A Long Row to Hoe: Family farming and rural poverty in developing countries | Agriculture

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This report aims to add a new dimension to ongoing debates and policy prescriptions around livelihoods and poverty reduction in rural areas of the developing world. Specifically it addresses the proposition that increased productivity of family farms is the critical pathway for widespread rural poverty. This report examines the current interest in the proposition that enhancing the productivity of family farms is the most effective way to reduce rural poverty in the developing world.
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   A long row to hoe family farming and rural poverty in developing countries  nef  is an independent think-and-do tank that inspires and demonstrates real economic well-being.We aim to improve quality of life by promoting innovative solutions that challenge mainstream thinking on economic, environmental and social issues. We work in partnership and put people and the planet first. This report was commissioned by Oxfam GB to inform policy development on agriculture and rural livelihoods and to stimulate wider debate and discussion about these issues. The views expressed in the report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Oxfam’s views. nef  (the new economics foundation) is a registered charity founded in 1986 by the leaders of The Other Economic Summit (TOES), which forced issues such as international debt onto the agenda of the G7/G8 summit meetings. It has taken a lead in helping establish new coalitions and organisations such as the Jubilee 2000 debt campaign; the Ethical Trading Initiative; the UK Social Investment Forum; and new ways to measure social and economic well-being.  Summary 4Introduction 5 Motivation, aims and objectives 5Scope and limitation of the report 5Report structure 5 Background and rationale 6 Agriculture and the development agenda 6Rural poverty and agricultural revolution 7Family farming: a note about vocabulary 9 The emerging consensus on family farming 11 Elements of the consensus 12How much of a consensus? 14 Limitations of the prod-pov consensus 16 Diversity: one size does not fit all 16Agricultural research up to the job? 18Even if we grow it, will we have a market? 21Intensification, fertiliser and energy prices: what Happens when the price of oil skyrockets? 22For many, climate change will make successful family farming ever more difficult 25Voting with their feet: farming is just not cool 26 Towards a new policy and action agenda 29 Implications for policy and action 29The longer-term vision 29In the nearer term 29 Endnotes 36 This report aims to add a new dimension to ongoing debates and policy prescriptions around livelihoods and poverty reduction in rural areas of the developing world. It examines current interest in the proposition that enhancing the productivity of family farms is the most effective way to reduce rural poverty in the developing world. It concludes that while this can play an important role, poverty reduction on a mass scale, particularly in Africa, will require a more comprehensive and integrated approach. Contents  A long row to hoe: family farming and rural poverty in developing countries4A long row to hoe: family farming and rural poverty in developing countries5 Introduction Motivation, aims and objectives This report aims to add a new dimension to ongoing debates and policy prescriptions around livelihoods and poverty reduction in rural areas of the developing world. Specifically it addresses the proposition that increased productivity of family farms is the critical pathway for widespread rural poverty. The ultimate objective of the analysis reported here is to strengthen the policy and implementation agenda addressing rural poverty reduction. Scope and limitation of the report This report focuses on the developing world (including sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia). The breadth of the literature and experience relating to agriculture and poverty in the developing world necessitated a selective approach. As the report seeks to cast light on some areas and issues that have not so far been prominently debated, it does not engage with others, and specifically, with econometric methods and debates around the definition and measurement of productivity and poverty. Report structure The remainder of the report is in four main sections. The next section lays out the background to our interest in this area. The following section explores the elements of the emerging consensus on agricultural productivity and poverty reduction. In the third section, we develop our critique of the consensus, while the final section outlines a revised policy and action agenda. Summary This report examines the current interest in the proposition that enhancing the productivity of family farms is the most effective way to reduce rural poverty in the developing world. This proposition – that we term the prod-pov consensus – is examined from a number of angles including agro-ecological and socio-economic diversity, the re-structuring of the agri-food system, agricultural research, rising fertiliser prices, climate change, and the assumption that young people will be content to live in rural areas and construct their livelihoods around agriculture. Our conclusion is that while increasing the productivity of family farms in Africa can play an important role, poverty reduction on a mass scale, particularly in Africa, will require a more comprehensive and integrated approach. The final section of this report explores five likely strategies for rural people, depending on the context within which they live, their situation, and their interests. These strategies are:1. Agricultural intensification.2. Agricultural intensification with support.3. Continuing to farm primarily for own consumption.4. Seeking income in other parts of the rural economy.5. Migration. Factors and points of potential intervention that will enable each strategy to contribute more effectively to poverty reduction are identified.
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