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WHY ENDING POVERTY REQUIRES MOVING BEYOND TRADITIONAL VILLAGE STRUCTURES


 

"There is no need to repeat old mistakes that will hold us back when we can make new ones that will propel us forward."

 


Before diving into the details, let's take a macro look at the evolution of societies and collaboration.

Historical trends explain contemporary issues of poverty and economic prosperity and highlight where investments are likely to be unproductive versus areas that hold promise for development. By understanding these patterns, we can make informed decisions about where to focus our efforts for maximum impact for the betterment of human societies.

 


OUR HISTORY, OUR FUTURE


For 2.5 million years, nomadic humanoid hunter-gatherer societies roamed and dominated the vast lands of planet Earth, changing the composition of animals and plants through hunting and gathering activities while displacing competing species.

Around 12,000 years ago, in the Fertile Crescent (modern-day Middle East), hunter-gatherers began domesticating some crops and animals in what is known as the Agricultural Revolution. In domesticating plants and animals, hunter-gatherers became farmers, thus "domesticating" themselves and establishing a new community structure: the Village. The village model was innovative and successful, capturing nearly 100% of the global population until nomadic hunter-gatherers, as a lifestyle, became almost extinct.

Then, around 5,500 years ago, the first cities appeared, making up no more than 1-2% of the global population. Even 500 years ago, cities comprised only 5-10% of the population. The turning point arrived at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (late 18th century). By 2020, cities' population reached 75-82% in Europe and America, 51% in Asia, and 43% in Africa.

 


ORGANIZATIONAL SOCIETIES' EVOLUTION


The evolution of societal organization reflects humanity's response to each era's changing priorities and needs. The transition from pre-nomadic to nomadic hunter-gatherer societies brought significant advantages, primarily in improving food security and personal safety. Living in groups allowed for cooperative hunting and gathering, providing a more reliable food supply and enhanced protection against predators.

The Agricultural Revolution eventually surpassed this structure, where the transition to farming and village life created food surpluses and further improved personal security. Villages offered a communal living environment, providing stability and protection from both wildlife and neighboring threats. For 12,000 years, the village structure effectively met the needs of food production and security.

However, as humanity entered the industrial age, urbanization and the shift to industrial and business-focused livelihoods marked a new era. Cities and industrialization prioritized economic growth and professional diversification, making food security a lesser concern due to the reliable production and distribution of high-quality, abundant, and safe food.

Today, with over 50% of the world's population belonging to the middle class and their majority residing in urban areas, the primary goal has shifted to economic development. The village structure, which once ensured the basic needs of food and protection, is now inadequate for a period where economic advancement is paramount. The urban industrial structure has surpassed the village model, providing greater personal and economic growth opportunities.

 


HUMAN COLLABORATION EVOLUTION


The evolution of organizational societies is deeply intertwined with collaboration, cooperation, and dependency among individuals to achieve collective goals.

In pre-nomadic societies, individuals could often act alone or with core family members to survive. During the hunter-gatherer era, survival depended on forming more prominent groups, which required establishing mutual trust and respect among individuals, the group, and its leader. This cooperation involved sacrificing some personal freedom for long-term strategic benefits, ensuring better protection and resource sharing.

The Agricultural Revolution saw villagers give up more individual freedoms to gain stability and protection, forming tightly-knit communities. In the industrial business era (i.e., the Ltd-era), people worked in companies and factories, relinquishing personal autonomy, such as growing their food and building their own houses, to specialize in specific tasks, thereby gaining greater overall benefits.

Corporations, cooperatives, startups, and the Kibbutz are examples of organizational structures that support economic growth in this era. With its communal living and cooperative economic practices, the Kibbutz has adapted to modern needs by incorporating industrial and agricultural advancements, providing a viable model for sustainable economic growth.

In contrast, the traditional village organizational structure struggles to compete with these modern entities, as it lacks the scalability, efficiency, and specialization that drive success in today's economy. As humanity progresses, we increasingly operate in larger, more interdependent groups, enhancing our collective well-being and societal advancement.

 


TECHNOLOGY VS. ORGANIZATION: LESSONS FROM HISTORY


Throughout human history, technological improvements have continuously helped groups compete within the same organizational structures, such as one group of hunter-gatherers against another or one Ltd-company against another.

