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Smallholder income and land distribution in Africa: Implications for Poverty Reduction Strategies

By T.S. Jayne, Takashi Yamano, Michael T. Weber, David Tschirley, Rui Benfica, Antony Chapoto, Ballard Zulu, and David Neven*


August 2002

Food Security II Cooperative Agreement between U.S. Agency for International Development, Global Bureau, Economic Growth and Agricultural Development Center, Office of Agriculture and Food Security and Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University

Posted with full acknowledgement of the Authors
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More than 45% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population is now estimated to be in poverty. The swelling poverty in Africa has increasingly focused governments, international donors, and researchers toward developing strategies that are “pro-poor.” Strategic plans for poverty reduction have been prepared since 1998 by at least 15 African governments with support from the World Bank. However, most of them provide only scant attention to the role of land access and land distribution in rural poverty.

It is well recognized that severe land inequalities persist in many African countries between small-scale and large-scale farming sectors. Redressing these inequalities is likely to be an important element of an effective rural poverty reduction strategy in countries such as Zimbabwe and Kenya. However, within Africa’s small-scale farming sectors, surprisingly little attention has been devoted to quantifying land distribution patterns and considering how they will affect feasible pathways out of poverty.

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