

settlement are built on higher ground away from river

(c) (i) floods – in times of exceptional high discharge

droughts – to regular river discharge

  1. Preventive measure – reservoirs

Rationale – to regulate river discharge

  1. Water is stored behind dams / in reservoirs in times of

  1. high discharge, or

  2. low water demand from agriculture

Water is release in times of

  1. high water demand, or

  2. dry season

  1. When in times of excessive water levels, water may be

  1. diverted to bypass populated or farming areas, or

  2. purposely allowed to flood some specially assigned zone (flood diversion areas)

Human Activities

Deforestation due to expansion of farmland, getting timber for firewood or construction

Overfarming due to food demand from increasing population

Deforestation and overfarming will increase evapotranspiration and soil erosion. Increasing load amount of rivers will lead to silting and flooding.

Impact of Large Water Scheme

  1. more intensive farming will be carried out

increases number of cropping

expansion of farmland to marginal area

high yielding crops will be selected

productivity/ yield per hectare will increase

provision of HEP may encourage mechanization

the living standard of rural areas will become higher

  1. high cost of dam construction and maintenance

irrigation water is an additional production cost

tendency to grow high-priced cash crops to justify high production cost, reduced production of food crops

intensification of farm production requires further inputs of fertilizers and other related investments

loss of farmland for dam building

cost of population migration and compensation

  1. waterlogging / gleying

excessive evaporation and salinization

reduced nutrient content of irrigation water

intensification of land use due to increased water supplies, overcultivation and overgrazing, soil quality deterioration

growth of weeds, pests and diseases

disturb regional distribution of water resources

aquatic life disturbances

encourage the use of more farming chemicals – water pollution

a) 1.65 t/ha

  1. 400 mm

  2. too much water rots the plant

inadequate aeration

nutrient deficiency

toxic concentration of some element


Cultivated land under irrigation (%)

Rank (X)

Total food production from irrigated land (%)

Rank (Y)

Deviation (X-Y)






















































  1. strong / high positive correlation

It means that a higher percentage of cultivated land under irrigation will most probably lead to higher percentage of total food production from irrigated land

Adding water provides optimal conditions for plant growth;

Adding water extends growing season;

Irrigation may permit more than one crop per year;

Stable water supply provides stable yield;

Irrigation may increase the intensity of land use

Irrigation may allow the introduction of high yielding variety

Mechanization, Application of chemical fertilizers, Application of pesticides, Introduction of high-yielding varieties, Land reform, Provision of credit, Improvement of transport facilities,





  • Labour saving/free from shortage of labour

  • Free from expensive labour

  • Higher efficiency

  • Higher productivity

  • Greater capital is needed

  • Not suitable to small farm size and fragmented farmland

  • The education level and technology of farmers should higher

Application of chemical fertilizers

  • Increase productivity/ higher yield per hectares

  • Increase the farming intensity

  • Increase the number of cropping per year

  • Encourage the adoption of high-yielding varieties

  • Pollution

  • Affects soil structure and leads to soil erosion

  • Expensive / may leads to loss of foreign exchange

  • The education level and technology of farmers should be higher

Application of pesticides

  • Reduce loss from pests

  • Increase productivity

  • Expensive / may leads to loss of foreign exchange

  • The education level and technology of farmers should higher

  • Dangerous and toxic to man

  • Pollution

  • Resistance level of pest develops very quickly

  • Food chain contamination

Introduction of high-yielding varieties

  • High yielding / higher productivity

  • Greater adaptability

  • Greater resistance

  • Shorter life cycle

  • More chemical fertilizer, pesticides and irrigation water are needed

  • Huge capital is needed

  • High education level and technology is needed

  • Foreign / government aids is needed

Land reform

  • Tenant farmers can have their own land

  • High incentive to improve farming method

  • Consolidation of farm reduces fragmentation

Provision of credit

  • Provide adequate capital to small farmers

  • Encourage farmers to adopt new technology

  • Large financial burden to government

Improvement of transport facilities

  • Help farmers to export their products to market

  • Encourage the production of cash crop/ commercial

  • farming

  • Increase the income of the farmers

  • Huge capital is needed

The possible consequence of the introduction of Green Revolution progarmme in developing countries