However, when competition occurs between groups with different organizational and production structures, in the long run, the more advanced structure consistently prevails, regardless of each group's technologies. For instance, hunter-gatherers lost to sedentary village farmers and village farmers to industrialists under company structures.

Unlike the gradual development of technology, new organizational structures have an immediate and profound impact on human history. For example, 2.5 million years of the nomadic hunter-gatherers' era abruptly ended with the appearance of the sedentary village organization. Then, 12,000 years of village organization abruptly ended with the appearance of the commercial Ltd-company era, and in the Promised Land with the appearance of the Kibbutz organization.

The organizational structure will always have an advantage and win the competition over a less developed structure, even if the less advanced structure has better specific technologies or knowledge. For example, think of hunter-gatherers with highly advanced arrows and hunting knowledge. Did these technologies and knowledge improve hunter-gatherers' survival rate in the face of the novel village-farming concept?

In the 21st century, smallholders in developing economies still live in villages, with organizational and production structures based on the principles of the Agricultural Revolution era. In contrast, farmers in developed countries and the Kibbutz practice agriculture based on Industrial Revolution principles, i.e., the Ltd-era.

Since the more advanced organizational structure always prevails, smallholders cannot escape poverty, regardless of technology, knowledge, access to funds, etc., until they embrace and practice one of the post-Industrial Revolution organizational and production structures or develop a dedicated one.

In the pre-Israeli era, Jewish pioneers transformed decades of poverty into prosperity by transitioning from a village organizational structure based on the 12,000-year-old Agricultural Revolution principles to Kibbutz organizational and production structures based on the ca. 150-year-old (at the time) Industrial Revolution principles. Without additional funding or better technologies, the first Kibbutz, established in 1910, quickly turned a profit where the previous village structure had failed, enjoying rapid economic success due to its novel organizational structure.

This shift illustrates that while technology enhances competition within similar organizational frameworks, the organizational structure determines long-term success. History shows that the most significant advancements in human prosperity come from evolving organizational models rather than solely focusing on technological improvements.

 


Conclusion


A society's success or failure hinges on its organizational and production structure. An organization with a modern structure will consistently outperform those using older models.

Progress is marked by increased cooperation and interdependence among individuals and communities.

Smallholders in developing economies cannot escape poverty due to the outdated village structure rooted in the Agricultural Revolution. They must adopt advanced organizational structures, like Ltd company or Kibbutz, rooted in post-Industrial Revolution principles.

While technology aids competition within similar structures, it cannot compensate for outdated organizational models.

 


THE OPTIONS FORWARD


As it stands, the village model is in decline, while urbanization is on an unstoppable rise. People are drawn to urban areas by the promise of employment, improved living conditions, personal safety, security, and the hope for a better future. The shift from rural to urban living has been dramatic. For 5,000 years, the global urban population grew slowly, reaching less than 10%. However, this figure has skyrocketed in the past 250 years, with some countries seeing their urban population surge from around 10% to over 80%.

The rise of urban centers symbolizes the decline of villages. Does this mean there is no room for a rural agricultural lifestyle?

Without a doubt, the village model is dying but not dead yet; in many developing countries, 50% to 80% of the population still lives in villages in rural areas. In such countries, when young people complete their schooling and explore the options available to them, they typically see three paths:


  1. Continue traditional-oriented small-scale farming, as their parents did. They know this path leads to poverty.

  2. Switch to an industrial agro-business farming company model (e.g., Ltd Company).

  3. Abandon farming and move to the cities, looking for a better future.


In developing countries, path #2 is often shut off for smallholders, as it requires substantial resources (land, finance, workforce, knowledge, high-quality inputs, market access) typically far out of reach for such farmers. This leaves farmers either practicing tradition-oriented farming (path #1), which will keep them impoverished, or finding their luck outside the agro sector (path #3), leading to increased urbanization.

The national leadership in developing countries wants farmers to continue farming without becoming impoverished. However, this is not possible under the current organizational structure setup.

Twelve thousand years ago, hunter-gatherers had to "domesticate" and establish the Village's community structure to survive the harsh competition; now, farmers must "industrialize" and reinvent themselves and their community structure to survive the harsh competition.

As for now, agriculture, particularly smallholders in developing economies, is the only primary sector that still needs to embrace the Industrial Revolution principles and the Ltd concept it introduces. This delay in adopting novel organizational and production concepts is reflected in the socio-economic situation of smallholders.

