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Supporting policy with scientific evidence

We mobilise people and resources to create, curate, make sense of and use knowledge to inform policymaking across Europe.

Publication | 2019

Smallholder farming, growth linkages, structural transformation and poverty reduction

There are different views around the future of smallholder agriculture and its potential to contribute to the needed transformations of agriculture and rural economies. Over and above social benefits of developing smallholder systems, and despite scepticism among some, much literature points to productivity, employment and environmental benefits associated with these systems. This research investigates these variables as they pertain to smallholder farming dominated systems versus larger-scale farming models.

Findings indicate that the development of smallholder dominated systems tend to be more likely to be associated with lower poverty levels, advances in land productivity and in the development of the non-farm economy. Some caveats are involved in terms of establishing causality and directions for future research are suggested.

Overall, the conclusion is that an agriculture dominated by smallholders cannot be held to be an impediment to advancing economic and social development objectives, and that there are reasons to expect that it is advantageous in these respects.