عنوان مقاله [English]
The formation of villages as the core of civilization and activity can be attributed to the environment. However, there have been major challenges in socioeconomic continuity of villages due to the decline of agricultural functionality as the most significant environmental function. This study aims to consider the evolution of agricultural functionalities in rural areas of Markazi Province over the last decade. Based on the objective, the study is applied one and descriptive – analytic in methodology. To this end, all villages with more than the 20 households in two censuses of 2003 and 2014 were taken into account. Then, all the similar agricultural variables in two time sections were extracted and 20 indicators for each section were defined and calculated. Following the statistical description and evaluation of the distribution of the indicators, agricultural evolution of rural areas was modelled in two time sections using structural equation modeling based on bootstrapping approach in AMOS Graphics environment. The path coefficients and their sign at the beginning of the period revealed that the rural areas’ agricultural identity at the beginning of the period was mainly based on farming than gardening and based on the land than water. However, the results of the end of the period showed that the land has been replaced by water. Therefore, the declining trend of changes in the agricultural functionalities the study area during this period was significantly influenced by water. Establishing an integrated organizational structure in order to land and water resources’ policy regulation and decision-making along with a provincial governance to implement the policies and decisions, beyond the sectoral approach, hopefully is a suggestion that can help to solve the problems agricultural identity of rural communities is engaged with.
Introduction: Configuration of rural areas as the initial cores of civilization and activities thereof, is directly related to environmental factors. However, the continuance of villages’ economic and social lives encountered basic challenges over time due to a decline in agriculture functions as the main environmental functions. The investigation of different development policies and programs in recent decades for rural communities in Iran indicates that such policies and programs have not been successful in improving disorders, despite their objectives and efforts. The present study aims to investigate agricultural evolutions in the rural areas of Markazi Province, Iran, using statistical evaluations and models. In fact, the main goal was to investigate the agricultural evolution of the province’s villages during a decade with an emphasis on agriculture functions. Thus, agricultural evolution over time is the main subject. Hence, while formulating agriculture indicators for rural communities, the main question is “how has agricultural evolution affected rural communities in Markazi Province?”
Methodology: This study is practical in terms of objective. It is a descriptive-analytic study, that is, it is not empirical and contains documentary data, but the analyses were both descriptive and inferential. The statistical description, indicator distribution evaluation, and agricultural structure modeling of rural areas were performed using a bootstrap-based structural equation approach on SPSS and Amos Graphic at two periods. The statistical population and geographic area consisted of the entire villages with above 20 households in the province according to 2003 and 2014 censuses. Villages were selected and matched at the two periods. Non-rural counted items, including military centers, companies, industrial towns, workshops, and production institutes were excluded. Then, a total of 733 villages with above 20 households were obtained as samples at the two periods. Reviewing the related literature, 14 variables with the maximum related items in the two censuses were derived separately with similarly at the level of the selected villages. The data were analyzed, obtaining ten status and evolution indicators, including rural household agricultural employment, farmer education level, agricultural use, gardening use, land area in the user unit, user household land per capita, irrigation lands, gardening contribution to the cultivation pattern, land use level, and aquaculture.
Findings and Discussion: The investigation of agricultural employment evolution indicates a 13% reduction in the number of using households at the two periods. Evolutions in the number of agricultural users and farm and gardening land uses were both descending. The findings revealed that the land area of the using unit increased from 9.5 to 10 hectares, which could be considered to be due to the reduced farm use area in the time interval of the two censuses. Moreover, irrigation land-use area, farm use, and aquaculture variation reduced, while gardening contribution to the cultivation pattern enjoyed a 4% rise. Also, land use level variation, also known as cultivation deepening, increased from 56% to 65%. Considering the positive path coefficients and values of userland area, user household land per capita, and agricultural employment rate as well as the negative path coefficients and values of irrigation lands, aquaculture, and gardening contribution to the cultivation pattern in 2003, it can be said that the agriculture status of the province’s villages was more dependent on farming than on gardening on the one hand and more dependent on land than on water on the other hand. However, 2003 and 2014 had different patterns. In 2014, water-related indicators (i.e., irrigation land use percentage and under-cultivation land percentage) had a more decisive impact than land in the agricultural status of the villages. It can be said that the main characteristics of agricultural evolution in the villages during 2003-2014 were the dramatic and significant reduction of aquaculture, irrigation lands, and farm uses on the one hand and the rise of gardening in the cultivation pattern on the other hand. Thus, agricultural evolution in the villages of Markazi Province was more influenced by water than other factors.
Conclusion: The statistical investigation of Markazi Province implies that both environmental and population aspects of rural communities in the province encountered some harms due to a set of factors. In the policy-making aspect, the investigation of factors affecting the status and evolution of agriculture in the province’s rural communities suggests that the main explanation for such an evolution, which resulted in the evacuation of a large number of rural settlements, can be the lack of a specific organization responsible for villages. Thus, the establishment of an independent organization with decision-making and policy-making powers could help solve the problems of rural communities. Moreover, in the execution aspect, the modification of villages requires the modification of villages' functions. As can be seen from the results, the water- and land-related indicators encountered problems in the above-mentioned time interval. It is more strategic to save the basic resources of lands and water than to produce agricultural produces. It is required to accurately investigate the problem to provide solutions. In summary, the agricultural evolution of the province’s villages does not exhibit a developing and promising future, the same as villages in other regions of Iran.