 

 

THE HARD TRUTH


Leaving romantic, emotional thoughts out, no sector, including farming, has a chance to compete in the 21st century by ignoring, i.e., not embracing, the fundamentals of business in the post-Industrial Revolution era. From individuals to companies to countries, there is one fate for those who choose to maintain a pre-Industrial Revolution business attitude—poverty. However, those who adopted the post-Industrial Revolution rules have a chance to compete in, participate in, and enjoy the "prosperous economy."

For many reasons, smallholders still practice traditional agriculture, which reflects the pre-Industrial Revolution. Hence, they are doomed to poverty. Trying to help smallholders achieve prosperity while maintaining their traditional village structure and business outdated business model is as futile as attempting 12,000 years ago to help hunter-gatherers resist the transformative shift toward farming and village life.

Can this be changed? If yes, how? Where should we focus our efforts?


 

PAINFUL BUT POSSIBLE


It is in the common interest of all stakeholders to support smallholders in making an unprecedented historical transition in terms of the number of people transitioning from poverty to a "prosperous economy." While the transition from hunter-gatherers to agriculture took thousands of years, farmers had less than 300 years to transform from the pre-Industrial Revolution economy to the post-Industrial Revolution economy.

Such a transition would officially end the Agricultural Revolution (and villages) era and open a wide route for hundreds of millions of farmers to join the modern economy as farmers or in other industries. The “side effect” would be increasing their countries’ (and global) GDP.

This means that the global goal of our time is to possess such an enabler model that can provide impoverished farmers or rural communities with sustainable tools to compete and prosper in the 21st century. This goal can only be achieved through an industrial business-oriented model that is general enough to suit hundreds of thousands of rural communities worldwide yet flexible enough to be adjusted to local requirements and needs.

If you like, this novel agro-oriented model should bring the combined mega-revolution of (a) the Industrial Revolution plus (b) the Ltd Company plus (c) the assembly line concept to the agro sector in developing countries.

After studying the present models, we conclude that there are only two options to carry out this task: to develop a new organizational structure model, which may take decades or centuries, or to use the Kibbutz model.

That’s it; there are only those two options, no other. Oh, and let us remember that we would like the new model to take farmers' rights to the 21st century with the ability to become “world leaders”. Furthermore, in the 21st century, we have demands that we didn’t have 100 years ago, such as the model must have a high orientation and awareness of social, environmental, health, etc. issues. Can it be done?

 

 

FARMERS’ FUTURE PICTURE


Rural communities in the 21st century should not strive for “No Poverty” or “No Hunger” as these are characteristics and self-demands suitable for the 18th and 19th centuries. Instead, it is time to aim high and be clear about what we want and don’t want for smallholders.

Let’s begin with the easy part; we don’t want smallholders to be poor, and we refuse to accept the continuation of widespread, persistent poverty among farmers in developing economies.

The next stage is to express what we want explicitly. Let's call this part Farmers' Future Picture (FFP).

I grew up as a proud farmer in a Kibbutz, yet I was part of the Israeli middle class. Thanks to being a farmer, I perceived myself better than others. This experience made me view farming as an industry where workers deserve the same quality of life and standards as middle-class workers in other sectors. Then, they can contribute more than others to the benefit of all.

Hence, in our quest for the future organizational structure for farmers in developing economies (as Israel was when I was born), we should ensure that, e.g., the Kibbutz can deliver the FFP. If it can't or can only partially, we must continue searching for a better organizational model.

The global society should not accept that other humans’ reality will include being born into poverty and decades later passing away impoverished. This setting must be replaced with the “global middle-class” expectations.

 

 

THE WISH LIST


Below is a list of characteristics of the "global middle class" work/life expectations in the 21st century. Each characteristic is followed by a brief description from the perspective of the middle class (i.e., Expectation). Then, it is rated and described from the viewpoint of a smallholder farmer in a developing country (in short, Village) and a Kibbutz member in a “classical” Kibbutz (in short, Kibbutz).


Labor Market Expectations


1.     Job Security (Expectation): Stable employment with a low risk of sudden layoffs; clear career progression paths.

  1. Village: Low - Low job security due to dependency on crop yields and market volatility.

  2. Kibbutz: High – Secured employment within the community.

2.     Competitive Compensation (Expectation): Fair wages that reflect experience, skills, and education, as well as benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and bonuses.