- polarization of society

high yields do not always mean high return for the farmers because prices may be lowered. Thus income is not guaranteed. Those who benefit most are : government bureaucrats (from corruption), internal companies (from selling factors of production), landlords (from controlling more land and exporting more farm products), and industrialist (from lower wages due to more abundant supply of food). Investment Is always concentrated on the land controlled by landlords

- many farmers do not want to risk bad harvest. Some are too conservative to try new crops

- many owner-occupiers suffer from bankruptcy when they are unable to re-pay their debts. As a result, they have to sell their land, always at much lower prices, to landlords, and they become farm labourers or tenants

in order to minimize cost and avoid crop-sharing with the tenants, landlords always introduce mechanization to their farms. They may stop renting their lands and start large-scale commercial farming by employing farm labourers

  • higher productivity will result in higher land price, it will result in higher rents for tenants, higher taxes for owner-occupiers and attract speculation on land (by both landlords and capitalists from the city)

  • food supply to the rural population disturbed as owner-occupiers and tenants lose their farms, crop-sharing replaced by cash tenancy and farming becomes export-oriented, with the choice of crop depending on external demand

- agricultural production, export and GNP of the country may be higher, but there would be a tremendous loss in foreign currency due to the import of machines, seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides

- locally developed hybrids are always neglected, but they are always more adaptable to the local environment than the imported ones

good farming practices for soil conservation are neglected, and are replaced by increasing application and reliance on chemicals
(a) nucleated pattern (b) disperse pattern (c) disperse pattern (d) linear pattern

  1. Factors Favouring Nucleated Pattern.

  • Man is social animal and prefers to inhabit a large communal dwelling, therefore, tends to choose to live in a compact village or town.

  • Practice of living in compact settlement was fostered amongst newly settled communities because of the necessity of dealing effectively with a hostile and strange environment, and to enjoy the social benefit or village life.

  • A nucleated settlement pattern may have a higher defensive power both for human attacks or natural hazards. e.g. the walled village in the New Territories in Hong Kong.

  • Modern system like commune and collective farming system favours a nucleated settlement pattern.

  • A nucleated settlement may be a response to certain types of physical environment. e.g. where water is scare and hard to get, like in the deserts, compact villages were found where deep wells were dug. (oasis)

  • Smooth relief favours concentrated settlement

  • Fertile land attracts and ensures concentration of people.

  • Kinship relations and social organization are the bond of social group and habit of communal living development.

  • Farming system such as padi-rice cultivation demands for cooperation amongst farmers. It will encourage farmers to live close to each other and large village is resulted

  • In areas of large holding and exploitations, landlords tend to concentrate their tenants in order to keep them at hand.

  1. Factors Favouring Disperse Pattern

    • Disperse settlements are normal in many unrewarding highland and forested area where agricultural activities are hindered by a difficult terrain, a harsh climate and infertile soil.

    • Change from communal land ownership and landlordism to individual land holding is one reason for replacement of nucleated by disperse settlement. e.g. the break down of large plantation into small holding in Malaysia.

    • The coming of settled and peaceful period for a long time allow people to disperse more safely, especially when communication is improved.

    • Transportation improvement is very important factor accounting for the disperse of settlement in more developed countries.

    • Mechanization and new technology enable the development of a large scale extensive farming which will result in disperse pattern. e.g. commercial livestock farming in Australia

    • Transformation of group settlement into disperse settlement coincide with agricultural process since it permit a cultivator to establish himself close to his fields. e.g. the tenant farmers coming from mainland China in the 1950s and 1960s.

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