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Rural development has traditionally centered on the exploitation of land-intensive natural resources such as agriculture and forestry. However, changes in global production networks and increased urbanization have changed the character of rural areas. Increasingly tourism, niche manufacturers, and recreation have replaced resource extraction and agriculture as dominant economic drivers. The need for rural communities to approach development from a wider perspective has created more focus on a broad range of development goals rather than merely creating incentive for agricultural or resource based businesses. Education, entrepreneurship, physical infrastructure, and social infrastructure all play an important role in developing rural regions. Rural development is also characterized by its emphasis on locally produced economic development strategies. In contrast to urban regions, which have many similarities, rural areas are highly distinctive from one another. For this reason there are a large variety of rural development approaches used globally.
Rural development is a comprehensive term. It essentially focuses on action for the development of areas outside the mainstream urban economic system. we should think of what type of rural development is needed because modernization of village leads to urbanization and village environment disappears.
Rural development programs have historically been top-down from local or regional authorities, regional development agencies, NGOs, national governments or international development organizations. Local populations can also bring about endogenous initiatives for development. The term is not limited to issues of developing countries. In fact many developed countries have very active rural development programs.
Rural development aims at finding ways to improve rural lives with participation of rural people themselves, so as to meet the required needs of rural communities. The outsider may not understand the setting, culture, language and other things prevalent in the local area. As such, rural people themselves have to participate in their sustainable rural development. In developing countries like Nepal, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, China, integrated development approaches are being followed up. In this context, many approaches and ideas have been developed and implemented, for instance, bottom-up approach, PRA- Participatory Rural Appraisal, RRA- Rapid Rural Appraisal, etc. The New Rural Reconstruction Movement in China has been actively promoting rural development through their ecological farming projects. 
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