  1. Village: Low - Low and inconsistent income without benefits.

  2. Kibbutz: High – Members don’t receive wages but equal financial and social benefits.

3.     Work-Life Balance (Expectation): Reasonable working hours with flexibility for personal life; opportunities for remote work or flexible schedules.

  1. Village: Low - Long and irregular working hours with little flexibility.

  2. Kibbutz: High - Generally excellent work-life balance (particularly for those working in the Kibbutz).

4.     Professional Development (Expectation): Access to ongoing training and education; opportunities for skills enhancement and career advancement.

  1. Village: Low - Limited access to formal training and education.

  2. Kibbutz: High – Easy access to education and training within the community.

5.     Positive Work Environment (Expectation): Inclusive and respectful workplace culture; supportive management and collaborative team dynamics.

  1. Village: Low - Varies widely, often isolated work environments.

  2. Kibbutz: High - Generally supportive community culture.

6.     Meaningful Work (Expectation): Jobs that provide a sense of purpose and contribution to society; alignment of personal and organizational values.

  1. Village: Low – Little sense of purpose with challenging conditions.

  2. Kibbutz: High - Strong sense of community and contribution.

7.     Technological Adequacy (Expectation): Access to up-to-date technology and tools; work environments that embrace innovation.

  1. Village: Low - Limited access to modern technology.

  2. Kibbutz: High – High access to modern and innovative technologies.

8.     Autonomy and Empowerment (Expectation): Opportunities to take initiative and make decisions; a sense of control over one's work and responsibilities.

  1. Village: Medium - High autonomy but often out of necessity rather than choice.

  2. Kibbutz: High - Generally high, though it requires the community's approval.

 


Private Life Expectations


1.     Home Ownership or Stable Housing (Expectation): The ability to afford a comfortable, secure home and access to safe, well-maintained neighborhoods.

  1. Village: Low - Often faces housing insecurity.

  2. Kibbutz: High - Have stable housing within the Kibbutz.

2.     Quality Education (Expectation): Affordable and high-quality education for children; opportunities for lifelong learning.

  1. Village: Low - Limited access to quality education.

  2. Kibbutz: High – Access to elementary and high school education within the Kibbutz system and then to academic degrees.

3.     Healthcare Access (Expectation): Comprehensive health insurance, affordable medical care, access to preventive care and wellness programs.

  1. Village: Low - Limited access to healthcare services.

  2. Kibbutz: High – Excellent access to healthcare within the community.

4.     Financial Stability (Expectation): Ability to save for emergencies, retirement, and significant life events; access to credit and financial services.

  1. Village: Low - Struggles with financial instability.

  2. Kibbutz: High – Financial stability within the community.

5.     Work-Life Integration (Expectation): Time and resources for family, hobbies, and personal interests; supportive community and social networks.

  1. Village: Low - Limited opportunities due to long working hours.

  2. Kibbutz: High - Generally good work-life integration within the community.

6.     Recreational Opportunities (Expectation): Access to leisure activities, cultural events, and travel; availability of parks, sports facilities, and entertainment options.

  1. Village: Low - Limited access to recreational facilities.

  2. Kibbutz: High - Plenty of recreational activities within the community.

7.     Security and Safety (Expectation): Low crime rates, effective law enforcement, emergency services, and disaster preparedness.

  1. Village: Low - Faces security and safety challenges.

  2. Kibbutz: High - High levels of security within the community.

8.     Environmental Quality (Expectation): Clean air and water, green spaces, and sustainable practices; awareness and action on climate change and environmental protection.

  1. Village: Low - Faces environmental challenges.

  2. Kibbutz: High - Good environmental quality within the community.

9.     Social Mobility (Expectation): Opportunities for upward mobility are based on merit; equal access to opportunities is available regardless of background.

  1. Village: Low - Limited social mobility opportunities.

  2. Kibbutz: High – Social mobility within the community is non-relevant since all are equal.

10.  Digital Connectivity (Expectation): Reliable and high-speed internet access; access to digital services and online communities.

  1. Village: Low - Often limited access to digital connectivity.

  2. Kibbutz: High - Good digital connectivity within the community.

 

 


NOVELTY IN, OUTDATED OUT


Overall, in both work and private life, the Village gets a low rating compared to the Kibbutz's high rating, including issues unrelated to finance, such as environmental quality, equality, and social mobility. We see that the Kibbutz model meets and even surpasses the basic needs of the “global middle class”.

