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Rural Livelihoods: Interplay Between Farm Activities, Non-farm Activities and the Resource Base


  • Kuiper, Marijke H.
  • Meijerink, Gerdien W.
  • Eaton, Derek J.F.


A concentration of poor in rural areas has resulted in a research and policy focus on agricultural technologies and (poor) households impact on soil productivity. But farm households do not live of farming alone, non-farm activities play a principal role even in remote areas. With a unique household-level dataset covering seven regions in Africa and two in Asia we analyze (1) the importance of non-farm income in different geographical zones; (2) the role of geographical factors in determining access to non-farm employment; (3) the role of non-farm income in external input use and soil nitrogen balances. Distinguishing geographical zones based on the distance to urban areas we find the share of non-farm income increasing from 12 percent in the remote areas to 35 percent in peri-urban areas. Geographical location is found to explain a major part of the variation in individual non-farm participation, besides characteristics like education and gender. At household level we find non-farm income not playing a role of significance in explaining external input use, inorganic fertilizer use nor changes in the nitrogen balance. Households thus appear not to invest non-farm income in agriculture. This limits the contribution of non-farm income to reducing widespread soil nutrient depletion witnessed in Africa.

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  • Kuiper, Marijke H. & Meijerink, Gerdien W. & Eaton, Derek J.F., 2006. "Rural Livelihoods: Interplay Between Farm Activities, Non-farm Activities and the Resource Base," 2006 Annual Meeting, August 12-18, 2006, Queensland, Australia 25442, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae06:25442

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Renkow, Mitch, 2000. "Poverty, productivity and production environment:: a review of the evidence," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 463-478, August.
    2. Thirtle, Colin & Lin, Lin & Piesse, Jenifer, 2003. "The Impact of Research-Led Agricultural Productivity Growth on Poverty Reduction in Africa, Asia and Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(12), pages 1959-1975, December.
    3. Shiferaw, Bekele & Holden, Stein T., 1998. "Resource degradation and adoption of land conservation technologies in the Ethiopian Highlands: A case study in Andit Tid, North Shewa," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 18(3), pages 233-247, May.
    4. Haggblade, Steven & Hazell, Peter & Brown, James, 1989. "Farm-nonfarm linkages in rural sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 17(8), pages 1173-1201, August.
    5. Lanjouw, Jean O. & Lanjouw, Peter, 2001. "The rural non-farm sector: issues and evidence from developing countries," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 26(1), October.
    6. Ezumah, Nkoli N. & Di Domenico, Catherine M., 1995. "Enhancing the role of women in crop production: A case study of Igbo women in Nigeria," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(10), pages 1731-1744, October.
    7. Barbier, Bruno, 1998. "Induced innovation and land degradation: Results from a bioeconomic model of a village in West Africa," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 19(1-2), pages 15-25, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:ilo:ilowps:479088 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Gayatri Koolwal & Dominique van de Walle, 2013. "Access to Water, Women's Work, and Child Outcomes," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(2), pages 369-405.
    3. Possenti, Silvia., 2012. "Rural development strategies as a path to decent work and reducing urban informal employment : the case of South Africa," ILO Working Papers 994790883402676, International Labour Organization.

    More about this item


    off-farm income; rural development; micro-economics; Labor and Human Capital; Q12; D1; J43; Q24;

    JEL classification:

    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • J43 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Agricultural Labor Markets
    • Q24 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Land


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