Declining terms of trade and the narrow economic base in rural areas have exacerbated the problems facing rural economies in Australia. Such things as population decline, over reliance on a narrow economic base, a focus on production of raw commodities rather than product development and marketing, and the withdrawal of public and private agency services are having a major impact on the long term viability of rural communities.
Failure to address these issues will inevitably lead to the disappearance of many rural communities. The problems outlines are not confined to the Australian situation and the issue is a cause of concern to rural communities in both North America and Europe.
To ameliorate these problems there is a requirement to increase our ability to earn more money from the world market. Increasingly the world market is requiring bilateral trade and joint ventures along the production and distribution channels. With competitive advantages such as political stability, large tracts of productive agricultural land and a recognised clean environment, it is imperative we build on these strengths and promote their adoption
In Australia both state and federal Governments have recognised the seriousness of the rural situation and directed increasing resources to address the problem over recent years. (Garlick, 1993; Anon (a), 1993).
One consequence of these initiatives has resulted in the emergence of Rural Development Organisations (RDOs) in small rural communities around Australia.