A sign of the Kibbutz model's success is the long waiting list of educated, high-quality people who wish to live in the Kibbutz and be accepted as members. Remember, a Kibbutz is like a company; people can join only after a long candidacy process. In contrast, few people in developing economies are interested in moving from urban centers to villages.

 

 

Historically, humanoids became hunter-gatherers 2.5 million years ago, and hunter-gatherers became farmers 12,000 years ago. In both cases, nearly 100% of the population were first hunter-gatherers and then farmers.

We are now only 250 years into the third mega-organizational structure revolution, represented by the Ltd company concept, which harnesses the innovative production structure and principles brought to us by the Industria Revolution and the assembly (production) line. Like its former revolutions, the hunter-gatherers and the agricultural, soon nearly 100% of the population will practice one way or another the Ltd Company concept revolution.

The benefits of adopting the Ltd revolution far outweigh those of the old organizational structure and system. The old structure, born from the Agricultural Revolution, is outdated and unfit to compete with the Ltd-oriented structures, including that of the Kibbutz and industrial farming. This results in persistent poverty for those who maintain the old organizational structure, i.e., smallholders.

 

 

INDUSTRIALIZATION IS NOT A CURSE; IT’S THE FUTURE


Unfortunately, many people imagine “industrial agriculture” as one that, by its nature, uses harmful chemicals (i.e., poisons), harms the environment, and has zero social awareness.

Unfortunately, that was correct in many cases. We can also find smallholders using pesticides and fertilizers carelessly and practicing other counterproductive methods to business, social, and environmental productivity.

Let me reiterate: Industrial Agriculture or Ltd-oriented agro-business refers only to the organization's structure. When we use Ltd-oriented agro-business, we can do things much more effectively.

Like the agriculture-oriented structure, the Village gave people "superpowers" over the hunter-gatherers' tribe structure, and so does the industrial Ltd-oriented structure have "superpowers" over previous structures, such as the Village. 

There is no need to fear the words "industrial", "company", and "Ltd"; they only represent the latest organizational concepts. Furthermore, suppose we aim to quickly heal the land and the world while increasing food production. In that case, we can do it only by embracing industrial, Ltd-oriented organizational models.

New agro-models with the capacity to use industrial Ltd-oriented organizational structure to upscale their activities are on the rise, such as Regenerative, Agroforestry, Permaculture, Vertical Farming, Aquaponics, Hydroponics, Agroecology, Silvopasture, Biodynamic Farming, Conservation Agriculture, Agrovoltaics.

Conventional agriculture, which is unsustainable and harmful to humans and the environment, or advanced agriculture approaches, such as the examples above, are the "tools" for food production.

Village or industrial Ltd-oriented company is the organizational structure within which we operate those tools.

The future belongs to those who wisely combine advanced food production methods (like regenerative, Agroforestry, Permaculture, etc.) with an advanced organizational structure platform, i.e., an industrial Ltd-oriented organization.

Look at other industries, like the automobile; no company that strives for leadership and success works with the 1900 production methods; all embrace and apply the assembly line principles. Remember that Ford Ltd's organizational structure enabled it to develop and adopt the assembly line production structure. For over 100 years, Ford has kept changing the car models and the technologies in which those cars are produced, but it has kept its Ltd structure and the assembly line principles.

Can you see how this relates to the agro sector and smallholders?

When you consider keeping the Village's organizational structure unchanged, think about the car manufacturers who didn't change their organizational structure to a Ltd-oriented company and didn't embrace advanced production structures in accordance with the assembly-line principles.

 

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TAKEAWAY MESSAGES


Ø  The traditional village structure keeps smallholders in poverty.

Ø  Smallholders must adopt modern, post-Industrial Revolution business practices to achieve prosperity.

Ø  The Kibbutz model is uniquely suited to transition impoverished communities, aligning well with the needs and expectations of the 21st century.

 

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More on the October 7th genocide in South Israel:

 

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"Mental and Economic Freedom Are Interconnected."

 

See you soon,

Nimrod



 





Dr. Nimrod Israely is the CEO and Founder of Dream Valley and Biofeed companies and the Chairman and Co-founder of the IBMA conference. +972-54-2523425 (WhatsApp), or email nisraely@biofeed.co.il

 

 

P.S.

 

P.P.S.

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P.P.P.S.

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*This article addresses general phenomena. The mention of a country/continent is used for illustration purposes only.

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