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The socio-economic impact of commercial agriculture on rural poor and other vulnerable groups

Working papers

This study analyses and provides recommendations regarding the potential impact of GRZ's plan for the commercialisation of agriculture on poor people.

The aims of this Study were first of all to provide an analysis, through a review of relevant policies and programmes, of the potential impact of GRZ’s plans for the commercialisation of agriculture on poor people, identifying the opportunities and constraints.

Secondly, to provide a social development perspective to complement recommendations from other ongoing studies for potential DFID engagement in the agricultural sector.

The target group for this study, and for pro-poor interventions were defined as the 830,000 rural households who are poor and dependent on agriculture:   

  • the very poorest and most vulnerable households who will require long-term social protection and support (200,000 ‘sub-subsistence’ smallholders)
  • the very poor households that have potential to achieve a poor but sustainable livelihood, regularly marketing a small surplus, with the eventual possibility of joining an outgrower scheme (300,000 ‘marginal’ smallholders)
  • the poor households with potential to become, or which have already become, commercially viable small-scale farmers, either joining an outgrower scheme or marketing their surplus in  the domestic market (300,000 ‘viable small or emergent smallholders). In addition there are 30,000 medium farmers, with land in excess of 10 hectares, who are poor. At an average of between 5-6 people per household these 830,000 households together total the estimated 4.6 million rural poor and ultra poor people.
Caroline Pinder and Denis Wood