STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS OF EVOLUTIONS IN AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITIES IN RURAL AREAS: THE CASE OF MARKAZI PROVINCE IN CENTRAL IRAN
Keywords:Agricultural Functionality, Structural Equation Modeling, Rural Communities, Markazi Province, Central Iran
This study considers the evolutionary trend of agricultural functionalities in rural areas of Markazi Province in central Iran over the last decade. The province is the most and heavily industrialized region across the country, accomplished with urbanized settling and life style and declination in rurality, both functionally and structurally. This study aims to evaluate the evolutions of agricultural functionalities in rural areas of the region. All of the villages more populated than 20 households in during 2003 and 2014 were studied. The similar agricultural variables in the two time periods were utilized as data set and 10 indicators for each section were defined, calculated, and considered. Followed by the statistical description and examining the distributions of the indicators, the evolution of agricultural activities in the region was separately modelled for each of time sections through Structural Equation Modeling. The path structure of the first model revealed that the agricultural functionality of the studied area has at the beginning time mainly been based on farming – rather than gardening – and based on land resources – rather than water resources. As well, the results of the ending model indicated that land has been replaced by water. Also, the declining trend of changes during the studied period was significantly influenced by water. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to establish an integrated organizational structure for policy regulation and decision-making for land and water resources, along with a provincial governance to implement the policies and decisions beyond the sectoral approach. This could possibly help to mitigate the problems encountered by the agricultural sector in rural communities of the study area.