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Is small beautiful? Farm size, productivity, and poverty in Asian agriculture

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  • Shenggen Fan
  • Connie Chan-Kang

Abstract

Small farms characterize agriculture in Asia. With the fragmentation of land holdings, the average size of farms fell in the region, while the number of small-size holdings increased significantly. These small-scale farmers play an important role for food security and poverty alleviation. However, whether and how these small farms can survive under globalization is a hotly debated topic. In particular, the traditional claim that "small is beautiful," which is based on empirical observation that small farms present higher land productivity than large farms, is being challenged. It has been shown that a positive relationship also exists between farm size and labor productivity (and therefore income). To help these small farms prosper under increasing globalization, the governments have to change the "business as usual" attitude. Innovative land reform, for example, is crucial to secure property rights to farmers and to increase farm size. Equally important is the reform of public institutions in order to help small farmers to have access to credit, marketing, and technology. Moreover, promoting diversification in the production of high-value commodities can play an important role in raising the small-holders' income. Finally, policies that facilitate urban-rural migration and promote the development of the rural nonfarm sector are essential to help alleviate poverty among small-farm households and among the rural poor in general. Copyright 2005 International Association of Agricultural Economics.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by International Association of Agricultural Economists in its journal Agricultural Economics.

Volume (Year): 32 (2005)
Issue (Month): s1 (01)
Pages: 135-146

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Handle: RePEc:bla:agecon:v:32:y:2005:i:s1:p:135-146

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Cited by:
  1. Cheng, Fuzhi, 2008. "China: Shadow WTO agricultural domestic support notifications," IFPRI discussion papers 793, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Akramov, Kamiljon T. & Omuraliev, Nurbek, 2009. "Institutional change, rural services, and agricultural performance in Kyrgyzstan:," IFPRI discussion papers 904, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  3. Sébastien MARCHAND & Huanxiu GUO, 2013. "Is participatory social learning a performance driver for Chinese smallholder farmers?," Working Papers 201318, CERDI.
  4. BΘnΘ, C. & Chijere Asafu, D.G. & Allison, E.H. & Snyder, K., 2012. "Design and implementation of fishery modules in integrated household surveys in developing countries," Working Papers, The WorldFish Center, number 39853.
  5. Irz, Xavier T. & Stevenson, James R., 2012. "Efficiency and Farm Size in Philippine Aquaculture. Analysis in a Ray Production Frontier Framework," Bio-based and Applied Economics Journal, Italian Association of Agricultural and Applied Economics (AIEAA), issue 2, August.
  6. Tsimpo Nkengne, Clarence, 2010. "Technical Efficiency and Optimal Farm Size in the Tajik's Cotton Sector," MPRA Paper 35192, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Thapa, Sridhar, 2007. "The relationship between farm size and productivity: empirical evidence from the Nepalese mid-hills," 106th Seminar, October 25-27, 2007, Montpellier, France 7940, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  8. Robert Rudolf, 2012. "Rural Reforms, Agricultural Productivity, and the Biological Standard of Living in South Korea, 1941-1974," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 106, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  9. Pavel Ciaian & d'Artis Kancs, 2009. "The Capitalisation of Area Payments into Farmland Rents: Micro Evidence from the New EU Member States," EERI Research Paper Series EERI_RP_2009_04, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
  10. Jia, Lili, 2012. "Land fragmentation and off-farm labor supply in China," Studies on the Agricultural and Food Sector in Central and Eastern Europe, Leib­niz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe (IAMO), volume 66, number 66.
  11. Cai, Wenbiao, 2010. "Skill Investment, Farm Size Distribution and Agricultural Productivity," MPRA Paper 26439, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Miyata, Sachiko & Minot, Nicholas & Hu, Dinghuan, 2007. "Impact of contract farming on income: Linking small farmers, packers, and supermarket in China," IFPRI discussion papers 742, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  13. Headey, Derek & Bezemer, Dirk & Hazell, Peter B., 2008. "Agricultural exit problems: Causes and consequences," IFPRI discussion papers 802, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  14. Rattan Lal, 2014. "Climate Strategic Soil Management," Challenges, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(1), pages 43-74, February.

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