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Is there a future for small farms?

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  • Peter B. R. Hazell

Abstract

Small farms are seriously challenged today in ways that make their future precarious. Marketing chains are changing and becoming more integrated and more demanding of quality and food safety. This is creating new opportunities for farmers who can compete and link to these markets, but threatens to leave many others behind. In developing countries, small farmers also face unfair competition from rich country farmers in many of their export and domestic markets. The viability of many is further undermined by the continuing shrinkage of their average farm size. And the spread of HIV/AIDS is further eroding the number of productive farm family workers, and leaving many children as orphans with limited knowledge about how to farm. Left to themselves, these forces will curtail opportunities for small farms, overly favor large farms, and lead to a premature and rapid exit of many small farms, adding to already serious problems of rural poverty and urban ghettos. If small farmers are to have a viable future, then there is a need for a concerted effort by governments, NGOs, and the private sector to create a more enabling economic environment for their development. Appropriate interventions could unleash significant benefits in the form of pro-poor agricultural growth in many developing countries and more than pay for themselves in terms of their economic and social return. But they do not seem very likely at the moment and current trends are moving in the opposite direction. Copyright 2005 International Association of Agricultural Economics.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter B. R. Hazell, 2005. "Is there a future for small farms?," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 32(s1), pages 93-101, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:agecon:v:32:y:2005:i:s1:p:93-101
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kherallah, Mylène & Delgado, Christopher L. & Gabre-Madhin, Eleni Z. & Minot, Nicholas & Johnson, Michael, 2002. "Reforming agricultural markets in Africa," Food policy statements 38, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. World Bank, 2003. "Global Economic Prospects 2004 : Realizing the Development Promise of the Doha Agenda," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14782, June.
    3. Skees, Jerry & Hazell, P. B. R. & Miranda, Mario, 1999. "New approaches to crop yield insurance in developing countries:," EPTD discussion papers 55, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    Cited by:

    1. Iraizoz, Belen & Gorton, Matthew & Davidova, Sophia, 2007. "Segmenting farms for analysing agricultural trajectories: A case study of the Navarra region in Spain," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-3), pages 143-169, March.
    2. Ito, Junichi & Bao, Zongshun & Su, Qun, 2012. "Distributional effects of agricultural cooperatives in China: Exclusion of smallholders and potential gains on participation," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 700-709.
    3. Vermeulen, Hester & Kirsten, Johann F. & Sartorius, Kurt, 2008. "Contracting arrangements in agribusiness procurement practices in South Africa," Agrekon, Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA), vol. 47(2), June.

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